Monday, July 15, 2013

My DIY Sagas, er, Projects

I had decided to take a little time off from paid recordings in order to get a few projects done around the house that required more than just an afternoon or an hour or so.  I'm working on a recording for LibriVox, though, to keep the chops up until I'm ready to start sending in auditions again and because I have a list of books I'd like to record for them.   One of my DIY projects was to find a new ceiling light for the one in the upstairs hallway.  We've been stuck with what many people call builder's 'boob'  lights in a few places and we hadn't gotten around to changing them to something we like.  This was our upstairs hall before I put in a new light.


Not sure what's causing the glare on that guest room door but you can see the light on the ceiling.  Blah.  I really hate our popcorn ceilings, too, so I feel like a nicer looking light would help.  Here's a close up view of the 'boob' light. 

Now, here's the light I chose to replace it.  I loved this 'fishermans' light when I found it online on the Cabela's website.  It comes in other finishes but I thought the all white gave it a nice contemporary look. 

Here's a close-up of the light.  I really love the seed glass cover that goes over the light bulb.

It was a little harder to install than I anticipated because the screws that attach the metal plate to the ceiling were on the short side.  I managed to get it up there, though, and I really like it.  Great price, too.

Now for the big project that I'd been meaning to do for several years.  Cleaning out and then giving our master bedroom walk-in closet a little pizzazz.  There's only one closet for both of us and I plead guilty to hogging most of it.  I had so many pairs of shoes (I stopped counting after 100) that I felt ashamed.  I had also kept all of them in their original boxes.  This had resulted in my items spilling way across the floor space and meant you could barely step inside the closet when you opened the door.  I wish that I had remembered to take a picture before I started this project because the difference is unbelievable.  I plowed right in and was most of the way through pulling out shoes and clothing before I realized that I hadn't taken a photo so you'll have to use your imagination.  Go ahead and think the worst.  It's probably still not as bad as our closet looked.  Once I had sorted through all of the clothing, shoes and various other items, I had 3 bags of clothing to donate plus several suits on hangers along with a bag of shoes.  I also wanted to get rid of the two mismatched hampers we had in the closet so we put those out with the garbage hoping someone would take them and, voila!, they were gone.

I made a trip to The Container Store with Duane and Linda and I purchased shoes racks, pop-up hampers, and a few smaller items.  Duane offered to lend me a portable clothing rack on wheels which I jumped at because I knew it would make it much easier to move clothing in and out of the closet when I painted.  Oh, yeah.  Now I had to pick out a paint color.  The closet was still white like most of our house is and I knew I wanted to go a little out of my comfort range with the wall color.  The rooms that I've painted or had painted are all in very muted shades so a strong bright color was a big deal to me.  What better place to do this than a small room?  I chose something very close to a Tiffany blue.  Valspar paint has a color called 'Nautical' that I liked.  I hadn't used this brand of paint before but discovered that it's a primer and paint.  To my surprise and delight, it gave great coverage in one coat.  I went over a few areas here and there and lit the closet with different lights to check the paint.  George also really looked it over and we both agreed that it was fine with one coat.

The painting part of this project was no problem at all other than the usual mess when you paint.  However, I've grown to really hate Closetmaid shelving racks.  It was very difficult to get the shelves out of the wall clips (I expected to paint around the hardware) without pulling the hardware out of the wall.  I managed to get by OK on the right side of the closet and the longest side across the back.  However, when I got to George's side, disaster struck.  Several of the wall clips popped out of the wall and two of the three support racks came with them.  Now I not only had holes to fill and smooth over but I had to install the hardware in different spots.  OK, I can do that.  I did and then put the rack on George's side back up.  I suggested that he wait until the next morning to put his clothing back due to my having to repaint areas where there was wall damage.  Well, he'd barely put back half of his clothes the next morning when the rack came crashing to the floor.  Good thing the paint was completely dry and I had cleaned the floor where his clothes landed.  Sheesh.  So, George got his tool box out and helped by drilling holes for ANOTHER placement of the hardware.  At least two of the supports were mounted into studs in the wall so we felt good about that.  Once again, I patched and painted over the previous holes and George's clothes waited overnight on Duane's clothes rack again before being returned to the closet.  The next day I had a doctor's appt. and ran a few errands.  When I got home I found that George had just finished returning his clothes BACK to Duane's rack again.  He had put everything back in the closet and just as he was adding, literally, the last couple of shirts, the shelving came crashing down in his arms.   At this point, I just laughed maniacally.  We discovered that the two supports that were in the studs were actually still attached to the wall but they were now hanging upside down as everything at the top of the shelf had pulled out of the wall despite our having used butterfly screws.  Damn.  Just damn.  So I decided to let his clothes wait on Duane's clothing rack for a couple of days while I hung the light fixture I had purchased from Lowe's.  Very inexpensive knock-off of a MCM designer light -- I think it's the one called the Artichoke.  Loved the white look against the color of the closet.
I also hung a couple of pieces of art that I had put together from things I had around the house and/or made.  I had saved a "New Yorker" magazine cover from a few months back.  It was for their fashion issue.  I framed it in a white Ikea frame that I also already had.  Then I decided to use a white plastic frame that looks ornate that I picked up at Target.  I went online and looked at pictures of women's shoes.  I chose a basic black pump, downloaded the pic into Paintshop and then added a lemon-lime background.   Printed it on photo paper and -- instant closet art!  I was very happy with the way they look on the deep blue wall.

I made another trip to Lowe's 2 days after that second shelf collapse.  This time I bought three new shelf supports and a ton of closet clips -- all replacement parts for Closetmaid products.  Between the two of us we got the hardware and many, many clips into the wall.  We put as many as possible into the wall studs.  This time George did everything but hang from the shelf before he returned his clothes to the closet for the last time.  It held.  Whew.

So, here are my 'after' pics.  Sorry again that I don't have before pics.  I really regret that.  Our closet doors are sliding doors that open into the master bath.  They are completely mirrored on the outside facing the bathroom. You may remember my previous blog about framing the vintage Florida scarf for the shelf above the closet.

Here's what you see when I slide the left door open.  It's the door both of us always use.  You can see the paint job, of course, and the new light.  Also the art I made, but I have some better pics of that.  That's part of the back wall of the closet.

You can see George's clothes on the left along with the mesh hampers and the bag for dry cleaning.  We use a dry-cleaner that comes to our house and picks it up and then drops it off the next day.  Surprisingly affordable.

Here's a better shot of the closet art I put up.  Those fuzzy red slippers are replicas of a Mini Cooper.  George gave them to me for Christmas one year since I drive a Mini.  They are very warm and comfy. 

This shot is on my end (the right side) and mostly shows where I put handbags into bags and boxes.  I used one long box to put clutches in.  I took a pic of all of the clutches inside and attached it to the end of the box so I can see at a glance what's inside.  The white plastic shelf box holds my 'work' clothes.  Seriously.  As a narrator, I need to have comfy and, most importantly, noiseless, clothing when I'm working.  So I wear tee shirts and bike shorts or leggings depending on the time of year.

This pic shows how I arranged the shoe racks I bought from The Container Store.   I put the shoes I wear most often where they're easier to see.  I even put a rack up against the right closet door since, as I mentioned, neither of us ever goes in that way.  So I get more real estate. :D

I also decided to use the back of the right closet door to hang a few lightweight items.  I bought two white adhesive mount racks.  One has scarves I sometimes attach to a purse handle and the empty one below it is where I hang my daily work clothes -- basically a tee and bike shorts -- before they're washed.  

I added some white trim molding to both sides of the doorway coming into the closet.  Otherwise, it looked a little unfinished.  This was very easy to do.  I bought two pieces of the lightweight painted molding (it comes in 8 foot lengths) and then cut them down and used liquid nails to secure them to the corners where the two paint colors meet.

This is really boring but here's George's side of the closet.  He has a tie rack hung up, too, but it's behind where the clothes on the back wall of the closet end.  He actually does have some clothes on the long rack in the back.  I didn't take up the entire rack.

I use the little stool to get to items on the shelves.  My sister, Carol, gave it to me years ago.  It's handmade and very sturdy.  I simply recovered it in a piece of the fabric I used to cover the seats of the dining room chairs and it fits right in.

Here's one last shot of the light (unlit) and the art that we see when we go into the closet now.  Boy, I really wish I had some before pictures.  Yes, the original light was a 'boob' light just like the one I replaced in the upstairs hall.

This was a lot of work but I'm really happy with the outcome.  I could certainly still get rid of some more clothes and shoes but at least everything is arranged now in groups so that will make it much easier.  George and I both actually enjoy going into the closet to get dressed or change clothes now.

My next couple of projects are pretty small ones but I'd like to get them done before I start auditioning again.  I plan to replace the last boob light -- it's in the downstairs hall.  I also have a few small painting projects coming up.  The closet make-over was my biggie, though.


  1. I've never said this to anyone before: I'm jealous of your closet!

  2. Thanks, Kate! I'll take that as the ultimate compliment. :)