Introduction: Apartment Closet Makeover (A How To)
So the wife and I have been trying to think of ways to not only cut expenses but to also store more in the apartment (don't worry - we cleared it with our landlord). For the last few years we have maintained a small self-storage where most of our stuff has been hiding. Now we have decided to consolidate and ditch the storage and finally get rid of some of the junk that's been taking up space and draining $40 a month in fees from our pockets each month. We looked at our closet and realized that there was so much space that wasn't being used and sat down to make a plan to do a little renovation. If you feel like your closet could use a little updating yourself feel free to follow along.
Unfortunately I didn't take pictures before I tore down the old shelf and clothes rod, needless to say it all had to go. The construction was fine for being put up maybe 30 years ago, but for what we had planned it needs to be moved around - first, somethings you will need...
- EZ Patch/ Joint compound
- Wall Repair kit
- Claw Hamme/ or other hammer and crowbar
- Screwdrivers both Philips and flat head
- Measuring Tape
- Putty Scraper
- Shelving and screws to secure it to the brackets
- Shelf/ Rod brackets and screws
- Clothes rod
- Spirit Level (Smart Phone level app can be used as an alternative)
- Electric Drill
- Table Saw - if you're in a pinch you can ask at Home Depot to have wood items cut for you.
Step 1: A Good Plan
First have a clear and agreed upon goal for your plan. And measure, measure, measure! You can never be careful enough with your measurements and doing a few extra checks first can save you endless headaches later. Take the time to write it down. For us the only measurement that really mattered was from ceiling to the shelf, we wanted to reduce the overhead storage and raise it so that there would be enough room to add a second clothes rod on the back wall - the one you see looking in the closet. The right side wall will be re-purposed as more storage, basically floor to ceiling. With this design we went from about 70 inches to about 96 inches of hanging space (With the option for more on the right) and much more floor space.
Step 2: Demo the Current Closet
So the first - and maybe the most fun part of the project is taking down the old shelving. As I said unfortunately I didn't take any pics of this process.
Find a way to leverage your hammer into the board if you can't get at existing hardware that is holding up your brace. This is a little easier if you have a crowbar, then you can simply pound that sucker in and user the leverage to pull the bracket down. be careful of nails and don't damage your floor in the process.
Be sure to just be smarter than me and try to use the existing studs as leverage if you need to tear anything out. Its easy to see in the photo that I had to patch the wall because I was a little over enthusiastic in pulling down the shelf bracing. We initially tried to salvage the shelves, but decided that it would be less of a hassle to buy new ones.
Step 3: Repair and Patching
After years of shoddy painting work our now empty closet was left with a sizable gap from layers of built up paint, according to our landlord "they always sand the walls first", this proves otherwise. Also the new holes I made and those left from pulling out the bracing board need to be patched before we can move on. We are going to wait to paint until we move out - the apartment company will paint over everything anyway so why buy paint when I'm going to get charged for it either way?
If your in a similar situation I recommend filling the gap with EZ Patch or Joint Compound so that it looks flush and makes painting easier - also do this if you're going to be painting, or if you want to be nice to the guys who will mess up the paint once you move out. If you want to go the extra nine yards you could even scrape the wall so that the paint isn't so thick and repaint the whole thing.
Because I'm just trying to make it look presentable and I don't really care about repainting, we'll stick with filling the gap with mud (joint compound). Spread your mud evenly and try to keep the surface flat between any gaps. Don't worry too much about over mudding because you can sand it down if necessary.
To get the pesky corners without buying a tool, use a spare piece of cardboard with a bend in it; a shoe box or pizza box can be useful - I just used the cardboard package that the wall patch came in. Start well above your mud and push into the joint, pull down with even pressure and the joint will look great, no need to buy that $7 corner tool for three walls.
Step 4: Installing the New Brackets, Shelves, and Rods
To keep the brackets and shelves straight we put up electrical tape so that it would be easy to see the level we wanted the brackets at. I used a stud finder to affirm where the studs where - but this was unnecessary because I also used where the former brace was nailed down. To be safe I tightened the brackets not only to the wall, but to the shelves. We also purchased a clothes rod that was long enough to use for both top and bottom, which had to be cut.
Cutting the rod is difficult, especially when using a hack saw - keep in mind if you're using rod caps like we did your rod should be 1/2 inch to 1 inch shorter than you measure, and there should be sufficient space between the end cap and the bracket so that the rod fits.
When cutting the rod again use the electrical tape trick and it will also help to keep your cut straight. Place tape around the entire circumference of the rod at the length you want, remember which side of the tape your cut needs to be made and as you cut with your hacksaw follow the line of the tape as you make your cut.
Step 5: Pack It In
One part of the project is to put everything that was previously in the closet back.... AND MORE! Thanks to the added space there is now way more room for storage, both floor and hanging. This is also the perfect time to organize the hanging clothes! After all this work we need a break - time to relax. The great thing about a project like this is that it is a good excuse to get rid of a bunch of unwanted and unneeded stuff that's taking up space. And with a little careful planning and hard work new life is breathed into an otherwise cramped closet.
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