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September 2007
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The Walk In Closet Project – Episode 1

The hanger, the hook, and the closet.

Clothes closets have always been the redheaded stepchild of home design and construction. They get shoved into the corners, siamesed between bedrooms, given crappy rods, inadequate shelving and access, provided with headers for revolting door schemes like bifold, accordian, and slide by doors. Because of this, getting to the storage above the closet rod is another one of those deals where you wish you could put the designer into them for about 6 months until either they repent, or they pursue a career in food service.

Typical clothes hangers are 16” wide. Which is why so many closets have the rod at 10” off the backwall. Somebody decided that 20” was enough room for a depth for hanging clothing. This also allows for a 10” shelf above the closet rod only about an 1 1/2 – 2” below the shelf. This makes getting clothes off and the rod a bit of a pain.

Not all of your clothes, are 6 feet tall, nor do they weigh mere ounces. You can do better.
[end rant]

The client decided that she no longer needs 5 bedrooms as the kids are gone. But she does want more closet space. To this end we are going to turn the bedroom next to the master bedroom into a walk in closet. We will be removing the current closet in the master bedroom, removing the soffit over the doors in the master bedroom, removing the current closet wall, which will result in a larger bedroom, reframing and installing a 36” pocket door for access from the master bedroom, removing the back wall between the the two rooms eliminating the closet in the next room and turning the room into a big walk in closet.
These photos were taken on 7 september, 2007 and show what I started with.
The Murphy Bed occupies the west wall. It is leaving and will find it’s new home in one of the other bedrooms. The bookshelf and corner unit will be reused.
This wall will get floor to ceiling shelving and closet rod units from wall to wall.

Moving counterclockwise is the west wall containing a nice sized window to provide natural lighting.
Next is the other side of the west wall where it joins the south wall.
The only change in this area maybe a different window treatment.

The South wall has floor to ceiling mirrors which will be removed. One of them we hope to salvage and cut down for use in the hallway. Hope is the operative word as mirror mastic has a holding strength of 800 lbs per inch, which is great for attachment, but is a real challenge in removal without wrecking the mirror backing.
Once these are removed, the wall patched, and the final design decided upon, this wall will contain floor to ceiling dividers. The dividers will be 24” deep with the closet rods centered at 12”.

The east wall is where the current closet was. As you can see there is a small office area here.
We will be removing this and reusing the uppers and the lowers and deck in the new closet. This is also the party wall between the master bedroom and this room. As part of this project we will eliminate the bedroom door from the hallway.
This seems to be a straightforward project. Wack a couple of walls, patch and prep, and boogie into the sunset…

Not quite so fast. The office area closet is 2′ shorter than the master closet. The reason for this is there is a return air plenum behind this wall with the filter sitting on the bottom of the hallway wall.

Remember this is the wall we are going to reuse one of the mirrors from the south wall. So in order to make that happen, we are going to move the return duct and grill into the ceiling in the hallway. To do this we needed to move the alarm, smoke and motion detectors, and cut a hole in the ceiling.

The first Problem showed up here. This is the top of the plenum in the closet.
Notice that 15% of the air return is blocked. This was done during the original construction and nobody cared to pay attention. The heating contractor couldn’t hit the center of this hole for some reason, despite having the entire framework of the house open to him, the inspector missed it, the job super missed it, the drywallers ignored it, and so here we are.

This adds a burden to the AC unit that resulted in the replacement of the unit recently. The original plan of moving this to the hall ceiling came to a halt as soon as we went into the attic above the hallway and discovered that the trunk line came all the way to the the end of the hallway.

We called and had Bill the Tinman stop by. After looking at the situation, and providing us with the 15% figure, was also able to come up with a solution that would allow us to put the vent in the ceiling.

It involves extra expense on the front end, by cutting the trunk line back, and using flex for the supply registers in the master bedroom where we are removing the soffit, which was only there as a holder for the duct and as a line for the wall for the old master bedroom closet. According to Bill, this will not only address our immediate issues, but will actually provide a net gain in the efficiency of the air system as well as getting the return air plenum into the ceiling which will allow for the better distribution of the air.
This is one of those gotcha’s that happen in remodeling, that in the short term do add to the time and cost of a project, but in the long term pays for itself.

I have more photos of the next episodes that I will post soon, but I am on my way to pick up my buddy Carl the glass guy to get the mirrors off the wall.