Part 4: The Final Closet Reveal

The closet is finally finished and I love it. It was one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever done. It’s also a great beginner project for people just dipping their toes in the DIY water. It required a little bit of everything – demo, drywall repair, new flooring installation and super simple electrical work (replacing a light fixture and light switch). My husband, more of a DIY pro, guided the drywall, electrical and install work. I’ve been bugging him to teach me more, so he let me get my hands dirty (uh– more like dusty!) with this project.

The Before

Let’s get to the before photos. The layout of the room is above to help orient you since the room is small and hard to capture.

Wall 4 with double hanging racks.

The room looks rather drab and, as I mentioned in Part 1, didn’t function very well. It had a wire-closet system on the three main walls. The hanging rod/shelf on wall 1 was reinforced with several brackets and what you can’t see in the photo is that the drywall was really damaged (you’ll see some photos below that demonstrates this). The carpet was in good shape but I wanted a fun floor tile to add personality to the room. The fluorescent light brightened up the room but it wasn’t very pretty.

The Corner where wall 4 meets wall 1.

The shelves and hanging system were at various heights and I generally never used the top hanging rack on Wall 4 (I’m too short!). If you recall from Part 1 or Part 2, Wall 2 was problematic when trying to maximize storage. It’s ~12.5″ deep and only 3.5 feet wide. It had a small wire shelving unit with an open bottom where we placed our hamper. This functioned really well and we used all the shelves. I didn’t want to lose this function when we updated the closet and it was initially a challenge, but Part 2 showed you how we worked it out.

My husband emptied the closet before I had an opportunity to take real before photos. But take my word it wasn’t pretty with the random piles of clothes and things thrown here and there.

Demo and Drywall Repair

Demoing the space was super quick. It probably took an hour or two. We removed the wall shelves, baseboards and pulled up the carpet and padding. There were staples in the floor, so I had to get done on my hands and knees and pull each one out individually (I had to do the same thing in powder room, so I felt like a pro at this). The staple removal took the longest.

After everything was removed, we could see that the hanging system damaged wall 1 (see below). To be honest, I didn’t anticipate replacing a large piece of drywall and wished that we could just forget about fixing it (hey! clothes will be in front of it!), but I knew it was the right thing to do. This extended our 3-day project into about a week.

To repair the drywall, we cut out the damaged drywall as neatly as possible using a long level and box cutter.

This exposed three studs. As you can see the stud on the right is very close to the edge of the drywall hole while the left side doesn’t have a stud at the end. It would have been helpful to cut the left side to another stud to provide more stability and support to the left side. Everything still turned out fine, but next time we would cut to the other stud.

We cut a new piece of drywall down to size. At first we started with an over sized piece and slowly trimmed away the sides to fit it exactly into the hole. The goals was to have the smallest possible gap between the new and old drywall.

We drilled drywall screws into the studs to attach the new drywall and then went around the seams with mesh drywall joint tape. At this point we were ready to start filling the holes and blending the new drywall with the rest of the wall.

This process took several days and was very messy. We filled the holes with joint compound. To tackle the new piece of drywall, we used joint compound on a trowel to cover the joint tape and fanned out the compound to create a seamless appearance. After the joint compound was applied, we waited 24 hours before sanding the joint compound down with a sanding block. We repeated the process of applying the joint compound to the individual holes and then around the new drywall and sanding three times (waiting 24 hours between each round). Each time we fanned the joint compound out from around the new piece to a greater degree. On the fourth day, we sanded the joint compound for the last time and we were left with our repaired drywall that was ready for painting.

Again, this was super messy and a really slow phase of the project. Dust got everywhere! I would recommend hanging plastic sheets in the door way to prevent it from leaking into the attached rooms. It can also be pretty frustrating when trying to blend the new large piece of drywall with the wall. It takes time and patience. As I was super inexperienced, Jer showed me how to do it and did the heavy lifting with this. This YouTube video shows the general process and demonstrates the “fanning” that I was referring to.

Painting and New Flooring

Now that the walls were ready, we needed to prep the floor to install the peel and stick tile. Strand board was under the carpet and padding, but to make the tile level with the vinyl tiling in the bathroom and to allow a smooth surface to attach the tile, we had to lay down underlayment plywood on top of it.

Because the room is oddly shaped and the door way is small, Jer had to cut the plywood into multiple pieces to fit it into the door and to deal with the angled doorway. It was basically like having an extra large puzzle. He stapled the plywood down using a pneumatic stapler. He estimated he used 1 million staples. (oye! that will be a pain if/when we need to remove the plywood).

At this point the room was ready to be painted. I had already picked Sherwin Williams Discreet White for the walls (remember the design plan from Part 3?). I’m not brand loyal when it comes to paint, although I generally use Sherwin Williams colors. I have found Behr, Valspar and Sherwin Williams-HGTV paints are great and I have not had any issues with color matching. I tend to always purchase the most “advance” version of the paint…basically just meaning the most expensive. I was really impressed with HGTV Homes- Sherwin Williams Infinity paint recently, so I headed to Lowe’s to get the paint mixed. However, to my surprise, Lowe’s could not find Discreet White in their system. I showed them the Sherwin Williams website and the paint guy just shrugged and said they couldn’t do it.

Luckily, we have a Sherwin Williams store down the road and I headed over there. The store associate explained that Discreet White was discontinued. They could still mix it but that explained why Lowe’s couldn’t find the color in their system. I guess my paint deck is too old. Anyways, I requested the cheapest interior paint and that was a big mistake. The paint was difficult to work with and was very watery compared to the other brands I typically use (I don’t think this is representative of all SW paint. I think this is representative of me…being a cheap-ass).

A quick note on the color Discreet White: It’s a difficult color and I can see why they discontinued it. It has purplish undertones and can feel very purple at times and then very gray at other times (I think some of the photos below show that). Since it’s so difficult, it’s a risky color choice but if purple undertones work well with the other design elements, then I would suggest you give it a try. I think it looks good with the other elements in the closet. It’s not a bright, in-your-face purple. Rather it’s a very subtle nod to purple which works just fine for this room.

After the walls were painted, we were ready to install the peel and stick flooring. The flooring installation is pretty easy. Make sure the floor is clean and free of any dust/debris, peel off the backing and stick the tile to the ground. We did not paint the plywood before attaching the tile, which was recommended and it didn’t cause any issues. The most challenging part of the floor was lining the pattern up. The tiles are not printed exactly the same, so sometimes the pattern was slightly off set. I purchased 5 boxes of tiles and I went through all the boxes trying to find ones that lined up. You have to be patient and try every possible side of the tile. Sometimes, I also had to go with a “good enough” alignment. Overall it was VERY easy and quick after all the tiles were picked out. It came out looking great!

Baseboards & Closet Assembly

We installed new 4.25″ wood baseboards painted white (Behr Ultra Pure White) around the perimeter of the room. I don’t have any pictures during the assembly of the closet, but the instructions on how to install the closet are detailed in Part 2. Assembling the closet was quick and could be completed in one day if you had a plan and all the materials. We spread the install out over two days. On day one, we installed wall 4 and wall 1 units (see below). Wall 2 required every piece be cut to a custom size, so we saved that for a day when we were both fresh and clear minded. The picture of Wall 2 below shows you were we stopped.

Since we complete 80% of the closet on day 1, we we’re feeling great. My husband changed out the light fixture and light switch/plate that day too. As you can see in the photos, the light is less bright. I guess going from a fluorescent light to a decorate light fixture with one bulb will do that. It’s a soft light and works well in the room– although the pictures aren’t as good!

I have a couple of shots of the empty closet. It was begging for me to fill it up. Also I was getting tired of clothes being piled up in random parts of the house.

We took an afternoon to finish wall 2 and quickly filled the closet with our clothes again. The pictures below show how the closet REALLY looks on a day to day basis. It isn’t styled or curated. It now holds all of our clothes and other bathroom necessities.

I don’t think it’s clear in the photos, but the closet is not at capacity and can hold future purchases. Not all of the shelves are filled, so baskets and other storage could be added if needed.

I wanted to purchase matching baskets, but Target didn’t have the same ones in stock. Actually, their basket/storage aisle was bare when I went. I’ve heard from several stores that the pandemic really messed with inventory and distribution. I’m not sure if that was the case here or if people are just really into organizing right now. I’ll replace the baskets with matching ones in the future, but for right now everything functions great even if the baskets are mismatched!

Finally, here is wall 2 with the shelving unit installed and I am so happy we took the time to cut everything down to size and customize it. We definitely use that space to store towels and other bathroom-related items. When we redo the master bathroom, I’m hoping to create better organization, so some of these items may switch to the bathroom instead of the closet. For now, this works and makes me really happy.

This is a view of wall 4 (my side) of the closet. I hang my sweaters/toppers on the short hanging rod and I store all of my folding clothes in the drawers with the exception of my swim wear and pajamas (those are stored in the brown baskets on the shelving unit to the left). It’s nice to just jump out of the shower and have everything I need right there and I don’t need to go into the bedroom to get anything.

We have an over the door storage unit that is meant for an iron and ironing board. While we store our iron there, we use the hooks for other things like my night gown, robe and other random cleaning things. Not the prettiest sight, but I really appreciate the function.

The view from the bedroom is now about 1 million percent better. But it makes me want to re-do the bathroom! 🙂

September Link Up

Source 1 – Look 7 | Source 2 – Look 16| Source 3– Look 2

Stella Jean Collection: There are people who instantly inspire me and Stella Jean is one of them. I recently became acquainted with her fashion and every single piece intrigues and inspires me. I love that she mixes bold colors and patterns. I’ve linked her Spring 2014 collection because it’s my favorite but everything she does is so good.

Why we should worry about our bananas? This article gives you a little banana history (I found it really interesting) and talks about how bananas are currently fighting their own pathogen (TR4). The end of the article has a fun video and links to other articles to learn more.

A 3D-Printed Two Story House: I’m fascinated by the idea of 3D-printing houses. Is it the way of the future? Check out this test house and the video that documented how it was made.

Reading & Writing Resources for At-Home Learning – Elementary Aged Kids

Remote learning turned my house upside down last year! It was kind of a mess with me trying to education my son while working full time. I know I was exhausted by the end and I’m sure my son felt the same way. As schools are reopening for the fall, I thought I would share some of the resources I found helpful.

Reading & Literature

Storyline Online (Website, free): The Screen Actors guild created this website where famous actors read books online. It’s completely free and has a wide range of books to choose from.

StoryNory (Podcast, Free): This is a free weekly story podcast for kids. My son’s favorite is The Old Woman Who Lost her Dumpling.

Kanopy Kids (Website/App, Free with Library Card): Kanopy Kids offers a curated website of videos for kids. Many of the videos are animated versions of children’s books. You can also set parental controls.

BookFlix (Website, Free with Library Card): This website is ran by scholastic and breaks books down into categories (i.e. Animals, Nature, Celebrations etc). Each category has different modules that include a video to watch and a book to read to reinforce the material. It also contains games to play related to the book and links to learn more if your child is interested.

TumbleBooks (Website, Free with Library Card): Similiar to BookFlix or Kanopy kids, Tumble books offers a slew of books that are read to your children and are typically animated. They also have books for more advance readers and the children can read the books independently online.

TumbleMath (Website, Free with Library Card): I’m guessing this is the sister site to TumbleBooks. It features books about, you guessed it, math!

Free Children Stories (Website, Free): This website offers a combination of videos of animated picture books and just printed text of other books.

Poetry Foundation (Website, Free): When B was in kindergarten, he would bring home a new poem to read to us every week. To keep his interest in poetry, I wanted to find some resources and the poetry foundation provides free poems and breaks them down into different categories based on age, form and topic. Maybe as a mom or dad you could also find something that interests you.

Poetry For Kids (Website, Free): This is my favorite poetry website for kids because it has a huge list of funny poems. Poems are in print or can be read to the student. A couple of my son’s favorite: I Stuck My Finger Up My Nose and I Think I’m In Love with My Smart Phone.

Writing

Journal Buddies (Website, Free) – A website that has tons of journals prompts that are broken down by grade.

All Kid’s Network (Website, Free) – A ton of writing worksheets are available to download for free. They have something for every level and grade. It includes simple things like circling pictures with letter sounds to grammar worksheets for older children.

ThinkWritten (Website, Free) – Another list of free journal prompts.

Design Files: All Over Pattern

I have a word document with a list of different design ideas that I would like to try one day. One of those ideas is labeled “All over Pattern.” I know that’s not very clear, but what I mean is repeated use of the same pattern on multiple elements. Since a picture is worth a thousands words, the photo below will do a much better job demonstrating what I’m trying to explain. The design by Jeffrey Billhuber feels like a classic example of “All over pattern.”

Designer: Jeffrey Bilhuber

It’s a bold statement and not for the faint of heart. It can feel dizzying if the eye doesn’t have a place to land. But with the right balance it creates a big impact, makes the room special and can have a timeless feel.

Designer: Howard Slatkin | Publication Source: Out East

Of course, this design choice can be tamed by repeating the pattern less frequently or incorporating related patterns to break things up. The designer Libby Cameron does an amazing job of this below. The green gingham corresponds well to the dominate floral pattern on the wall and chair.

Designer: Libby Cameron | Publication Source: Traditional Home

Aerin Lauder, the granddaughter of Este Lauder and CEO of her own merchandise empire, has a clear affinity for the all over pattern. Take a peak at her Instagram and you’ll spy a couple of examples. Below is a shot of her bedroom. This picture is from Elle Decor but she has several other photos of the bedroom on Instagram.

Aerin Lauder Bedroom| Publication Source: Elle Decor | Photographer: Simon Upton

Aerin also used an all over pattern in her family room. The walls curtains and couch (or is that a chair?) all appear to have the same pattern.

Source: Aerin Instagram

A variation of this style is to use the same pattern but in a different scale.The Hotel Peter and Paul did a wonderful job using green gingham repeatedly but with varying scales. You should check out the design firm’s website to get a glimpse of the other rooms in the hotel that follows a similar approach.

Source: Hotel Peter & Paul | Designer: ASH NYC

What do you think of this design idea? Are you scared? Intrigued? The more I look at these photos, the more empowered I am to try it. This idea is definitely a reminder to be bold and just go for something big.

Want more inspiration? I’ve found the following Instagram accounts have excellent examples of this idea: Mark D Sikes , Jared Hughes Design, Libby Cameron, Whitney McGregor and Aerin Lauder. Let me know if you know of any other designers that employ the “all over pattern” approach.

Part 3: The Master Bedroom Closet Mood Boards

Yay! I’m excited to finally show you the mood boards that I pulled together for our master bedroom closet. You can revisit how we prepped to design our closet in Part I and how we designed it using Dakota Closets in Part II. This post is all about the looks.

Credit: Mackinaw Road (Design) | Publication: Cottage & Bungalows, December 2019

When designing the closet, I knew I wanted a fun patterned floor to serve as the jumping off point for the entire design. I was inspired by the tile used in the bathroom above. The tile is by Mirth Studios and I was blown away by their amazing patterns (they even have an option to customize your tiles). The tile is actually wood and the company was founded by interior designer Sally Bennett. You should read the “about” section on the company’s website to see how the company was started. To say that I am in love with the tile is, well, an understatement. I love that it’s wood (so it won’t be too cold) and it has a tongue-groove design which makes installation straightforward. But the real star for me are the designs. Their tile patterns make me feel excited and happy! It was hard to pull out my favorites designs because they are all sooooo good. But I forced myself to narrow down the design choices for the closet to 6 options (see below).

1. Folly Hardwood Tile | 2.Morocco Hardwood Tile | 3.Porto Hardwood Tile |4. Flower Folk Hardwood Tile | 5. Blossom Blush Hardwood Tile | 6. Edisto Hardwood Tile

Despite my love for the tile, I was nervous about spending $500+ on a bold pattern. I worried it would feel too trendy or I would tire of it quickly. This prompted me to start looking at other options that could easily be replaced if I changed my mind. So I started to look at peel and stick options and I found plenty that were fun, although none felt as lively as the options at Mirth. I pulled together 6 peel and stick options that caught my attention.

1. Sevilla Peel and Stick Tile| 2. Lattice Peel and Stick Tile | 3. Sienna Peel and Stick Tile |4. Stellar Peel and Stick Tile |5. Nordic Peel and Stick | 6. Arbor Peel and Stick Tile

From there, I narrowed down my options to the top three and designed a mood board for the closet using each one. I already had a wicker hamper and baskets, which I wanted to incorporate into the design, so in each design those items remained constant. It’s funny looking back at the designs. I instantly liked the one we picked, one feels completely different than my current style and the other is in-between. Can you guess which one is which?

Paint Color: Discreet White SW | Shaker Drawer Front | Leather Pulls | Hamper | Basket | Blue and White Peel and Stick Tile | Blue Flush-mount Light | Leather Mirror

The first option used the blue and white floral tile, brown leather pulls and a powder blue light fixture. The leather pulls went well with the hamper and baskets. I wanted a leather trimmed mirror but couldn’t find one that I really liked. The one in the mood board feels too dark and heavy for such a small room, but it was a good visual representation of what I was going for.

Paint Color: Discreet White SW | Shaker Drawer Front | Black and Gold Pull | Hamper | Basket | Black and White Peel and Stick Tile | Gold Flush-mount Light | Black Framed Mirror

The second mood board used a modern black and white tile, black and gold pull bar and a gold light fixture. This felt edgy and more lux than the other designs. The modern elements don’t played well with the existing hamper and basket. If the wicker was lightened (can you bleach wicker?), the room would feel more cohesive. I like each of the elements independently (especially that thin black framed mirror), but looking back I see that this design just doesn’t work.

Paint Color: Discreet White SW | Shaker Drawer Front | Wood Pulls | Hamper | Basket | Blue and Gray Floral Peel and Stick | Natural Flush-mount Light | Arched Mirror

The last option used an ornate blue and grayish tile, natural wood pulls and a natural finish flush mount light. The mirror was a natural wood and had an arch to provide some visual interest. Despite the elements having lighter wood tones, they played well with the darker wicker on the hamper and basket. It gave the room a cohesive look without being too matchy-matchy.

After all the designs were completed, I knew which one I wanted but since I share this room with my husband I wanted to make sure he was on board too. I showed him all three designs and, to my joy, he picked the same one as me! Yippee! I love when things work out! I think it’s pretty clear by my descriptions above, but to clarify we picked the last option.

I ended up making one small tweak to the original design. While ordering everything, I had the idea to change the light fixture. I wanted something that felt a little more special and could add color to the room. I’ve recently been attracted to Tiffany-style lights (I know I was shocked, too!). I found a rather simple but colorful one that I liked and plugged it into the design. I ended up liking it and thought it brought personality to the room.

Paint Color: Discreet White SW | Shaker Drawer Front | Wood Pulls | Hamper | Basket | Blue and Gray Floral Peel and Stick |Tiffany Light | Arched Mirror

I can’t wait to show you how it all turned out next week! I love the patterned tile and regret not splurging on the bold wood tiles from Mirth. But I don’t think my story will end here with the tile. Since we used a peel and stick tile, it will be easy to replace in the future (I need to give my husband some time before I ask him to disassemble the closet).

Part 2: Designing a Small Walk In Closet using Dakota Closets

Part 1 of the closet series described all the pre-work that needed to happen before diving into the design of the closet. That posts walked through how to determine what type of storage we needed and how much. Since we decided to use a closet system that didn’t have design software, we had to pull out the old graph paper and pencils and do everything by hand. While the process is not fancy (or as fun) as using design software, it forced us to think about many of the details before we got started. By the end of the process, we had a good idea of how to assemble the closet.

We ended up using Dakota Closets because their system was flexible enough that we could utilize all of the space in our closet (we talk more about this in the previous post). I also liked that we could purchase everything locally, so if we missed something than it would be an easy run to the store. The price point of Dakota Closet seemed very reasonable but since everything was broken down by item, it was hard at first glance to estimate the cost. Based on some of the other closet systems we looked at, I estimated ~$1,000-$1,500.

Dakota Closets has two different closet systems. They have wall mounted units where you basically attach everything to the wall and it floats above the ground and they have floor units (see pics below). These are units that are supported by the ground although you will attach them to the wall for stability. We used the floor units, so this guide will focus on that.

Source 1 | Source 2

Step 1: Review the Materials from Dakota Closet

As I mentioned, Dakota Closets does not have an online design function (have I said that enough), so to efficiently lay everything out we had to get really familiar with Dakota Closet’s products. To get started, I downloaded and reviewed their literature which provided a nice introduction to the different finishes and components of their closet system. Essentially, these items are the building blocks of the closet. The items have standard sizes, which can be combined in a variety of ways to get you the closet of your dreams or at least close enough. Of course, once we had a good understanding of the system, we knew that we could customize it to make it work for our little “problem wall.” The main goal was to customize as few pieces as possible, so I took a good look at their standard features.

Side Note: You can write to Dakota Closets and ask them to help you design your closet. We didn’t take do this mostly because I felt that we had a good grasp of what we were doing, but this could be a super helpful if you feel lost or have an especially large or odd space.

The basic building blocks are:

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Uprights: these serve as the sides of the closet units. Since they are single pieces you can make the width any way size that works best for your space. They also have different heights, so you can work around obstacles like a windows. Each unit has a “notch” at the bottom (in the picture, the notches are facing up) which allows the unit to slide over existing baseboards. The notches are 5 inches high. The uprights have pre-drilled holes spaced at 1″ (hole size is ~.25″). The tallest unit (86.5″) has a total of 69 holes. You’ll utilize these holes to attach the shelves, drawers and other accessories.

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Shelves: Shelves come in three standard sizes: 12, 24 and 36 inches. The package includes the cam-locks and the directions on how to attach them. If you are cutting the shelf to a custom size, first score the laminate top with a razor blade and cut the particle board with a circular saw. The 12 inch shelves are used for creating the corner unit. The shelves will also serve as the “top” of the unit.

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Drawers: Drawers come in two sizes: 5 and 10 inch depth. The drawer fronts are sold separately and there are a few different styles to choose from. The drawer kits will need to be assembled and you’ll need to take care when attaching the drawer front to keep everything square. The basic metal slides come with the drawer kits, but you can add on soft-close hinges for only a couple of bucks. If you are trying to pre-plan the exact location of your shelves/drawers by utilizing the pre-drilled holes as a guide, keep in mind that the 10″ shelf is 8 “pre-drilled holes” high and the 5″ shelf is 4 “pre-drilled holes” high.

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Cabinet doors: Cabinet doors are available if you like that look or are using this system in an office or laundry room. They come in two different sizes 20 inch and 40 inch and have a variety of different styles. The door hardware appears to be sold separately (so don’t forget about it!).

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Wardrobe Rods: Wardrobe rods come in two different sizes 24″ and 36″. The packaging comes with hardware to attach it to to the units. The wardrobe rods fit really tight–so be sure to install them before anchoring everything else in the unit. This will give you some wiggle room to squeeze them into place.

Metal Baskets: Dakota Closets uses the Rev-a-Shelf wire baskets with their system. They come in a variety of different heights (18″, 7″ or 11″ – all are 24″ wide ) and you can add liners (or this other fancy liner) to protect your clothes. If you like the idea of a built-in hamper, you could use the 18″ high basket with a hamper insert. Pretty nifty!

Pants Bar: Rev-a-Shelf makes a whole slew of other closet accessories that work with Dakota Closets. This includes a 24″ pants rack. I always loved the idea of a pants rack, but I’ve found that, while I like the look, I prefer to fold my pants.

Valet Rod: Again, another Rev-a-Shelf product is a pull out bar, so you can hang things when you’re getting ready or after you iron them. I recommend checking out their product pages (for this items and the other ones mentioned below) to get a better idea of how they are used.

Belt Holder and Tie Rack: If you have a lot of belts, ties or scarves, I would recommend looking into the belt holder and tie rack. I’ve only linked one of each type here, but they have a variety of different options (like a tie rack with a little shelf/basket thing on top for your wallet/other accessories!).

Step 2: Layout your Preliminary design

After getting to know the building blocks, I finally felt like I had enough information to start laying out the closet. I wanted to use as many of the standard components as possible to eliminate extra work and the possibility of mistakes. Most of the “building blocks” have a 24″ width (drawers, hanging rod, baskets, shelves etc), so it made sense to try to utilize those items the most since they allowed for the most options and flexibility. It was easiest for me to imagine “units” rather than a bunch of individual components. A unit is just the space between two uprights (I hope that makes sense).

The preliminary sketches were done to get a general idea of the number of units on each wall and the general layouts. The sketches are not perfectly to scale because I didn’t account for the width of the upright units (3/4″). I laid out each wall and very roughly decided what I wanted each “unit” to look like. I laid out the rooms from the “Top Down” view an label each wall A, B , C and D and drew elevations of each wall so I could get a good idea of how everything would work.

Since the scale wasn’t perfect, I needed to have a more detailed diagram of the design to ensure that the wall units would actually fit on the wall (so, you know actually take into consideration the width of the floor uprights). I lad it out on the computer where I could dictate exact measurements with accuracy. I just used PowerPoint for this portion of the design, but you could use a variety of other programs (Photoshop, Illustrator) or online websites (Homestyler).

The uprights are 3/4″ thick. To make sure I had the proportions correct, I imported the floor plan from Homestyler and measured the distance of a known length in PowerPoint (i.e. wall 1). For example, I created a rectangle that went along all of Wall 1 and divided the length by 75 (since that wall is 75 inches) and that gave me the approximate portion to 1 inch (so in my example .05 inches in PowerPoint = 1 inch in real life). I then used this to generate the size of the different “units” in PowerPoint. I Included the length of the shelves plus the upright widths. I then plugged these units into the design.

In general, my design held. However, on Wall C (also referred to as Wall 2) I had to make part of the units smaller. I knew we had to customize that unit already because the standard materials were too deep (that wall is only 12.5 inches deep). I adjusted the size of the “corner” piece size slightly and then fit in whatever shelving I could. I already knew that I wouldn’t be able to have drawers or a hanging rod on this wall, so I was really excited to get any type of storage I could in there. To be honest, the final, final measurements of the shelves on Wall C were not determined until we were ready to actually install it and the rest of the units were in place. It’s a tight space, so we wanted to see everything in place before moving forward. However, this design was enough to tell us what materials we needed (remember– the other closet systems didn’t even want to put anything on this wall).

Step 3: Finalizing the Internal Components

Now that I modeled the room and knew what “units” I could actually fit, I had to finalize the design of the internal components–meaning the shelves, drawers and accessories. This is when all those calculations that I did in the last post came into play. I looked at how much short hanging (~55″) and long hanging (~17″) I needed. I reminded myself that I wanted 8 drawers total (4 for me and 4 for Jeremy). Armed with this information, I could finally complete the interior design of the closets.

I had a total of 6 units (they are numbed in the floor plan above) and two corners. The corners are more “connectors” and not usable space. Due to this, I focused on those 6 units. I laid out each unit and slowly started to build what each unit needed to be. I also color coded the different components (this will help you when you calculation what to order). As you can see, Unit 1 is a 12 inch space and it’s entirely shelves (blue lines= 12″ shelves). I did not determine the exact spacing of the shelves until we assembled the closet. Unit 2 is 24″ wide and includes short hanging (bold black line =hanging bar), a couple of 24 inch shelves (one for the top of the unit and one for directly above the drawers, orange line = 24″ shelf) and 4 drawers.

Unit 3 is compromised of double short hanging. I needed two hanging bars and two 24 inch shelves. Unit 4 is a direct replica of unit 2 as this will be Jer’s side. Unit 5 is long hanging. Luckily, we had space for some shelves at the bottom which added extra storage and some stability to the unit. Lastly, unit 6 was a 15 inch wide unit (green =custom cut) with custom cut shelves to fit. I wanted to keep our existing hamper, so I needed the bottom to remain open, so we could slide the hamper in there.

Since having a cohesive look was important to me, the corner units really matter. The corner units are composed of a 12″ shelf and a corner H-bracket (see above). You screw the corner H-Bracket to the 12″shelf on one side of the sideways H. You will then attach the shelf to the upright using the standard cam locks. At that point. you will simply slide the other open side of the H-bracket onto the shelf of the other unit. I tried to demonstrate this further with the illustration below. The blue line represents the 12″ shelf, the H-bracket is red and the orange line represents the 24″ shelf on the other side of the unit.

I also pulled the image below from one of Dakota Closets’ installation manuals which shows the H-bracket attachment at a different angle. In this image, they refer to it as a “custom cut shelf” but you can use the standard 12″ shelf or you can cut it down to fit your space. This is what we did for the other corner (the one that connects unit 5 to unit 6).

Source

With the design plan finalized, we we’re ready to purchase our goods and start the fun part–assembly!!

Step 4: Make your Purchasing List and Order your Materials

The completed design made it easy and quick for me to make the shopping list. I found the elevations the most helpful as I just counted how many of each piece I needed. Below was the shopping list. The total cost for all the closet supplies was less than I expected, $784!

ItemQuantity
Uprights9
12 inch Shelves14
24 inch Shelves14
10 inch Drawer Kits8
10 Inch Drawer Fronts8
24 inch Rods5
H Brackets (Corner)6
L Brackets5

Other Tips & Tricks When Using Dakota Closets

When using the floor uprights, try to have two or three shelves minimum per unit. This will add stability to your unit.

You’ll need the L-brackets to attach your units to the wall. We only installed a couple per wall and drilled them right into the studs. Attach the L-brackets after you complete your entire closet.

If you are utilizing the corner brackets, try to use three per unit.

Look at the assembly instructions of Dakota Closet kits to give you an idea of how to attach the cam locks and corner- H brackets. This is the one we look at most frequently.

Dakota Closets have a few videos to help with the install of your closet. It’s a pretty general overview but will show you how to attach the shelves with the cam-lock system and give you a general feel for the process.

When cutting any part of the Dakota Closet system (i.e. upright, shelves), first cut through the laminate-like top using a razor blade and then use a circular saw to cut through the fiberboard.


I can’t wait to show you the funnest part of the process – the mood boards and then the final product! I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out!

Funny Artwork

For a long time, I found curating artwork in my house challenging. I didn’t know what was “good” and I didn’t know where I could find art besides big box stores or small art shows. Eventually I just leaned into putting things on the wall that made me happy. Oh and the internet definitely helped with finding art.

My art preferences generally fall into 3 or 4 categories, one of which is “funny artwork.” It’s usually quirky and weird but makes me smile. While looking for art for my son’s room, I came across several pieces that I thought were fun. I love finding art on Etsy or Society6 because you can connect and follow the artist/curator which usually means finding more stuff that you like.

Below are 8 prints that are especially fun for a kid’s room.

  1. Rock and Roll Skeleton Art Print: This skeleton looks happy and like he’s ready to party. The print is created by Original DNA Plus who has a wide range of prints of skeletons doing everything from riding a bike to kissing.
  2. Rainbow Cat Art Print: This cute print is by the illustrator Lim Heng Sweet. I love the playfulness of the design and the movement of the cats. Their rainbow bodies make the cats feels youthful and a little magical.
  3. Burger Plant: The burger plant makes me smile every time. It’s silly and nonsensical, but totally works! Jonas Loose has a ton of other quirky prints that will make you smile.
  4. Pug Yoga Art Print: Chalermphol Harnchakkham is an illustrator that has a whole series of different animals/things doing yoga. It’s silly and can be especially fun for a kid if they have a connection to one of those animals (like the pug).
  5. Sassquatch Art Print: Bigfoot is funny enough but add a little attitude and sassquatch is a home run. Sophie Corrigan is a children’s book illustrator who has a fun sense of humor that completely comes out in her art. She has so many prints that are silly and totally kid appropriate.
  6. Brilliant Disguise- Goldfish with Shark Fin: I love everything about this print. The concept, the colors and the realism. Vin Zzep has a very sweet bio on his Society6 page that talks about his journey to becoming a full time artist. If you love this print, then you’ll surely enjoy his other quirky art.
  7. Living in Reality art Print: Side Dimes takes classic paintings and make them modern by adding elements of current culture. I like this lady with her red and blue 3D glasses. I think we’d be friends.
  8. Party Cat Printable: I want this print to be titled Grumpy Cat has a birthday. Frankie Print Co has a ton of other prints (and other home decor items!) that would work well in a kid’s room.

I’ve already purchased #4 and #6 for my son’s room (his picks!). Which one do you love?

Part 1: Preparing to Design a Small Walk-In Closet

Remember when I teased our latest project? Dun..Dun..Dunn…Well it’s our master bedroom closet and I can’t wait to show you how it turned out. This project was quietly brewing for several years and I probably designed the closet 10 different times before we actually started the project. It’s one of those rooms that I’ve always wanted and dreamed about. I love when something functions at it’s best and I’ve never had a clothing storage system that really worked. All of our past incarnations of closets and dressers functioned enough but every 6 months or so we would need to do a major reset to get everything back in working order.

The closet is off our master bathroom and not only is it small but it’s an odd shape. Designing the closet felt intimidating at first since I didn’t really know what I needed (how many shelves? how many drawers?). I just knew that the old system was not working. I pinned a million pretty closets on Pinterest, but it wasn’t the style that worried me but instead making sure that the system actually worked for us. Just like every homeowner, we wanted to maximize the storage. Ideally, I wanted to store ALL of our clothes in the closet. I had no idea if that was even possible.

Now that the project is complete, I can look back and see clearly the different planning phases but while I was going through it I didn’t have a designated step-by-step plan to follow. The good news is now I do, so my next closet design will be much easier. I hope these 5 steps help others with designing their closet. While these steps are presented as clear and distinct moments, in reality it was messier.(Side note: I’ve listed books and articles that I read while designing my closet at the end of this article.)

Step 1: Make a Wish List

The first thing I did was make a list of what we needed and really wanted in the closet. I didn’t have a list of questions or things to think about (although that would be super helpful) to help guide the list. Instead I just thought about the items I had in my closet, what I needed to store in the closet and how I used the closet. I created a rather short list:

  • Store all of our clothes in the closet
  • Both long and short hanging (mostly short)
  • Drawer space for Jer and I
  • A spot to hold bathroom related linens
  • A space for a hamper
  • No storage for shoes (We keep shoes down stairs since we don’t usually wear shoes in the house)
  • Flexibility, so that it could change with our life

Looking at the list it doesn’t feel very “wishy” or “aspirational” since I 100% focused on the functional aspects of the closet, but considering this is a small walk in closet it was asking a lot out of it. I didn’t include any of the style components of the closet but you totally could if that is important to you. My general process of designing any room is first and foremost always space planning, so I apply my “style” choices to the room after I have a good idea of what I need and how I am going to arrange items.

My wish list was rather broad but you could get very specific if you already know you have 50 pairs of shoes. I felt like my wish list was also already pretty practical for my space. For example, the closet is too small to have an island of any capacity. If I had a larger space, I may have include island (or even shoe storage!). So, I would say dream big for the space you have but also keep it realistic.

Step 2: Take Inventory of Your Items

My wish list gave me a clear goal to work towards and reminded me what to focus on. Since my primary “wish” was to store all of our clothes in the closet, I started by examining what I actually needed to store. At this point, I needed to classify and count our clothing and identify how I like to store them. For some reason I thought this was going to be annoying and time consuming, but it turned out to be easy as most of my clothes were already organized based on type.

I categorized the clothing items into the following groups: dresses, blouses/tops, sweaters, toppers (cardigan/jackets), skirts, bottoms (pants/short), athletic tee/t-shirts, athletic bottoms, sleeping wear and swimwear.

Jer generally had the same categories (minus the dresses and skirts). When counting each category, I designated the item as something to hang or something to be stored folded/in a drawer. I did not count the number of underwear, socks or bras because I already knew that I wanted to keep those in a drawer and all of those items fit into one drawer without a problem. If you have a large collection of purses, shoes or other accessories, I would suggest you count those as well.

Make a list of the other items that you plan on storing in the closet. For us, this included towels, bathroom overflow (toilet paper) and a few storage boxes that stored random, personal things.

Step 3: Calculate Your Ideal Closet Needs

After I had a good idea of what items I had and how many, I needed to determine how much space I needed to store them. My approach was a combination of looking at general “guidelines” online regarding recommended space and actually looking at my clothes in my closet and measuring capacity. My calculations focus on the clothes–so really just hanging and drawer/shelf needs. However if you have a large collection of shoes, handbags or other type of accessory than I would be sure to include that information on your calculation sheet.

Hanging Needs

There are several websites that publish guidelines for how much space each clothing item takes up when hung. I’ve recreated the general guidelines here. Those guidelines are based on using a wooden hanger. I have mostly velvet and plastic hangers. so I’ve included my estimates.

Clothing ItemWooden hanger*Velvet hanger
Suites2.5 inches/item1-2 inches/item
Dresses2 inches/item.75-1 inches/item
Men’s Shirts/ Women Blouses1 inch/item.6-.75 inches/item
Separates: Slacks, Skirts, Pants1 inch/item.75-1 inches/item
Wooden Hanger Estimates Are Reported by Closets.com.

The wooden hangers estimation just didn’t make sense to me. That would mean that 24 inches of hanging space could only hold a maximum of 24 shirts. Based on my closet, I calculated that I was current fitting substantially more (prior to re-doing the closet). So I narrowed it down to .6-.75 inches/item which would increase the capacity to 32-40, which made more sense based on my own closet. If you want to get an idea of your true capacity with your current hangers, go into your closet and measure 2 feet of hanging space and count the number of shirts that would fit in that space comfortably. This could be repeated for each additional item type (skirts/pants/sweaters) that you want to hang.

If you decide to use the estimated space per item (listed above) rather than look at your own capacity you do the following calculation: take the number of blouses you have and multiply it by the estimated space it’s going to take up.

For example 40 blouses x .6 inches = 24. This means that I would need 24 inches of hanging space to hold all 40 blouses. Based on my own closet, I know that 40 will fit fine in a 24 inch space. I have included the calculations for my closet below.

Hers
ItemNumberHanging NeedsTotal Inches NeededStorage Type
Dresses/Skirts190.7514.25Long
Bottoms (Pants/Shorts)16Drawer
Tops330.619.8Short
Toppers/Sweaters (hung)130.759.75Short
Coats/Blazers515Short
Sweaters (Fold)8Drawer
Athletic (Pants & Shirts)15Drawer
Sleepware6Drawer
T-Shirts, Camis10Drawer
Swimsuites4Drawer
129
“Her” Total SpaceInches of Hanging Space
Short Hanging34.55
Long Hanging14.25
His
ItemNumberHanging NeedsTotal Inches NeededStorage Type
Bottoms (Pants/Shorts)8Drawer
Tops160.6510.4Short Hanging
Toppers/Sweaters (hung)100.757.5Short Hanging
Coat122Short Hanging
Suite122Long Hanging
Athletic (Pants & Shirts)12Drawer
Sleepware4Drawer
T-Shirts, Camis25Drawer
Swimsuites3Drawer
“His” Total SpaceInches of Hanging Space
Short Hanging19.9
Long Hanging2
Total Hanging Needs for Closet
Short Hanging54.45
Long Hanging16.25

After you have calculated all your hanging needs, add together categories (blouses, sweaters, toppers) that would fall into “short” and you have the total amount of space you need for short hanging. Do the same for anything that would need “long” hanging (dresses, suits). Presto, now you have a pretty darn good idea of how much hanging storage you need in your closet. I estimated that we needed ~55 inches of short hanging space and ~17 inches of long hanging space.

A note on height: I have designated two heights when designing my closet: long and short. I did not determine the exact heights until we were actually constructed the closet.

Drawer/Shelf Needs

How I approached my shelving/drawer needs is not scientific and I didn’t use any type of calculations. I already had a good idea on what I wanted to store in drawers (because I was already doing it!). So I just counted the number of drawers I already had (3) and added one more for sweaters that I wanted to fold. This left me with a total of 4 drawers. Jer needed 4 as well making the total drawers needed 8.

Then I dealt with some “loose end” items that never had a designed area and were sometimes put in the closet, sometimes shoved in a drawer. It was my pajamas and my swim wear. I would need one drawer or less to store both of those. However, I wasn’t sure if I could add another drawer. So I kept an open mind about putting them in a basket on a shelf. Likewise, Jeremy has a ton of ties stored in a basket. I knew that we would need some space for those (although I would like to get an organizer for those eventually).

If you decide to go this very unscientific method, I would advise measuring your drawer space, so you have something to compare it to when picking your closet system and designing it. You may find that your dresser drawer is larger or shorter than the drawers available for your closet. If you have a good idea of your current drawer size, you’ll easily be able to estimate how many drawers that translates into you new space. The drawers in our closet were nearly the exact size of the ones in the dresser.

On deciding what should be hung and what should go in a drawer, I don’t have a great answer. I decided my items based on just living for the last 35 years. I know myself and I know that I don’t like to hang t-shirts or pants. you may be different and that it is totally fine.

If you have other accessories or shoes that you want to store in a closet, check out closets.com as they provide some general guidelines for space needs for shoes. Similar to their hanging measurements though, you may want to actually check your own preferences. You may have super tiny feet and be able to fit much more than they suggest. As for accessories, I would measure the actual items and estimate the space you’ll need for them. Again, since this was a relatively small concern of mine–I didn’t measure any purses. My advice would be to just focus on the essential things that must fit in your closet.

Step 4: Measure Your Closet and Draw it Out

My closet has a funny/challenging shape, so I measured each wall and wrote down the measurements. I modeled it on graph paper and the computer. Even if you have a rectangle box, you need to measure it and measure it again. These measurements will be your foundation for how everything else is designed in your closet.

Don’t forget to make note of outlets, light switches and other essential items that you’ll need to consider when designing the closet. The direction the door swings is also important. If you have a pocket door that will also impact your design (you can’t put anything on the wall where the pocket door hides when it’s open).

Lastly, consider the thickness of your baseboards if you plan on leaving them in place. Most rooms are not perfectly square, so also take several measurements of the same wall at various heights and utilize the smallest area.

After all that, I was ready to finally start looking for a closet system!

Step 5: Explore and Choose The Closet System

There are tons of different closet systems that exist on the market. My first step was evaluating the ones that I already knew the most about and seemed the most interesting to me.

Since seeing all the amazing Ikea Pax closet make overs, I initially thought we could implement that system but when I attempt to design the closet using the Ikea Planner it became clear that it was not a great fit for the space. The problem was really two fold. First, it seemed like there wasn’t a good solution for the corners. The Ikea Pax frames are a little deeper than other closet systems which makes the corners even more troublesome for my tiny closet. Because the room is so small I didn’t want to lose space by ignoring the corners. Secondly, the tiny wall 2 (see diagram above) isn’t quite big enough for standard closet systems…especially if there isn’t some type of way to deal with the corner.

So, I started looking around at other options available at our local stores and others online. We looked at a variety of them including Closet Maid, Easy Closet, Modular Closet and Closet Evolution. Each time I used their closet design software and they suggested a layout for me. But I was disappointed because it didn’t feel that the suggested design was utilizing all the space and based on their recommendations it seemed I would have less storage than before. However, playing around with their closet design software gave me some clues on what was possible and the different combination of things that could be used. I would highly recommend you spend some time playing around with them even if you don’t ultimately use that system because it will help inform your ultimate design later.

In addition, I did not like how disjointed many of these closet systems appeared. Most of the designs felt like individual units installed rather then a cohesive unit. As you can see in the Closet Maid and Modular Closet designs, the units are separate and not continuous. Similar to Ikea, there wasn’t a good corner option for many of the systems I looked at. That also felt like a missed opportunity for me. So, I kept shopping around and considering alternatives. Wall 2 continued to be a major problem as it didn’t seem like any of the software thought there was enough room to have any type of storage (at least utilizing their units). However, our current arrangement had storage there and I knew it was possible. It just seemed to be something that we may need to customize.

Easy Closet did have a corner option which made the design feel cohesive. However, it was a corner unit with shelving and they didn’t really offer any other configurations. But wall 2 (again!) was completely unused in this design. I started looking at why these systems weren’t utilizing wall 2 and I discovered it’s because the depth of the wall is not enough for the standard units that typically require 14 inches of space.

One day I was in a popular hardware store in the midwest, Menards and they had a closet section with a couple of displays. I was intrigued and started looking at their different systems. Dakota Closets was the most popular brand they had, so I decided to investigate them a little more. They didn’t have any fancy planning tools, so I had to lay out everything myself, but I felt like the system provided the flexibility needed to fully utilize all the space. Again, wall two was troublesome but I started to feel pretty confident that we could make it work. Then I saw the picture below of a Dakota Closet system. I know that it’s hard to tell but they have a solution for corners that make the design feel cohesive. I was pretty much sold.

Source – Dakota Closet Image

Finding information to design the closet was a little frustrating, but I went to the Dakota Closet’s website and downloaded their literature (found here) and it provided a brief guide on how to design the closets. I started sketching my design and used their standard product measurements to eventually come up with a reasonable option. Working through the whole design process was not necessarily complicated but it took time and some guess work since they didn’t have many tools to help you. Next week, I’ll go through exactly how we designed the closet using the Dakota System and I’ll include all the tips and tricks I wish I had known to make planning easier and faster.

References/Resources

Morgenstern, J. (2004). Organizing from the Inside Out. Holt Paperbacks.

Thomas, A.J. (2020). Closet Secrets: Essential Advice for Expertly Designing Your Closet or Dressing Room. Amazon.com Services LLC.

Knierim, A. (2019). How to Design a Closet. The Spruce.

Hart, S. (2015). How to Design a Practical Closet. Forbes.

How to Design a Custom Walk-Inn Closet: The Ultimate Guide (Part I). (nd). Closet America.

Closet Capacity Calculator. (nd). Better Homes and Gardens.

August Link Up

How Learning Emotional Skills Can Help Boys Become Men: As a mother to a son, I’m aware that boys tend to hold back their emotions, often feeling the only allowable emotions are humor and anger. A teacher took notice of the boys in his class and gave them a safe space to talk about their worries and weaknesses. This club for boys eventually turned into a nonprofit to help other schools start similar programs and encourage the development of boys.

Jimmy O. Yang: Good Deal: Jimmy’s stand up comedy special is exactly what I needed this month. I stopped watching it half way through because I wanted to watch it with my husband. I sat through the first half again and laughed just as hard the second time. My favorite part is when he discusses his dad.

Dance Your Way to Wellness: When my son was three years old, he said to me, “we need to dance everyday.” Amen! There have been periods of my life where I danced everyday and my mood was improved, my health was better and my mind felt clearer. I’m so glad to hear that the research is documenting the benefit of dance. Check out the article if you want to know more about the research. My favorite way to dance as an adult is Just Dance (Nintendo Switch).