Two days ago we gave you all the "grand reveal" of our DIY closet interiors. We were able to go pretty overboard on the project since the space was small and we were building everything from plain old wood and some basic supplies. Had we gone the route of a closet system we would have been stuck within the bounds of their standard measurements, we would have had wasted space, and it would have cost 10 times what we wanted to spend. But another major benefit of doing this ourselves was our ability to dictate the entire space and how it would be used, not just the lower closet area.
A few commenters noted they could see a glimpse or two of the storage areas atop the closets, and that's exactly what this space is used for. Though we always intended it to be plain and simple storage, like the rest of the project, it wasn't something we were able to just wiggle our nose at and be done with it. Nope, in true Old Town Home style, we still went tremendously overkill even on our storage area. I know you're probably wondering, "How is that even possible?" Well, we found a way given we seem to have a talent in extending our scope of work.
As you can see from the photos, we started using the upper storage long before we had upper doors installed (or even installed handles or made fine adjustments on the lower doors). We were able to use several large pieces of plywood for the base of the upper storage, and it's the same piece of plywood that is the top of the lower closets. At only 3/4" thick we had to add some support to the back of the closets by way of some oak boards screwed to the under side of the shelf. We also affixed the front of the shelf to the door jams I had cut. We can't store an elephant up there nor a hippopotamus, but our plastic storage bins with clothes seem to work well.
The thing I mentioned previously about wanting this closet space to "look like it's always been there" really came into place with the upper storage. At the same time, I wanted to include a modern convenience or two. Before launching into the whole storage door build we installed a television above Wendy's shoe closet. It's a shallow space, and it couldn't accommodate much in the way of clothes or bins, so instead we installed a 32" LCD TV.
The coolest part is that I knew we would be doing this and made sure to run a bunch of network, speaker, and coax cables to the area behind the TV where the outlets existed. This means that we were also able to install a TiVo, DVD player, and other Internet connected devices (like the TV), and that we're able to have the television sound play over our in-ceiling whole house audio speakers in the bedroom. Is your mind blown?
The entry door to the bedroom is wonderful. It's an old original door with an original transom above, surrounded by old original 4" molding. This entry to our bedroom, visible from both the exterior and interior of the room, sets the tone for the height and heft of everything else in the room. Here's that entry door in its finished state.
In making our closets, we had to be sure to convey this same look. It simply wouldn't make sense for the door to have this great look and then make the closets into bi-fold doors and the upper storage as sliding panels. We needed to give the illusion that all of the doors and storage areas in the room were built and installed at the same time, so they all needed a similar look. We wanted the storage above the doors to look like transom windows that had doors installed rather than glass, but we needed the doors to look like the salvaged doors, but there's no way we could have salvaged them, their sizes were just too odd. See, I told you we were going to make it difficult.
To make the doors for the closets I used some stock and rather thick 4/4 poplar boards that I scored a great deal on at a local lumber yard. I made them as you would a traditional raised panel door with rails and stiles...
...but as you can see, I made them completely oversized so I could then trim them all to the correct size. I then used the router to make raised panels that look similar to the profile of the doors. It's not exactly the same, but I've been unable to find a matching bit to our door panels in all of the years we've been searching for them. Here's the side by side comparison of our salvaged/original door panels (left), and our custom upper door panels (right). Not the same, but close enough that most people don't notice the difference.
Another key in this process was finding miniature hinges to match the salvaged cast iron lift off hinges I had used on the lower closets. Believe me, it was hard enough finding five sets of 3-1/2" hinges for the lower closets. (That effort took me about a full year to find exactly matching models.) I lucked out on securing a few sets of 2" hinges that matched almost identically to the lower door hinges, finding them on eBay, an online antique store, and a pair at a salvage yard. Installed they look awesome, especially compared to the lower doors.
I don't know if you've ever installed custom doors with mortised and salvaged 125+ year old hinges that aren't consistently sized in an opening that you just built, let alone double doors that need to match up upon closing, but it's not for the faint of heart I tell you! This is one of those projects that tested my mettle, that's for sure.There are so many little things you need to pay attention to. From where the doors line up to the gaps around the doors to the gaps on the jamb side to the ability for the doors to open or close. We don't have many photos of this process because the majority of the time was spent swearing and spewing hate at our closets and house, rather than taking photos.
Oh, and while I was at it, I went ahead and built a new transom window to match the transom window above the bedroom door. Why? Because I have a tremendous amount of self hate. Oh, also because we'd eventually need it for the area above the bathroom door that was sans transom. Hey, we couldn't let all of the doors in the bedroom look consistent except for this random bathroom door.
The end result of our bedroom's closets is (in our own opinion) a great example of how you can turn an otherwise unused spaced into a functional storage area while also making it work with the rest of the room. It doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, obviously added in a different millennia than when the house was built. Instead, I'd even venture to guess that a future owner or guest might even assume it's an original element in the house.
And if you're an astute observer, you'll notice there are no knobs or handles on the upper doors. While we used salvaged porcelain knobs on the lower doors, we opted to use magnetic spring loaded touch latches on the upper doors. Now, when we want to open them, you just push and they easily open.
One thing to note, the middle door is actually hinged from the top. This allows the door to flip up to open. Right now we have a few small wood supports that keep it open much of the time, but I have big plans for this at some point. I'll share more if it becomes a reality, but it will surely be fun and nerdy.
There you have it, the (nearly) complete saga of how we turned our bedroom from this...
We added a lot of much needed storage space and also added a rather attractive addition to our room. One other thing we added, without really realizing it, a great deal of energy efficiency. In the winter our whole room stays much warmer as our clothes act as insulation on the uninsulated exterior brick wall. You just need to remember to take out what you want to wear the next day the night before, otherwise you're left with really cold clothes in the morning.
What do you think of our end results? Worth the effort? Good storage? Does it look like an original part of our house? And do you like the TV in the bedroom? I know many people have varying opinions on this.