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.
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.
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 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! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your closet experience. My husband and I are in the process of designing our closet and Dakota was one of our choices for consideration. I’m curious what you thought of the drawers, and how they’ve held up in the time since your blog post? Thanks!
Hi Heather! The drawers are very sturdy and have held up great. Still look brand new!! Best of luck!
Hi Jenny, looks great. We are getting ready to redo our master closet. What size uprights did you use?
Do you think you could get double hanging and 1 drawer separating the 2 if I used a 86 1/2 upright.
I used the tallest (86 1/2). I think it would be too tight to have double hanging and a drawer. It may work if you use the smallest drawer (5 inch height) and are using it for kid’s clothes or folded pants (things that are shorter than the average shirt/sweater). I hope that helps! 🙂