We Bought a Farmhouse

stories of renovation, home decor inspiration & sprinkles of country life

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Our Master Closet, (85%) Done!

Oh hey, we have a closet now! While it's not 100% done, we're almost there. It's functional, it's been primed, painted, spackled, nail gunned and organized and it's a huge improvement from what it looked like before. 

So let's rewind a bit to the beginning of the project, shall we?

Closet before

When we moved in, this room had vinyl wood paneling on the walls, linoleum floors, an institutional tile ceiling, chunky oak cabinets and wasn't set-up for a hardwired lighting fixture. It was a small, dark space that had a lot of potential for a very lovely, cozy little walk-in closet. 

Our first step to transforming the space was taking out the cabinets. That opened up the room a ton. I was already feeling better after this minor accomplishment. 

Next, removing the wood paneling. We went back and forth on this a lot, actually - keeping it up and painting it, or taking it down. The drywall underneath it was in really good shape, so we just went for it one day and hoped for the best. For now, we're living with the paneling (that's been painted) downstairs because we have crumbling plaster walls underneath, so in our bedroom and closet, we both agreed it was a waste to hide perfectly good drywall. We tore down one sheet, and did a test run by sanding down the adhesive and spackling any uneven surfaces, and it turned out better than we expected! So down the rest of it came. 

After this was done, we had an electrician come in to hardwire the ceiling for a light fixture. The room had a light switch by the door, which controlled an outlet, but we really wanted to have a ceiling light to save space on the floor, and also not to have to build our shelving around a big floor lamp.

The next part was probably the hardest. Josh took on jointing the drywall himself. And he did such a great job. I'm a proud little wife! There's one strip that came out a little bubbly, but other than that, you can't even see the taping under the paint.

Paneling down, joints taped and feathered and cabinets gone!

Then it was my turn. I came in to prime and paint the walls. I don't normally prime walls, but in this case because of everything they've been through, I felt it needed a good base coat. One coat of primer, and two coats of paint, and we were ready to tackle the ceilings.

Painted and ready for a new ceiling!

Our original plan was to use wood planks for the ceilings of our master hallway, closet and bedroom. But, because our hallways and closet are, shall we say, daintier, more petite spaces, we decided to do beadboard ceilings instead, and reserve the planks for our bedroom. Not a decision everyone will love, but it's what we're happy with. 

Installing the beadboard was an ordeal for these two amateur DIY'ers. I was hesitant to do it ourselves, but Josh was confident we could tackle it, even if all I did was assume the role master beadboard holder (which is totally what I did).

Putting this stuff up was still challenging. Because of the linear nature of beadboard, the panels needed to perfectly line up. And because this house is like, really old, it's not at all even. We put up and took down the first pieces about five times, and each subsequent piece came down a few times, too, to make sure they were as even as they'd get. It was very tedious.

Once the beadboard was up, I graduated from master beadboard holder to beadboard caulker. We used smaller beadboard pieces because one, we have a small car, and two, it was just the two of us holding them up to the ceiling to install, so they couldn't be really big. That said, there were a lot of seams to hide, and a lot of nail holes to fill. I hated about every second of this step.

Once we started to caulk the vertical seams, we realized that hiding the horizontal seams was near impossible. The cuts of the pieces were just too rough, and after testing different techniques out, we realized you'd always be able to see them. So, I decided to put up little wood beams to cover them, and what do ya know, it actually added a cool element to the space that made it a little more barn-like and visually interesting. It was a project fail that turned into an unplanned pleasant surprise (a first for us!).

Once the beams were primed, painted and installed, it was time to paint, and put up the rest of the trim. You can read about my awesome meltdown over the trim here. Professionals would definitely have done a better job, but considering this was our first time, and considering that this room is a total oddity in shape, size and general symmetry, I think we did a bang up job, if I do say so myself. There are totally some weird seams and "Ohhhh, um, we can just caulk that" areas, but live and learn, my friends. Live and learn. 

Next, we installed the shelving. While it would have been amazing to get a super fancy custom California Closet with wood cabinets and drawers, it just wasn't enough of a priority right now, seeing as though we have a bathroom to install in the Spring, as well as a pretty big bedroom to finish. Someday, maybe in like 10-15 years, I hope to get something like that to really maximize our space. But for now, we have the white wire shelving units. Which honestly, I don't really hate (although I know most people do).

The shelves made for a nice tool storage area, too!

And then, THEN, it was time for the floors. We bought the floors months ago, thinking that's when we'd be ready for them (ha!). We decided on Manufactured Engineered Hardwoods for a variety of different reasons, and ended up choosing flooring by Bruce in a distressed oak finish that looked old and weathered. The floor installation took Josh only a few hours, and once it was in, we just stared at the room for about five minutes in disbelief that we actually had a closet with a real floor.

Finally, we installed the light fixture. The placement of the light isn't ideal because of the sloped ceilings, and the general height of the room. Josh is 6'3, so we had to hang it high enough so he wouldn't hit his head on it every morning. Sure, we could have done a flushmount light so we didn't have to worry about this, but I kind of had my heart set on this pendant light from Birch Lane. And, we were able to get it at open-boxed pricing (which offered a steep discount) plus an extra percentage off for their Black Friday sale, so it was meant to be, right? Rather than using the pole extension it came with, we decided to add a chain to hang it higher up on the ceiling. Using the wall-mount piece in the middle of the room where we had the hardwiring placed, and a hook to where we actually wanted the light to hang from, we finagled the light and the chain to make it work. It's a little odd looking, but so is the whole room, and I'm all about weird quirks in old houses, so I'm rather thrilled with it. We have to touch up the hook a little because it got banged up during installation, but that's an easy weeknight project.

L: View as you walk in; R: View from the back wall

And that, my friends, is our closet (mostly) done. We still need to install our window, doorway and floor trim, and the shelving brackets (because oops, we forgot to buy them this weekend at Home Depot) but it's exactly how I envisioned it, and I'm so glad that we did everything ourselves. I've been so happy to have one space in our house exactly as I want it, that I've been splurging on a few decorative and totally unnecessary things to spruce it up and make it even more homey in here. I'll share the details next week with a complete before and after. You know you're (maybe, kinda, sorta) excited.


  1. Engineered Hardwood floors capabilities a skinny veneer layer of completed hardwood over a multi-layer middle of plywood or high-density fiberboard. The extended sturdiness makes it a terrific preference for kitchens and high-visitor areas.