Background

When we bought our 1910 Bungalow - we had a slight mice problem. By slight I mean - I never actually saw a live mouse running through our home but when moving the appliances in the kitchen we found one dead mouse & several thousand droppings. This lead me to go a little overboard. I have since sanitized where the old appliances were - 3 times, including the entire kitchen and house, we got all new appliances, spent over $400 on a critter company to come and seal up the outside of the foundation, and did one very not so pretty weathering strip replacement DIY on the door leading to the back yard. The last piece of this creature maintenance plan was to seal up all of the closets. This also sounded appealing to make our closets feel more finished rather than exposed. Specifically the basement closet was exposed to the crawl space. The basement was finished sometime in the last 10-20 years and although there is dry wall on the walls, there was no dry wall on the ceiling of the basement bedroom closet. 

 
The white pipes were either a shower curtain or a curtain rod that was just resting on the dry wall and being used to hang clothes on. That was just not going to work for me! Also - see random cords & the exposed light bulb & electrical above the sliding doors. The overall closet just appeared to be very exposed for us.

The white pipes were either a shower curtain or a curtain rod that was just resting on the dry wall and being used to hang clothes on. That was just not going to work for me! Also - see random cords & the exposed light bulb & electrical above the sliding doors. The overall closet just appeared to be very exposed for us.

 

Research

First - we thought we could do the entire dry wall repair ourselves - quickly found out this was above our skill grade since the ceiling would require installing additional support beams for us to screw into and also see large duct work that needed to be worked around. Also Ben and I have NO dry wall experience whatsoever.

Second - we decided to get bids on this project to out source the dry wall installation. This was a whole project in of itself. Contractors just operate differently than the "corporate business world" so we had some problems with getting timely responses on bids, people to call us back, scheduling estimates, etc. After receiving about 3-5 estimates, we decided to go with a referral that was the lowest bid overall. Overall, we had 3 closets & one hole behind a cabinet in the kitchen that needed to be fixed (also a part of the mouse situation). Two closets just needed some dry wall to seal the framing from the inside of the closet so that it was not open to the attic or crawl space, the basement bedroom closet needed the ceiling to be sealed, & the behind the kitchen cabinet needed repair. We received bids ranging from $1,200 to $660 for all of these projects. The bid we selected was $660 - which included $600 of labor & $60 for materials. Overall this felt expensive to us because we are new to this renovation game. 

I am going to focus on the basement closet project since that was the most involved project.

Contractor

We had two options for the ceiling: 1) have a stair step for the ceiling line or 2) have a slanted ceiling line. We chose the slanted roof line because it was cheaper, would be faster, & it seemed the easiest. {Looking back I am SO happy we went with this option! It turned out great. I was very skeptical at first but the cost really swayed me into selecting the slanted ceiling line.} We had some difficulties with coordinating the electrical piece of this project. Our house is very old, therefore, people are hesitant to touch anything to do with the electrical and our contractor was not insured for electrical work. Therefore, Ben would have to do a few of the steps related to moving & upgrading the light fixture. Overall - Ben said the electrical was not the difficult. He had no prior experience and relied solely on our friends at Home Depot and a few blog tutorials, as well as, the light fixture package directions. Our main hiccup was that the closet light is not linked to a light switch so we had to have a fixture that allowed us to pull the string. Definitely not my favorite but DIY-ing is not about perfection on every project! Sometimes we sacrifice one thing because the cost & effort is much more than you are able to do at the time. We have a priority listing & the light works for now!

Total Cost: $660 + approximately $30 for the light fixture & supplies

Painting

Once the dry wall was complete we decided that we were going to paint the closet a dark grey. If you look at the pictures below, you will see that painting the entire closet was a must. I had read on some blogs that it is the *new trend*. {haha - everything is a "new trend"!} It helps cover up scuffs on the walls, is visually appealing, & a small way to provide some pop in your room! We extended this color to the accent walls for a cohesive look. Our closet has sliding doors so it was difficult to find a good stopping place.

The basement was painted in varying shades of neutral white/yellow but the more I looked at the wall the more things I noticed about the paint job. The must have just run out of paint in the corners or something? Also the paint was in a shine-y/satin finish and I prefer matte.

Since this was fresh dry wall with uneven surfaces - we used a sanding sponge to even out the surfaces like this one. This was a quick process. I recommend not pushing too hard and just running the sponge over all of the surfaces and then running your hand over it to ensure it is smooth. After sanding the walls - we wiped down the walls and base boards with a rag so that there was no more dust on the surfaces.

 
You can see where the new dry wall interceded with the old coat of paint. Also our light is so bulky because we had to have a cord to pull. Long story short - our electrical was not setup for this light to be linked to a light switch.

You can see where the new dry wall interceded with the old coat of paint. Also our light is so bulky because we had to have a cord to pull. Long story short - our electrical was not setup for this light to be linked to a light switch.

 
This is the extra mudding that was left over that we sanded down to get a smooth surface.

This is the extra mudding that was left over that we sanded down to get a smooth surface.

Picture of the bumpy surface after the mudding was complete.

Picture of the bumpy surface after the mudding was complete.

Hint: I recommend laying down a painting tarp before sanding so that it will catch the majority of the dust. This can get quite messy.

Next - we taped off the entire closet and baseboards. We used Behr Premium Plus - Paint & Primer in one. This is the cheapest Behr option but does require at least 2 coats. I love the way the color turned out. When DIYing - you just have to pick & choose where you are going to splurge. The paint in the closet & basement accent wall was not one of those areas for me and this paint turned out just fine!

Total {approximate} Cost:

  • Paint - $30
  • Brushes - $15
  • Roller & Roll Brushes (4 inches) - $15 (I used by roller from the DIY Series: Painting Steps project)
  • Sanding Sponge - $8
  • Paint Tray - $10 (I used this from previous projects & I use the throw away inserts for easy clean up!)
Closet after we finished painting

Closet after we finished painting

Extension of the accent wall

Extension of the accent wall

Installing the Rod & Shelf

Here comes the hard part. We needed to install a shelf & rod. One would think that this is a fairly simple & straightforward process.... but only if you have a standard or new build closet. We have a not very wide, shallow closet with a slanted ceiling & rather bulky light fixture. We went to Home Depot and after must deliberation we finally decided on a plan that would allow us to hang clothes & store other items on the shelf.

Rod: The rod is installed from wall to wall supported by wall flanges & one bracket with a support hook.

  • 48-72 in Adjustable Closet Rod from Home Depot - $10.96
  • Heavy Duty wall flanges pair from Home Depot - $6.79
  • Wall bracket with hook from Home Depot - $7.96

Shelf: The shelf is slightly shorter than the width of the closet (closet width is 54 inches - shelf width is 48 inches) and is low enough that we can get some baskets & items on top but high enough so that clothes are not dragging on the floor or the shoe organizer. So much to think about! 

  • 12 in wide by 48 in long Rubbermaid shelf in grey laminate from Home Depot  - $9.48
  • 2 Wall brackets (no hooks) from Home Depot - $6.86 x 2 = $13.72
  1. We installed the brackets by screwing them into studs against the back wall. We used a stud finder and marked the center of the stud with a pencil at the appropriate height and used a pencil to mark the spot. Before screwing in the bracket - we made sure the entire bracket was level on top & to the side to make sure it is completely straight. We installed the left bracket, right bracket, & then middle bracket the same way.
  2. We installed the shelf by screwing the top of the bracket into the bottom of the shelf. We made sure that the shelf was centered on the brackets & confirmed it was level.
  3. We then put the rod on the middle bracket, and measured where the rod would be on each wall, confirming that it was level. We marked the appropriate area on each wall to install the flanges then slid in the rod. 
  4. Finally we added back our sliding closet doors and added all of our winter clothes & other junk and wa-laaaa it was done!

Each closet is so different but the main things to keep in mind are:

  1. Screw in the brackets & wall flanges on studs so that the shelf and/or rod does not just rip out of the wall after you put all your stuff on it. (You will probably need to buy a stud finder - you can find a decent one for about $20.)
  2. Use an impact drill & level. Throughout the entire process we made sure that the brackets, shelf, & rod was still level.
  3. Before installing the rod, test the location to make sure that hangers fit on the rod without any "nifty maneuvering". It would be easy to install the rod in a position that has clothes sticking out of the closet or jammed up against the back wall. The position of each item is crucial for a functional closet.

Final Product

 
Finished closet {without sliding door}!

Finished closet {without sliding door}!

 
 
Basement Closet - Finished 2
 

We are so glad this project is done! It was the project that seemed to drag on for a long time. Closets are not the most exciting but they sure are useful. Having this functional closet has made a huge difference in our organization system & has given me peace of mind about critters jumping out of the crawl space! haha I am not sure if this is even possible but I just wanted to make double/triple sure!

Happy DIY-ing

Chelsea
 

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