I Didn’t Think I Needed a Closet System to Get Organized Until I Tried Pottery Barn’s Version
The Hold Everything holds, well, everything.
Updated Apr 19, 2023 1:12 PM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
The most surprising thing about the 120-year-old carriage house that my husband and I rent in Brooklyn is not its bundle of quirks—spanning from the more charming layout and windows with comically large molding to the more taxing absent dishwasher and barely there bathroom. No, the biggest revelation is a true New York rarity: bedroom closets that afford an unusual amount of storage space.
Although I am grateful for this unique bonus, with extra square footage comes a need for organizational discipline, something I don’t have a knack for when it comes to closets. Our previous setup consisted of one metal bar and a long shelf—the result, as you can see, below, was lacking big-time. After three years, a global pandemic, and no will to invest in more bins that I wouldn’t maintain, I was excited to hear that Pottery Barn was rereleasing its classic ’90s Hold Everything Essential Closet. Before Marie Kondo took the world by storm, there was Hold Everything—a brand of organizational solutions launched by Williams Sonoma back in 1983 and later picked up by Pottery Barn in 1993. For the two decades that the line was around, its products were a favorite among home organizers.
While other systems exist, Hold Everything appealed to me as an ideal in-between of off-the-shelf and custom. (I also own a Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System, but that’s for display, not hiding away.) Plus, after the product line’s return, it became a favorite among Domino readers, topping our best-seller list for February. When the opportunity to review the legendary Essential Closet presented itself, I committed to installing it without hesitation. To find out whether or not it helped our closet—and me—reach peak storage potential, read on.
Finding the right Hold Everything system begins with a choose-your-own-adventure move: Are you looking to outfit a reach-in or walk-in closet? The main difference is in the posts—for reach-ins, you get a single post that connects to the wall in two locations at top and bottom. For a walk-in, it’s a double post that connects to the wall only at the top.
Modular in design, there is just enough customization for either style without catapulting things into “I am paralyzed by the choices” territory. The post height is just over 7 feet tall, and widths vary between 4 feet and 8 feet. Optional components include basic shelves, shelves with rods, shoe racks, dresser drawers, cabinets, and cabinets with glass fronts.
If you are looking for color or darker wood, this is not the system for you. If you’re hoping to keep your closet light, bright, and devoid of anything that borders on industrial, you’re in the right place. Everything is made either from white powder-coated steel (brackets, posts, rods) or MDF finished in white (shelves, drawers, cabinets).
To maximize the large size of our bedroom closet—and to avoid putting a dresser in the room, an already tight space—we opted for an 8-foot-wide reach-in style featuring several regular shelves, shelves with rods, and two 4-drawer dressers. Note: Measuring ahead of ordering is advised again and again by Pottery Barn, and being precise in this step is necessary for the system to fit properly (more on that later).
The systems are constructed from solid, coated MDF and metal frames, which helps justify the cost (the walk-in versions range from $1,123 to $4,305; the reach-in styles are anywhere between $763 and $3,061). These numbers are comparable to many full-priced options you’ll find at the Container Store, and the look is leaps beyond anything from Rubbermaid or what you’d see on Wayfair. We’re not talking custom California Closets, but there’s definitely a finished look at the end, which feels decidedly upscale.
Pottery Barn recommends hiring professionals to install the Hold Everything system. In an effort to get as close a look as possible at the entire process, my husband and I decided to do it ourselves.
We collected the products at our doorstep since our building has a difficult entry, but white-glove delivery is available for an additional fee. At present, if you order today, you will likely wait no longer than a few weeks to get your entire closet. Boxes began arriving within a week, but the whole apparatus was not in our apartment until closer to the end of two. I am not lying that the amount of packaging took up three-quarters of our second bedroom; our set came with 31 boxes to manage. (Editor’s note: Within each box of brackets, there were 10 pairs packaged in their own boxes, which added up to quite a lot more.) While I appreciated how carefully wrapped and packed everything was, as well as the fact that the system is certified nontoxic, this part would be my main complaint—breaking down all the cardboard, wood braces, foam, and plastic felt like it took as long as installing the unit itself. I couldn’t help but feel wasteful, even with a good portion of the packaging constructed from cardboard.
First, we had to deinstall the makeshift system from our closet—a bit of an ordeal, but we made it happen. After everything for the Hold Everything setup was out of boxes (which took, in total, approximately 1.5 to 2 hours), we were ready to go. Each box comes with the hardware and anchors you need, which is nice reassurance, but we thought the excess of small Allen wrenches to be overboard. We had a drill and drill bits handy, which we found necessary in the few instances that the drillable anchors weren’t sharp enough to get through wall material.
Now’s the time for another reminder: Measuring and ensuring your closet walls are free of obstacles top to bottom is not something to take lightly. Ditto goes for reading the instructions a few times through. This is particularly true with the reach-in style. It connects at the top of the post and also at the bottom, about 8 inches above the ground.
Our closet width measurement was slightly off (we’re only human), so we had to use three bays instead of four. And thanks to our building being a century old, there are small pipes running through our closet along with molding at the bottom—right at the exact spot we needed to attach the posts. Because of this, we had to raise the floor up with wood from the hardware store to make the attachment possible. Securing the posts and drawers was definitely the most time-consuming part; it took us approximately three painstaking hours, considering we wanted each component to be level and secure. The drawers are supported by brackets but also secured to the wall; we had to install ours slightly higher due to the aforementioned pipes. Once those were up, we decided to call it a night. The following day, everything else went in pretty smoothly. Shelves screwed in easily, and rods were added quickly. Once it was 100% in, the system felt extremely durable—and I haven’t noticed anything to suggest otherwise in the weeks we’ve had it.
The Final Word
After going through installation firsthand, my final opinion: If you have the bandwidth in your budget and/or your home has tricky edges or some extra character, hiring a pro is worth it. If your home is on the newer side with perfectly smooth, squared-off closets, two able-bodied people could absolutely install the Hold Everything system—but it is definitely a weekend project.
Even after all of this, I would still recommend the Hold Everything system, particularly for new construction or a gut reno or someone who wants to get as much out of hidden storage as possible. I could even see the system being used in a linen closet or craft closet, too—not just for clothes and shoes. The posts are well constructed, and the MDF feels hefty and stable. The hardware and anchors are pretty dummy-proof once you get the hang of it, and I like the ease of being able to move shelves around. The biggest perk? I’m actually inspired to put my clothes away instead of tossing them on our dog’s crate at the end of the day.
Editor’s note: In a previous version of this article, the number of boxes noted included additional packaging that was sent erroneously, as well as boxes included within boxes. According to Pottery Barn, the average number of boxes across all closet configurations is 19.