Asked on Apr 30, 2016

Looking for ideas to reach top closet shelves

by Hometalker
Please give me your ideas for accessing the top shelf of the closets. I am short and am not able to climb on a ladder when I need something from the top shelf. I need to use that space and move what is there to storage. What is a convenient, easy to access storage solution for high shelves for the vertically challenged? Thanks!
I have to reach the top shelf without a stool or ladder.
  31 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 30, 2016
    Put the items you do not need up and take the items that are necessary now down, Thats what I do . I also keep a small step stool on hand. Unless you want to rebuild your closet.Which been there and done that and still have to do as I suggested.
    • See 2 previous
    • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 30, 2016
      Also to add to simplify ,how big is the closet and could you simply put storage baskets for your items?
  • Becky Sunderman Becky Sunderman on Apr 30, 2016
    A lightweight folding stepstool that can be stored against the front inside wall of the closet, and a long "grabber stick" with a trigger pull that controls a claw on the end are my two tools that let me access the highest shelf and the boxes on them. I raised my closet rod so that I could use two tiered hangers for my pants and shirts/blouses/jackets. Robes, dresses go at on end, full length. Shoeboxes with photos of the contents on top shelf for seasonal footwear, along with a compartmentalized purse/handbag storage box, and a couple of hatboxes are on top shelf. In season shoes are on racks on the floor of the closet and on a stand alone shoe rack outside of the closet. I'm 5'4', and this works for me. (I also had my kitchen wall cabinets installed 13" above the countertop so that I can reach more than the bottom shelf without a stepstool).
  • Brenda Brown Brenda Brown on Apr 30, 2016
    Not sure if you want (or are able) to invest a bit of money in something like this? Other than than, a grabber bar but they would have limitations as you wouldn't want to grab anything too heavy with them. Is there a possibility that you can store out of season (i.e. stuff you are not currently using) on the the shelf and ask someone to help you twice a year to switch out the stuff on the top shelf?
  • MN Mom MN Mom on Apr 30, 2016
    Consider your often overlooked closet walls for hooks and hanging items as well as the back of the door. If your floor space allows, you can purchase stacking drawer units in either wood or plastic or even different sizes of plastic totes. Under the bed storage containers are useful and even the large storage bags by Ziploc are great for storage. That could leave your top closet shelves available for items that are not used often and don't need to be readily accessible.
  • Barb Barb on May 01, 2016
    Get a rolling library stool. When you step on them they press down and won't roll. When there is no weight on them you can roll them with your foot.
  • Barb Barb on May 01, 2016
    Also, Rev-a-Shelf has a pull down shelf but they are very $$$
  • Lpi5869033 Lpi5869033 on May 01, 2016
    My husband laughed at me, but I bought one of those doctor offices stools that help you onto an examining table. It has a waist height handle on one end and rubber grips on the feet. I feel very safe when I step on it because I can hold the handle. It is easy to carry all over the house. I can't reach the top of my 9" ceilings, but it is very useful in the kitchen and for reaching upper closet shelves.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on May 01, 2016
    2-3 level Step stool that can double as storage (open or lidded). Put it on sliding silicone casters so it can be moved with your foot across the floor.
  • Madison Sheah Madison Sheah on May 01, 2016
    Rolling Ladder !!! :)
  • Elaine Elaine on May 01, 2016
    I have the VERY same problem! It makes it a bit crowded but I keep a 2-step Rubbermaid stool in my walk-in closet - I also lift it out for use in the kitchen to reach my upper shelves. People of medium height (and more) have no idea how lucky they are. There is one plus in being short, though, and that is, we are less uncomfortable on planes and buses! :)
  • Kathy Bitzan Kathy Bitzan on May 01, 2016
    I'm 5'5" and I avoid using all top shelves if possible. But I also keep a step stool close by make sure it is sturdy since I went flying off of mine when I stepped wrong and it collapsed.
  • JEWEL C JEWEL C on May 01, 2016
    I worked in a library and find the "kick" stools the most stable and easy to move around. They add 12" to your height.
  • Susan Bechamp Susan Bechamp on May 01, 2016
    Would you be able to use a rope and pulley to hoist light weight items up and slide into position with a hook on a pole? Reverse the process to lower what's high up ?
  • Jean Myles Jean Myles on May 01, 2016
    Hometalker I am 5" nothing and Every top shelf is useless to me.I made cloth bags with drawstring closeings.I keep extra winter blankets and comforters in the bags. I usually throw them up and try arranging them neatly with the grabber thingie. I then ask a friend to straighten them for me when they come over. Nobody really mindes doing it for the vertically challenged (me). The bags keep them dust free and clean. I also use as many hooks on side walls as possible and one of those gripper grabber things to get things down.At least when I need to get them down I don't get hurt with baskets or boxes hitting me in the head if they hit the floor they stay clean.So moving those things that only need to go up or down once a year up on the top shelf that leaves me with 3 empty shelves in my linen closet .That I use to store other things that would have been put up on the top shelves in my closet.
  • Margaret Olsen Margaret Olsen on May 01, 2016
    I'm no carpenter, but I wonder if something like those church pew kneelers would work? You may lose some of the space on the lowest shelves, however, but they would fold up out of the way when they're not needed. What do you think?
  • Martha Martha on May 01, 2016
    You didn't say whether you can climb steps. I have a photo on my pinterest board of a set of shelves where the bottom 3 pull out to become steps. Pretty cool! Since I'm not a carpenter, I would put the most lightweight things up there, maybe in fabric bags with handles. Then I would use a grabber to put the bags up and down. Grabbers come in various types, including lightweight ones for people with handicaps. Search on "assistive technology."
  • Su Stewart Su Stewart on May 02, 2016
    Dollar General has a folding step stool for about $8.00 that I use. when folded is takes up very little space. I tuckm ine
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on May 02, 2016
    I'm 4ft 11 with a husband who is almost 6ft tall, so I have a similar problem all over my house! In our closet, we took out the bottom shelf and actually added a stool of sorts that is attached to the wall and sticks out enough for me to step on it.
  • Linda Johnson Linda Johnson on May 02, 2016
    I'm 5'2" and my husband is 6'4". I use a step stool, or ask for help getting things down. I have a pair of pinchers - grabbers? that I can use to pick something up, but they aren't sturdy enough for big, heavy objects.
  • Lynn Palmatier Lynn Palmatier on May 02, 2016
    Not sure if I totally understand what you are trying to do, but it sounds like you are trying to remove items already on the shelf. Correct? I have a stool that lets me get up enough to reach what I have stored there. Containers for seasonal items I change out. My luggage ( which someone else gets for me most times) extra bedding are also stored there. I use a pole that allows me to pull out and drop down whatever. Key is not to store items that are for everyday use, just those you don't need very often. I like the idea of using a couple of lower shelves for pull out steps if you have the room. For me one step up is enough for me to reach. For much shorter people like my sister, she needs to have someone do it for her. Mine is just a utility stool I can fold and keep in a little niche along eith that pole . ...
  • Dale Dale on May 02, 2016
    Walmart carries a nice-looking lightweight, white plastic single-step stool for about $7-8, in the children's dept. So lightweight I can even kick it around to wherever I need it, or to get it out of the way without ever stooping, folding it, etc.
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on May 02, 2016
    Hi there, don't know if this will work for you but I own a big storage bench/hope chest and always kept it in a convenient spot in my closet to double as a step stool lol short girl problems! It was also great for storage.
  • Barbara Barbara on May 02, 2016
    I'm 4' 11" with a double shelf above the clothing rod. I can barely make the lower shelf, but no way with out a step stool for the top shelf. For this reason I store my out of season clothing in small second hand suitcases flat on their side with handles out ( had two and purchased a third). A smallish two-step folding ladder collapes and is stored inside the closet between my shoe holder and the closet wall. In winter, my tank tops, swimsuit, shorts, beach towels and even flip flops go in the suitcases when the warmer sweaters, sweats and such come out. It takes the squeeze off of the hanging rod and gets things I won't be wearing for three or four months out of my way. An extra two or three plastic shoe boxes are also up there for smaller items: warm gloves, neck warmers etc.
  • D roach D roach on May 03, 2016
    there are hinges on the market where you can use a hook to pull the top shelf down. You need to do some research but it is possible. Look at kitchen sites and pinterest etc.
  • Hometalker Hometalker on May 08, 2016
    Thanks to all of you for your responses! Currently, I need to use that space regularly, and for now, I’m not able to use a stepstool. Apologies if I didn’t make that clear in my question. Right now, I have blankets up there and will move them elsewhere. I have decided to use pretty boxes, correctly sized so as not to graze the ceiling when pulling them down and attach a ribbon to the bottom of the box as a handle. The boxes will have lids to prevent the lightweight contents from spilling out when getting them down. Putting things up there is easy. My tip to you: use silicone tipped tongs from Dollar Tree to reach small things. They are great for general pickup because of the silicon tips, but, not good for cooking. I have one in every room because they are cheaper than a traditional ‘reacher’. I see now I need to get one of those. Thanks again!
  • Edward Thirlwall Edward Thirlwall on May 18, 2016
    IKEA and other DIY shops have foot stools that could help you reach the top of your cabinet. Sometimes, these footstools can also double as portable storage units. However, the danger of it doubling as storage units is that it can be heavy to move around, eventually.
  • Bettina Rice Bettina Rice on Jan 28, 2020

    I bought one of the those rods with a hook on it they use in retail stores to put items on high up racks. I then installed a rod parallel to the longest wall and viola double the space for out of season clothes!

  • Daniel Garcia Daniel Garcia on Oct 21, 2020

    You can use a rope device like a lasso or a little bow to help grab things from the top shelf

  • Diane Diane on Oct 22, 2020

    When I was injured the hospital gave me a tool that allowed me to put on my socks , turned out to be a great grabber for top shelves!

  • Shelley Dumire Shelley Dumire on Oct 31, 2021

    I know this is an old post & the problem has probably been long ago solved but incase it hasn’t, or anyone else comes across this article while searching because they have a similar issue, I wanted to leave this but if info here just incase. 😁 Best wishes to all my fellow short people!

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Nov 30, 2021

    Folding footstep for sure will help