About a year ago, Dave and I installed a closet system into our now-two-year-old son Calvin's closet, using components that we brought with us from a closet we had in New York. That sounds bad, doesn't it? We ripped out a built-in closet to move with us? No, we didn't. It actually was a pantry in our kitchen, which we later fully remodeled. I was so glad Dave saved the rails, shelves and brackets. I am not sure if they were Rubbermaid or Closet Maid or what, but we bought them at Lowe's and they look something like these components, except the shelves were MDF, not wire.
When we installed the parts into Calvin's closet last year, we did it the cheap and possibly lazy way.... wanting to be frugal and also not have to go to the store, we only used the parts we had. Because of that, though, it was a very inflexible system. We installed the vertical rails on the studs and then put in all the shelving and a couple of hanging rods. I moved a three drawer chest from my sewing room into the closet, so that I would at least have a few drawers. Oh and I should mention that Calvin does not have a dresser in his room. That is on purpose... I try to get as much stuff into the closets in order to avoid extra pieces of furniture in the kids' rooms. I like for them to have a lot of floor space in their bedrooms, since that is the primary place for them to play.
Because we installed the rails on the studs, there was no possibility of adding the Rubbermaid system canvas drawers I liked at Lowe's.... the studs were closer together than the width of the drawers. The drawers are made to go on vertical rails that are installed something like 22 inches apart, but our rails (again, on the studs) were closer together.
Well, that's fine, I thought. So no other drawers, besides the chest I put in there. I had tons of shelves in there, but as I used the closet, it started becoming clear that the closet was only about half as useful as it could have been. That was frustrating, because I knew that the solution meant to take everything out, unscrew the rails and properly install a horizontal bar for the rails to hang on before being screwed into the wall. Like this.
Even though I love home projects, I don't do a lot of my own hanging of things like curtain rods or other installation that requires some muscle. Redoing this closet meant asking my husband to do it. Generally, I am reluctant to create extra-extra work for him because there's just always something on the list anyhow.
If you've been reading IDO for, say, more than a couple of posts, you've gathered that we are adopting a baby from China. Hopefully this year. We have been preparing ourselves in the last 6 months far more than we have in the last 4 years. Lots of reading, talking to other adoptive families, thinking about the baby as a reality versus a theory.
This means I am imagining what daily life will be like with three kids.... where will she sleep? Will she and the boys bond? What kind of stroller should I use? When can I start shopping for girl clothes?!! And where am I going to put her stuff?
When it gets closer to the adoption, the boys will share a room and the new baby will have the now-Calvin's nursery to herself. This means a merge of the boys' closets. I doubt all of Calvin's stuff will fit in Tucker's sort of small closet, so some of the toys will stay in the nursery. But, with a new person in the family, I am anticipating needing as much storage in the the nursery closet as possible.
I mentioned all this to Dave and, to my surprise, he was really okay with ripping out the old closet and adding new components to increase the storage.
In my handy notebook, I drew up a rough sketch of my vision for the closet, which Dave used as his guide. He measured and figured out that it would (probably) work and we got started.
|Not to scale.|
Below are a few pathetic "Before" shots... pathetic because I forgot to take photos before we started unloading the closet. And also pathetic because they are cell shots. And a little blurry. My bad.
Normally, a hamper would be to the right of the chest of drawers. A few bins of odds and ends lived on the shelves. Most of Calvin's toys were in a basket in the nursery, not in the closet, but his books and a few miscellaneous toys also were on the shelves. There was also another hanging rod a couple of feet above the other rod. It was too much rod space.... it wasn't well-utilized.
|Doesn't he look okay with it?|
Here is the closet-in-process after painting it with leftover paint from our living room (Sherwin Williams' Requisite Gray, if you're curious), with all the supports installed on the horizontal track properly. You can't see the horizontal track in the photo below because it is really high on that back wall of the closet.
The rest of the room was a pit while this project was in process :
A wide shot with the closet door on the far left:
In the shot above, the three drawer chest that was in the closet before, served as a work bench slash dumping ground for tools and now lives in Dave's shop in the garage. I have no idea what he's using it for.
We bought three canvas drawers to hold Calvin's clothes. We mounted the bottom drawer quite a bit off the floor because most of the toys needed to be at kid-level. Remember, I wanted to jam as much of Calvin's belongings in the closet as possible. But I also wanted him to be able to access most of his toys himself. Because the vertical rails go to the floor, though, as time goes on, the closet can change. Meaning, when plastic baby toys are no longer loved and needed, more drawers can be added, or maybe an in-closet desk situation could be set up, or whathaveyou. See all the holes in the vertical rails? That's where the brackets fit in... the configuration possibilities are endless because you can move the brackets or other components.
Dave also picked up something at Lowe's that I wouldn't have thought to add to the closet, but it was genius.... laundry hampers that came with their own shelf. Again, it gets the hampers off the floor. And there are two of them, so in theory, if I sorted my kids' clothes, I could do that as laundry accumulates. Alas, I don't sort their clothes, but still I think the two hampers will come in handy. Pictured below are two "large" and one "medium" canvas drawers from Rubbermaid, along with the Rubbermaid hampers.
|Added two more drawers, the hampers, hanging rods and some toys.|
I also started putting toys in as I went. This was so I could determine where I wanted the shelving on the sides to go. Everything needed to fit well.... not too crowded, yet not too much empty space.
We already had the two hanging bars from when we did the closet the first time. On the left in the above photo, you can see that one is too long. I noticed that there was room for another medium drawer if I were to hack off part of the pole. Which I did.
|Danger in Dave's Shop.|
I was glad we added that fourth drawer, because it became a great place to store diapers and wipes. Calvin is mostly potty trained, so these items are only accessed at sleep times. If he still needed frequent changes, this wouldn't be the most convenient spot.... that drawer is high for a growth-stunted girl like me.
|All four drawers.|
If you look to the left of the top drawer in the photo above, you can see a few clothes on the now-shortened pole. I designated that small area for newly-acquired clothing that is the next size up from what Calvin is currently wearing. (I also have bins of Tucker's old clothes in the attic ... these will come down for Calvin, but the hanging area is for stuff that was given to us or I went ahead and bought.)
Here's that section a little closer. I may move that plastic bin if needed later, but for now it has puzzles in it. Calvin can't see them, which actually is great because then he thinks I'm awesome when I get them down for him to play with. Keeps the novelty to not see them for awhile.
We continued to add short shelves (they were longer, but we cut them to the exact length we wanted with a circular saw) on the sides, under the hanging poles. These shelves are a little bit hard to access, but I think Calvin's determination will help him get to the stuff. Or, he can ask me to get things, which he does sometimes.
See, a little tight. But, hey, no wasted space.
And below that shelf is the floor.... this is where the toy basket goes, as well as Calvin's Halloween cheeseburger costume, which he loves.
Let's go back to the top of the closet, so you can see that there are two full-length-of-the-closet shelves, perfect for storage of extra blankets, sheets (in bin), clothes that are too small and waiting for their next home (in bin), etc. There's plenty of empty space on the top shelf next to the blankets.... thrilling! That means there is room for growth, if needed. My guess is adding a third child, who will be a girl, will take care of that little problem. ;)
And now to the right half of the closet ::
So, a hanging rod, followed by a shelf that has too-big shoes waiting for feet to grow, followed by bins of books, and then a shelf with a drum kit.
The floor below that holds the Little People airport and farm, and a Sterilite bin full of Thomas trains.
The full flooring area ::
And a kid's-eye view :
Oooh, I guess you might want to see a whole-closet shot!
Not only is the closet working for me, but it's also working for CB. He loves it when I open the doors up in the morning. Somehow being able to see all the options has made him want to play with his toys more.
I wish I had a neat price breakdown for this project, but since we already owned a number of components, I had to estimate based on the Lowe's website. With the numbers of shelves, brackets, supports, drawers, laundry bins, and rods, my best price guess is about $350. I'd say about half of that was spent when we had the components from our previous house and the other half was spent for this do-over. The drawers weren't cheap... $27 (each) for the medium and $40 (each) for the large. The hampers with shelf and brackets (as a kit) were $50. We highly customized this (which of course added to the cost), to fit our preferences and the space given, but if you wanted to spend quite a bit less and don't need something quite as built up, it looks like you can get kits from less than $100 to less than $200. Oh yeah, I didn't count the cost of the various storage bins that I already owned, but you can get Sterilite bins for about $4 each at Dollar General.
One last note about the cost.... this project cost less than a comparably sized dresser ($249)and toy storage ($176) from Ikea, and far less than furniture from somewhere a little swankier like Pottery Barn Kids or Crate and Barrel. And the bonus is... no lost floor space in the nursery, which is not huge to begin with. Even though $350 sounds like a lot for a closet, it isn't a lot when you think of what you don't have to buy and the floor space you don't have to lose.
Got any closet questions? Or a good closet idea or inspiration? Is it sick that I like to go into the nursery and just stand there and gaze at such neatness?
Don't answer that last one.