Wednesday, September 21, 2011

10 Reader Space: A Radiant Closet Redo!

Do you hear the heavy thumping?  That's my heart.

Today's reader is another great example!  An example of how organizing can {and should} happen over time and in phases.  An example of how to combine practical with lovely.  An example of not settling with an original design.  An example of making the most of limited storage space.

Randi wrote:

Hi Jen!
I'd be super honored if you chose to feature my hall closet transformation on one of your Reader Spaces!  Living in an older house{1930's}, we are limited on "storage" closets...actually, there were none. Each bedroom does have a closet, and there was a coat closet by the front door, but that's it. No closets for that "mud room" type stuff - vacuums, light bulbs, house tools. It just wasn't working for us, so I took charge & changed it, complete with a pretty new paint job!

Thanks so much for your consideration!  I admire your blog so much; it's actually what inspired me to start my own last spring!

Randi blogged:

I refer to it as the "front hall closet", because it's just inside the front door, at the bottom landing of the stairs. That would be a great location for a "coat closet", except for the fact that we rarely use that door as an entrance...

And yet, until about 1.5 weeks ago, the closet looked like this (full of coats):

Mind you, these are out-of-season coats, but still. Too many coats. I knew we needed to pare them down, as there were some that hadn't been worn since we had moved in, and it kept bugging me because I hadn't done it yet.  So one afternoon, when all of my kids happened to be napping at the same time {that's rare!}, I completely emptied out the closet. Completely.  And that's when I had an epiphany:  We only have one closet that's not for storing clothes....why the heck am I filling it up with coats {which are still clothes...} that we aren't even wearing?!?  They just went in there because there was a closet rod, not because it made good sense. And coats take up SO much space! I had always wanted to store my vacuum in this closet, but it would hardly ever fit with all the other stuff in there.

So I took the closet rod out!  Then I noticed that the shape of the closet would almost perfectly fit a white, plastic shelving unit that we had in our basement. So I trekked down there, cleaned off the shelves & carried it back up. Perfect!  Then only the things that I really wanted in the closet went back in there.

This was after removing coats & placing a set of plastic shelves in to create more storage:

And here's what it looks like now!

When I first started working on this closet, I hadn't placed a huge priority on getting it painted & getting built-in shelves installed. But as time {well, a month} has gone on, there have been other areas in our house that I'd like to go through & reorganize, but I haven't been sure where to put some of the stuff that I know will need new homes.  I knew that the built-in shelves would provide much more storage space than the plastic shelves had, and some of the items would definitely fit in there. Alas, the closet took priority again.

Finishing the transformation included:
  • Painting the walls {I picked a pretty blue color to coordinate with some cute magazine holders that go in there...who says a closet can't be colorful?}
  • Getting plywood for new wooden shelves, and painting them all white
  • Installing the shelves {a whole story in itself...I had to enlist the hubby's help here because our chimney runs up through this closet & we had a heck of a time getting anything to go into that wall!}
  • Lastly, and my favorite part, putting everything in it's new place!

I picked up some new medium-sized clear totes to house our winter gear - hats, scarves and mittens - kid's things in one and adult's things in the other.  While in the store, I also came across these awesome plastic drawers, and after seeing the measurements for them, I HAD to buy them because they were basically MADE to fit my shelves!  Seriously, they're 17 inches deep and the shelves are 17.25 inches deep. What a great way to utilize the entire depth of the shelf.

There's a so much more space in this closet now, it's a bit ridiculous!  The new plastic drawers I got are empty, and I even threw in a basket that I wasn't using anywhere else right now, just to fill the space!  I'm not worried though...there are definitely items in other areas of our home that will make their way to this closet, now that it's so much more functional. I must admit that I left the vacuum & wrapping paper out when I took the after pics, just so I could show off more of the shelves - but they still live in the same spots as the "progress" pic.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out - sometimes I even open the door as I'm walking by, just to look at it again. Yes, I'm an organizing dork. But the neatness & colors makes me happy!  {To which my hubby replies, "Well, if that's all it takes..."  haha}

I am so glad I am not the only one that does that.  I do that ALL the time.  Open cabinets and drawers to gaze at my recent organizing accomplishment.  As you should.  You invested the time, you should be proud right?  And I always say, when your organizing proud, you are more apt to maintain it!

Isn't it great that she didn't settle to use the closet for it's original purpose?  Coats can easily be stored in many other ways {add a wardrobe to the garage, add hooks to the wall, out of season pieces can be stored in a bin or underbed storage boxes}.  By taking the bulky coats out of the closet, she gained so much more!

And painting it and building in shelving is the icing on the closet cake.  The shelves really expanded her storage and the paint really made it all pop, and made it feel like a room.  A room you want to open the door and look at over and over!

Way to go Randi!  Let's take another before and after look!

Who is inspired?  What do you love most?  Anyone else been painting closets lately?  Feel free to leave Randi some lovin'!

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and un-editted.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More Info HERE


  1. I'm feeling the sadness that not having any closet space brings. She did a great job making the space work for her and making it pretty, too! We're cramped in a small townhouse apartment where we can barely fit our (completely purged) clothes into the two tiny closet in our room. We also have a home office in our already tiny bedroom, which is not working out so great right now, but we have plans to make it pretty awesome on a tight budget. Too bad we can't paint our closets a pretty color! Can't wait to own my own home and start making everything work for us and not the other way around!

  2. Hey Randi and Jen, I really like this make-over. In Europe, we don't have built-in closets in general and I am currently working on my under-the-stairs space to make it work as a coat closet. I liked that Randi painted the walls in this beautiful blue. Together with the magazine holders it's just the perfect amount of colours to add to the white shelves. Yes, I like this place. Well done Randi and thanks for sharing!!!

  3. NIce job! My house only has tiny little closets like this one... I DREAM of having a large walk-in one day!

  4. Her closet looks great! I really like the blue color she chose. :)

  5. Ahh! That's ME! I checked my own blog before checking my email, and was totally surprised at the people commenting that they came over from here! Thanks so much Jen, I'm so thrilled I'm about to pee! (Okay, just kidding about the last part...) :)

  6. Great job Randi! Love the color and I know you are loving the new storage spot!

  7. What a fabulous job! :) I love the colour too. The paint just makes it look like a more loved space that you'll want to keep tidy! :) I love it! Makes me want to re-do my laundry... stay tuned!!

  8. I ♥ it! I too have tight closet space and have a coat closet at the back of the house near the guest bathroom. I live in a duplex that was not well thought out! I also do things a bit at a time...makes it less stressful and makes it seem doable!

  9. Hi Jen! Just wanted to let you know I mentioned this post in my blog today. My son, Jake, has a speech disorder called apraxia and I recently turned my hall coat closet into a school & speech supply room. I live in the South and my coat closet was a huge waste of space! So glad I found your blog earlier this year. I've been able to use many of your ideas. Thanks!


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