Forget the shoes – This design director has an entirely different use for IKEA’s closet shelves


After two countries, four cities and more than 20 years of collecting, Abby Clawson Low has accumulated her fair share of reading. “We are book people,” laughs the design director. “Even when we moved to Mexico City for over three years, we brought all of our English titles with us.” Whether it’s his three sons’ favorite bedtime story or a documentary memoir, there’s room for everyone in Dallas, where they’ve since settled. However, no standard bookcase or open shelf gave his sons’ beloved tomes and miniature race cars the recognition they deserved. “I kept imagining European bookstores and museum display cases,” says Low.

Rather than go bespoke, Low turned to her favorite big-box retailer, IKEA, for an inexpensive solution. “It’s a kid’s room,” Low says. “I could get something that looked great without worrying about it getting damaged.” Spending hours walking around the floors of the store gave Low an idea: why not use closet shelves outside storage space?

To make the most of its 9-foot ceilings, Low used the elegant Elvarli units with the floor-to-ceiling supports. Four drill holes later (the room is super easy to rent), Low’s two oldest had their own organized library in their shared bedroom. “I don’t even know what’s in the drawers,” she laughs. “But they like to swap the books on the shoe rack.”

Leaning display shelf from Ikea displaying books

It was also love at first sight for Low; various IKEA systems now live in almost every room of their home, from the living room and office to the closet. While the Elvarli system isn’t as customizable as some other options, Low found that installing one less shelf leaves plenty of room for its larger coffee table tomes. His next project: “An entire wall of them, showcasing everything, like an old rare book shop.”

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