We left off in our master bedroom dream closet recap with a basic closet frame in place and a whole lot of hope for what this drab space could some day become. We had already lived without functional closets for quite a while, so the anticipation of having his and her closets that could hold a decent amount of clothing could be compared to how a child feels the night before Christmas.
When we started in our search for the ideal master bedroom closets, we looked through all of our various options. From closet system companies to options from Ikea and The Container Store, there were so many different directions we could head to create a solution. Though there are varying levels of quality in the solutions available from the various outlets, two things were very consistent:
- The cost was more than we wanted to spend.
- The systems couldn't maximize every inch of available space.
Our needs were relatively simple. We didn't have the ability to do a complex system of cabinets and drawers similar to what you see in large walk in closets. Instead with the space we had to work with, we wanted a his closet on the left, a hers closet on the right, and a hers shoe area in the middle. The closet interior needed to provide ample hanging space, including two levels in most along with some long, full length hanging space. And most importantly, we wanted it to look really nice.
Wendy and I came up with a plan. We'd make an attempt to build the closet from oak, stain it dark, and use large chrome bars and accents. Knowing it would be far more simple than just saying "I'd really like a dark stained oak closet," we launched into the project.
We starting the project by purchasing several sheets of oak plywood. The plan was to use this plywood as the majority of the surface elements of the closet, including the portion to turn the upper area into a storage area of its own. Due to the size of the room, and the size of the stairs opening, it was far easier to cut everything in the back yard and take the smaller pieces upstairs. This meant lots of trips in and out of the house carrying very large sheets of very heavy plywood.
I ended up cutting the upper shelf and the side support pieces first, which allowed me to begin leaning the various pieces in place. Leaning everything in place let us visualize what the space would ultimately look like, and more importantly, how it would function.
This let us move around the various pieces and establish where the long hanging portion would reside. We settled on a final layout that included a roughly two foot area for long hanging in the right closet, and the remainder of the closets would be a two bar configuration.
In order to allow for adjustable shoe storage in the center closet, I used my awesome adjustable shelf support jig to pre drill all of the holes before install. This greatly simplified the entire process and made the whole thing relatively effortless.
I know I'm completely over simplifying the process of building out the closet interiors. By no means was it an easy "just slap some boards up and call it a day" type of build. It involved hours of measure twice and cut once moments, weeks of effort, and over a dozen individual pieces that fit together in a series of dado, miter, rip, and rabbet cuts like a giant closet jigsaw puzzle. But the trickiest part was the fact that we had to dry fit everything in place, then take it all apart and stain it all before putting it all back together.
The whole closet build took us about two weeks to cut everything we needed, then another three days of staining. At the end of the process we had ourselves a large set of dark stained jigsaw puzzle pieces that would eventually form our closets.
We ended up using two coats of Jacobean stain followed by a few coats of polyurethane. After a thorough dry time I began the laborious process of complete closet assembly. As much as I had hoped the dry fit of the parts and pieces would have helped, the actuality of the situation left me with quite a few hours balancing things on my head and shimming things here and there to get a tight fit.
As much effort as it was, as the whole thing started to come together we could both sense we were nearing real and actual closets.
You can see how we intended the long hanging to be separate from the rest in the right closet from the photo above. In the next photo you can see a bit of a jog on the interior of the left closet's right side. Because we were building the shoe closet in front of the chimney bump out, we had to be a bit creative. In order to center our design in the room, we had to be a bit creative with our shelf configuration. Centering the doors meant a portion of the chimney would still reside in the closet on the left, and instead of let those few precious inches to go waste, I planned to do a series of shelves for shoes or shirts in this area.
With our closet in place and stained, we began the very long process of trimming, fitting, adjusting, and correcting our salvaged doors.
The whole process of adjusting the doors was easily one of the most difficult and laborious processes I've ever undertaken. Some doors needed to be squared, some lengthened, some shortened, and all modified in one way or another. We were using 3-1/2" cast iron salvaged lift off hinges for all of the doors and we were working the doors in with the custom trim we had cut to mimic our original profiles. In other words, even though the closets were all new, we were going to great lengths to make our closet wall look like it had always been there.
The most difficult aspect of the fitting was probably getting the two double doors to line up properly and all of the panels to fall at primarily the same level line across all five doors. Unfortunately, one of the two doors on the right closet were slightly warped, but otherwise, all was in pretty great shape!
I won't bore you with the details of painting the doors, because, who wants to see yet another post about painting doors, but the end result of our efforts were rather gratifying.
As you can see, Wendy got her shoe closet. It's her pride and joy of the bedroom, and sometimes I just see her opening the door to look at the wonderfully organized space.
In addition to her shoe storage, she also has her double bar and long hanging storage in the right closet.
And I'm left with my closet on the left, complete with shelf storage for all of my shirts and sweaters.
It's hard to believe that this is the space we were starting with.
The hope is to eventually add additional storage for clothes in a small closet that's in the bathroom, but for now, these are the dream closets that we had wanted for quite some time. Total cost of our entire interior closet makeover including wood, chrome closet bars from BuyRailings.com, and stain, came in about $300. Not too shabby when you consider just how expensive the custom closets can be. Now I just wish we had additional space to build a full scale walk in closet. I'm talking Oprah style closets here, but that would require a room at least double the size of our entire bedroom. Oh well, I guess that dream will have to wait.
What do you think of our closets? It may not be grand or something truly unbelievable, but with the size of our home and what we had before (as in, nothing) what we have now it tremendous to us. We absolutely love them and like using them each and every day.