Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Closet Remodel Before and After

Warning! This is going to be a long post. Grab a cup of coffee and sit back when you read this one!

With all this talk about my closet, I figured, I would show you the end result. We are not 100% done yet. There is some shelving the store ran out of, so I have to wait for those to come in before we can finish. Juan's side also needs some shelving still, but we are going to wait a little and do it later on. He still is unsure of what he wants on his side, and doesn't think he needs what I have, so we are holding off there.

Here's some of the factors we had to consider. 
  • I tend to buy more classic style clothes with fashionable thrown in. So my clothes lasts for years, which means I have a lot of clothes.
  • I refuse to let myself get bigger or smaller size wise so that I don't have to start over in the clothes department, which means I have a lot of clothes. (LOL)
  • I kinda have a thing for shoes. 
  • I go through my clothes twice a year and get rid of stuff I am not wearing, but I usually use the opportunity to shop and update my wardrobe.
  • I don't own a dresser, I keep ALL my clothes in my closet. (Juan uses the dresser for his stuff.)
  • Juam is in the military, and I never know what closet I will get when we move.
  • Any changes to our closet can not be permanent since this is not MY house.
  • I have to share a closet with my husband and he gets just under half of the space. (Hey I get more because he has the dresser and I don't!).
Those are some big things when you really consider them. I have seen those shows where they get rid of everything and then the after looks amazing but has like 5 outfits in the closet. Let's get serious, that really isn't an option here! Since I have lived in this house I have taken everything out and redid the closet and reorganized like 4 or 5 times now. It is so frustrating because there just is no room in this friggin' closet! This time, I was going to be serious and go buy what I needed to make this closet work once and for all!

Over the years I had purchased closet organizational squares and cubes and drawers. With each move I would take these with me and up until now, they have worked just fine. But in this closet - it just wasn't going to happen! I would dread going in there to find something to wear. I would try to organize and it would work, but because of space constraints, there was only so much organizing I could do. Things would get disheveled in there no matter what I tried. So every time I took a vacation from work, I would spend a day on my closet. Something had to give and Juan refused to move his things out of the space! I mean really, why can't he keep his clothes in the garage or something? LOL! 

I scoured the web looking for some before and afters. What I found were a few pictures, or pictures from closet organizational sites, that again showed you unrealistic end results. I would see people who converted entire rooms into a dream closet - yeah well, I don't have that extra room, or believe me I would make a dream office/closet combo! One day... 

In the mean time, my goal in opening my closet doors to you is to show those of you stuck in closet hell that there is hope. And those of you who are super organized and already have amazing closets, you can just pick your jaw up off the floor and stop judging me! LOL! 

OK so first off I refused to pick up my closet before taking pictures. I thought that would be cheating if I did that. But believe me looking at these pictures now, I so wish I did! So the before pictures are in all their messy glory!

I probably should have taken the doors off so I could get one good picture instead of multiple pictures. When you walk into my closet, I occupy the left side, so that is the side I am showing. Here you see clothes on one side and then a gap and more clothes. That gap has squares for my clothes similar to those you see on the top left. the the immediate left is my nail supplies. You can see shoe boxes on the top shelf, some jeans and casual pants and then a tub with some purses. Yeah this is a friggin' mess. I hate it. I'm always in a hurry and need to be able to grab and go. This doesn't allow for that. My personality can't function in chaos like this. But I just don't have time anymore, so unfortunately since this was behind closed doors, I let it go by the wayside this last year. 

Here is a view when you walk in and turn left. I had put some closet drawers on the left in front of the sliding doors of the closet. So essentially my closet doors are two sliding doors and these drawers are in front of one of them, so there is only one way in. On the bottom are shoe boxes with all my shoes. This was a HUGE pain in the rear when I would go look for a pair of shoes if I was in a hurry!

I took another picture of the shoes as I emptied the closet. I dropped some stuff while emptying it out, but for the most part - the shoes were set up like this. So if I wanted shoes in the back left, I would have to move all those other shoes out of the way to get to them. Not very conducive or organized if you ask me.

What I decided to do was take EVERYTHING out of the closet. Including the existing rods and shelves that were built in and the ones I added. Everything came out! This was such a process, I found my self literally just throwing the stuff out into my bedroom. This is the end result! My friend came over and was in shock when she saw this! She couldn't believe all this came out of my closet! Yikes! What did I start? I change my mind! I don't want to redo my closet! Ugh - since there's no rewind button, I guess I better get to it!

 We had to keep the existing nails and brackets that held the old shelving up. This isn't our house, so everything has to go back the way it was when we move. Because of this it was really important that we leave those alone, so it would be easier to return it to the way it was before. It also meant that we needed to buy stuff to organize this closet that could easily move with us and be used in a new space.

Once everything was out of the closet, we measured everything. (OK so I cheated and left my belts up on the wall. I knew that wasn't going to move, so I didn't see the point in the additional work of taking that out.) Once we had everything measured, Juan and I sat down and drew out some design ideas and went to Lowe's.

We measured stuff there and priced it out. The metal ClosetMaid stuff was the cheapest option, but I just couldn't do it. If I was going to spend the money, I wanted a nice looking space. The other option at Lowes was Allen & Roth, which is GORGEOUS but unfortunately out of our price range if we wanted to do all of it now. I thought about just doing some now and adding to it over time, but I felt like, I have the time off work now, so I need to do this now. If I was able to do it over time though, this would have been the one I wanted. Juan on the other hand feels like, this is a closet, it doesn't need nice furnishings! Ah men!
This is the Allen & Roth closet that I wanted from Lowe's. But my closet is way bigger and this would only be the beginning! Oh and those drawers are extra - they don't come with it! Price dictated so this would not be our closet.
So off to Home Depot we went. They had a few more options to choose from, which was nice and many of them were more cost effective. We found this kit by Closetmaid, where the middle piece and two bars were a good start. That third bar wasn't going to work for our design, but buying a kit was more cost effective. We also opted for a center piece that was double the size of this center piece. That way we could add drawers and wire baskets if need be.
 R3 6-Shelf 3-Rod Cherry Custom Closet Organizer
 Here is the shelving being built and put in. So far so good!

We added more shelving above the rods and installed my rod is a bit lower so I can reach it easily. We are installing another shelf directly above the rod creating another shelving space. Unfortunately they didn't have enough shelving in stock at our local Home Depot, but I was surprised to learn, they would call another store that had it in stock and have the item sent to our local store for pick up at no additional cost. So it may be a few days before I have the secondary shelf, but that's great customer service if you ask me! We added a shorter shelf on the bottom because I couldn't have one that goes all the way across since I have long items to hang too. We actually took one of the longer shelves and just sawed it in half. One half for me and one half on the other side for Juan.

Now this is wear we got a little creative. We bought additional shelving for the left side of the closet. This is what the lady at Home Depot called garage shelving. Whatever it's called - it was perfect for what I was envisioning. I can adjust the shelves whenever I want and add as many or as little shelving according to my needs. I put shelving from the ground to the ceiling. Now that is some shelf space I could work with! What am I going to do with all that shelving? You'll see!

 So now that the shelving has been built, it's time to put everything back in the closet! Here is a shot when you walk in. I have my folded clothes in the center area. I put two wire baskets on the bottom for tanks and bras and under that two smaller bins with PJ's and underwear.

Here is my clothes. You can see where the second shelf is going to go directly above the closet rod. I organized my clothes first by sleeve length then by color on the top rod, with dresses to the far left and then pants, skirts and sweatshirts on the bottom rod.

Finally, the shoes! That is what all that shelving was for! LOVE it! It is so much easier to pick shoes to wear when you can see them! On the top shelf I stored out of season clothes in bins, which is really just shorts and swimsuits since the weather here is pretty warm all year, so there will still be times when this comes down. In the summer, I'll move my sweaters up there. On the second shelf we are adding, I'll store my purses and some other belts that are not hangable for whatever reason. I already have it all sorted and ready to put away when that shelf arrives. Can't wait.

So there you have it, my updated closet! Some things to remember if you are going to embark on a closet remodel.
  1. Store clothes you can't wear each season, even if you live in a neutral environment like me, there are still items you can store.
  2. Take everything out if you want to get organized. You can't truly organize with everything in there.
  3. Measure the closet before ever heading to the store
  4. Decide on your design concept before going to the store. Once there, you will see lots of other options, it'll be easier to stay on task if you know exactly what you want. This may mean a few trips back and forth before you ever buy anything.
  5. Pair down seasonally - which I do twice a year.
  6. If it is not a clothing item that you wear, it does not belong in your closet. Your closet is not a place to store paperwork, your husbands guitars, or any other misc household item. If you don't have another place for it, sell it, donate or give it away or junk it. 
There you have it, our weekend project. Oh and it took me all of 5 minutes to figure out what I wanted to wear today! I feel like I went clothes shopping after unearthing some stuff in here! I have a ton of ideas! WAHOO! 


  1. This is an awesome post. We're building our space and closet space is an issue. we are limited by an existing footprint so we're having to be creative about storage. I really really like what you've done here. Especially the shoe shelving!! Totally briliant!

  2. That looks awesome Maria! I have to get to my closet soon...maybe a project for me when I get home from my vacation. At least I get my own closet though and don't have to worry about Michael (lol.)

  3. Oh wow Maria! That looks fantastic! A month ago I bought almost the same organizer at Canadian Tire, but mine is white and the shelves aren't nearly as big (i'm very jealous now!)
    I love that garage shelving.. hmmmm! I smell a DIY weekend coming in my near future!

  4. OMG i so need to do this! thanks for the inspiration. i've already begun my organization to-do by donating 2 trash bags FULL of clothes.