I'm sick of my monstrous closet.
March 14, 2016 1:16 PM   Subscribe

Time to redo my closet. Are you ninja level at this? Questions inside.

I'm a woman with an awkwardly sized perfectly square closet. The drywall is entirely covered in popcorn texture. There is a 'system' of those white plastic wire coated shelves and places where you put your hangers (like so). It sucks so hard.

The hangers can't move or slide, things slide all over and fall off the shelves. There is something about it that pushes all my buttons in terms of how I like to interact with physical space.

I want regular wooden thick round dowels for hanging things, velvet hangers so I'm not picking sweaters up off the floor all the time, shelving for shoes and a way for my boots to not fall over. Compartmentalized shelving for t-shirts. Maybe I move a dresser in there. That would be fine.

But first I need to gut it and get the lighting swapped out.

First question: can I drywall over popcorn and just forget it?

Second question: do you have closet lighting that allows you to find black t shirt A from black t shirt B but that nonetheless does not make you feel like you are about to perform neurosurgery? If so, what's that like? Where did you get it?

Third question: you, closet redo-ninja-expert: what objects and systems make your life easier in your closet? What reduces your stress level, your cognitive load, your level of irritation when you open the damn thing?

(And yes, I already went through and threw out clothes that I don't want, like, or need. And I do have a taxonomy - it's not a rummage sale in there or anything. I just hate it.)

Bless you all.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The ideal solution will depend on the dimensions of the closet as well as how large the door is. Can you provide those?

It will also depend on how handy you are, what your budget is, and whether you want off-the-shelf components or DIY shelving.

Is that a photo of your actual closet?
posted by bondcliff at 1:23 PM on March 14, 2016

I can't help you with the drywall and lighting, but I went to the local hardware store and bought a bunch of closet shelf holders, rods, and shelves. Which I installed in the spare bedroom at various levels and made my own damned closet. You just screw them in at the studs and Bam! instant closet. They're way cheap too and you can put them wherever you want them. The rods and shelves can be cut to your own measurements too. It's a win/win.
posted by patheral at 1:28 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

The easiest way to do this if you have an unlimited budget is to hire a closet designer. The easiest way to do this if you have a moderately high budget is the Elfa system from the Container Store, and you go in there and have them design it for you for free and then buy all the pieces. The easiest way to do it if you have a limited budget is to use the Container Store's design software, but then do what patheral suggests and buy the almost-as-good knockoffs at the hardware store and put it all together yourself.
posted by decathecting at 1:35 PM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

(I went with the Elfa--buying some on Craigslist used and the rest with a 25% off coupon, and I couldn't be happier. I love that it's adjustable, which means that I can change them with the seasons so that, for example, when I need more space for sweaters in winter I can add extra shelves, and then swap for more hanging space in summer when I want to hang up all my dresses.)
posted by decathecting at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2016

One thing I'd do about that popcorn is just go right over it with new dry wall. You don't know if that crap has asbestos or is just nasty. Dry wall is super cheap. Just pull down the wire shelving crap, then put up the dry wall. I once had a dry waller tell me, "you can learn to dry wall in an hour, and take a lifetime to perfect your technique." It's a closet, you can do a crappy job and it will still be better than popcorn. Your pretty clothes will cover up any mistakes. YouTube tutorials abound.

I would use this type of dowel holder, make sure you hit the studs with these, they need to hold a lot of weight. then terminate the rods, on the wall with rod cups. What's cool about this is that you can get pre-painted shelves and put them directly on the brackets. I did my closets with these and it was super easy and functional!

You can buy modular shelving and storage for your closet. A unit like this. Or this cute one.

I might hang a beautiful chandelier from the raw bulb outlet at the ceiling, I might put a pretty cushion on the shoe bench thingy, I might bring an antique dresser in there. I might get a jewelry armoire in there. You see how fun this could be?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2016

If you have access a circular saw you might want to put up plywood rather than drywall. That way you can put screws or nails anywhere in the closet without having to find studs or use drywall fasteners. We have a couple closets lined with plywood and it's great. One of those things that makes perfect sense.
posted by bondcliff at 1:50 PM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't have total closet construction help here. (Though I love having a set of drawers in my closet versus stacking things on shelves - so try to go for drawers somehow.)

But, I have read many reviews that velvet hangers shed onto your clothes as they wear down. I'd try the rubber topped ones. We got these from Walmart. They're wonderful! They do make prettier non-slip (non-velvet) hangers like these. Or you can go with wooden hangers and get add-ons.

Other things that avoid frustration for me:
Organize things by sleeve length, then color so I can easily grab a blouse then a cardigan or blazer. A great shoe organizer. A big plastic drawer set to hold undies, bras, and socks. Avoiding stacking stuff on shelves whenever possible unless it's in a box or organizer.
I also use push pins and wire to hang all my necklaces and earrings so I can easily pair my whole outfit with jewelry. So somewhere nearby to organize jewelry was a big plus for me.

(/Rant/My husband stacks stuff on our shelf between the bars. We're in a rental and can't take it out. It's a freakin' mess of a blob of clothes.Grrr/Rant/)
posted by Crystalinne at 1:59 PM on March 14, 2016

The ideal solution will depend on the dimensions of the closet as well as how large the door is. Can you provide those?

It will also depend on how handy you are, what your budget is, and whether you want off-the-shelf components or DIY shelving.

I'm going to say 4X4, square, with the door (standard house closet door size?) at a stupid, stupid angle. So it isn't a perfect 4X4. I tried and failed to draw it below, but basically it's a 4X4 where one of the corners is missing. Because it's a door.

Cost--I'd just as soon do it myself. By the time I've sat there and taken measurements and inventoried my needs and decided what bins I want and how many, I have pretty much done half the work.

Cost....I don't know. $200?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:21 PM on March 14, 2016

(Oh, and I'm pretty handy.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:26 PM on March 14, 2016

For the popcorn texture, I've heard from various handyman sources that it's pretty easy, though quite messy. YouTube corroborates that. I might try wetting and scraping a small section of the wall and see if it's as easy as "they" say. Mind you, I have no actual experience removing popcorn texture.
posted by sarajane at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2016

Popcorn? Scrape it off. Patch and paint. Use a respirator. If you drywall you'll lose an inch+ and that might make a difference depending on the closet system you choose.

I have installed FreedomRail in every closet in my house plus a wall of the stuff in my 'craft room'. It's fan-freaking-tastic. They have a 25% off sale every Feb and Sept and their product feels more substantial than some of the Elfa stuff. It's similar to the Elfa in that it's endlessly adaptable. Be warned though, that the two systems are not interchangeable. (Also, the closet maid version of the rail & upright system is laughably suck-y. Don't do it. You'll hate it so hard if you do.)
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:47 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

And, FreedomRail have a handy planning do-dad on their website. Fun!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:48 PM on March 14, 2016

Something I've concluded based on my own closet renovations is that there is no perfect ready made closet solution out there. You need to create a closet design that will work for the space you have and the stuff you need to store and the way that you use it. Think about the things you dislike about your closet and look specifically for ways to change or improve them. I looked at my own closet and decided that I was happy with the existing garment bars but that I needed better shoe storage and a way to store my scarves that keeps them visible and accessible, and that I also needed to make use of the currently unused top two feet of space in my closet by adding more shelving. I then did some googling and searching of Pinterest to find ideas and inspiration for how to do those things.

One idea I came across while researching closet design was this "closet door as design board" idea, which I totally love and plan to do. One could collate one's whole outfit down to the lipstick in the evening and make getting dressed in the morning a snap.
posted by orange swan at 3:13 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Use "daylight" temperature lighting in your closet. It's the best lighting to reveal the actual color of things, which is why it is the lighting of choice for crafty people and artists who work with color.

For the popcorn ceiling, some dude on YouTube demonstrated how to attach a sharp edged scraper to a vacuum cleaner attachment for no mess, no water popcorn removal.

When I cared about maintaining my closet, I had a system that I followed religiously. When I placed all of the items in my closet initially, I hung them facing right with the curve of the hanger facing in that direction. When I wore it, I replaced it facing left next to other left facing items. At the end of every season, I ruthlessly scrubbed my closet of anything still facing right. If I didn't like it enough to wear it for an entire season, I didn't need to own it anymore.
posted by xyzzy at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2016

We actually did something out of a Home Depot do-it-yourself book. You start with a sheet of 3/4 plywood and rip it long ways to four strips 11-7/8" wide. Then you cut one of those down into 11-7/8" pieces. You construct a center piece out of smaller pieces of that. Then you create shelves from some of the other pieces and put 1x3 boards in the wall to support that. A couple of closet rods, some paint, some screen door trim to cover the edges of the plywood, and boom, new closet. We found it in the book Home Improvement 1-2-3, which I think they're stil selling. The bonus is that once you figure out what you're doing, you can design the closet however you want. I followed their plans on the closet and then when I decided to re-do my pantry I worked off of the concepts I learned doing the closet.
posted by azpenguin at 9:20 PM on March 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

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