July 23, 2012

back in the closet

Hi everyone! We made it. We managed to finish enough of the work around here that an appraiser was able to come in, and not have to report back that we were under construction. It is amazing what you can do with smoke and mirrors, and a number of judiciously placed large pieces of art. We appraised high enough for our refinance to sail through and we are no longer under the time constraints we have had over the last three years. We are now plowing forward, and making an attempt to finish (I am using that word rathah loosely) the first two floors before the holidays. Still five million details to go, but we are making headway.

The down side to our new mortgage is our payments are much higher than they used to be. Our payments for the first three years were incredibly low so that we could put all of our earnings into the house, the big rips in the butt of both of my work jeans will attest to that (I hope I remembered to wear underwear this morning). Higher payments means we need to cut down on some expenses, and one of our ongoing high ticket items is storage. Two large units holding the contents of our Los Angeles home for almost four years. Crazy! Especially when you consider that we have lived without it all for so long... do we really need any of it? The key to the largest of the storage spaces is all of the clothing and contents of the master bedroom closet. Wardrobe box after wardrobe box packed full of clothes and assorted sundries. In order to move them here and meld some of it into what we already have, we need a closet installation.

We began by looking at companies like California Closets, and Easyclosets. I am sure they are great companies, we even used one of them in our last home, but when you layout the furniture you want in the closet and hit the estimate cost button it is a bit, well... shocking! And that initial price is for particle board structure covered in a plastic coating that is printed to look like wood. That much money for plastic printed to look like wood? Someone please explain this to me. Real wood veneers are available from some companies but that falls into one of the two most despicable words/phrases in renovating... UPGRADE, the other being CHANGE ORDER! Both of these make the hair on the back of my neck stand right up!

So step up to the DIY plate boys and make it work.

We came across a product line called Shortcutz. Shortcutz is a small line of prefinished (including one edge), 3/4 inch thick plywood sheets, with three different wood veneer choices as the finished surface. It basically come 12", 16", or 24" wide, by 8' tall. Available in no holes, holes one side, or holes both sides. They also have 1/4" thick, and 3/4" thick prefinished, 4' by 8' sheets of veneered plywood, and components to make drawer boxes. That's pretty much it. Everything else you might need for trimming out is pretty standard lumberyard goods, and hardware we ordered from one of the many companies that sell Hafele products.

We designed the closet around a very large dresser that we already owned, and tried to make it look as much like a furniture installation as we could. We added baseboards, a flat crown, and did some face framing. We did the later two in maple to match the shortcutz pieces, and in hindsight I think we have done ourselves more proud to have done them in quartersawn oak to match the dresser, but it looks damn good for our first closet, built from better products, and probably cost a third of the order and have installed companies.

The Shortcutz 24' wide sheets

1/4" thick, prefinished backer board

As I do not own a sliding compound miter saw, we had to use a guide and our skill saw to make the cuts. The masking tape is to prevent chipping of the finished veneer layers.

Looking into the left side

Looking up at the right side

Looking from right to left across the center unit

A view from outside with the doors partially closed

The right side

Rumors are flying again that the boys who own 227 North Street are not staying true to the time period of their home and have gone so far as to add something that could only have been thought of as science fiction (if thought of at all) in 1870... Air conditioning! One week ago the two items in question were installed outside of the home, and although they are extreme high efficiency, somewhat subtle in their existence, and extremely quite in comparison, this reporter feels they should sweat it out like all of those who have lived in the house before them.

Now we wait for the redwood skirting (the lower wide trimboard for the house)

and now back to our regularly scheduled program...

We are getting very close to finishing the closet. The dresser is in, lighting all installed, plugs in place above the dresser surface (apparently people like to plug in their cell phones in such a spot), base boards are in in but still need painting, and a couple of hardware pieces have not arrived yet... 
but so close.

So far we have brought over 10 wardrobe boxes, and although we have set aside more than half of the contents to be donated, we have managed to meld the rest into what we currently have had at the house. The center unit is still under advisement as to what its use will be, hanging, or shelving, but when the jury comes back in I will let you know.

Oh, by the way, as I am sure all of you girls are saying "but what about the shoes!!!!" What you cannot see in the pictures above are the two show towers we built from 12" wide shortcutz sheets, each one will hold twelve  or more movable shelves. So fear not the shoes are safe and sound in their individual little cubbies.

More shelves yet to be cut