Enlarging a Hall Closet – Part Three

The pictures you see below are taken a month after the pictures from part two of this story.  By this point I had the final design sketched and drafted.  I had also ordered doors so I knew exactly how large the framed opening needed to be.

The biggest time sink of the renovation was building the cabinet and shelves.  Luckily, since I’d last built cabinets, the plywood warehouse had started carrying pre-laminated plywood.  It was a very handy solution and a real time-saver.  The only issue I had was that the laminate was thinner than typical countertop material so it chipped a little easier when going through a table saw.  The solution I came up with was to use my good table saw blade which I didn’t like doing very much.  The advantage of this material is that, like countertop laminate, it is nearly wearproof and stuff placed on it will slide easily without getting snagged.  All of the shelves and the cabinet were faced with poplar which was selected for its cost, strength, stability, ability to take paint and ability to be shaped.

The cabinet’s left-hand side would have a series of drawers with nice 100 lb ball bearing slides to organize small stuff.  The right-hand side was sized to accommodate our sewing machine and to have an adjustable shelf for other items.  Above that would be a series of fixed-height shelves that ran the entire width of the closet for towels, sheets, etc.  These long shelves would be supported in the middle and ends by cleats that were screwed directly into wall studs.

To keep the process moving, I worked on drywall and painting during this time.  I’d start the day doing something in the closet and then when I’d have to wait for drywall mud or paint to dry, I’d go do something on the cabinets.  I should also mention that I got some rolls of fiberglass insulation and insulated the walls and the ceiling of this closet.  For the easy work and low cost, it could only help save energy and do some sound dampening.

The biggest challenge during this phase was dealing with the header area that faced into the hallway.  When the previous owners had enclosed the space they hadn’t built their new wall to the correct length.  It didn’t really matter at the time since they used a free-floating bi-fold door, but because I was using a traditional set of French doors, the error would probably be more noticeable.  You’ll have to wait until next time to see how I dealt with the cosmetics of the situation, but the real pain for this phase was blending the two walls together.  I ended up cutting a piece of ¼” plywood and feathering the edge of it to smooth the offset.  I couldn’t believe how well it worked.  I taped all seams and, even now several years later, there is no cracking and you can’t see or feel where the correction was made.

The only other thing that happened during this phase was relocation of the A/C thermostat.  Happily, during the planning phase when I checked the length of the wiring I found that it could be moved without having to be replaced.

Next time you get to see the finished product!