Where did August go? For Joe and I went it went to vacation and visits to/from family.

^ I started writing this blog post a month ago, shortly after we had (mostly) finished redoing our master closet. Now I’m asking myself, where did September go!?

Let’s try that again: After a wonderful but busy summer, we decided to take advantage of Labor Day weekend and task ourselves with tackling the master bedroom closet.

The closet we inherited was a dull cream color with scratched up walls and a layout that poorly utilized the space.

The original owner had installed a long single wire shelf running around both corners with no separate rod attachment for hanging clothes. The clips that held the wires in were falling off and keeping clothes in the corners made it them difficult to access. And the original closet door was set up to open inward, making a quarter of the closet inaccessible when it was open.

When we first moved in and decided to paint all the doors and windows and their corresponding trim, the closet door was one of the first ones we took down. I made the executive decision then and there to leave it off and make it a point to address the whole closet soon.

Sketching and Making Lists

In the weeks before the remodel I made a number of sketches of possible layouts. I knew I wanted a bar going across the whole back wall, which was 114 inches long. I figured a wardrobe tower would stabilize the two rods and create a hanging side for each of us, while providing storage for shoes and accessories. Then, since the closet door pretty evenly divides the room, each of us would have room to put a dresser or whatever other storage we needed.

Our initial schedule looked like this:

  • Friday night: Empty closet in preparation!
  • Saturday: Remove wire shelving unit, spackle holes, Ikea (buy Pax wardrobe and Malm dressers), paint walls and ceiling
  • Sunday: Lowe’s (buy shelving, rods and new door), install new closet system, paint new door and trim
  • Monday: Put clothes back in closet

SPOILER ALERT! It didn’t go exactly as planned. But it went closer to that than I expected it would! And I think what we ended up with is better, and less expensive, than my initial specs.

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Joe removing the wire shelf

Sorry, Ikea.

Our first hiccup came in Ikea. First of all, we went at the worst possible time, Saturday afternoon. If you haven’t been to an Ikea on a Saturday afternoon, just don’t. Three minutes in we had already had our fill. We had a return to make, so all was not lost, but after exploring their Pax wardrobe systems and inspecting their dressers, we realized we were falling into the trap of paying slightly less for noticeably worse quality items.

We quickly hurried out of there. And after seeing the line of 30-some people waiting for a cart I couldn’t have regretted the decision less.

We got home and jumped into painting, eager to get something done, only to realize we probably should have let the spackle dry a little longer (whoops).

On the plus side, we were happy to be saving some money on paint by using Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist, which we had in abundance, leftover from our living room walls.

Despite the spackle hiccup and the time we wasted at Ikea, by the end of Saturday we had a freshly painted closet and were ready to start installing… something.

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Joe putting the light back up.

Progress at Lowe’s

Our trip to Lowe’s on Sunday was more fruitful. We had looked at some reviews for their allen + roth closet line, which are sold both as closet systems or piecemeal. I was initially thinking we’d buy the closet system, but after pricing it out and really thinking through what we needed, we decided to just purchase the tower and their shelves and rods.

The previous day Joe had talked me into keeping my very nice Crate & Barrel armoir (it went something like, “Why would you buy a cheap Ikea dresser when you already have something that’s solid wood?” – he was totally right), and since his wardrobe is significantly smaller than mine, he figured he’d only need a couple shelves to hold the rest of his clothes. So we loaded two extra shelves onto the cart and stopped at the wood cutter on the way out.

The laugh was on us, though. The wood cutter was down.

Instead of finding another Lowe’s we decided to take back what we had and focus on getting the back wall finished, then make another trip the next day, Labor Day, with a better idea of what we needed.

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Joe putting up the brackets for the top shelf

The tower was pretty easy to put together and is well made. Plus it’s a nice cream color, which matches the warmth of our walls while keeping the space nice and bright.

We got the tower and the shelves up mostly without incident, then proceeded to put the armoir back into the closet along with all of my clothes and shoes.

We achieved our first goal: Getting my clothes off the pull up bar in the gym in time to get a workout in on Monday!

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Tower and left side done.

Lowe’s Again

After we got the initial pieces installed it gave Joe the clarity he needed to figure out how he wanted to store the rest of his stuff. The tower itself was the price of a cheap Ikea dresser and Lowe’s was running a 20% discount on their closet organization items, so we decided to get another tower along with the drawer inserts. Joe would use the bottom part of the tower with three drawer inserts as his dresser.

We found a different Lowe’s and called ahead this time to make sure their wood cutter was working (it was) and went in to make our returns and purchases and cut the top shelf down a few inches so it would fit on Joe’s side.

Back at the house, we quickly built the new tower and put the drawers together and were able to get Joe’s clothes back into the closet. A full length mirror hung next to the door on Joe’s side and a couple hooks were the finishing touches for the weekend.

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pano-vision!

The last thing we needed was a door! We settled on a bifold door, but since we couldn’t fit it in the car, we ordered a plain wood, half louver one off of the Home Depot website, along with a little stool from Amazon for some seating.

The Month-Long Bifold

We finished our closet in three days, but it took us nearly a month to get the door in place. First, it took about a week for the door to be delivered. The next few weekends we were traveling, and Joe had started classes, so I knew we would have to do this in small sessions after work.

I carved a night out first to paint the inside trim of the closet, using Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron (which we used on all the doors and trim).

Then I set up all the paint, equipment and the doors up on stools behind the couch in the living room. It was a slow process – one night I’d do two coats on one side of a door, then the other side the next night. It took four nights over two weeks to get both doors painted and dried. I watch a lot of American Vandal while I worked (I highly recommend it – it’s ridiculous in all the right ways.)

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Doors waiting for paint

By the last weekend in September we were finally ready to install it – a process that was much easier than I had anticipated, once we figured out how the door was supposed to work.

Hooking the top of the door to the track and then the bottom to the small base simultaneously was the trickiest part, and we scratched the floor a little in the process, but overall it was pretty painless.

The last touch was screwing in the doorknob. The door came with a wood one, but we forwent that for a small satin nickel knob to match the rest of the hardware in the house.

Before / After

I am SO pleased with the closet. It’s much more organized, spacious and homey now. And even though the door took a while due to our crazy September – a music festival and school and travel – it was a lesson in being patient and taking everything day by day.

 

 

 

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