Wednesday, April 2, 2014

one-room challenge copycat: week 1

So here is where I introduce everyone to my one-room challenge COPYCAT project (in the sense that I have not been invited to participate in actual fact).  But there actually is a round-up of people doing copycat projects - check them out here.  In my last post, I let the cat (hee!) out of the bag that I was going to do a follow-along project, and I showed off my extremely special closet that doesn't fit any hangers.  So now, at the start of the challenge, I figured I would share my project plan so you can all hold me accountable. 

Here is the plan in general terms:

Week 1 - demolition
Week 2 - put up studs; move wires into place for overhead light (including 2 junction boxes)
Week 3 - re-insulate ceiling; drywall, tape, and spackle
Week 4 - paint inside and outside; replace picture rail and baseboard outside
Week 5 - hang light, shelves, and closet poles
Week 6 - put clothes back in

In my mind, I could pull this off in about two weekends.  Then when I see the list written down, I remember how many weeks it too me to redo the walls on the porch.  Granted there was also the laying of a floor to think about, but that project took so much time.  And now, whenever I walk into my house, I walk through my porch, and I think it's lovely.  And it's a space that we actually use (no, really).  And - as I throw out my shoulder patting myself on the back - I love that floor, and I laid and stained it and varnished it all by myself.  Previously, the porch was ugly and I wanted to pretend it wasn't there.  So there will come a time, not too far off, when the memory of the work that this closet will require has faded quietly into the past; but I will have a delightful and functional closet.  At that time I will probably be ignoring the closet and cursing the dandelions and the infertile squash - but such is life. 

So let me provide a slightly better idea of where the closet is and what the plan is for it.  There is a wall that separates the master bedroom (pale gray) from the second bedroom (green).  Here it is from the master bedroom side:

The wall we're talking about is the one with the door in it - that's the closet door.  That picture is ancient, but it's no neater now (though I did finish my duvet cover eventually).  Anyway, here's the same wall seen from the green bedroom:

What lies inside that wall isn't the typical .5" of drywall, 3.5" of studs, .5" of drywall.  I drew a little schematic to help explain.  (It is not to scale.) 

From the green bedroom perspective, starting on the left, there is a reasonably normal closet.  The schematic has a lovely free-handed coat hanger shape there to indicate that it is deep enough to hold a real coat hanger (!).  The closet design wisdom of the internet says that minimum depth for a wall closet is 24", but this one is more like, I don't know, 22".  It still fits hangers.  As the photograph shows, the closet itself extends beyond the door on either side, and of course that part is hard to see, but it's not very far, so it works. 

Moving to the right - the lovely brick pattern that I drew indicates that there is a chimney inside of that wall.  It's true.  It does not, regrettably, lead to a wood-burning fireplace downstairs (or upstairs).  It appears that since the house was first built, that chimney has held the exhaust pipe from the furnace (in the basement) and also from coal stoves in the gray bedroom and the green bedroom (and the living room and dining room below).  The coal stoves are no longer there.  The furnace still is, though (well, a new one), and that chimney is therefore staying.  Yes, I have contemplated exposing the brick, but I have no idea what condition it's in back there.  It looks a bit sketchy in the attic where it's exposed. 

Moving on, there is the closest that opens into the green bedroom.  It's not deep enough for a hanger.  Then there is the closet that opens into the gray bedroom.  Again, not deep enough for a hanger. 

My original plan was to combine closets 2 and 3, and move the right part of the wall forward into the green bedroom to make it even with the bump-out for the closet on the far left (closet 1, represented by the coat hanger).  Then there would be a fairly symmetrical space in the middle for that dresser.  Well, actually, I want to move that dresser into our room, since it has my DH's clothes.  I would probably trade it for the armoire that's currently in our room:

(More on that later.)  But then I realized that by combining closets 2 and 3, I would get a closet rather longer than closet 1.  This would mean there would be a lot more closet space that wouldn't be visible from the door.  I concluded that I was going to need to make it deep enough to walk into and see the clothes.  The internet seems to say that a walk-in closet with one wall of hanging rods needs to be 44" deep (I don't remember where I read that exactly, but I'm planning to ignore it).  I figured 36" would be fine.  This means bumping the right side of the wall further than the left side is bumped out, but since the left side being the only bump-out didn't bother me before, I figured I could cope with it.  Above all, my goal is to do this once, and have a functional closet.  So my current plan is:

As you see, now there is just one closet on the right.  And, it's deep enough for hangers and for a person to walk (well, shimmy - it won't be spacious) in there and look at the clothes.  A few other notes: there's a gray oblong on the left side of the new closet.  That will be shelves - there are shelves there now in closet 2, and when I demolish it, I'm going to leave the edges of the shelves in where they're tucked into that niche there.  (I'm not extending the new closet space quite all the way to the chimney because I want to leave enough width in the middle to put the armoire or another decent-sized piece of furniture.) 

Also, as you'll see, the label on said furniture has been changed to "linen press??"  I am debating putting in a built-in linen press (old-fashioned version of linen closet, with cabinet doors and shelves and drawers).  The upstairs doesn't have a linen closet, so I think that would be useful.  On the other hand, if I build it in, there will permanently be a linen closet in a bedroom.  While there's not a lot of good places for one in the hallway, it might seem odd to a potential buyer to have it permanently in a bedroom.  I could, instead, use a free-standing piece of furniture, which would be more flexible.  Or I could just use my existing armoire (shown above), and find some way to fit shelves to it for towels and sheets, without modifying it permanently (it's an antique).  I'm still pondering all these ideas. 

Another thing I concluded was that, if someone is going to walk into the new closet and see the clothes, there will have to be light.  That's where these come in:

The plan is to convert the left-hand one to a plain junction box and use conduit to run it straight up that wall (which, by the end of the project, will actually be inside the closet), terminate it in an on-wall light switch, and then run the conduit up to the ceiling.  I'm demolishing the current drop ceilings of closets 2 and 3, replacing what I suspect is blown-in insulation above there with fiberglass batts (I have some left over from the sun porch insulation, though I can't presently remember where I put them.  Maybe the attic?  That would be handy), and moving the closet ceiling up to the height of the upstairs generally (8').  That means I'll have the ceiling open and have a chance to run wires from where the conduit hits the top of that wall along to a ceiling junction box for a new overhead light fixture in the closet.  (I am using the technical terms here so that interested parties can google for an explanation, and this post does not become a full-on manuscript.  But I will be illustrating what all this looks like as I work on it - God willing.) 

What all this really means is that I got to go shopping for light fixtures.  I saw this for just $30 at the big orange store:

It may or may not be a historically accurate style for the exact time period my house was built.  But I'm not doing the research to find out.  I can find closet hardware in white and/or silver to match it (well, I've already decided I want oak closet poles).  I already bought a white on-wall switchplate.  The bedroom it opens onto has all silver picture frames and a silver sconce (someday, there will be two silver sconces).  But the bottom line is that I love it, more even than the idea of having a functional closet, so I bought it.  Now I have to demolish some lathe and plaster. 

Back next week with much construction dust! 


  1. This is an absolute inspiration. Our completely stopped reno in all rooms is miserably depressing, and thanks to you, I think I'll pick it back up again ;)

    Good luck with that closet!!

  2. Agreed - I've been putting off painting my master bathroom for awhile and you've inspired me to get back at it.

  3. Good luck with this, you have a lot on your list. Thanks for joining in.