New Closet Day!

Happy New Year everybody!  I hope your year is going great so far.  We’re having fun enjoying our new closet.  I finished it yesterday and we started putting clothes back in it today.  As you may recall we were going to just go through our clothes and clean out the closet when inexplicably one of the shelves fell off the wall.  Renovating the Master Closet was not on my to do list, and certainly not something I wanted to do during my New Year’s vacation.  I spent Saturday morning demo-ing the old closet shelves.  Turns out all the shelves were ready to fall down so it’s a good thing we acted when we did.  I was expecting to tear up the walls pulling all the toggle bolts out.  In reality all except two toggles were not intact, so the job was as simple as pulling the shelves off the wall.  Scary stuff but luckily we avoided any sort of disaster, especially with two little kids running around in there.

Once the closet was demo’d I spent Saturday afternoon wrapping up something that was on my “to-do” list.  I installed the last two cabinets we had purchased for the studios; a sink base and wall cabinet in my studio.  This was pretty straightforward and unremarkable.  I will say I love my new 18V Ryobi cordless drill.  It works like a charm and made cabinet install super easy.

Saturday night we decided to go with the Martha Stewart closet system at Home Depot.   I used their handy design tool and came up with a configuration that would cost us about $625 including sales tax (and use of a 10% coupon).  Interestingly enough, the espresso finish is stock in stores.  If you want white you have to order online and have it shipped (albeit free shipping).  We changed our minds and decided on the espresso finish.  It was less expensive because we’d be buying it in store with our store only coupon.  Plus the dark finish goes well with our oil rubbed bronze light fixtures and the adjacent bathroom’s dark bronze tile floor.

Sunday I ran out and picked up everything I needed.  Basically we got one of the 4′-8′ “deluxe” starter kits and from there I added another set of 48″ panels, several 24″ shelves, a couple 35″ shelves and a series of 4″ & 8″ drawers.  We had amicably divided up the closet space the night before and hopefully the solution we came up with will give our clothes a happy, effective, place to live.

I brought all the boxes in and read through the directions.  Seemed simple enough.  First thing up I marked a level line at about 76″ off the floor (84.5″ to the top of the vertical panels, minus 8.5″ or so).  I then marked where my vertical panels were going to go, as well as the location of all the studs on the wall.  Using my handy dandy drill I started hanging up the bent metal channel that would be the primary (read “only”) support for the entire system.  I screwed the channel into every stud, and for shits and giggles I used some of my handy dandy self drilling 75 lb. toggles at the end of each section, where they didn’t end on a stud.  The directions also said I should install a toggle bolt if a panel lands more than 3″ from a stud (2 places over the 12′ of my system).

Once the channel was installed I put together the drawers.  A tedious job but fairly simple.  the directions were easy to follow.

I then installed the 72″ x 24″ center section.  I screwed two shelves to the unit and the stood it upright.  With a little help I lifted it into place, the metal wall support rail fitting into a groove cut in the vertical panels.  I wonder how strong this is but it looks okay and I hadn’t heard anything bad about it in the online reviews.  I’d think if people had been killed by the system falling off I’d have heard about it.  Below the center section I mounted a support cleat under the bottom shelf and added my own screw just for added security.

I then hung the 48″ panels.  I decided to bolt the end panels to my wing walls for added security.  Before I could do that I needed to screw in all the shelves, then hang the unit and slide it into the corner.  By screwing all the shelves to the verticals instead of just letting the  shelves sit on pins I feel the system will be more secure.  We don’t need adjustable shelves and I worry about a shelf falling off and killing someone by accident.  Once slid into the corner I used some black oxide cabinet screws to attach the unit to the wall.  Finally I installed the clothes rods and the remainder of the shelves, once again screwing everything together.  I may add some more cleats just for more piece of mind but overall it seems relatively solid.  I filled my half with clothes today and it looks great.

So this was not on our plan of things to get done or finished but out of necessity it is done sooner rather than later.  And we’re really happy with the results.  Now it’s back to work and all the other stuff.  No worries, I have plenty left on my list to do.

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What The F#ck?!

I have four days off for the New Year’s holiday so the wife and I are making a “to do” list for the house; hoping to know a few things off over the weekend and the ultimately during the course of our Winter hibernation.

So here’s the list (not that you care):

  1. Finish installing last two cabinets in my studio.  This will free up some space in the garage.  Also I’m warming up to my studio as the “go to” place to escape work, kids, wife, responsibility, etc.
  2. Go through the Master Closet and make piles of clothes to give away, and get all the boxes out of there that have been sitting in the way since we moved in last April.  The new closet is smaller than the old one so we’ll have to separate “Summer” from “Winter” clothes.  Putting the off-season clothes in bins and storing them in the basement.  Ultimately though we should just get rid of clothes….or at least I will cause I don’t feel like going up and down each season.
  3. Finish Laundry Room – there are a lot of sales on stock white cabinets, and more to come so it would be nice to finish off the laundry room so I don’t have to trip over all the crap on the floor in there.
  4. Start framing the basement.  I want to partition the storage / mechanical room and build my world-famous plywood storage shelves in there.  Then we’ll go through the “Hoarders” episode that is our basement.  Tossing, recycling or donating anything that doesn’t fit on the shelves.  We need to get that basement up and running in so much that the boys can ride their bikes down there and maybe start migrating some of their toys down there.
  5. Build storage shelves in my studio.  Would love to get that organized so I can focus on art (and hiding from life) when I go in there.  Additionally, for next Winter, I want to hang some coat hooks and make an area to come in after we play in the snow.  With the exterior door, space and cement floor it’s really the best spot to come in from the snow.
  6. Build or install some shelves in the Sewing Room per the wife’s request.
  7. Also start doing some painting in the Living Room, Bedrooms and Bathrooms.

With that all plotted out, we decided to work on the closet, start organizing the basement and I’ll get those cabinets in the studio installed this weekend.  We decided to take a look at the closet.  I took the opportunity to lay down the law to the wife – which consists of me pontificating ad-nausea and her wondering what the hell she was thinking twelve years ago when she married me.

I want all these boxes out of here.  We’re going to go through everything….donate what we can…blah blah blah.” I rattled on. Looking at the shelves…..the end of the middle shelf kinda hung there.

Yeah that shelf came out of the wall. I told you that a while ago.  You need to fix it.”  The wife quipped to me.

Okay”  I said as I examine the drooping shelf further, and add the task to my ever growing ‘to do’ list.

For whatever reason I look up at the large top shelf.  It’s comprised of three leftover sections of wire shelving.  The little middle section, at only 12″ long, kinda sits at a funny angle.  Inquisitively I push aside a couple folded shirts to get a closer look….Inexplicably the  8′ section of shelf to the left decided to come and see me up close and personally.

What the f#ck?!”  I instinctively throw my arms up to catch the fully laden wire shelf in my hands as my dress shirts slide down the port side of the sinking ship.  Resting the shelf on my head I start pulling clothes off (of the shelf….you perv) and handing them to my wife.  Once everything was off I could see that the shelf basically pulled straight out of the wall.

So with that our priorities are now to 1) get the clothes organized and get that closet cleaned out and 2) finish off the Master Closet (something that wasn’t even on our to do list this year or next).  I don’t see much sense in trying to repair the current set up.  I think it’s better just to start from scratch.  There’s nothing I’ll be able to assure it won’t happen again and to just replace some parts won’t do much.  Long term I’m not a big fan of the wire shelving anyway.  There has got to be a better way.

Which lead me to the internet to start looking closet systems.  Ironically I just recycled a Container Store catalog that was all about their closet system, advertising their 30% off sale on materials and installation. Generally speaking my plan is to install myself, but hey I’m open to anything.  I’m not a big fan of all the clips and brackets of the typical wire shelf units.  Also I’m not convinced I want (or need) the adjustable shelves like I installed upstairs.  And like I think I said, I’m kinda over the wire shelf thing.  They are probably better from an air flow standpoint but they just feel cheap.  I’m probably just being snobby, as usual, but hey that’s how I feel. Our closet is about 12′ long and 2′ deep. Budget wise I don’t want to spend more than $1,000.  Preferably I’d like to spend only $200-$700 and get an attractive, working closet that suits the wife and I.

Here’s the rundown of options so far, weigh in with your thoughts comments or questions:

  1. California Closets – their website features photos of perky mannequin like women and fancy finishes.  Their brochures are limited.  I was hoping for more utility in planning out my closet.  Upside here is that we basically call them, they do all the work, and we write a check. Downside is that check is probably a lot more than we want to spend at this time.
  2. Martha Stewart Closets via Home Depot – This is the front-runner.  The website features an intuitive planning app and components can be bought online or in the store.  For about $750 I can plan out our dream closet, click a button and wait for it to show up on my front door.  For half that I can start with basic components bought at my local store and build up from there.  Available in cherry, espresso and white; we’d probably go with white.  Upside: decent quality, and easy install of a nice looking non-wire closet.  Low cost at about $500-$750 (self installed).  Downside: I’m skeptical of the mounting system; not sure how strong it possibly could be all hanging from a single rail.
  3. Container Store Elfa system – A cool system with lots of options.  We could get wire or wood shelves. Everything hangs from a sturdy track system just the one’s you find at Lowe’s.  The website’s planning tool is kinda lame and struggles with planning  our open 12′ long closet wall.  One other thing, all the planners don’t take into account our 9′ ceilings….I don’t feel like they take advantage of the long-term storage available in that top foot of space so we’ll have to infill that on our own regardless.  Upside: they run sales, like the 30% sale right now.  They can install for me if I’m feeling lazy and rich.  Downside: Not really low-cost at $800 installed (for simplest wire shelves), $600 if I install myself. To save money we’d probably have to go with a cheapo looking wire solution that leaves wire lines in my t-shirts.
  4. IKEA – I swear every time I go to their store they have tons of closet systems.  Their dismal website showed me but one system.  Upside: I could drive to Pittsburgh and come home with a pile of boxes.  Downside: I could drive to Pittsburgh and come home with a pile of boxes.
  5. Lowes – The Rubbermaid adjustable wire shelves are what I have in the upstairs hall.  The allen + roth wood shelves look great.  Also there are some wire shelves to choose from too.  I may price out the a + r stuff and compare to Martha’s stuff.  Rubbermaid features a planning app that looks cool but I didn’t try it yet.  Upside: the Rubbermaid wire shelves are sturdy, I like the mounting design.  Downside: wire shelves and unnecessary adjustable shelves.  Not sure how much the allen + roth stuff will cost.  No planning tools.  Install on the wire shelf systems is mind numbingly tedious.
  6. Custom –  Make the shelves myself?  Out of wood and paint?  Hmmm….I did get a table saw from Santa and my new Ryobi cordless drill is kick ass.  Um, no.  Upside: complete custom solution would leverage my extraordinary design abilities.  The wife would be tickled pink with all the dedicated storage.  Downside:  would probably cost a fortune and I lack the time, ability and know how to pull it off.

We’re hoping to make a decision this holiday weekend.  Like I said, if you have any additional ideas, let me know.  Cheers.

-Chris