A Closet Refresh

Even with all of my cleaning and organization, sometimes there are things that I cannot put into any particular category. All of these miscellaneous items are dumped into my “Other Things” closet.

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Behold my closet of junk. (In my excitement to reorganize this closet, I had already unscrewed off the doors. Apologies! I will try to remember to stop and snap some photos for future projects!) I think that part of the reason why this closet even exists is because of those pesky doors: they allowed me to conceal the mess and the ugly hiding inside. Every time I opened those doors, I would cringe and shut them again. I don’t want to be feeling guilty in my own room, and so I decided to clean everything out and give the closet an easy, renter-friendly refresh.


I got my inspiration from these built-in shelves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term “built-in”, it basically refers to anything that was factored into the design and architecture of a space, making it look like it was literally built into the area.

Source: Lolly Jane

Polka-Dot-Wrapping-Paper-Backed-BookcaseSource: Oh My Dear

I love how built-ins are not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. I especially like that you can either paint or wallpaper the backs of the shelves to give a pop of color. Since everything in the closet would now be out in the open, I would be forced to get rid of the things I don’t need and figure out a way to store everything in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

wall-of-bookcases-cgSource: Censational Girl

As much as I loved the cute patterns and textures in those first two pictures, the space that I am working with is small and in the corner of my room. Also, while the minimalistic decor balanced out the busy patterns in the first two pictures, there are a lot more books and knick knacks featured with a less chaotic background in this last picture.

I wanted to emulate the streamlined look of this last inspirational picture, but still maintain the happy and playful feel of the first two.

How I Did It

Step 1: Remove the Doors

Since I wanted to recreate a built-in look as much as I could with this closet, the first step would require removing the doors. That was easily done with a screwdriver. (Since this is an apartment, I kept the screws in a Ziploc bag taped to the doors and stored the doors elsewhere. I will put them back up when it’s time to move out!)

The landlord had painted over the door hinges, which left unsightly patches of unpainted wood underneath. I had a white paint pen handy, and used that to touch up and color in the necessary areas. I painted several coats.

The paint pen I had didn’t entirely match up with the existing paint; however, since I was only painting a small area and since I’m not going to stay in this apartment long-term, I was okay with it not being perfect.

Step 2: Empty the closet and start with a clean slate

Now that I had my inspiration, the next step was to start fresh and take everything out of the closet. The closet contained items ranging from extra linens to cake pop ingredients to vitamins.

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I left all of these items on the side until I was finished with Step 3.

Step 3: Add some color

I knew that I wanted to have a vibrant pinkish coral color lining the back of my closet. Being a renter, painting the walls was not an option, and so I decided to look for coral colored wrapping paper, wall paper, or contact paper. Once I got the paper, I would just measure, cut it to size, and then adhere it to the wall.

Unfortunately, finding coral colored paper in a size large enough to line the closet was much more difficult than I had anticipated. The stores I looked in either had papers with tons of elaborate designs, did not have the right shade of coral, or were way out of my price range. I didn’t want to spend all of my time looking for coral paper, and so I decided to compromise with gold wrapping paper instead. Seeing as Christmas season is just around the corner, I rationalized that I would be able to use the extra wrapping paper for presents.

Excited to finally add some color to my closet, I measured and cut the wrapping paper and then temporarily adhered it to the back of the closet with Scotch tape. I stepped back to take a look at it, but I didn’t like what I saw.

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Apart from the fact that the paper was stubborn as heck and wouldn’t stay on the wall, the color was also a bit off. I imagine it is probably because my walls (not pictured) are a light yellow/cream: since the wrapping paper was gold, it made the space look too yellow. Additionally, because that closet is in an awkward corner space away from the bedroom window, that area tends to be a bit darker than the rest of the room. I didn’t like it at all.

So it was back to the drawing board. I decided that I did not want to compromise with my original pinkish coral after all; this meant that I needed to find a way to color the back of the closet without actually coloring it. It was not until I found some large leftover cardboard boxes at work that my light bulb went off. Instead of painting the back of my closet, I would paint the cardboard piece and then use that to line my closet!

That day after work, I went straight to Home Depot to grab myself a sample size of coral paint. (8 oz. for only $2.94!)

As soon as I got home, I opened the container and painted a small section of cardboard and put it in the closet to see if I liked it. And I loved it!

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Now that I knew I loved the color in the space, I measured and cut the large cardboard pieces to fit into the six closet cubbies. (Only the closet doors were removable, otherwise I would have taken out the shelves so that I would only have to measure and cut two large pieces.) Of course, each cubby was also a different size, and so I measured every shelf space separately.

Once all of the pieces were cut, I set out to paint them all. I used a foam craft brush from Michaels that I already owned. I did the painting over several nights, as I mainly resumed this project after coming home from work.

I only painted one coat and was careful not to slather on too much paint, otherwise the cardboard would become soggy and then warp upon drying.

After allowing the cardboard pieces to dry overnight, I inserted them into their corresponding shelves using some heavy duty packaging tape to secure them in place. I completely love the way they turned out!

2014-11-09 09.25.40-1 2014-11-09 09.31.08-1

Step 4: Organize and decorate

This was my favorite part of the project. I gathered the items that I no longer used on the side so that I could donate them to Goodwill.  For those items that were remaining, I determined which ones could also multitask as decorations. Using storage I already had (fabric-covered boxes and extra mason jars), I was able to consolidate and arrange accordingly. Take a look at my finished project below! (This picture was taken at night, and so I apologize for the odd lighting. I really wanted to wait until the weekend, when I could snap some photos when the sun was out, but the weather forecast predicted gloomy skies and I honestly just couldn’t wait to share this with you all!)

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Let’s go through what’s in each shelf, starting from top to bottom.

Shelf 1: Portable fan, memory box, extra storage jars, Christmas decorations, spray paint cans
Shelf 2: Cake pop supplies (candy melts, pieces of foam, cake decorating supplies)
Shelf 3: Notecards, washi tape, labels, chalk pens, chalkboard easel
Shelf 4 & 5: Handbag displays for purses currently not being used
Shelf 6: Extra blankets and throws

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Here is a breakdown of the costs (both time and money) I spent on this project:

Paint = $2.94
Cardboard = $0
Foam brushes = $0
Storage = $0

Grand Total: $2.94 & 2 weeks (evenings only; no weekends)

Why it Makes Me Happy

I love that this project: 1) cost me less than my favorite latte; 2) gave me something productive to do after I got home from work; and 3) beautified my little corner with items I already owned!

I know that for some people, all of this work that I went through seems superfluous and unnecessary, but this closet makes me smile every time I look at it–and to me, that makes all of the difference.


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