Closet Makeover!

Closet mess before
AVALANCHE!!! The before…

Transforming an awkward master bedroom closet into a custom dream closet in one weekend for under $300.

You know it’s trouble when your closet just heaves a sigh of defeat, surrenders to gravity, and deposits your beloved wardrobe in a sad heap on the floor.  For two years, this 3 foot by 4 foot micro walk-in closet has screamed for help.  It’s never maximized its limited space or even come close to earning the title of MASTER closet.   I asked the professionals.  After two quotes ranging from $400 to $1300 (!), neither was able to supply the storage and versatility that I need.

My house is tight on closet space, which isn’t unusual in my area, but leaves much to be desired.  I kept telling myself, “If this closet were in Manhattan, it would be downright luxurious.”  So how could I turn an NY mentality into a California reality?



Enter the handy BF, who offered to help me build a new one.  Once the design wheels started spinning, my inner decorator went wild.  It’s only 12 square feet, how crazy could I get?  Oh, just wait.

First, I took everything out, patched the walls and painted.

I opted for an inky dark indigo, in zero VOC paint from Lowes. I thought a nearly black color would showcase clothes and accessories well, plus being such a small space, I was emboldened to try something I was reluctant to try elsewhere in my house.


CU whitewash wood
After watching many, many Youtube videos, I thought I’d try an organic vinegar stain to create a weathered, driftwood effect on the new pine shelf boards.  However, after experimenting,  it looked too dark against the walls.  Plan B: I whitewashed the wood, mixing 1 part white paint to 2 parts water. Everyone has leftover white paint lying around, and this is a great way to use some of it up.


Shelf:rod CU
I painted the boards with the watery mix, wiping with a rag and reapplying until achieving the desired finish. I love that you can still see the grain. Against the dark walls, these looked so pretty!


Wide empty shelves
The boards were cut to size at Lowe’s, and attached by basic L brackets, around 5$ a piece. The rod was a standard 72″, but we cut it to size with a hacksaw fitting the width perfectly. There wasn’t a huge choice in hardware at the home improvement store, so I bought shiny silver closet rods and shelf brackets. I thought I wanted satin nickel or oil-rubbed bronze, but these added just the right amount of shine, especially against the paint.


Closet after
Then came the fun. I had dreaded paring down my wardrobe for months, but a closet so beautiful made it easy to decide which clothes made it back in. They had to be worthy, wearable, and/or bring me joy. I also mentally planned a clothing swap with friends, easing the pain of parting with a $200 shirt not worn in 3 years, knowing that it would find a good home.  A matching laundry basket on wheels from The Container Store, tucked perfectly in the corner, thereby eliminating the ugly, fabric eyesore of a laundry basket that had been next to my bed. Victory!


Moving the Elfa mesh drawers as far front as possible made room for stacking drop front shoe boxes behind them, and the lower double hang behind that. It was like putting a puzzle together. I also whitewashed a matching plywood top for the drawers to add more counter space.


S-hooks hung on picture hangers behind the drawers became the perfect belt storage solution. A $5 towel rack hangs scarves, saving precious drawer space.


Sweaters stack in two baskets underneath the top hanging rack, and a clear jewelry tray nestles perfectly between them.


Here’s where I got geeky.  A $16 motion sensor LED light illuminates the dark back corner.  It attaches with an adhesive strip, runs on 4 AAA batteries and stays lit for 15 seconds after detecting motion.  It makes me so happy.


A chrome towel bar saved from a bathroom remodel, found new purpose as statement necklace storage and a staging area for prepping outfits or packing.

Every inch of captured, usable space thrilled me, but the unexpected surprise of it all was how the re-organization made me feel.  My insatiable black hole of need to acquire more ceased immediately.   I realized the abundance of what I already have, and that feeling bled over into other aspects of my life.   I am living the dream right now.  I have everything I want, and much, much more than I actually need.   If I bring anything into my gorgeous new closet, it has to be deserving of the space it holds.  Which is a very good philosophy for anything or anyone I bring into my life.

Taking inventory of what I have, keeping what I like and letting the rest go brings me peace and freedom to be exactly the person I want to be.  Which in this case, is a person with a very organized closet.  It feels like new love.  I daydream about it, I escape there when I’m feeling blocked.  In chaotic, unpredictable day to day life, it’s a serene, perfect little respite of order.  I’m in love.

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