I knew when we moved into my grandparent’s old home that there will be so many areas of the house that was put together quickly just to get a room up and not square at all. They had 13 kids and with every child, a new room was built. That was the process back in the day, at least for my grandparents anyway.
If you own or have ever owned an old home, you know that the closets are usually on the small side. We needed a small closet makeover on a budget. In order to find a solution to our closet dilemma, we had to get creative and gather ideas on how to organize the closet and design it with enough storage for both myself and my husband to use comfortably.
We have lived here for around 15 years and life just got in the way so we never had enough time to remodel. We still don’t but we are tackling it, one room at a time!
The first room we remodeled was the living room. I didn’t think it was a very big room until we laid the porcelain tile! Let’s just say that I now have new respect for the people that do that for a living!! It really was back breaking work.
But I do love how it turned out and I was ready to get started on our next project.
Small Closet Makeover on a Budget
I really wanted to take my closet to the bare bones and turn it into a laundry room. But, in order to do that, we had to share a closet in our bedroom and renovate that to make it work for both of us.
So the next room to remodel actually chose us.
Getting the closet ready and cleaned for the makeover
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The room was completely cleared of everything, including the dust bunnies!
With a clean slate to work with, we were ready for the makeover.
Demo day for the closet makeover
After everything was cleared out of the small closet, we started tearing out that half wall that was covering the other half of the closet.
Another thing that you should know about our bedroom is that it is covered from floor to ceiling with faux wood paneling! Yes, it is very ugly but we were scared to see what was behind it!
In order to rip out the wall, we first had to remove the ugly paneling and I think in that moment, I heard angels singing!! Behind that really ugly paneling was the most beautiful tongue and groove boards. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Of course the wall still had to go but we managed to save all of the boards that were on it to use for a later project.
Now the wall is down and everything was opened up beautifully. After seeing what was behind the half wall, I was eager to tear out all of the paneling in the closet.
What I found behind that paneling was an even bigger surprise than the tongue and groove boards. We uncovered a window! It was actually a hole where the window was but I had no idea that it was there.
The hole is currently facing a wall that leads to the bathroom but I’m pretty sure that was part of a kitchen or something and the bathroom wasn’t there. So now I had the dilemma of figuring out what to do with a big hole that is now in the closet wall right in the middle of the beautiful tongue and groove boards.
You just never know what you’ll uncover with an old farmhouse makeover.
Adding a window frame
Carson’s original thought was to cover everything with cedar boards to completely cover the hole where the window had been. That would have looked really pretty and smelled nice but I was determined to keep the tongue and groove boards front and center.
So I came up with a plan that would allow us to actually use the space where there was a hole.
I asked Carson if he could build a frame to go around the window (I already knew he could, of course 😁) and we would use it to hang our belts, scarves, suspenders and things like that behind the clothes.
He actually was thinking about that plan as well so he already had the idea to build a frame attached to boards that we could screw into the wall and make it look like we meant for it to be there.
To make the frame, he nailed together 8 boards and used some of the leftover tongue and groove boards to make the back of the frame. It turned out so nice!
Painting the closet
We used this beautiful white paint from Lowes with our spray gun to paint the whole closet and the frame. Because our bed was next to the closet, we bought a plastic sheet and taped it to the ceiling and floor to build a “wall” so we wouldn’t get overspray all over the room.
It worked pretty good but we still had a couple of places that were painted accidentally even though we weren’t ready for them. Eventually every bit of paneling will come down and all the room will be painted but that will have to be saved for another day.
I chose to paint all of the closet a bright white because I knew that it would contrast nicely with the dark stain and the other items that we will add to the closet.
Adding a few hooks to hang items
Because of our love of rustic, vintage items, I wanted to use unconventional hooks for the window. After digging around our house, I ran across our stash of wooden shoe lasts. I thought they would make the perfect hook for belts!
We also added some shoe lasts with hooks to the sides of the closet to hang bulky items like coats.
After the shoe lasts were secure to the wall, we started working on the floor.
Sand and Stain the floor
The first thing that we did to the floor was sand it with the belt sander. It took a lot of elbow grease because it had some kind of stain or varnish or something previously applied to it.
Finally, that was completely sanded with the belt sander. I started sanding with 80 grit sandpaper using a disc sander until it was all sanded, then switched to 120 grit and finally 220 grit.
After the floor was smooth, it was time to stain and polyethylene.
A pre-stain conditioner was applied to the whole floor. It is supposed to help even out the stains absorption into soft woods.
I would suggest to start light with the stain because you can always go darker if you don’t like it. I used this stain for ours. The walls were painted white so I knew that I wanted a dark stain.
I used a PolyShade stain because it covers imperfections better and gives it the rustic farmhouse look that I was going for. PolyShade is a polyurethane and stain all in one. The difference with that is that you apply it and allow it to dry. You won’t wipe it off like a regular stain.
The stain was applied and allowed to dry for a few days before varnishing.
The PolyShade was all in one but I still wanted to cover the floor with 3 additional coats of real polyurethane. I wanted the coverage to last without getting wear patterns after a few years.
It turned out so gorgeous!! I say this about every part that we work on, but that was definitely my favorite part of the closet!
Pipes to hang the clothes
We were thinking of several ways to hang the clothes. Our first thought was to just hang the pipe that was previously there and be done with it. But at the time we thought of that, we didn’t know about the window that was hidden.
So another thought was to hang pipes from the ceiling on both sides of the frame. I thought this was a perfect suggestion by my husband so we researched what we needed and got everything together.
This step was actually the most expensive part of our makeover. The pipes that we purchased from Lowe’s were around $150.
That was actually pretty good considering that we ripped out a closet and started fresh!
The pipes we used were 3/4 inch. They are sturdy enough to handle the weight of the clothes but small enough for any hanger to slide easily.
First, we made a rough drawing on paper to show how we wanted to hang the pipes with measurements for how low they needed to be.
We measured the length of our longest shirt and pants to see how far the pipes needed to be apart from each other with enough room for everything.
After careful measurements, we cut the pipes to size and used a pipe threader to on each side. I have to admit that Carson is so much better with measurements than I am so I let him take the lead on this project.
He attached the pipes together using elbows and pipe fittings and the results turned out better than I expected! It looks industrial/vintage all at the same time.
Lowe’s didn’t have all of the sizes that we needed in the black color so we bought a mixture of galvanized and black and I spray painted everything using my favorite hammered black spray paint.
Eventually, we might have to do some touch ups because of the sliding of hangers across the pipes but it has held up remarkably well after a month of use.
Pipes for the Closet Curtains
While we were knee deep in pipes and fittings, we decided to hang the pipe for the curtains. Because we were trying to be budget friendly, we used the pipe that was originally in the closet to hang clothes.
The original pipe was 1 inch and galvanized. I spray painted it with the same hammered black spray paint as the pipes inside the closet so everything would match.
The pipe may be changed to a smaller one later because it’s not that easy to open and close the curtains but it’ll work for now.
The lighting in the closet was horrible. It was on ceiling to the side and we had to reach up to the ceiling to turn off the light. This was not ideal for a short person, namely me. I could reach it on my tiptoes but it was definitely a pain to reach every night.
Our solution was to change the placement of the light and add a switch to the side of the wall.
The light fixture that we used was an old industrial light that we found at a flea market. It wasn’t expensive but I think that it’s the best part of the makeover! It’s unique but gives out all of the light that we need.
My husband rerouted the wiring and added the light switch to the side of the wall.
The fixture was a dull silver color but I cleaned it up and painted it with, you guessed it, the same hammered black spray paint. What can I say, I wanted everything to be coordinated and I really wanted to use up all of that spray paint. I didn’t know when I would use it next time and I didn’t want it to be dried up.
I love the globe and the cage around this light fixture. It was definitely perfect for this closet.
Storage for the Small Closet Makeover
Storage was a big issue for us in our old farmhouse but we didn’t want to pay for expensive shelves from the store so we made it ourselves.
I wanted something that can store the square cubes so everything can be stored away neatly without being seen.
The original closet had a long shelf made of pine wood that was around 8 feet long and 1 foot wide. We just cut up this board to make the shelf.
The trick to make projects like these so budget friendly is to use everything that you have. Nothing goes to waste so there is not much to purchase. It just takes some elbow grease to make things good as new.
If you don’t have a handy person like my husband around, there are a ton of YouTube videos that will show you how to make any kind of shelf that you want.
After the shelf was built, I painted it white to match the walls and added some cute cubes to store things. My husband is using his for his shorts and night clothes and I’m using mine for camera gear. It works out perfect for both of us!
I decided to decorate the cubes with my beloved Silhouette Cameo to add something extra to the space.
Accessories for the Small Closet Makeover
We wanted to keep this small closet makeover uncluttered and simple so we just added a couple of accessories.
The first thing we purchased was this galvanized metal LOVE sign and painted it with the hammered black spray paint. The sign was perfect in the space and every time we look at it, we can see the beautiful hand carved wood behind it.
Another thing we added was not inside the closet but just outside of it on a wall that was very bare. I’m going to change up the area soon with another sign but I love my clock! We made it using a piece of burl wood that we cut up with our sawmill. I love how you can see all of the swirls and imperfections. It turned out gorgeous!!
We picked up four linen pieces from the flea market and I made small pillows to place on the storage shelf. These were for decorative use only but I like to incorporate a mixture of old and new pieces in our home.
Bonus is that linens from the thrift stores are very budget friendly and even a novice seamstress like myself can make cheap and easy pillows with them.
Another fun item we added was the jewelry and scarf display that will be hidden behind my clothes. It’s perfect for organizing accessories in a small space. You can read more about how I made it in this post.
The Finished Closet!
Finally, after a very long time, our small closet makeover on a budget is done!!
I am absolutely in love with this space and can’t wait to tackle our next project, the laundry room.
In the meantime, let me know in the comments below what you think about our small closet makeover on a budget.
Do you have any questions about how we did something or is there anything that you would change about it?