Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Master Bedroom Closets!

The inside parts of our new master bedroom walk-in closets are finished!  As with most projects around here, this one took longer than we expected.  This is behind us now, and I am thrilled to show you how it all came together.  (settle in, because this post is a long one.)

Here is a quick review to remind you where this project started and how it proceeded.  The area that became our new closets looked like this before construction started ... typical 1960s, the era of the addition to our house where our master bedroom is located.  We hired Peter Csemez, a contractor friend, to do the heavy-lifting portion of the project, in the interest of getting the dirty parts done and over with quickly.

The wall with the old closet doors was demolished, and a new wall was built that approximately follows the line of the fringe on the rug.

We gave up 28 inches of floor space, and we gained two 5 1/2-foot by 4 1/2-foot walk-in closets.

The dotted lines in the drawing represent the configuration of the old closets.

The new bedroom floorplan looks like this:

The project began with a bit of demolition and a lot of dust.  First the doors were removed (to be reused). 

Then the old closet walls came down.  The 2x4 lying on the floor is the bottom plate of the new wall.

The new closet wall looks like a wall of built-in cupboards, using the old closet doors and one more door that we robbed from our hall bathroom.  (the bathroom door was replaced with a similar one that we found at the Habitat ReStore in Richmond.)

Photoshop facsimile of the new wall.  The inner doors operate, and the outer doors are stationary.

The framing part of this job was more complicated than we thought it would be ... of course it was ... almost everything in old house renovation is like that.

... and here we are, new wall in place with trim and doors and it looks great!  After this point, the contractor's part of the project was finished, and it was time for me to do my part. 

Peter's drywall guy did a great job on the inside of the closets.  He had to patch the walls and ceiling where the old closet walls were, and add sheetrock to the new wall.  After he finished, the walls were smooth and ready for paint.

The first step was to roll on a coat of primer.  I always use Valspar Bonding Primer, because I can never be sure exactly what is on these old walls ... this primer covers stains and sticks to almost anything.

I didn't want to lose the electrical outlet that was on the old closet wall, so I had Peter relocate it into The Husband's closet.

Cats and painting don't mix well.  Dorothy was keeping her distance, watching from a few feet away.

To be certain she stayed safely away from the paint, I set a cat trap of newspaper on the corner of our bed ... this works every time!

One of the objectives of this project was to reuse as many materials as possible.  All of the trim and doors were salvaged.  Even the paint for the inside walls was a gallon of paint that I had stashed away ... Benjamin Moore 'Gossamer Blue' that I bought last year for our hall bath (and had yet to use).

The new pale blue is perfect!

For light fixtures, I bought an inexpensive set of two flush-mount lights at Lowes for $21-and-change.  They are white with alabaster-looking glass.

The next day, it was time to make these new little rooms function as closets.  I love ClosetMaid's system of adjustable closet fittings.  It all starts with a hanging rail mounted at the ceiling, screwed firmly into the wall's framework.  In the case of our back closet wall, which is the former back wall of this old brick house of ours, I used masonry screws to secure the rail.  Next came the vertical supports ... leveled and screwed to the wall.  (I reused all of the parts from our old closets.  I only had to buy one hanging rail, four vertical supports, and 14 shelf brackets.) 

The hanging rail on the left wall is level ... the ceiling isn't, tho.

Here is the shelving, finished in both closets!  The back walls are set up for double-hanging clothes ... one shelf 40 inches off the floor and one at 80 inches.  The side walls have space for a hamper and shelves for folded clothes.

The next things to address were the holes in the flooring where the former closet walls used to be.  The Husband asked if he could help, so I had him even up and cut the edges of this hole.  Here he is using a chisel to get the last little bits out of the corner.

The piece of reclaimed flooring that I had on hand isn't an exact match, but it will be pretty close once I stain and varnish it.  (our floor is heartpine and the patch flooring is antique yellow pine.)  The black pieces in the patch are what the replacement flooring looked like before I scraped and sanded it.  I can't tell you how many trips I made up and down the two flights of stairs between our bedroom and the miter saw in our basement for me to cut these pieces of flooring.  Each piece had to be scribed to fit and cut at least two times. 

If this was a more visible area of the house, I would have done this job more correctly by removing part of the original floor and weaving the patch in so it's not so obvious.  This is a closet, however, and I made the conscious decision to patch it the easiest way possible and move on.  These pieces are just sitting in place for now ... the subfloor and the old flooring aren't level, and it's going to take a LOT of time for me to shim each piece of the patch flooring to bring it even with the old flooring. At least this big hole is sort of patched for now, so The Husband won't hurt himself if he steps on it.

Are you ready for the reveal?  I spent most of the morning yesterday sorting through my clothes and putting them into my new closet.  Summer clothes on the top rail, winter on the bottom .... no more changing things out for each season.  The few dresses, suits, and other long items that I have are in the closet in my sewing room.  They have always been there ... I wear them so rarely, and I couldn't justify including them in the new closet design.  They're fine where they are.

My shelves for folding clothes will hold jeans, work pants, sweatshirts, sweaters, etc.  I still have more sweaters and hoodies in my armoire to sort through and put in here.  (I've been pretty ruthless with my initial sorting, and I took 35 shirts and sweaters to Goodwill yesterday afternoon.)  I still have too much stuff, so I will do another round of purging later.

I keep a very tidy closet ... with like things grouped together, arranged by color.  This makes it so much easier to find stuff. 

The piece of old flooring I had was only enough to patch the major hole in the floor of The Husband's closet.  I have to scrounge another piece to do mine ... this hole is out of the traffic path and isn't a huge trip hazard like the other one was, so it can wait.

Alice was hiding under the clothes as I was working, till I chased her out.

Then she and Dorothy lounged on the bed and monitored my progress.  That pile of clothes on the right was the beginning of the heap that went to Goodwill

There you have it, Folks ... the inside of our new closets ... finished and in use.  Our bedroom used to look like this:

And this is what you see as you walk into our bedroom now!

I still have quite a bit of work ahead of me, to finish the moldings and doors on the outside of the new closet wall.  Everything is functional the way it is, so I can wait till later to caulk and prime and paint, and to cut and reinstall the radiator cover.  I don't want to wait too long, though.  My resolution this year is to do whatever I can to see all of my projects through to the end and actually FINISH WHAT I START.  The inside of these closets tested my resolve, especially as I whined about having to carefully cut in the blue paint at the ceiling and baseboard and around the doors, and as I was making so many trips up and down the stairs fitting flooring into the hole in The Husband's closet floor.

These new closets are already a huge improvement in the way we live in this old house of ours.  I still can't believe how much style and function we have gained, and I find myself standing and staring a them ... what a difference!

The contractor who worked on this project for us is:
Peter Csemez
Homebrite Renovations
(If you are in northern/central Virginia and are looking for a contractor, this one comes highly recommended ... by us!)


  1. I just found your blog via My Notting Hill. I was beginning to think there were no other Fredericksburg bloggers. I look forward to reading more and seeing your beautiful house.

  2. It's a beautiful thing!!!

    And.. you hang up your t-shirts? You're making me look reeeeeally bad.

  3. Ok - so I've been following this project very closely because your closets are about the same size as my husband's and my walk-ins. You hung the shelves on the back wall at 80" and 40" . What do you do with the clothes that are longer, like dresses? The back wall of my closet is divided in 2 with half at 80" and 40" and the other half just at 80" for the long clothes. Obviously, I miss out on the bottom shelf on the "long clothes" side. Just curious what you do.

    And yes Karen (my friend), Everyone in my house hangs their tee shirts. Sooooo much easier than balled up shirts in the kids bureaus!!

  4. Connie the closets turned out great! I can see how much more function and space you have now. Well worth the floor space you gave up. Good for you purging clothes. I am going to do another round of clothes sometime this spring. You and all your helpers did a great job!
    hugs, Linda

    PS Love the newspaper 'cat trap'!!!

  5. First, thank you for taking us through from beginning to end. It made is so much easier not to bounce back and forth between the inspiration and the final reveal. Second, congratulations ~ my admiration for a project well done including the purging, and we too have adopted your spirit of “finish the projects already started.” So very happy for you as I know how much easier the start of your day will be.

  6. It turned out great and there's so much room in there. You guys did a wonderful job of planning this, and I know you must be loving it!


  7. They came out beautifully Connie! It is so hard for people to understand just how messy and difficult this kind of work is, but since we just did Brie's closet makeover I totally get it! Also, I also color code and sort by type the clothes in my closet... it's the only way to go ;)

  8. Happy Dance!!! Enjoy your closet!!!

  9. Isn't it nice to plan something and have it turn out like you hoped it would... and more!

  10. Oh Connie! I am SOOO glad you are done. It looks beautiful. What a great idea you had and it was executed beautifully. I am so glad that you can now enjoy it- xo Diana

  11. Oh my gosh.....toootttallly jealous over here! What a beautiful job! And be still my soul....your organization skills are amaaazing! Can I hire you to make my closet look that pretty....??? :)

    xoxo laurie

  12. Great cat story!

    My closet is on the 'to-do' list.

    Alas, it is 'just' large enough to need some serious money.

    Want it to be a sexy little boudoir too. And that is incentive enough for 'him' !!!

    Please consider some tiny little chandeliers. You deserve them.

  13. Connie--I'll just say I have closet-envy.

  14. Wow, that is quite the renovation! I'm impressed. Thanks for the start to finish…it gives me hope for ours.

  15. Hi Connie, This project turned out great! I know you will enjoy the extra closet space. Thank you for for joining the Open House party.
    xx, Sherry


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