Mr. C’s New Closet

Since our house is more than 100 years old, there is always some project to work on.  Rooms to update, things to paint or repair, something to clean.  When we had some free time though, we often would have no plan as to what we should do next.  To try to solve this problem, we started a list this past April of things that we need to do.  “The List” was originally supposed to cover all sorts of things, not just house related projects.  Things like sign Mr. C up for school, plan a vacation, get an Easy Pass for the car.  Over time though we’ve run out of non-house related projects and  it has now become a list of almost entirely home improvement projects.  When there is a weekend with nothing else scheduled, instead of trying to remember what might need to get done,  I check the list to see if there is something I could work on.  I can  also check out the list on a Thursday or Friday and see if I might need to pick up some supplies before the weekend comes to cut down on having to take time out of the  weekend to go to the hardware store,  leaving me more time to work on the planned project.   Once a project is finished, we then cross that item off the list.  Crossing it off the list is like a little celebration.  Yeah, we finished a project!

This past weekend I decided to tackle item number 19, refinish Mr. C’s closet.  One of the good things about our house is that we have a lot of closet space.  I’ve seen some older houses that barely have any closets.   While the house is fairly small, each bedroom does have a very large closet.  The bad thing though, is that a former owner decided that it would be a good idea to add fake wood panelling on the walls of all of the closets.  It’s really odd that this was done since the walls are all very solid, older style horse hair plaster construction with hardwood trim.  Every closet is lined with this panelling, it’s very worn, with lots of chips and cracks, and nail holes.   The paneling is a very dark brown, with bright white seams, though in some parts it has been painted a strange lime green color, and in others it has been painted an even stranger bright pink.   Mr. C’s closet seemed to be especially bad since it had both green and pink painted patches, as well as the unpainted fake dark wood panelling.   Whenever we would need to get anything from Mr. C’s closet, we would close the door as soon as possible or be blinded by the bright green and pink paint on that wood panelling.    So I decided to rip out that old panelling and make his closet a bit more up to date, or at least let us leave the closet door open without giving us headaches.

The refinishing involved the following:

– Removing the closet hangar bar and hardware

– Trying to remove the panelling and finding out that 300,000 nails were used to attach it to the plaster wall, and then finding out that it was also installed BEHIND all of the wood trim.

– Removing all of the wood trim to get the last 50,000 or so nails out and finding that the bright pink paint was also used on the plaster walls too.

– Repairing all those nail holes in the old plaster

– Sanding the walls

– Priming the walls

– Painting the walls with the finish color, two coats to cover up that bright pink paint.   Painting in a long narrow closet on a very hot day turns out to be not such a great idea.

– Since it’s a very long closet, much of the back of the closet is too long for Mr. C to reach.  So I had the bright idea of adding in shelves so he could have some extra toy storage.

– Cut some birch panels to fit into the closet as shelves.  Very tricky since 100 year old plaster walls are not at all straight.

– Position and attach brackets to the wall.   I had to make the brackets myself since the walls are so wavy, pre-made brackets won’t fit very well.

– Stain the shelves and fit them onto the brackets and put the hangar bar back up

The good thing about this closet is that I’ve done so many other projects that I didn’t need to buy very much to get it done.  All of the plaster, paint, and most of the wood was left over from other projects.  I just needed to buy the birch sheets for the shelves.

And here it is, the finished closet!   (I’m not sure why the wall looks green in the photo, it’s actually yellow.)


Yeah, something to cross off the list!!   Item 19 is done!!   (Sorry there’s no “Before” photo, it was just too hideous that I forgot to take a picture of it.)

Well the list  seemed like a good idea at the time, I thought we might end up with 100 or so items,  we are now up to 121 things to do .    The bad news about this list is that since the closet looks so much better now, all the other closets have been added to the list:

#122 – Refinish our bedroom closet

#123 – Refinish the spare room closet

#124 – Refinish the bathroom closet

#125 – Refinish the hallway closet

So one item was crossed off, and four have been added.

There’s no end in sight!


7 thoughts on “Mr. C’s New Closet

    • It does look much better. I’m not looking forward to doing one of the other closets, it’s the largest closet in the house. We call it the ‘New York Apartment’

  1. Haha, I had to laugh at the thousands of nails! Sometimes you really wonder what people were thinking when they made home “improvements”. Don’t worry about your walls not being straight. I don’t know one home in CA built in the 1970s or later that has straight walls. Construction work here is really crappy. Good luck with the next closets! At least you know what to expect now.

    • There were some strange improvements done here. My sister in law in San Francisco is in the middle of renovating her house, which has a handicapped accessible bathroom in the middle of the living room. It’s like some kind of space pod landed in the middle of the room. It’s gone now, but it was a huge project to remove it!

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