10.10.10: The Great Closet Caper

Ok, there are a few things you need to know about me before you read the rest of this post...
  1. In my head...I am the MOST amazing decorator and should have my own HGTV show.
  2. I like to use power tools, but the simple fact is that I almost broke my wrist using my new toy. This isn’t sounding good I know, but bear with me...grrrrr...and I assure the post will be as “G” as you can get. 
  3. Hindsight is less expensive & is not something I possess in “home improvement” situations. 
  4. I think I may have the most severe case of tourettes syndrome on record. Did I spell that I’m talking about the affliction of having a burst of profanity come forth from your person in which everyone within a 2 block radius stops, covers the ears of their children and you solidify yourself as “the crazy neighbor”. I was in a tie for first with the couple who live next to me...but I won today. 

The cheap home improvement project for this month was to convert one of my two closets into a miniature study. My new space is to have cute desk paraphernalia, some of my favorite & inspiring photos, a place for all my study stuff, a landing place for my phone and computer get the idea. Not really an office, but a space to take the place of a big fluffy chair and lap desk that was reeking havoc on my back, neck and temper. 
In my head the actual desk would be a hollow core door cut to size. Do you know WHY that is not what I ended up with? Home Depot and Lowe’s refused to cut the 4 inches off  to bottom for me because it would “void the warranty on the door” & “we couldn’t resell it if you brought it back”. I’m not hear to slam the companies because they have to have SOME sort of return policy/standard, but really? I mean really? I TELL you it’s going to be used as a desk, not a door and you’re sticking with “it would void the warranty”? Ok, fine - hey, I’m a creative gal. I don’t need no stinking door.  
Measure twice (or twelve times) and get a piece of plywood cut to fit. Can’t be too flimsy but by the same token it can’t be too heavy. Why? I have to be able to lift it up the stairs and work with it by myself. Did I mention it’s reason #48 that “Sometimes It Sucks To Be Single”? 
Also, take into account that if you cut the board (desktop) just a wee bit shorter than the actual closet, that you need to buy support boards (secured to the wall) thick enough to nail/drill through the top to secure it to them. Ahem. I’m not sure I’ll go into great detail at this point as to why I mention this. It’s all about the teaching for me...all about the teaching. You can thank me later. 

Opinion here...don’t ever buy L shaped shelf brackets unless you have someone to hang them for you. This MIGHT be more of a warning for me, but here’s what happened. The dilemma was - do I secure the brackets to the shelf first, then secure that to the wall. Or, do I secure the brackets first then secure the shelf to the brackets. Either way it meant I was going to have to crouch or stand in an awkward position and generally be “put out” by what it was going to take to hang this thing. Well, I can tell you which one NOT to do. It may be obvious to some, but it was not to me. Long story short, my printer is still sitting on the floor waiting for me to have the patience to finish screwing the top screws into the wall anchors...1/8th of a turn at a time. 

Never assume...never assume that something as tempting as a “hole saw bit” is something you should play with. This is the “I almost broke my wrist” story I mentioned when we started. My assumption was that the hole it was going to create would be created as if I was cutting through warm butter. (Insert Tim Allen’s manly grunt here because it was a pretty impressive looking piece of equipment) I would drill one, possibly two holes so I could run the chords for the lamp etc through them and make it all look neat. Ok, so it WILL cut like butter...if you don’t force it AND have a good grip on the drill AND aren’t cutting cheap plywood that splinters at an alarming rate. See photo below. 

Do you know WHY this splintering didn’t upset me? I had been working with the wrong cut of board. I had one big sheet cut into the size I needed leaving two odd pieces - I guess I got too excited and grabbed the wrong piece when I started. Luckily I had not nailed it to the braces yet. The correctly cut piece was downstairs in my living room mocking me...I just know it was. 
Remember this’s very important to have braces in the FRONT so that the long board doesn’t sag. It was a Three Stooges moment to say the least. My first assumption was that when the desktop was fastened to the boards nailed into the walls/studs, it would be strong enough to keep the desktop from sagging...not so much. This would be the reason I traipsed out to the store a second time and bought two leg braces.

Anyone know what this is? 

CORRECT!! It’s the power chord to the drill. Guess where the drill is? Not attached to the chord, that’s where. I of course never realized this until I went to pull the trigger. Funny the first time...not so much the next several times. Is this a safety feature? It’s annoying whatever the reason.
Memo to me...memo to me...

Tighten the drill bit just a bit more before you “get all into it”.  
Only two trips and about $60 for a closet desk...not bad. Now the accessories will cost me $200, but by golly the desk was cheap! This is a project that is manageable in a few hours - might go faster if you have help. All in all, a great success!!

The finishing touches (covering for the desktop etc) will come over the next few days, but in the meantime I’m just going to love the smell of lumber in my bedroom. I’m off to take a bottle of Aleve now, so excuse me. I hope this inspires you to rethink a space YOU have! 
I will tell you that the decision to only use one closet for clothes helped me decide to purge and get very organized so that I was using ALL of the available space. I’m becoming a minimalist. Be sure to come visit my yard sale on the 16th for the chance to mock all of my “good intentions” stuff for sale! 


  1. YOU are AMAZING!!

  2. Ha-ha! Well, like you said, it's all about that "task completion" euphoria and nothing more. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Thankfully I won't be moving for eons and eons so I don't have to consider how impractical it is for resale...its time to just enjoy.

  3. Anonymous10/11/2010

    I really enjoyed your post. You tell a great story. The finished product is way cool. If you had not had so much fun competing with the neighbors,(crazy neighbor award) it just wouldn't be the same. I have lots of free advice for stuff like this, (ha,theres a reason why it's Free advice)

    Tom C

  4. Thanks explains a lot about me, doesn't it? :) I love the learning experiences - which always make for a "I simply couldn't make this up" story. I will take me some free advice though and be sure to call you the next time I'm stumped. Yeah, I'm crazy which REALLY explains why your wife and I get along so well. Appreciate the comment and support!!