I love a clean house. I love organization, color coordination, and thoughtful design.
BUT PLEASE, DON’T LOOK IN MY CLOSET.
Dear God, what have we here? Let’s see, a wedding dress, shoe boxes without shoes, some handbags, a lone boot, a robot vacuum, old pillows, luggage, beach bag…and hey, even some clothing.
And don’t forget the mountain of towels, a throw blanket, more luggage, a balance chair, and a baby bathtub. Sigh. A hot mess. I’m ashamed to admit that my inner packrat usually manifests itself in the master closet. We couldn’t take much more of the disorganization, and when our sixth anniversary rolled around last October, we decided to celebrate by installing a custom closet.
PREPPING THE FLOOR
The first step was to clear away all the floor clutter and remove the shagalicious carpet.
We used box cutters to slice the carpet and underlayment into manageable pieces, and we used a crowbar to strip the remaining staples from the sub-floor.
Already an improvement!
INSTALLING CARPET SQUARES
The master closet is connected to the bathroom, and we wanted a low-pile carpet with a vapor barrier to help withstand shower steam and moisture. The answer was carpet squares. We found an understated pattern at our local Carpet Liquidators here in Seattle. The best part: We snagged it for $1.89 a square foot. There are so many options out there to suit your room and the color you like. This peel-and-stick tile from Amazon has a similar texture and price.
We measured the closet area (6×10 feet) and cut the squares to size on the outer rows. The vent in the left corner posed a problem since the built-ins were placed directly on top. We decided to tape the grate shut before cutting a space in the carpet tile and calling it good.
The space felt so much cleaner with fresh carpet, and the next step was to brighten up the walls with a complimentary color. We removed the existing racks and spackled the holes before sanding the surface smooth.
We had some leftover Coventry Gray by Benjamin Moore that we used to paint the living rooms, a perfect fit to bring out the shades in the carpet.
Once the walls and ceiling were painted, we removed the baseboards for later use and began assembling the wardrobe frames from IKEA. Oh, IKEA, how I love you. We used the Pax Planner tool to design each side (mine here). It’s an easy way to drag and drop new accessories to fit your space. It also keeps a running tally of your supplies and overall cost.
My side included a lower shoe shelf, four pull-out drawers, an accessory divider drawer, a pants hanger, overhead storage bins and clothing rods throughout. I’m already swooning.
If you’re installing your wardrobes with a spouse, go ahead and air your grievances beforehand, open some wine and keep the marriage counselor on standby. This was the most tedious part of the process, but it was exciting to see it come together. I absolutely love the look of the assembled Pax system. The wardrobes even come with attachment screws to eliminate the space between them.
The length of our closet could only hold three wardrobes per wall, which meant that the fourth and fifth needed to be cut down and reassembled to fit. Dave measured the remaining space and cut 12 inches off the wardrobe backing, front and rear pieces, making sure to drill replacement holes to allow the sides to fit as they did in the original design. He also cut the shelves down to fit into the interior space. The final frames slid in perfectly.
After hours of building and fitting, the accessorizing part was awesome. Crank up the radio and start dancing; it’s gravy from here on out. The online planner instructions were clear, and we simply needed to choose the height of each shelf, hanger, rod, etc. to suit our taste.
Wedding anniversary gifts are weird. Year Six is iron, and hello, outside of a skillet or something kinky, what are we left with? The closet drawers gave us the idea of wrought iron handles; a nice way to celebrate while adding more texture. We loved this simple and affordable design.
The result is gorgeous!
MOULDING AND BASEBOARDS
There’s nothing like moulding to upgrade a space. Remember those original baseboards? We resized them to fit the new wardrobes and nailed them directly onto the front. It takes practice to miter the corners, but the payoff is a seamless look that joins separate pieces into a single finished product.
There was a decent amount of space between the top of the wardrobes and the ceiling, and we needed the chunkiest crown moulding to get the job done (aw, shucks!) I am obsessed with this 4 1/2 inch MDF crown from our local hardware store. We also installed thin MDF cove pieces to mask the spaces between the wardrobes and the wall. Both were cheaper than wood and won’t warp with moisture. Just.plain.beautiful.
A bit of spackle and sanding covered the nail holes, and then we caulked the edges before applying a thin coat of white semi-gloss paint. We’re nearing the home stretch!
Our anniversary project went off without a hitch, and we’re so relieved to finally have some non-hoarder room to store our stuff.
Dave’s custom-fitted wardrobe is used to store sweaters (that can’t withstand hangers) and beat up shoulder bags. It’s the collegiate corner of the room.
His handled drawers store t-shirts, socks, pjs, and other dresser-centric clothing. His hanging clothes are divided into coats and hoodies, business shirts and formal suits. He also has overhead storage and a pull-out pants hanger.
My custom-fitted wardrobe is used to store purses. Guys, I have a place for purses.
My hanging clothes are separated into dresses, long-sleeved and short-sleeved blouses.
My handled drawers are for lingerie and sweaters. Side note: Apparently I have a thing for pink bras. After years of shoving stuff into a crammed dresser, I had no idea.
My pull-out divider is for grab-and-go tank tops; a nice way to find an undershirt without wasting hangers or valuable drawer space.
COST AND SAVINGS
This closet could have easily cost $5,000 or more for a custom design and install, but our DIY approach helped us save a ton. Amazingly, the materials needed from IKEA were less than $1,400 with the family member price:
Other line items included:
- Carpet: $1.89 x 60 square feet=$113.40
- MDF Crown Moulding: $2.00 x 32 linear feet=$64.00
- MDF Coves: $1.29 x 32 linear Feet= $41.28
- Wrought Iron Handles: $29.24 for 10
Freebies and existing materials included:
- Leftover paint
- Caulk and spackle
TOTAL COST: $1,614.85
ESTIMATED SAVINGS: $3,385.15
Purse storage and $3.4K in the bank? Keep your diamonds and flowers! I’ll take a custom closet any day.
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