Closet Remodel

Closet Remodel – Hindsight is Always 20/20

Mar 2, 2020

Our master closet remodel is (finally) complete.  At least for the moment.

While this is not a ‘house love’ blog, I admit that I randomly talk about things we’re doing around our house, at irregular intervals and really only when the situation warrants it.  We just finished our master closet remodel, and while it’s not a final solution, it’s done for the foreseeable future, I hope.

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Closet remodel original pic

What were they thinking?

When we moved in a couple of years ago, the closet was in terrible shape, and really it had been that way since the house was built.  The door, in a frame, opened into the small walk in closet.  The light switch was on the outside wall, in the bathroom.  If you walked into the closet with the light off, you couldn’t reach the switch, and if you wanted to get to anything behind the door, you had to wedge yourself into the corner or shut the door while you were in the closet.

The pic on the left is from the original MLS listing.  Not a good situation at all. Never mind that the original design left no place to put a towel hook or bar that actually allowed a person to grab a towel while they were standing in the shower, which is to the left of the doorway.

Ditch the door, for starters.

That was the first thing we did in our closet remodel – get rid of the door.  Which, in turn, left a giant gaping hole with a door casing around it in the bathroom.  There wasn’t enough room between the frame and the water closet wall to put in a pocket door that would actually cover the opening, and the cost of the pocket door outweighed the benefits of installing one if we had to take the entire wall down and re-frame it.

Closet Remodel Barn DoorSo after a few of months of looking at the casing – and not having a single full length mirror in our entire house – we decided to do our own version of a barn door.

The door looked great – it still does – we bought it from a place in Phoenix, once Mike realized that we were not going to be able to re-use the original panel door that was in the spot.  We had to search for a door that would fit a full length mirror and then I tiled the space between the mirror and the stiles with a variety of penny tiles in a random mosaic pattern.

We only painted the door in the dark grey, and we do have plans to eventually rip out the shower, tub, vanity and tile when it’s time to put in the ‘real’ bathroom.   I have to say that I’m inclined to repaint all the trim (and the water closet door) to match the dark grey now that we’ve got wallpaper, new mirrors, and the closet done out for now.

On to the closet, and what has to be our worst idea.  Ok, my worst idea.

As I mentioned above, we’re going to eventually get rid of the too shallow tub (Mike likes to soak before bed every evening so we’ll be getting a deeper tub), the heinous shower enclosure (fiberglass is for boats, if you ask me), and the fake cultured marble countertop and builder grade vanity cabinet at some point sooner rather than later; there are only so many hours in the day and while I could probably be happy demo’ing and reno’ing in all my spare time, I’m only half the equation so it’s not going to happen lickety split.

[READ: I like shiny things! – BLOG ARTICLE]

There was some awful, just awful, brown shag carpet in the closet (it’s also in the two other bedrooms but we’ll get to that in a month or so) that we have been meaning to get rid of since we moved into the house.  I lobbied hard for ripping out the flooring, staining and polishing the concrete and just going with that, but again, I’m only half the equation and in the land of pick your battles there are many others that are more important to me than polished concrete floors.

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Mike, on the other hand, decided to pitch his flagpole on removing the casing (which was still noticeable behind the barn door) and reshaping the doorway into an arch.  Once he agreed to match the contour of the existing arches in the house, I agreed that an arch would be fine in there.  Which is true, since the next owner may want to display the closet contents instead of having a sliding door with a full length mirror, who knows…

Things took a turn for the worse.

While this arch building was going on, I knew it was my chance to get in there and finish painting the closet (I hadn’t painted the ceiling initially, which was stupid), and since we had to remove everything to do that, it was a great opportunity to get that foul carpet out and put in a new floor.

BUT…  my end goal is to have one flooring material in the bedroom, bathroom, water closet, and closet.  That means it will all have to be laid in tandem, in order to get the layout right and to make it look sharp.  This is not the time for that, since we’ll need to refit the bathroom while we are doing it, and with the current political and economic landscape, shelling out big bucks on a project that we can live without just doesn’t seem like the wisest idea.

That meant that tile, hardwood, or anything expensive was out of the picture completely for this closet remodel.  Which really only leaves laminate, vinyl, or more carpet (not going to happen!).  We found some super cool Moroccan style tile at Lowe’s, and it was luxury vinyl, meant to look like encaustic cement.  Awesome.  Great pattern, cool look.  The other plus was that it was groutable.  And it was peel and stick, so easy, according the directions. Awesome!

What’s done is done. Right?

Do not buy these.  Unless you have a space that will be completely filled with full size tiles and you are not going to put grout in between them.  Believe me when I tell you that they look nice but they are a pain in the ass like nothing I’ve ever done before.  And I have started and finished a lot of reno/remodel projects in my life time.

We rented a hundred pound floor roller, completely patched up all the holes in the concrete where the carpet tack strips had been nailed down, and we cleaned that concrete until you could eat off of it.  We rolled, we stacked boxes of books and dumbbells and all kinds of stuff on top of the tiles to try to get them to stick firmly.

Some did stick, most of the smaller ones around the edges are dubious at best, and we had to take construction adhesive and glue a few pieces down the next day when I was trying to grout.

Grout.  Grout does not work with self stick tiles.  Why not, you might be asking?  Something that I definitely did not ask myself before going down this road.  Because it takes water to clear the grout haze from the tiles, in the form of a wet sponge.  And you cannot get water under the tiles or the freaking adhesive will lift right off the floor. 

I ended up grouting almost the entire floor alone.  With a pastry bag and nozzle.  Yes, that’s right, I sat on the floor and smushed the grout into the spaces with my fingers and then scrubbed up the haze VERY, VERY carefully, and VERY, VERY slowly.  My ‘assistant’ was unable to comprehend that attempting to treat the grout the way you would a traditional tile application was causing the entire thing to try to lift off the floor.

And let me tell you another thing – while the laminate tiles are so simple to cut – it takes an Xacto knife – the edges of those tiles are razor sharp and if you run your finger along the edge while you are trying to smush the grout into the space, you will end up with a few nasty cuts in those fingers.  And that makes typing difficult.


Current mood:  sitting around with bandaids on my crossed fingers hoping the tiles stay on the floor for a year or two until we decide to pull the trigger and remodel the entire master.




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