Rebuilding the Closet Shelves

One project that took us waaaay too long to finish was rebuilding the bedroom closet after we repainted. We’ve mentioned before that the previous owner smoked like a chimney, and apparently the bedroom closet must have been the hideout or something – the stains on the walls were worse in the closet than anywhere else. We never did take a photo of the how the closet looked when we bought the place. But the nasty old shelves didn’t last long – we ripped them out as quickly as possible. Here’s what the bare walls looked like after we removed the old shelves, but before we did anything else:

Before - looking left.
Before - looking right.

Gross, huh? The walls had been painted white sometime in the past, but they are now visibly brown and dirty. We scrubbed the walls pretty well – we just used a floor sponge and went to it. Here’s what it looked like after priming and painting:

After a coat of green paint.

Luckily, the scrubbing did an excellent job getting rid of the smell, and anything that lingered was sealed into place with the Killz primer we were using. I’m pleased to report that there is no longer any sign of smoke smells or stains on the walls!

Unfortunately, at this point we kind of ran out of steam on this project (or got distracted by holidays and presents and SANTA) and took a two month break before finishing it.

Next, we nailed some support rails to the wall to support the new shelves we were building. We used 1×4’s for all the rails, except for the sides where we would be attaching the closet rod in the future – in those places we used 1×6’s. We decided to install three shelves on each side. One at eye level, an upper shelf, and another one way down near the floor for shoes and such.

Install shelf supports.

Meanwhile, down in the basement, we were busy priming and painting the shelves. We re-used a couple of the old shelves, because they were solid hardwood boards that were way better quality lumber than you can ever find today (at least at the big box stores). For the rest, we used 1×12 pine. Ignore the blue shelf – that one went into a different closet.

Painting the shelves in the basement.

Once we finally finished all of this, Mel, KP, and I finally got around to installing the closet rods. We went with a brushed nickel look. We had considered going for a more industrial look using galvanized steel piping, but ended up deciding we’d be better off with just an off-the-shelf closet rod. Here’s some action shots showcasing our incredible photography skills.

Mel and KP measure where the rod supports should go.
I'm screwing one of the rod supports into place.

Here’s the final product, loaded down with a fraction of our clothes (just in case anyone out there wasn’t sure how to use a closet). We think it looks pretty good, other than that awful window that we decided not to paint, but haven’t decided what to do with yet. Please ignore it.

After - looking left.
After - looking right.

We’re thrilled with how it turned out. We love the white shelves contrasting with the green walls. How about you? What do you think of the closet? 

8 thoughts on “Rebuilding the Closet Shelves”

  1. Looks great. I actually like the window, maybe the picture isn’t doing it justice? Either way, it’s really nice, and a surprise, to have a window in a closet. It’s nice not to have to worry about light in there.

  2. Thanks everyone.
    To clarify our feelings about the window, we love having a window in the closet. However, we haven’t done anything to it yet to get rid of tobacco stains and smoke stains. The window is literally covered in gross greasy groseness.

    Chances are we will have this window replaced with a new window. All the windows in the entire house have been replaced with new windows except for this one and one other. I know a lot of old-house owners love their old windows, but we don’t. We’ll probably swap them out to match the rest of the windows sometime this summer.

  3. I’m always so relieved when I come across an old house lover that isn’t a fanatic about their old original windows. We will probably replace all of ours, too (the exception maybe being the living room).

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