Changed my Mind! Closet Rehab

In my last post, I thought it would be a good idea to remove our closet that blocks the flow of one of our main thoroughfares.  However, after thinking about the fact that the flooring might look choppy since we’d have new flooring right next to the old, we decided to keep the closet for now.  We’ll remove it when we renovate the entire kitchen since we plan on expanding the kitchen into the space where the closet currently resides.

Because the kitchen renovation is a ways away, I thought I’d at least try to make the closet more functional for now.  The closet had one high shelf with a coat rack.  We have a coat closet at the front of the house already so another one didn’t really make sense especially since we needed more practical storage.  Also, the shelf was so high that for us shorties (that would include my entire family), we’d have to get the step stool to reach the shelf or risk things falling on our heads.  The closet also had the last vestiges of the ugly mustard color that poisoned the entire first floor when we moved in.

Here’s the nasty flashback:Full Living RoomTry not to cringe at all the ugliness!

I have a lot of wood in my shed left over from the treehouse we built a couple years ago, so the only thing I needed to buy for the shelves was caulk and a few smooth trim pieces for the front of the shelves.

Here’s the before:

Old Closet


And the after:

Finished Dresser

To make the shelves, I found this video particularly useful.

I’ll just touch on the basics since the video does a good job of explaining how to install the shelves.

1.  First I painted the closet the same blue color as I used in the kids’ bathroom (Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore).

2.  Measure and cut your ledgers.  The ledgers are what hold up the shelves and should be the same length from the back to the front of the closet as your shelves.


That’s me measuring.  🙂  I try to put any pic I can of me in these posts since I rarely have any!

LedgersThese are the ledgers.  I marked the studs first to make sure I drilled into them.  I also made sure to use a level so that the ledgers wouldn’t be all wonky.  I sunk the screws below the surface of the wood so that I could dab wood putty on the holes later and paint over them.  I also put one coat of paint on the ledgers before they were installed so I wouldn’t have to paint as much when they were on the wall.  Also, don’t worry about any gaps in the corners because they will be covered with caulk.

3.  Cut the plywood to fit on the ledgers using a circular or table saw (I used a circular).  I made sure that the plywood was as long as the ledgers so that I could nail trim pieces along the entire front of the shelves.  I cut the shelves a little shorter than the width of the closet so that they could easily slide in but still sit comfortably on the ledgers (the video explains this pretty well).

4.  I cut trim pieces for the front of the shelves to make the finished product more polished and nailed them in place.  I also caulked all the ledgers and plywood pieces to the wall to make them look more “built in.”

Ledger Caulk

caulk v. no caulk

5.  Get some baskets and organize because you’re done!

Top ClosetAll baskets are from Tar-jay.  All our dog paraphernalia, reusable grocery bags, and cleaning supplies are now neatly corralled.

This was a fairly easy project that was definitely budget friendly since I had most of the materials already.  Now, things are at a good height and instead of just one high shelf, we have three shelves for more of our crapola.

Next on the list is tackling the master bedroom.  Painting is first!  I LOVE painting!  Not really.

Patching Up Holes in the Kitchen Ceiling

So a while ago we finally hired an electrician to get rid of the school cafeteria fluorescent lights in the kitchen.  I hated them and should have booted them when we first moved in, but better late than never.  I had the electrician install recessed lights and they make the ceiling look taller which is great because we’ve got such low ceilings in this house.

So the kitchen went from this:



To this:

Kitchen Wide Angle


Kitchen Back

Before all this ceiling beautification, I patched the holes that the electrician left behind:

Hiles in Ceiling

and painted the ceiling a nice crisp white.

Painting the ceiling was a piece of cake so long as I used my extension pole, otherwise it was “fill the roller with paint, climb up the ladder, roll the paint, climb down the ladder, move the ladder to next section, and repeat.” With the extension pole, there’s no ladder involved (at least for the rolling part, you still need the ladder to cut in around the edges since I haven’t yet found a brush on a 6 foot pole that can accurately cut in, darn it).  Another value of the extension pole is that you get an awesome arm workout at the same time that you’re DIYing, but at least you are saving your neck and back.

Patching the holes in the ceiling was a little more difficult but doable with the right Youtube video.  I used this one although it was for bigger holes than what I needed so I modified the process (see below).

Basically the steps to patch a 2×3 inch hole (which would be the same size as the holes that electricians cut into your ceiling to install recessed lights) are:

Note: Make sure you are doing this on a sunny day with lots of natural sunlight coming in because you don’t want to turn on your lights next to the repair area.  You can’t see the ceiling well enough with a light source right next to your eyeballs.

1.  Get drywall the same thickness as your ceiling (1/2 inch is standard); a 12 inch trowel; a tub of patching compound powder; a ladder; 100, 300, and 600 grit sandpaper; a utility knife; vacuum with an extension wand; and drywall tape.

2.  If your hole is regularly shaped (as in it’s a square or rectangle), then cut the drywall to the same measurements as the hole.  You can cut it using a utility knife then just snapping the drywall along the cut you made.  You may have to shave your piece down a little to fit in the hole.

3.  If your hole is irregular (like a circle or blob shape) then cut a piece of drywall into a regular shape to cover the entire hole, then put the piece of drywall against the hole and cut out the hole to match your drywall piece.  It’s easier that way.

4.  Pre-measure your pieces of drywall tape on a counter or table since you don’t want to do that on a ladder.  You want the tape to go all around the piece on all sides with as little overlap as possible.

5.  Mix your compound really well and make sure there are no lumps.  I just scooped the powder into a bowl with some water and whisked it with a plastic fork.  Make sure your compound is the thickness of pudding.  Also, make sure you work fast because it dries in about 6-8 minutes.  Use only what you need because once it dries, you can’t add more water to re-use it.

6.  Stick the piece of drywall into the hole and tape the piece into place.  Using your trowel, smear compound over the hole and extend the compound 5-6 inches outside the tape.   Try to only cover the tape on all sides and don’t worry about the middle of the patch; you’ll get the middle on the second pass.  Also go thinner with the compound along the edges of the area so that they can more easily blend in with the rest of the ceiling (this is called feathering).  Throw away any unused compound.  Let the area dry for 30 minutes.

7.  Sand any areas along the outside edge that are too high and not flush with the rest of the ceiling using 100 grit sandpaper.  I use the vacuum to suck up as much dust as possible because it gets really dusty.

8.  Make another pass with the compound making sure to cover the middle of the area this time in addition to feathering it out over the edge of the area.  Let this dry.

9.  Sand any rough areas again using 300 grit sandpaper, then 600 grit sandpaper, then make one more pass of the joint compound if necessary.  Make sure to feather the edges of the area to blend seamlessly into the rest of the ceiling.  Repeat the sanding if you had to make one more pass.

10.  After the final sanding, dust off the area with a dry cloth then paint.

The whole process took me a couple days although you could finish it in a day since the compound dries really quickly.

Here is the finished product:

Kitchen Ceiling Left

You can’t even see the patch unless you’re a couple inches from the spot…  Not too bad if I say so myself 🙂 .

Pantry Challenge

I wanted to paint and organize my pantry and when I took a peek inside to decide on a paint color, I saw that holy crap (!), there’s a lot of stuff in there that I bought a while ago that has been forgotten.  Dried figs, a giant bag of sesame seeds, half a box of barley, various half bags of dried fruit, and the list goes on.  So, this vegetarian family is going on a “Pantry Challenge.”  There’s been lots of blog posts written on pantry challenges, but the basic premise is to use the food in your cupboards, in your pantry, and in your freezer first before heading to the grocery store to purchase food.  If your house is like mine, you could live off of the stuff in your pantry for a couple months without having to spend money at the grocery store, but I’ve just been too lazy to use the more “exotic” items and they’ve been sitting there staring at me.  The goal of the challenge is not to eat tasteless garbage food but it’s to save some cash by not going to the store (hold out as long as possible!) and to come up with some creative recipes that you wouldn’t normally think of to make.


If you’re going to do a pantry challenge, you’ve got to fit it to your lifestyle so that’s what we’re doing.  We’re vegetarian (me and the kids, and mostly my husband) so we NEED our fruits and veggies every week and because of that, I have to buy those weekly.  I’m also going to buy necessities (soymilk=necessity, brownies=not so much!) but everything else that we eat will come from what we already have in the house.


Some people who do this like to take an inventory of what they’ve got in the pantry that needs to be used.  I am not that organized!  I just pull out a few things that I could make a menu around and put them on the counter and stare at them until inspiration comes (or I just plug in the ingredients into  For example, I really wanted to get rid of a half a box of barley and some mushrooms that I had no plans for and that were on the downslide so mushroom barley soup is what we’re having tomorrow for dinner.  I haven’t made that in a long time and it’s tasty and easy to make.  My kind of dinner!


I will try to post the recipes that turned out the best.  I’m busy and also a lazy cook so the recipes will be easy and quick!  I always work off of a base recipe that I find in a cookbook or online, but I modify it to maximize the amount of stuff I can use in my pantry.


First recipe of the challenge:




Super Easy Mushroom Barley Soup


1 cup barley (I used quick cooking barley but you could use slow cooking too)

6 cups veggie broth

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, thinly sliced

2 (10 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms

2 cups of any veggies that are about to go bad! (I did half a green

pepper, parsley, some thinly cut spinach, and a few diced squash)

1 cup of sherry or white wine

Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in the onions, carrots, and the rest of the veggies MINUS the mushrooms; cook and stir until the veggies have softened and turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more.

2.    Pour in sherry or white wine and cook for a couple more minutes.

3.    Pour in the veggie broth, and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the barley and continue simmering until the barley is soft.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.


I’m serving this with the three half eaten boxes of crackers that I found in the pantry.  With this recipe, I got rid of the mushrooms, the half box of barley, the veggies that I had in the fridge that were half eaten/used, and a few half eaten boxes of crackers.  Not bad for one recipe!


My goal after a month is to save some cash and to have a more minimized pantry so that when I do paint and organize, I’m not throwing away a bunch of perfectly good food to make room for my OCD organization!


Here is my pantry before the challenge:





It’s almost too embarrassing to post!  But, there it is in all its messy glory.  I’m really hoping that by the end of this challenge, it’s much more minimized and organized!