I’ll walk you through the Elfa self-installation process from start to finish. This is not a sponsored post so it will be a true review including the good, bad, and the ugly.
If you are looking to install a custom closet system my Elfa system review will also help you determine if you need to do a self-install or simply pay for the installation.
The links in this post may be affiliate links. That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission. It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.
My husband and I purchased our home 7 years ago and while I love my home – the master bedroom closet has been the bane of my existence because there is absolutely no storage at all.
I decided I wanted to makeover my master bedroom closet and I already knew I wanted a Container Store Elfa Closet System but how easy would it be to do an Elfa Closet self-installation.
After being stuck in the house for an entire year due to Covid-19 the urge for a closet makeover became my top priority so I began researching the different Elfa Closet systems on Pinterest to see which closet system would best fit my needs.
I was tired of walking into a junky ass closet every single day with nowhere to store towels, sheets, couldn’t find my clothes, stuff was thrown everywhere.
Elfa Closet System Review
Once I went from researching master bedroom closet makeovers to actually going to the Container Store for a consultation it became both scary and exciting at the same time.
I begin to have questions like what if I don’t like the design? Are the Elfa Closet Systems too expensive? Should we self-install? How long will our home be disrupted with clothes piled onto the dining room table and the living room sofa?
Virtual Design Consultation
The Container Store’s Virtual Closet design consultations are supposed to give customers a comparable experience to the in-person consultation.
The Container Store launched the free Virtual In-Home Design service due to Covid-19.
I was told the process is practically foolproof but I found out the hard way this was not the case.
My local Container Store in Nashville recommended I take the measurements of my closet which is outlined on their worksheet and lists all the dimensions the designer needs to know.
This includes everything from the obvious dimensions of the space such as length and width as well as less apparent measurements like the height of crown mounding.
After completing the measurements of my closet I emailed them to my local Container Store design team and the 3 times the measurements came back incorrect.
In a perfect world, you are supposed to book an appointment and connect with a designer through Zoom and they send you your designs via email.
Because I was told my measurements were incorrect three times I decided to make the 45 min drive to Nashville for an in-person consultation despite the Covid restrictions.
In-Person Design Consultation
The in-person design consultation was much better than the virtual. The designer pulled up my three previous emails which contained the measurements and went through them to find out why the measurements kept coming back wrong.
I’m still not sure why the measurements did not add up correctly.
Outside of my bad measurement-taking skills, they were so helpful when it came to flushing out my ideas and suggesting options that I probably would not have thought of on my own.
Coming up with our initial design for the shelving was extremely intimidating because there are so many options to choose from and it was overwhelming!
I think everyone should see the Elfa closet systems in person to touch and see the different colors, styles, and shelving.
Staying on Budget with an Elfa Installation
While the design service itself is free, you must remember the Elfa Closet system is not so you need to have a budget in mind so the designers will know how and where to cut costs.
The Container Store’s Elfa system is one of their least expensive systems and I think it also offers the most value for your money.
You can easily adjust the height of the hanging bar add shelves, drawers, hooks, and other accessories as needed.
Depending on the size of your master bedroom closet you can save up to $2k by doing an Elfa System self-installation but it is not as easy as the Container store portrays on their website and videos.
How Much Does an Elfa Closet System Cost?
I paid around $4300 for my large walk-in closet which Included the 30% off sale and the Elfa self-installation.
If we wanted the Container Store to Install the Elfa Closet System we would have paid an additional $1500 so we made the decision to do an Elfa self-installation to cut down on cost.
Knowing what I know now I do not suggest a self-installation for larges spaces and I should have just paid the extra money because it turned into a nightmare.
The Container Store Shelving Sale goes from late summer to early fall. It tends to last over a month, sometime between August and October.
You’ll usually get 25% off shelving, and sometimes 25% off installation, too.
Elfa Pick Up & Installation Process
If I thought the measurement process was hard the Installation process was by far the most challenging part of the process.
The Container Store claims they make it simple and easy but that was not my experience.
Once we ordered and paid for the Elfa system it took approximately 2 weeks for the closet system to be delivered to my local Container Store.
Since we were doing a self-installation we were provided with the custom instructions and videos that were supposed to be clear and simple but it was far from clear and simple.
We opted for the curbside pickup which was steamless. Once we arrived at the store I notified the clerk I had a scheduled pick up.
After about 20 minutes our closet system was being pulled out for the curbside pick up and the staff loaded the system into my husband’s truck.
Elfa Masterbedroom Design Components
Our final design consisted of Elfa Ventilated Shelf Graphite, Elfa Decor Gliding Shelf Fascia Grey, Elfa Decor Gliding Pant Rack Grey, and the Elfa Decor Shelf Grey.
We chose Grey Graphite shelving and brackets to coordinate with the bathroom which we are updating next.
We also included Grey Mesh drawers in the design for storing all of our shoes, underwear, socks, shirts, towels, and sheets.
The drawers are perfect if you have a large walk-in his and hers closet.
While picking out the closet system and paying was the easy part – the written instructions and videos were not adequate due to the number of errors we had on the final plans and installation guide.
Step by Step Elfa Installation Guide
1. Clear Out the Clutter
Whether you’re planning a major closet overhaul or a simple DIY makeover, your first step should always be to declutter your closet.
There’s no point in wasting time organizing clothes you aren’t going to wear.
So before you do anything else, clear out your entire closet. Evaluate each item to separate what you love and want to keep from what you don’t like, don’t wear, and don’t want.
2. Remove Old Closet System
Removing a “Plank and Pole” Style System
Many older homes have the “plank and pole” closet system. If you have one of these, follow our instructions on how to remove it.
- A power drill or screwdriver
- Pry bar
- Box cutter/knife
- Safety glasses
Remove the pole portion of the existing closet system. If poles are difficult to remove, unscrew the supports with the power drill and remove the pole from the closet.
3. Patch up holes in the wall
Once the old system is removed, you will likely need to repair the holes left behind. Use putty or spackle to fill any holes. Then, apply a new coat of your favorite paint color.
4. Install the Track
The most crucial step in any Elfa shelving installation is to properly install the top track — the horizontal track that serves as the anchor point for your system.
- Insert the Hanging Standards in the Track notches.
- Group the Hanging Standards together and insert the Brackets at the appropriate height based on your custom Elfa design.
- Our design calls for 2′ spacing between Hanging Standards, we used the Elfa Spacer provided with our order to position the Hanging Standards.
- Hanging Standards should be a minimum of 1/2″ from the ends of the Track.
5. Install Closet Rod Holder and Bracket Cover Set
- Identify the Closet Rod Holder and Bracket Cover Set.
- The Closet Rod Holder, a Front Bracket Cover piece, and a Back Bracket Cover piece.
- Push the Front Bracket Cover (it has a rounded front) over the front of the Bracket.
- Snap the Closet Rod Holder over the outside edge of the Bracket.
- Push the Back Bracket Cover piece over the edge of the Bracket.
- Push the Closet Rod into the Closet Rod Holder until it snaps into place.
6. Install Ventilated Shelves
- Install the Ventilated Shelves from shortest to longest, regardless of their location in the design. Ventilated Shelves have a top and a bottom.
- The middle support wire(s) is connected to the bottom of the Shelf.
- Place the shelf wires over the Bracket notches.
If all of this sounds complicated trust me it is!
This is where we had problems with our design – It was incorrect twice and thank Gawd my husband is handy and read directions because I was about to give up!
The design we were given had the wrong size ventilated shelving twice on the designs and we had to wait 2 weeks two separate times to get the correct parts ordered and shipped.
What was supposed to be a weekend DIY project turned into a 5-week self-installation process!
After I drove to Nashville which is an hour drive from my home in Murfreesboro for the third time to retrieve the correct shelving. I was not a happy camper.
I will say when I spoke with my design consultant she stated she had never seen that before and it was a fluke that the measurements came out wrong because they are computer generated and it was no way she would have known the instructions were wrong.
Elfa Decor Gliding shelving
To install Elfa Decor shelving, simply line up the grooves on the shelf side with the notches in the bracket and press down firmly to lock it in place.
James repeated the process of placing brackets and locking in shelving pieces for each row of shelving.
The shelving height can be easily adjusted if need be. It’s just a matter of popping out the shelves, relocating the brackets, and popping the shelves back in place.
Light at the end of the tunnel
It’s finally starting to take shape!
Total Cost and Installation Time
TOTAL COST: $4,365.90
TOTAL INSTALLATION TIME: 5 weeks
Final Elfa Master Bedroom Closet Design
Conclusion of my Master Bedroom Elfa Closet Self-Installation Review
Elfa shelving systems aren’t cheap and despite all of the issues we had with the plans being incorrect and having to drive back and forth to Nashville I am extremely pleased with the outcome but I do not suggest an Elfa self-installation.
I’ve been super pleased with how my master bedroom Elfa closet system turned out and the amount of storage we now have.
The most exciting thing about the Elfa closet system is its ability to change depending on your needs because it is fully customizable.
We were able to create a custom closet that functions exactly how we need it and is perfect for his/her closet.
Yes, custom closets are worth every penny (and then some) in terms of the resale of a home.
If you invest $5000 in custom closets and live in your home with those closets for five years, you’ll easily be able to ask at least $5000 more for your home than a comp that just has a rod and shelf in all the closets.
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Hopefully, my Elfa Closet system self-installation review will help you in determining if you should pay the installation fee or take your chances with a self-installation.
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