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Coat Closet Turned Pretty(Canning) Second Pantry & Coat Closet Phase 1, Gutting, Patching, Baskets, & Shelves

We have this coat closet that is a complete disaster area. Within hours of getting cleaned out and organized, especially in the winter, it looks like this.
As you can imagine, it drives me completely crazy! So I decided that I wanted to re-do it and in doing so maximize the space. The closet is freakishly deep. Like, no kidding, my entire family of six could squeeze in there if we needed to…for some strange reason. Anyway, I decided that there was enough room to use it for both a second pantry AND a coat closet if we did shelves along the back and hooks along the sides.
*This project took every spare moment that I’ve had for the last month (huge headache having to stop over and over after only a few minutes here and there) and I decided that I needed to split it into three separate posts so that it was a bit more manageable. I will provide the links to the other two at the bottom, so soldier on.*

I knew it was going to take a long time to work on this, so I decided that the best thing that I could do would be to make sure that there was a lock of some sort on the door so that I wouldn’t have to constantly worry about the kids getting in there and messing with stuff. I just used one of these Munchkin Latches, though, I don’t really recommend them for this project, my little girl strong-armed the closet today and ripped that left side right off the sheet rock…one step forward, one step back on home improvements. Gotta love kids! Anyway, those locks are fabulous for cupboards, but not the best on sheet rock.

I took out the shelves just to find that I’d be honing my dry-wall patching skills…good thing I know how to do that since I now have a new place to patch.
I first sanded it smooth, applied joint compound, and then sanded it with my orbital sander. That is my secret to professional level patching.
Prepped it for paint by taping it off. I had a bucket of paint left over from our condo repairs and just used it thinking that it’d be maybe two coats of paint…it ended up being more like five coats…grrr! So time consuming! Plus, I was painting parts of the closet that were neglected by the builder so that sheet-rock was soaking it right up.
The closet was super closed in so I used a little fan to shoot me some fresh air. Even though the windows were open, there was no air flow in there.
On the shelves I wanted to store baskets to contain my canning supplies. Where they are currently kept means that the kids are continually rifling through them and making a huge mess. So I bought some cute baskets, I found at The Container Store, and they did the trick. I’m showing you this so that you’re not confused about random baskets later on. We had to fill them to see how far apart to space the shelves.
I had to have room for my pressure cooker! There wasn’t room for my water bath canner/stock pot right next to it, so I was sneaky and put it inside the pressure cooker, inside the box. Booyah! That saved a ton of space and now the girls aren’t dragging that stock pot out of the main pantry anymore.
I wanted to do floating shelves, so the support boards are quite thin, but solid wood for strength.
I decided that putting the bottom part of the floating shelves on only needed to happen from eye level up, so I painted the bottom shelf supports white on the off chance that someone was laying down in the bottom of my pantry looking up…lol!
Next was to assemble the shelves. This was accomplished by using melamine for the top, a thin piece of white for the bottom, and then moulding to the front. I used moulding to serve two purposes, the first was to make the fronts of the floating shelves look pretty, but I also wanted to have a bit of a lip on the top part to make the shelves a bit earthquake-proof. We’ve lived out here for about twenty months and have already had two little earthquakes…so I figure it’s just a matter of time before we have one a little bit more worrisome. I used both wood glue and finishing nails to attach the fronts.
As an extra strength/precaution I glued the shelves down to the supports and I improvised and used full jars as clamps. It just needed a bit of weight for a strong bond.
The bottom thin boards were attached with a staple gun, though I tried and tried to use finishing nails but it was way too hard to hold the board up while operating a hammer and holding a nail at the same time. I even tried holding it up with my head…boy do I need a finishing gun… it’s on my wish list!
Any gaps were filled with caulk. And wiped with a damp rag to get a super smooth edge.
Since the closet and closet door were so thin, we had to get the melamine cut quite a bit thinner than we would have liked just so that we could maneuver it into place. This left gaps that were a bit bigger than was manageable with just caulk, so I went ghetto style and used some thick twine to shove down in the gaps so that the caulk wouldn’t sink down. It was ugly at first but looks great now. Can you believe I found this giant thing of thick twine at the DI for a buck? Best dollar spent EVER!
Anyway, after I finished caulking and waiting for it to set, I painted everything but the part of the melamine where the jars would be sitting.
It was really coming together. Sorry for the bad lighting in some of these pictures. This project took me so long to do that I had to work on it at night many times.