Thank you all for voting and participating in Blog Madness last week! We’ll be back Wednesday to announce the ULTIMATE 2018 TREND and lay out all of our 2018 predictions, but today we’re back to our regular DIY content.
And it’s exciting because in a wholly unprecedented move for me, I am actually ahead of where I planned to be on a DIY project: I’ve finished the closet makeover! So rather than play coy and just post my planned update for today I’m going to go ahead and share the whole thing.
So you can properly understand how much progress this is, here is where we left off, with a gross, unpainted closet with some oddly shaped, unpainted shelves leaning in it, which was already a major step forward from where it all started:
I’ve been working steadily on this project but with all of the holidays and blog anniversary festivities I haven’t gotten to share more. Here is what I’ve been up to!
Painting and Finishing Plywood Edges
Without the pressure of scheduled blog posts, I decided to make it easy on myself and paint the shoe shelves before installing them. DIY projects are generally 10% glamorous fun construction, 10% measuring, and 80% painting stuff and waiting for paint to dry so that you can paint it again. This project was no different.
Since I was trying to make this project really affordable and quick, I made all the shelves out of plywood and didn’t want to bother with adding strips of wood to cover the rough edges so it would look clean when painted. Instead, I coated it with a thin layer of spackling paste, sanded it down, and then painted it as usual.
To paint the shelves, I used my go-to paint for high-use areas: Benjamin Moore’s Advance in Satin. I’ve talked about it before, but the short story is that it is a latex paint that dries extra durable and is a bit self leveling, making it a bit like an oil paint but less toxic and easier to clean up. It’s great for things like the inside of drawers and furniture, and in this case shelves where lots of shoes will be scuffing the surface.
I had to hang the shelves one at a time, since the fit was so tight that I knew adding the ledges for the top shelf would make it impossible to get the bottom shelf into place.
It was really satisfying to see them in. Even though they are a really odd shape, they look uniform when in place!
Installing Useless Trim
Before installing the shelves we also painted the lower part of the closet (so we wouldn’t have to paint in between the shelves) and I got annoyed with how sloppy it looked where the wall met the floor. Never mind that it wouldn’t be visible once the shelves were in, it was bothering me, so I decided to use a spare 1×2 board to put a tiny baseboard.
This was also a fun excuse to try out my new miter saw, which my parents got me for solstice and has totally changed my life 🙂
The dinky trim would look ridiculous in most spaces, but it works fine for a closet.
Building Side and Top Shelves
Next up was to build the rest of the shelving that was in my original closet plan. I decided against the sliding wire baskets or drawers I had been thinking of at first (they would have been fun to make but hard to actually use/access) and just make some open shelves.
Thus ensued more measuring, cutting, and of course painting.
We decided that about 5 shelves would fit well, so these took another 1/2 plywood piece. The shoe shelves took about another 1/2 pieces, bringing our running total up to one at this point.
To space out the shelves, we used a neat trick enabled by the happy accident that I had decided 8.5″ was a good amount of spacing for the shoe shelves. To keep it neat we made these shelves 8.5″ apart also… allowing us to skip measuring and just use a piece of paper to mark where the brackets should go:
Closets aren’t the place for fancy floating shelves, so we put them up on just small braces made of scrap wood and screwed into studs on the wall.
(And by the way, cutting these braces is the perfect example of why having a miter saw is so awesome. Making all these cuts with a circular saw or jigsaw would have been a pain, but it took like 2 minutes with the miter saw.)
While I was at it, I also cut a new top shelf for the closet (but not with the miter saw, obviously) even though there was one in there before. The original was pretty warped and was also wide, making it hard to get things up and down through the small opening left between it and the doorway. I cut a narrower shelf, which admittedly provides a bit less storage but means its possible to get larger items/boxes up and down. This had me cutting into a bit of a third 1/2 piece of plywood.
All of these pieces were then painted and finished as the shoe shelf was… again, 80% of my life.
Installing Half Rod for Coats
Finally, I also took down the old coat rack to install a new one that would only go part of the way across the closet, leaving room to access my new shelves.
I started by removing all of the old stuff that our home’s previous owner had used to hang his coat rack (providing a great example of the excellent construction we inherited).
I then put up a bracket that supports both a shelf and a rod (actually the same one that Sage used in her closet makeover, that we each apparently purchased independently).
However, my installation, while still really easy, wasn’t quite as simple as hers. I first had to make room to hang it where a wood support bracket for the top shelf already was. I didn’t want to just install it over it because the rod would be too far out, and I didn’t want to install beneath it because it would look ridiculous and wouldn’t help support the shelf.
Instead, I marked off the size of the bracket and sawed off a notch to put it in.
This is the kind of mess you get when you saw right against your wall inside:
But it looks much better once patched up and painted white!
Finally, I measured the precise length needed and picked up a wood rod and hanger at Home Depot. I decided to lightly finish the wood with Danish Oil rather than traditional stain and poly.
Danish oil is coloring and lacquer in one, so it seeps into the wood and hardens there, making it resistant to scratching off with use… ideal for a coat rod. You can also re-coat without sanding it down in case it gets really scuffed (although I have trouble imagining myself caring enough about the inside of this closet to do that in the future).
The Finished Closet Storage Makeover!
And here it is all done! Amazing what a little white paint can do:
I’m really thrilled about it. It has SO much storage and is such a better set up than we had before. There’s nothing crazy fancy about it, but with the clean white and touch of natural wood it is a nice space and feels luxurious to me.
To give you an idea of how much it can hold, here it is set up with the most attractive 50% of our stuff (a closet full of all of our stuff wouldn’t be the desired after image on a blog).
I am ridiculously in love with the side shelves.
And the shelf on the top will actually be a pretty useful space, even though it is narrower than before. The size of the opening now allows us to get decent sized storage boxes up and down, meaning that we can move in storage for things like extension cords that we always seem to be reaching for, but don’t really need to have right in our face.
And here is the overall transformation:
Finally, this is such a commonly needed project that I figure a cost breakdown might be helpful for someone. Here is what I spent:
- Two boards of decently smooth 3/4″ plywood: about $84 (I purchased two but actually used less than one and a half: half for the shoe shelves, half for the side shelves, and half that I cut the top shelf out of)
- Pack of screws, about $5 (many left over)
- Shelf/Rod Bracket, about $6
- Wood closet rod flange, about $5
- 33″ Wood Rod, about $7 (by the foot)
If you don’t have some of the stuff I had on hand, you may also need to buy:
- Wall paint and primer, cost depends on your brand
- Benjamin Moore Advance paint, cost is slightly more expensive than your typical paint, but not crazy so, or you can just use your regular trim paint
- Spackling paste, like $4
- Watco Danish Oil, like $8
- Scrap wood (for holding up shelves)
All in all, pretty affordable for how much it will be changing our (storage) lives!
I have to say I’m pretty proud of accomplishing one of my 2018 goals already in January, although there is more to do in the hallway area to get it up to the high bar now set by this awesome closet 🙂