Wrapping up the new closets

Honey needs some closet space!

For a year and a half, Rachel’s been using these sad Ikea wardrobes in the sleeping porch for her closet. And the closet in the 2nd bedroom, when not under construction. And I should mention, this porch is blazing hot all summer long and freezing in the winter. I’ve had the one closet in our bedroom since it’s on my side of the bed, and since everything I own fits in it.

Sleeping porch north second floor

Looking back at my list of projects for the upstairs sleeping porch, I’ve wrapped up the first two out of seven items there: building Rachel two new closets on the sleeping porch. Fortunately, though, none of the other items will take me anywhere near the hours required for these first two tasks.

  • Build closet on the south wall
  • Build second closet on the north wall
  • Pull out the existing electrical on the ceiling.
  • Insulate the ceiling with spray-foam insulation.
  • Install new electrical with upgraded lighting.
  • Build insulated interior hatch for attic access.
  • Put down carpet on the floor.

Other than a few finishing touches, the closets are built and ready to go upstairs. (Closet project: Part One, Part Two.) I raced home yesterday so I could get to work with the loud chop saw and the nail gun for a few hours before it got too late — technically you’re not allowed to do construction past 7 p.m., I think, though I usually go a little later than that.

After staying up into the wee hours of Wednesday morning pre-painting all the trim (including the uncut pieces) and the closet doors themselves, all I really had left to do was to install all the trim and put the doors in. But with two closets and trim around the opening on the outside and the inside, that’s a lot of measuring and cutting. I think I nailed the final piece at 9 p.m. last night and had a well deserved beer and late dinner and collapsed in a heap on the couch.

Here’s the progress of transformation. First, the bigger closet on the full south wall.

Sleeping porch south wall before closetCloset framing finishedCloset framed and drywalled
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South closet finished

I really like how it turned out, though the ugly bare ceiling and the sloppy, dirty linoleum floor still make it look like lipstick on a pig. I hope to have the ceiling insulated and finished (either drywall or beadboard, not sure at this point) in just about two weeks.

The baseboard and trim at the bottom will soon wrap all the way around the back wall too — I’ll put that in when I get around to finally casing and trimming out the windows on the back wall. (An item I forgot on my original list of tasks for the porch. D’oh!) And of course, there’s no shelving in either closet yet. Rather than having to buy a bunch of wood and make shelves like I did for the nursery closet, we’re probably going to opt for those modular wire frame shelves that attach to the walls and can be configured in all sorts of patterns for maximum flexibility. We’ve still got some planning to do on that count.

The closet on the other wall is finished too. But before I could even start building that one, I had to do some prep work to the wall separating our house from the neighbors. Unlike the rest of the house (and even the first floor of these old sleeping porches), the houses here are not separated by a brick party wall, but just a thin layer of drywall or plywood.

2nd floor sleeping porch south

You might remember that we discovered this during demo day shortly after we bought the house on the wall behind the closet pictured above. Not too long after we moved in while the wall was still exposed, he came over and told me he could see into our porch! So I built a new wall between us and used some homasote board beneath the drywall for soundproofing.

It was the same story here. There was 1/2″ plywood covering up what turned out just to be some shared studs: plywood on our side, and drywall on theirs.

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The plywood was a bear to get off. I had to use the circular saw (after drilling some holes to look in and make sure there was no electrical, insulation or fire block) to cut the plywood down as much as possible to make it easier to pry off. And even then, it was still sweaty hard work.

Once I got the plywood off, I discovered that my neighbors’ back porch is raised up in the room, like you have to step up from their bedroom. I can’t for the life of me figure out why, unless their entire house is just a bit higher than ours, though I don’t think it is. Our street is pretty level. Weird. The space below does have the wiring and fixtures for the floor below, though.

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A lot of that pile of dirt was sawdust from cutting the plywood, but most of it came out of the cavities between the studs. Including…

Dead mice

Yep, about 15 mouse skeletons. Some featuring mummified leathery skin! Yummy! Not sure how they got into the cavities, but once they did, I guess they couldn’t escape. I also saw evidence of fire damage in the space between their floor and ceiling up against the back wall just below the dead mice.

This time, I filled the gaps between the shared studs with Roxul Safe’n’Sound batts, which is the same stuff I used in the walls between the nursery and second bedroom. This meant that I didn’t have to waste a valuable half inch of closet depth with the homasote board. Then I covered up the studs with new 1/2″ drywall and finished it out.

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Because of where the door enters this room from our bedroom, this closet has limited depth. It’s about 20 percent shallower than the opposite closet, and as a result, probably isn’t deep enough for hanging clothes and will just have shelves. I framed this closet the weekend after I did the other one, and was finishing both at the same time. I made it a little taller, though I decide not to go all the way to the ceiling with it. It’s so shallow that you wouldn’t be able to use the higher shelves anyway.

We didn’t run it all the way to the back wall because of the windows, and also to leave room for a tall storage piece that we have that goes in the space, wrapped in plastic in the below picture. Here it is, from beginning to end.

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North sleeping porch closet

And a little wider shot of the porch so you can get a sense of the space. The door to our bedroom is right next to the closet.

Sleeping porch closet north

There’s a few things left to do. Some of the trim still needs to be painted, and I need to fill all of the brad holes with putty and then touch them up with paint.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to start and finish insulating the ceiling. The kit I bought came last week and is ready to go.

Spray foam insulation

Which means I’ll have another excuse to wear my awesome space suit again.

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