Category: DIY

Small Closet Remodel: Reveal!

Ready for a peek at my new closet?

through a narrow doorway ...
through a narrow doorway …

As I mentioned yesterday, my closet is entirely made up of IKEA pieces (the Pax and Komplement series) with custom trim added by my husband. The three units gave me plenty of storage options; so much so that we ended up nixing our original plan for a separate shoe rack/display, and adding 3 extra shelves to one of the units instead. This saved up a considerable amount of space, which is at a premium in my still-tiny (but infinitely better organized) closet. This left room for a few extra touches I quite enjoy. I’ll come back to those in a moment. First, let’s have a closer look at how everything is organized.

left third
left third

The top shelf in each unit is reserved for my bags, most of which are stored in large bins for convenience. I am debating getting shelf dividers instead. (I caved, and signed up for Amazon Prime at the end of December. My life has changed. Everything is a click and free two-day shipping away.) For now, this works. The rest of the first unit is taken up by my extensive blazer collection, along with cardigans, work tops, and skirts. My sweaters and casual tops are stored in three small baskets in another unit in my bedroom (no change from before).

blazers
blazers
cardigans, tops & skirts
cardigans, tops & skirts

At the bottom of the unit, I have a large, zippered Skubb container that’s holding (a) my jeans and casual pants, (b) my tights; and (c) my loungewear. I have no idea if Marie Kondo would approve of my folding strategy, but it’s quite effective.

loungewear, tights, casual pants & jeans
loungewear, tights, casual pants & jeans

The middle unit is my favourite, if only because it holds all my vintage sparklies. But first, under the bag shelf, we have a smaller shelf which holds 2 boxes – one for my scarves, and one for belts and other miscellany. These units are 23 inches deep, and they offer a lot of space.

middle unit, top shelves: bags & miscellany
middle unit, top shelves: bags & miscellany

Moving on, my “display” shelf is mostly an excuse to show off my thrifted milkglass collection. The piece de resistance is the jewelry display shelf underneath, which is at least 70% of the reason why I wanted the Pax in the first place. It’s awesome, and very sparkly.

milkglass and baubles
milkglass and baubles
all that sparkles (is costume jewelry)
all that sparkles (is costume jewelry)

Below, we have a drawer for unmentionables (organized using more Skubb cubes), and then a rack for my dress pants. My husband decided to surprise me with the fancy version of the latter, which comes with “built in” hangers as opposed to a plain rack. I would say that each rail comfortably holds 2 pairs of pants (and you could probably squeeze 3, in a pinch), and there are 5 of them in total.

pants rack
pants rack

The last unit holds my work and casual dresses. (The special occasions ones are in the basement overflow closet.) We also installed two extra racks on the side, one for belts and one for longer necklaces.

dresses peeking out
dresses peeking out
belts!
belts!
necklaces
necklaces

Finally, shoes time! We went with the fanciest option here (approx. $50 per shelf) because it looked to offer the greatest storage capacity. In total, each shelf can hold about 10 pairs of shoes. I did end up having to edit down my collection in the process of moving it into my new closet, and a few pairs, which I was unable to fit in OR part with, found their way to the downstairs closet.

shoooooes!
shoooooes!
shoe pyramid
shoe pyramid

Because the Pax system is so nicely self-contained, I was left with 3 “blank” walls to play with. We re-installed my nail polish display case on one of them, and will be adding a ¾ length mirror on the opposite wall which is super helpful; the only other full-length mirror in the house is in the basement, which is not particularly useful when I’m getting dressed in the morning. Finally, I upgraded my cork-backed jewelry display case by hacking an IKEA picture frame; I did this one all by myself, and managed not to injure myself, and I am disproportionately proud of it, you guys.

jewelry miscellany
jewelry miscellany

Lastly, we added three wall hooks (on the same wall as my jewelry display) to serve as a replacement for my beloved clothes valet, which no longer fits in my closet. I love being able to hang my outfits for the week together in one place, and this was a simple, space-saving solution.

Because things got moved around and re-organized, I also changed up my vanity table-top. Previously, I had used it to display my vintage brooch collection; now, it houses my Wedgwood collection, along with a few more milkglass pieces. It is less cluttered than before (believe it or not), which is a nice bonus.

vanities
vanities
milkglass
milkglass
a few stragglers ...
a few stragglers …

All told, the new closet cost came in at around $900. That does not include the future sliding door my husband plans to install. We probably could have swung the whole project for closer to $600, but I decided to splurge on a bunch of extra features, and my husband insisted that everything had to be trimmed out properly. (Wood is expensive, who knew?) I think the results are great, and the closet 100% more functional (and prettier) than before. No regrets … needless to say, I love my new closet.

And it has inspired me to cast a more critical eye to my wardrobe. Before, it was easy to shove in new pieces because my closet was something of a black hole; it didn’t look that nice to begin with, so adding to the clutter made little difference. Now that it looks much more like a boutique display, I find that I am more inclined to be selective about what I put in it, and also more inclined to respect its inherent space constraints.

Which brings me to my wardrobe management philosophy for 2017.

As should be amply clear by now, I am not a minimalist by nature when it comes to clothes. But also, and perhaps more surprisingly, I am not really a maximalist either. An overflowing closet makes me no less anxious than a too-spare one. My happy place is a balance of classic staples and fun, statement pieces, and each of these categories has its own life cycle. I tend to hang on to my staples for years, because they form the foundations of my outfits; here, functionality and practicality overrule aesthetics, so these pieces are much less likely to fall victim to my desire for novelty. I’m pretty well-stocked up on staples at this point, so subject to finding some replacements for pieces that are coming to the end of their life span, I don’t expect to see a lot of turnover this year.

The second category is where I struggle with wardrobe management. I love prints like they’re never going out of style, but I am fickle in my desires. I get bored fairly easily, and I am easily attracted by new ones all the time. The key is matching up the rate of acquisition of new pieces, and removal of old ones. Since I plan to do most if not all of my shopping second-hand this year (same as last year), the constant turnover does not pose financial or ethical problems for me, but I do need to work on my hoarding tendencies. I’ve never been very good at enforcing the “one in, one out” rule, but it’s never too late to start, right?

 

 

More Fun with Home DIY

Those of you who are long time readers know that there is nothing that my husband and I love more than a-spur-of-the-moment home DIY project. It’s true. I was only about 50% sarcastic in my original statement, by the way. I have lost track of how many corners of our house have been upgraded in this fashion, so we must love doing it … even though we swear each project is the absolute last one. The problem with home DIY projects, from my perspective, is the fact that they take at least twice as long to finish as originally anticipated, and a bazillion times longer than HGTV would have you believe. My husband’s problem with home DIY projects is that I expect them all to get wrapped up in the space of an hour, and under budget. Our only common ground is a shared love for Mike Holmes and Bryan Baeumler, which can only get us so far when the hammer and paint chips come out.

Notwithstanding our track record (and the continuing saga of the still-unfinished-6-years-later basement), earlier this month we jumped feet-first into another DYI project. To be fair, it was a project aimed at a fixing one of my long-standing complaints against our house, so while it was an impulsive decision, it was a logical one at least.

Here’s the deal: we bought our home seven years ago, at a time when our budget could only comfortably stretch to cover property of the “starter pack” flavor. In other words, our house is on the smaller side for a suburban detached, and short on upgrades. However, soon after moving in, we decided that we were going to make it our “forever” home (barring any lottery windfalls); laziness (I loathe moving) and the perks of having a relatively small mortgage top our list of reasons, which have held steady over the intervening years. With that in mind, we’ve put a lot of “sweat equity” into the house in the last 7 years, upgrading and adding components (like a built-in library) to make it fit our aesthetic “vision” and our lifestyle. It’s no Architectural Digest masterpiece, don’t get me wrong, but I love it – square footage and all. There are only two significant things I don’t like and wish I could change.

One is the open concept kitchen/dining/living room. I know open concept has been popular for years, and continues to be, but I’ve developed a visceral aversion to it. I don’t want people being able to see the (dirty, let’s be honest) dishes in my kitchen sink. Or smell what I’m cooking. Or be able to catch a glimpse of my messy pantry. Since changing the layout of the first floor would require some structural work, this is a project we’re not rushing to tackle … for now. My husband would also like a larger dining room and more separation, though, so it’s probably something we’ll deal with at some point in time.

The other thing I hate about our house is the master closet.

Yeah, I know. And you have no idea how ironic that is.

We originally made an offer on our house based on my viewing of the house. That’s right, my husband didn’t see it until after we had already put in an offer. (We were in a bidding war situation. It’s a long story. Luckily, he didn’t hate it.) I liked the general layout of the house at the time (even the open concept, sigh), and obviously the size and overall design of the master closet did not deter me. To be fair, my then-current closet was a standard non-walk-in affair so this one must have looked positively cavernous by comparison. It’s not. It’s small and awkwardly shaped and terribly organized. Look at all those sad, basic rails:

whomp, whomp
whomp, whomp
view from the door
view from the door

When we first moved in, my husband and I shared the master closet. It very quickly became apparent that this would not work in the long term. In the ensuing “closet divorce”, we came to a mutually agreeable compromise, whereby he relocated his clothes to other storage facilities in the house in exchange for free reign over the garage, and I set about trying to make the most of my new domain. The results of my various efforts, over the years, have been unsatisfactory at best.

No matter how I tried to organize my things, or how clever I got with the storage options, I was never able to make really efficient use of the space. It always felt cramped and messy. Part of the problem was my large wardrobe, certainly; but the solution was not simply to purge it. My closet just looked sad and forlorn, as the pictures above can attest. While something like Carrie Bradshaw’s Mr. Big-financed walk-in closet slash clothes temple was out of the question (due to, among other things, insurmountable space constraints), I wanted my space to look a bit more Pinterest-ready.

Nothing happened for years.

Then, right after the New Year, after a disastrous trip to IKEA with the kids (during which I may or may not have lovingly fondled one or two Pax wardrobe displays), my husband decided he was going to re-model my closet. Sometimes, I think he just wants an excuse to play with his AutoCAD program. Anyway, three or four hours later, he presented me with a blueprint and various options for built-ins using, what else, IKEA pieces. (There’s nothing we love more at our house than a good IKEA hack.) Two hours after that, he was driving back to IKEA to pick up the stuff we’d selected. This is what I mean about being impulsive, by the way.

And, just like that, it was on. I mean, it was ON.

mmm, bare walls, dusty old storage unit ... what's not to love
mmm, bare walls, dusty old storage unit … what’s not to love

I did a lot of impromptu purging as I moved things out, but it still took a bloody long time. (Well, like, an hour. By HGTV rules, it should have taken 1.5 minutes.) Then it was time for the demolition crew – aka my husband – to move in. We plan on re-purposing the old metal shelves and rails, as well as the wall-mounted storage unit elsewhere in the house. The old door was also removed, and will be eventually replaced with a sliding door contraption that my husband assures me will blow my mind. We shall see. For now, I will have to guard my sanctum sanctorum from would-be Vandals (aka the two small people roaming my house) by sheer vigilance, sans physical barrier.

After we stripped the place down, it was time for assembly. Because the space is so small, we only had to build 3 Pax units (two large, one small) … but because the space is so small, this was no logistically easy feat. Unfortunately for me, the process required that two people be involved; generally speaking, I prefer to limit my involvement in home DIY projects to the initial planning and the final decorating stages only. I will spare you a description of the nitty gritty involved in the construction phase, but rest assured that it involved blood, sweat, and tears, from all parties involved. As usual.

Thankfully, from beginning to end, the whole project took just about a week’s worth of evenings to complete, which makes it some kind of record for efficiency at our house. Huzzah! With that said, I will be a terrible tease and make you come back tomorrow to see the “after” reveal. Think of it as a commercial break.

We’ll be right back, folks!

I Made This

Sweater, J. Crew; top, Joe Fresh; pants, Gap (via consignment); shoes, Stuart Weitzman (via consignment); bag, MbMJ
Sweater, J. Crew; top, Joe Fresh; pants, Gap (via consignment); shoes, Stuart Weitzman (via consignment); bag, MbMJ

No, not the outfit. (Well, I put the outfit together, but I didn’t actually *make* it, hah.) I made this:

beaded butterfly
beaded butterfly
front and back
front and back

Beading is my knitting – totally therapeutic when I’m going through stressful times. I don’t know how I ended up going with this butterfly design, but I’m glad I did, because it might just be my fave beading project ever. I loved it so much, I made a couple of extra butterflies to give away as Christmas presents.

burgundy love
burgundy love

I also quite loved the rest of the outfit, which I wore on my last work day before the Christmas holidays. It was definitely on the casual side but … it was almost Christmas, after all, and somewhat more stylish than an ugly Xmas sweater (which a few people wore – score one for holiday spirit). I have been battling a bad cold and some personal issues for a few weeks now, so I haven’t been feeling so hot lately, but wearing my fave sweatshirt always cheers me up a bit.

not feeling so hot ...
not feeling so hot …
getting through it
getting through it