Saturday, February 18, 2012

maximize yourself.

Well...maximize my closet space, anyway.

"Wasted organizational real estate" is kind of a running theme in this house. It was built in the mid-1960s, and like other houses of that era, it's lacking in built-in storage areas - no pantry, two tiny hall closets, and bedroom closets that did NOT make the best of the space available:

We could make our clothes and shoes fit into this space, but it wasn't awesome. There was one horizontal bar with a shelf laid on top, and that was it. The thing is, it's actually a deep closet - almost three feet, if I remember correctly. Because I'm a masochist when it comes to Getting Myself In Over My Head on DIY House Projects, I trolled the interwebs for some inspiration photos. This was pre-Pinterest-obsession (circa September 2011, aka one month B.P.: Before Pinterest), so I just Google-image-searched (how juvenile! Oh Pinterest, how you've jaded me) until I found some good stuff.

All the closet systems I found for purchase were mega expensive. I was kind of hoping to do this whole project for under $100, but closet systems? Tend to be wayyyy more than $100. I considered buying plywood planks at a big box store and completely DIY-ing it, but then I found this affordable closet system on Amazon. It was right around $100 for the shelving tower and three hanging rods.

I wanted the system to look built-in, which meant I had to paint it white to match the interior of the closet. Speaking of which...prepping the closet interior turned into an extra week of the project, ugh. I know I'm supposed to plan for things to cost more and take longer than expected, but it still gets my goat.

Why did it take so long? Well, it was my first time doing any sort of major removal of original-to-the-house shelving, so I didn't anticipate...um...ripping up half the wall while taking out the closet shelf. First, I had re-located our clothes, shoes, and crap to the purple room closet, which was, at that point, mostly empty. Then I spent a good half hour trying to figure out how to dismantle the existing rod and shelf. The metal hook-rod piece had been screwed, glued, and painted to the shelf, and I whacked it (heh) with a hammer for a while. I was still only 80% certain that I was capable of improving the closet at all, so the lack of confidence probably contributed to how long it took to get that thing down. Once it was, though, I tackled the shelf (also screwed, nailed, glued, and painted over). And that's how my closet went from this:

To this:

It was...not looking so hot.

"Look, J.J., I updated our closet!"
The strip of exposed drywall (or whatever the eff that is...as if I know) ran the entire length of the closet and ranged from a half inch to about five inches high (and about a quarter-inch deep) in some places.

So fancy.
I had anticipated having to fix some nail holes, so I had wood filler on hand, but this...required more than just wood filler. I thought. I didn't really know. Still don't really know, but either way, I ventured into the basement to see what my options were. Wood filler, caulk, joint compound: I went for the joint compound. I smeared it all the way around the gouges and pressed the tape stuff into (how's that for a detailed, professional description?). I sanded it down after it dried and repeated the process...just in case. I mean, structurally, everything was still fine, but aesthetically? Hot mess.

And, of course, this fun process meant that I was going to have to re-paint the closet. We didn't have a can of the original color (because we didn't paint it), and the interior was so dingy and scuffed up that it needed a new coat anyway. I bought some off-the-shelf white paint (after lingering over some light blues) and slapped two coats up. FYI, painting a new white coat over an old white coat is confusing. Picture me, staring at an expanse of wall, murmuring, "Shit, did I already do this part?" (Kim Jong-Cathy: Looking at wall.)

In the meantime, I was also painting and assembling the new closet tower in my ever-professional workshop. I don't know what faux-wood chemical compound the tower components were made of, but painting them was a total bitch. I sanded them down first, applied a coat of primer...and watched it seemingly disappear before my eyes. Like, little holes dotted the primer job. Second coat...samesies. Being the brilliant impatient DIY-er that I am, I forged ahead anyway. And ended up doing seventy hundred jillion coats of paint.

Coat #45,377.
Once the paint was (mostly) behaving, I assembled the two halves of the tower...

...and set them up in the also-freshly-painted closet:

You probably can't tell, but there's a level on the
third shelf up, and it indicated PERFECTION.
I tried sawing slots into the base molding so I could slide the tower in flush against the wall, but that was far beyond my capabilities. Instead, I borrowed J.J. for a minute (he was busy building our new backyard shed with his dad). He leaned the whole thing against the wall while I slid some wood shims (which I WAS capable of sawing - in half, so they didn't jut out) under the front part of the tower's base planks. Somehow, it all stayed level, and I fastened the entire contraption to the wall with pieces from the kit.

Apparently, I grew tired of playing Mediocre Project Photographer sometime around this point, so I have no in-progress pics of the rod installation. Suffice it to say that my do-it-yourself patience had dimmed considerably after about a week of unforeseen patching and painting complications, and, long story short, I installed the three rods. J.J.'s mom had a hanging rod attachment that she gifted to us, which hung at the perfect height and increased our hanging capacity. I also added some hooks to the side walls.

End result?
Don't worry, Internet police, we've since
moved that safe to a...safer location.

My side of the closet, with a view
of the jewelry hooks on the wall.

J.J.'s side, with the belt hooks I added to that wall.

It seriously feels like a walk-in closet now - wayyy bigger than it used to. And our storage space was, like, quadrupled. I wish I had hung the lower-left rod a couple inches higher to accommodate the laundry basket, but it's so not a big enough problem to necessitate re-hanging it. I also want to add more shelves to the tower, but the pre-cut shelves I found aren't quite the right size (too shallow), so that's still in the works (four months later). Overall, though, it was a serious upgrade. And I found a garbage bag's worth of clothes to donate, which you know made my minimalist heart happy.

Next on the list was tackling the Bad-Kid Cupboard...but that's another post for another day!

What's in the boooooox? Hint: not bad kids.  (Yet.)

1 comment:

  1. Love it, dude!! I am pinning the organizer for when we eventually have our own closet to upgrade!



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