When it’s all over it just begins again: the master bedroom

We always joke that each room renovation in the last 22 months has been done a little better than the last. Which means that once we’re done with everything, we’ll have to start over where we began.

Because we learn as we go and our standards and knowledge change as we take on projects. Which is why the nursery is done better than the guest room and the guest room is done better than our master bedroom — which we did in a hurry in November 2010 before we moved in so we could move into and sleep in a completed, construction-free, dustless room while we worked in the rest of the house.

To wit, in reverse order: with the nursery closet, I ripped out all the shelves, scraped down all the walls and skimmed them out, and built all new shelving to best take advantage of the space. In the guest room, I just painted over the wallpaper and mostly kept the shelves where they were. And in the single closet in our master (which is mine), we started scraping some wallpaper before moving in, stopped halfway, kept all the shelves and hung my clothes up in a closet with holes in the plaster and half-scraped wallpaper everywhere.

Now that we’ve finished renovating the other two bedrooms, we come back to our master bedroom and see all the things that we didn’t do as well as the other rooms and need to do again. Like the trim that was never stripped but just repainted. Or the ogee baseboard trim that wasn’t mitered in one of the corners in a rush. Or my half-finished closet that wastes a ton of space.

Pre-closing: closetPre-closing: master bedroom
How the master closet and bedroom looked during our first walkthrough of the house in September 2010.

But — there was no way I could even think about touching my closet until I built Rachel’s new twin closets on the sleeping porch…uh…I mean “boudoir.” It wasn’t going to work out well for me to have a nice finished closet with new shelves and fancy storage while she was still storing all of her clothes in bins and boxes and hanging rods scattered throughout the house.

So once I got Rachel’s closets finished — literally hours before Lily was born — I could finally tackle my own closet. And in the Week of Steve, this was project number two.

The closet is fairly deep and wide, probably at least three feet deep and more than four-and-a-half feet wide. It’s tall too, going all the way up to the nine-foot ceilings. And there was potential bonus space in a nook where the old radiator expansion tank was. The wall on the left of the closet is actually the old chimney from the basement, not the party wall. There was a gap to the side of it about 14 inches square where the pipe came up from the floor and the expansion tank sat at the top of it just below the ceiling, which you can see in this next photo.

Closet de-wallpapered and messy

This all combined for a lot of wasted space in a pretty big closet as it was currently set up, with one hanging rod about head level with a single shelf above it. Goal #1 was to strip the rest of the wallpaper, skim and make the inside look much nicer. Goal #2 was to make much better use of the available space with new shelving.

Which meant I got to work on my favorite job of the last two years: stripping all the rest of the wallpaper off. Sigh. Every time I strip wallpaper for hours, I remind myself that it’s wallpaper that will never have to be stripped again. And as best as I can recall right now, wallpaper now only remains in three places in the house: the dining room ceiling, the guest room closet, and the bathroom. We’ve come along way from an entire house save for one room (living room) being coated with painted wallpaper with raised seams.

After getting all the wallpaper off, it was on to my other favorite job: patching plaster and skimming walls. I did have to force myself not to patch and skim the walls perfectly and sand everything perfectly smooth. I kept telling myself, “Just do it as fast and crappy as you did back in November of 2010 when you had no idea what you were doing, Steve.”

Closet de-wallpapered

After getting the wallpaper off — see the pile on the floor — I turned my attention to removing the old radiator expansion tank, a story I shared in part a few weeks ago.

DSC_0143…The top of the pipe had apparently leaked through the years, or else was the source of a roof leak, because the metal was stained up at the top and the plaster ceiling was almost completely destroyed from water damage around the pipe.

The pipe in the attic went up into the roof sheathing for some reason that I still can’t determine for certain. I went up on the roof just to make double sure it didn’t poke out as an exhaust somewhere, but I didn’t see anything and it’s all been covered by the new roof.

Unfortunately, the pipe runs through the attic in an area away from where I installed the floor, so I had to put on my fancy coverall suit and climb on to the joists and lay on my stomach and go to work with the hacksaw on the pipe. That was hard work! I was sweating like a dog and contorted in a position where it was hard to get leverage and my arm would go dead after about 10 seconds of sawing, but after about 10 minutes, I finally had it cut.



I’m going to take it to the metal scrapyard off Bladensburg by DC Brau and see if I can’t get some $$ for it. It’s steel as best as I can tell. With the tank out of the way, I freed up some serious space to add some new shelving. The channel itself is 14 inches deep and wide, though the near side is longer since there’s more space before that wall ends runs into the door.

master bedroom closet patchedFormer expansion tank closet

With patching and skimming complete, including complete replacement of the damaged plaster above the tank area, I started installing shelves.

For the nook, I took some scrap sandi-ply and used the jig saw to cut a nice curved edge going back from left to right to make the most of the space while still allowing clothes to be hung on that adjacent lower rod. These shelves are fixed with supports driven into the wall every 18 inches or so.

2012-09-05 20.48.422012-09-05 20.49.20

I got the same Closetmaid/Rubbermaid components that I used for Rachel’s closet for the main part of the closet, though I used the same supports with the routed edge leftover from the nursery closet driven into studs on the wall to hang a separate hanging clothes rod underneath the shelf. I don’t like the cheap closetmaid rods that are hung from the shelving. The shelves below the clothes on the right half of the closet wrap around that corner and come all the way to the inside wall of the closet for maximum storage. The final product, after and before.

2012-09-05 20.47.48Pre-closing: closet

Of course, the only catch with this closet arrangement is that you need to be at least six feet tall to use it. I can just barely reach to hang my clothes on the top bar without getting on my tiptoes, and I’ll need a step to reach the shelf on top of that bar waaaay up at the top. Looks like the perfect place for Christmas present storage. 🙂

I was throwing clothes into the closet on my way out the door for the airport before leaving, so things aren’t quite organized yet, but I did get to move stuff around a bit after we got back.

I’d have to say that it’s a much better use of space. I can fit every single piece of clothing I own in here. No more socks in the guest room or coats hung in the guest closet. So what do you think of the arrangement? And do you need an old radiator expansion tank?

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