adding shelves to an antique wardrobe

by | Aug 31, 2017 | All Things Home, Antiques, Before and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, My House | 45 comments

Remember this antique pine wardrobe I bought off of craigslist a couple of weeks ago?

One of the last projects my brother was able to complete before flying home to Oregon was installing shelves inside.  And one of the last things my mom and I got done before my parents drove back to PA was to unpack my fabric and fill those shelves.


There is something about stacks of beautiful fabric, specifically antique linen, that make me giddy.  I mean, seriously.  I open these wardrobe doors and a rush of excitement bubbles up and I can’t help but release it in a giggle.

This wardrobe only had a rod and a small shelf up high.  That would’ve been okay if I wanted to hang clothes inside, but I wanted shelving for fabric and notions.  Since the wardrobe is a beautiful antique, I also wanted to add shelves in a way that wasn’t too intrusive or permanent.  I opted to use a track shelving system similar to what is installed in the breakdown French wardrobe I use in my bedroom.  It’s sturdy, adjustable and removable.  Securely attach the tracks to the back of the wardrobe with a few screws and it’s good to go.  The brackets lock into place and the melamine shelves rest on the brackets.

We used a track and bracket that is heavy duty (with two hooks), so it could hold the weight of the fabric without a problem.

I was planning on painting the interior of the wardrobe, but now I don’t think it needs it at all.  I don’t mind the white shelves against the wood interior and even the modern tracks and brackets aren’t noticeable when hidden behind stacks of textiles.

I added a French laundry basket on top of the wardrobe to store some extra pillows and pillow forms.

In the rest of the room, I brought in the desk I bought at Gold Rush for $65 to use as a sewing table.

I’m not sure if I’m going to paint it and, if I do, what color, but it at least needs some Hemp Oil to hydrate it and bring out the patina of the wood.  And I definitely need a chair, so I’ll keep an eye out for just the right one.  For now, I’ll just pull in a chair from another room.

The drawer in the desk is just big enough for some thread, bobbins, frequently used machine feet, seam ripper, scissors, etc.

So many of my straight pins were bent, so I pitched them when I was packing for our move and I picked up a few new packs last week.  I put them in a magnetic bowl one of my readers bought for me after she watched me spill my pins in just about every sewing tutorial I’ve ever done!

And it’s amazing.  Life changer.

Okay, not a life changer, but it’s very handy for sewing.

And, on the wall opposite the wardrobe is where the daybed will go.  It needs a little work (and a mattress), but I’ll get to that soon.  I can’t wait to see the fabrics and a new wall color bring this space to life.

For now, it’s a nicely lit room set up as a perfect place to tackle my growing list of home sewing projects!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  If you want to know what those are, click HERE.


  1. DeAnna Hansen

    Can’t wait to see what you create next. I really enjoy seeing your sewing projects. Also, thank you for being up front and honest about the links. As a reader and sometimes purchaser of your products or of those through your links, your honesty means a lot to me. Have a great night!

  2. Becky

    It’s coming together nicely. It’s so nice that you can just open the doors of the cabinet and see all your fabric at a glance. Looking forward to seeing the daybed completed. Your home has come so far in such a short time. It’s beautiful.

  3. Linda

    The wardrobe cabinet turned out so perfect for your fabric needs! I love how your sewing/craft room is turning out. You truly amaze me with which the speed your are accomplishing things in your new home!

  4. Brenda

    I too love your wardrobe! I also use a wardrobe for my fabric stash. I agree that there is something that just gets to you when you see those stacks of fabric! I am so excited to see your house come together, it’s so much fun! Of course I’m not doing the work. 😉

  5. Donna C.

    Such lovely pieces! You have a great eye and are very lucky to find exquisite treasures! Look forward to your daily posts!

  6. Kim

    What brand of sewing machine do you have on the desk?

    • Marian Parsons

      It’s a Sailrite and is great for upholstery.

  7. Kate

    The Gold Rush table is pretty, but I’m all about practical. Will the bottom shelf get in the way of using the sewing machine pedal? Mine always seems to wander away from me when I’m sewing, and then my leg is stretched farther and farther out. I like the sewing tables with the top that folds out, so there is plenty of support for large pieces of fabric. Or I use my portable on a large table.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, for large sewing projects, I’ll probably move to the kitchen table, so I can spread out a little more. There isn’t room for a large table in this space, so the little desk is a nice option. We’ll see how it works with the shelf! 🙂

    • Sandra

      To solve my wandering sewing machine pedal problem, I placed a small non skid square coaster (you can buy a package of 2 in Walmart for about a dollar) under the pedal. Works like a charm.

  8. Susan De

    Love, love, love the fact that the side rails for the day bed are not painted perfectly and could belong to any of your million fans Miss Mustard Seed!

    • Marian Parsons

      Ha! That’s actually the back side of them! 🙂

  9. Debbie V.

    What a clever way to install shelves in the wardrobe! Your room looks great and I am enjoying reading how you are making over your new home in your style. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Cindy

    Genius–thank you! I needed a Wal-Mart run and this gave me an extra good reason!

  11. Mary Lou Dishop

    I have two very similar pine wardrobes. Did you wax the outside of yours? I was thinking I would whitewash mine. But now that I see yours maybe just painting my shelves White will do nicely. Mary Lou

    • Marian Parsons

      I did not wax it, but I would’ve done that if it needed to be hydrated or was lacking luster. This has been well taken care of, so it just needed some shelves to make it functional for me!

  12. Carolyn

    I was particularly interested in this article as I have a breakdown wardrobe that I’d like to add shelves too. I’m curious how did you add the rails to your breakdown wardrobe? The panels that slide together in mine are really thin wood, I think it’s mahogany. We have delayed adding the shelves because I just can’t figure out the best method. Thanks for your idea, I’ll look again at ours and see if this will work.

    • Marian Parsons

      My breakdown wardrobe has a thin back as well, but it has three wooden rails framing it out. Two running down each side and one in the middle. We were able to screw the tracks into those supports. The way the tracks and brackets work, it spread the weight evenly along the back rails.

  13. MaryLisa Noyes

    Thank you for posting your sewing room! The wardrobe is so perfect for fabric storage! I use an armoire in my kitchen as a pantry. My hubby put shelves in mine also. Enjoy all that natural light!

  14. Denise Cox

    Marion, I have a feeling you may never want to leave this room… 😄

  15. Sue from Indiana

    Wow! I am not normally a fan of pine – I prefer oak or walnut, but that wardrobe is absolutely gorgeous! You always make me want to redecorate my whole house!

  16. martineBE

    I was thinking about painting my wardrobe but seeing yours in natural wood… whaouh. In a large room it looks great.
    Thanks for sharing pictures of your splendide home.
    Fan from Belgium.

  17. Paula Arndt

    Ok, that’s a really great solution to adding shelves to the antique. I am facing the same issue – an antique pine armoire with only a hanging bar inside! I was thinking of either building a new pine shelf system that fits inside or a bookcase that I can slip inside but since the door is so much narrower then the armoire, that would be a waste of space.
    I love your fabric stash!! The colors, the stripes, everything!
    I’d be swinging open those doors all day, lol.
    I design my own fabrics (mostly old-fashioned faded florals) and will be using my armoire for the same purpose and I too, get that rush of delight when I open a cupboard or bin of my very own fabrics!
    I am planning on moving this winter sometime (to probably Virginia) so setting up my new sewing room is a ways off, sadly.
    Enjoy your beautiful new work room – the light in there is fantastic, and I LOVE seeing all the projects that you work on!!

  18. Kristine

    Thank you for addressing the “shelf” question on the sewing table. That was immediate reaction: “Where do you put the pedal ? ” I usually set-up my sewing machine in the dining room table – I like being in the middle of the house when I am sewing for some reason. I love this room – especially the windows. It emanates a tranquility that really comes in through the pictures. I loving watching the whole process of you home unfold.

  19. Jan Fusco

    I can tell you are just having a ball setting up, decorating, fixin’ up this house. I look forward to your daily posts to see how the progress is coming.

  20. Debra

    Marian, I’ve got the identical wardrobe which I call an armoire. I love the presence it gives my family room.

  21. Mary Ruth Kozma

    Loving that Armoire. And I am always bringing out the MMS Hemp oil for something around the house!

    LOVE your fabric stash!

    I use a narrow table for sewing, it has two large sides that fold down, when I sew I have one side up where sewing machine goes, then when I have a lot of fabric to move around, I pull table out and pull out other leaf, makes a dining table size that way.

  22. Toni

    Is there enough leg room for you under that desk to sew? I’d worry about hitting your ankles on the bottom shelf!
    I’m looking forward to some of your home dec projects coming up!

  23. B Folk

    A red sewing machine, how fun! I, too, have my sewing machine on a desk…mine is a vintage child’s desk, the kind with an inkwell hole on top. Plenty of legroom, because there’s no shelf on the bottom.
    Your home is coming along beautifully!

  24. Lelanie

    Really love your home and enjoy seeing how you progress. Such an inspiration!

  25. Emerick

    Just a thought,

    Wooden shelves would look better. The white (laminate?)seem like an afterthought but wood would be consistent with the antique look of the piece. I see fabric but also white shelves that POP out and seem out of place. My brain says what’s wrong with this picture?

  26. Mary S

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that cabinet!! With or without the fabric inside. Something warm and soft about PINE !!! Wish it were in my house.

  27. Sew2all

    FYI the hinges and screws that attach the sewing machine head to the cabinet of the old antique treadle machines usually match up to the screws and hinges of the modern portable machines (Kenmore, Singer, possibly your Sailrite). Remove the treadle and old sewing machine and insert your machine. Then you have a fold out top to give you space to sew. If you need more room for large pobjects, put the current sewing table at right angles to spread out the large project. Dragging everything out to the kitchen table really gets old and frustrating for you and the family (did it for years). There is something Minnesota about the old treadle cabinets, there are some beautiful ones out there. Just a suggestion and a way to repurpose.

  28. Rosalina

    Have thought the very same thing about track shelving but hate the way it looks. Marion why don’t you design track shelving that looks antique. You would be doing a service to many antique lovers dealing with the same issue. Maybe you could get together with some companies like Resoration Hardward. Just food for thought.

  29. dragon ball super

    its was really valuable. thanks a lot!

  30. Sharon J

    I just found your website. I have heard of you through other bloggers but never checked you out. I loved your video series on slipcovering a wing back chair. I am about to try to slipcover a loveseat that I bought years ago for $60. I love the style of it but hated the covering. I took an upholstery class years ago but can’t remember how to do everything so I have decided to slipcover. Your video has given me the courage. Yay on the beautiful antique armoire/wardrobe. I never see anything on Craigslist here that looks that good! Thank you again for putting your life out there for those of us that are struggling with moving ahead on things. I love your honesty about sometimes you just have to give up on a piece if you cannot punch through! Have a blessed week.

  31. avriq

    There is something Minnesota about the old treadle cabinets, there are some beautiful ones out there.

  32. Aayushi Rana

    I really love the way you decorate your home. The home is Looking so beautiful. Thanks for share.

  33. Alka

    Hurrah! In the end I got a weblog from where I be able to actually get valuable information concerning my study and knowledge.

  34. riya

    I really love the way you decorate your home. thanks for the post

  35. temple run 3

    verry nice, thank you the posst.

  36. Liteblue

    Love, love, love the fact that the side rails for the day bed are not painted perfectly and could belong to any of your million fans Miss Mustard Seed!

  37. pawan halder

    wow’ beautiful home nice color thank

  38. Aman Sharma

    excellent wooden interiors. I was looking for the same at my new house


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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