French Cleat Entryway Wall

French Cleat Entryway Wall

You know I’d really like to have this post show some before and after pictures, but I’m just realizing now that I never took any before shots of the entryway. Close your eyes and imagine this: six very small hooks that were a good height for adults but way too tall for two little kids. If you imagined everything organized and hung in its proper place, you’re dreaming. What our entryway had become was as many coats as possible hanging on the six very small hooks, and then shoes and everything else piled up beneath it.

I decided that I wanted to build something that would work better for our family, and one of my main priorities was making something modular. I was very inspired by the Kerf Wall and Kreis Design’s pegboard walls, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to copy one of those exactly. So I turned to something I knew I could do: a French Cleat.

A French Cleat is a pretty basic system used to hang things on walls. It’s a piece of wood cut at a 45 degree angle. That piece is mounted to the wall, and another piece cut at 45 degrees slides down into it. This system, from what I’ve seen, is mostly used in garages and wood shops as a way to organize tools. But I always thought the horizontal lines looked really sleek, and if the individual slats were thick enough on nice wood, I thought it might look really modern.

Kerry wasn’t necessarily convinced on how useful the system would be (or more accurately: I wasn’t really explaining it well) so I built a version in our garage to organize some of my tools that were all over the ground. After she saw it in action, she agreed to let me try building one for our entryway.

I decided to go with walnut plywood for the system. We stain a lot of the projects in our house walnut, but I’ve never worked with actual walnut, so this was a fun project for me. I went with plywood for two reasons: 1) it’s a lot cheaper than buying actual walnut, and 2) as I said earlier I was very inspired by Kerf and I like the look of exposed plywood edges in some circumstances.

I ended up buying three sheets of quarter inch walnut plywood in 2 feet by 4 feet, and this would serve as my back “wall.” Then I bought 6 sheets of three-quarter inch that would serve as the “slats.” The wall itself, with everything stacked on top of each other, is 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The slats are 4 inches tall each, with a 2 inch gap between each one. That gap is a little narrow — for the one in my garage I have the gap about double that. But because I wanted this to look good, I thought the smaller gap was better.

I bought extra three-quarter inch plywood so I could make the accessories. First was the hooks. These are pretty simple, it’s basically a store-bought hook attached to a rectangle of plywood. For the shoe cubbies, I designed those in Sketch-Up and built them myself. I think the exposed plywood edges really shines on the cubbies and makes me happy I went with that decision.

What’s really fun about this system is that it can grow and change. Every hook and cubby is easily moveable. So as the kids get taller, we can move their hooks up. Or if I need to build another row of shoe cubbies (which I do) we can move those up and add another row underneath. Here’s a video of everything moving around.

This was the last step in a bit of a hallway refresh. We painted the wall Sherwin William Aloe and finally hung our bathroom sign/vases that were in our last house. There are three doors right next to each other in this hallway so telling people which one is the bathroom is always a bit confusing.

We are thrilled with how this has turned out. It’s kind of shocking how fast it still filled up. But doing something new like this always makes you reconsider what you have hanging, and if you really need 4 jackets in the entryway at any given time. I’ve already got some ideas of new accessories; like I want to build for more shoe cubbies that are deeper for boots. We are thinking of building another system on the opposite wall to go next to the door. We might wait awhile to see how we use this one, and see what we would need in the extra space.

(Note: here’s a how-to video I made of the project. I was going to make this a very “how-to” post but to be completely honest, I’ve never filmed something like that so I kept forgetting to turn the camera on and there are some things missing. Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing how this is put together, here’s the video. It’s a little long, but it covers most of what we did.)

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