Anthony and Renee Nyugen have a growing family with four children ranging from one to eleven years-old. Anthony works from home and even in a four-bedroom house, finding space for a home office is difficult with all those little people.
So Anthony has his desk tucked in a corner of the walk-in closet for the Master Suite. The closet has plenty of space but offers the bare minimum to organize their clothes and Anthony’s “Cl-office” is tiny, cramped and the only view is the clothes hanging around the desk.
Since the left side of the closet is an exterior wall for the house, the plan is to make the right side of the space a more efficient closet area and the left side a dedicated office with a small window to add natural light.
Cleaning out and laying out
The first step is removing the items stored in the closet. All of the couple’s clothes are stored on a single, inefficient level of wire shelving that runs around the perimeter of the room. So we’re removing that entirely to make way for new, efficient storage.
Next we’ll layout the location for the window and the new custom closet shelving. The window opening will be slightly larger than the window itself to allow us to install a “header” above it.
Cutting into the wall
We start by removing the drywall and cutting off the studs in the window space. The header will support the load that was being carried by the studs which were cut off.
Tip: Cut slowly through drywall to avoid nicking plumbing or electrical lines. We find one of each running through this wall, but thankfully both are flexible enough that they can be re-routed out of our way.
With the opening established inside we begin cutting through the outside wall: First through the wood sheathing, then through the brick veneer. The new window is secured to the wood framing and the bricks are re-laid tightly around it.
Building the closet
The new closet space will consist of two corner shelving units and a shoe rack with hanging rods running between them. The corner units are made up of “L” shaped shelves spaced at sixteen inch intervals between vertical one-by-twelves. The shoe rack is simply a twenty inch wide bookshelf with shelves spaced at seven inch intervals.
Tip: Don’t sand off the excess joint compound used to patch the holes from the old shelves. Use a damp sponge to dissolve it. This preserves the wall texture so there isn’t a “flat” spot in the paint.
Once the three big elements are in place, they are joined at the top with a continuous horizontal shelf on the three walls of the closet side of the space.
After the woodwork is painted, the closet rods can be attached between the corner units and the shoe rack. These spaces get two rods each, at forty-two and eighty inches off the floor. The third wall gets a single rod at eighty inches, to accommodate longer hanging items.
Building the office
On either side of the new window we’re installing three floating shelves. These each start with a one inch by one-and-a-half inch deep cleat attached to the walls in each corner. The shelves themselves are just plywood boxes with a one inch void in the middle on two sides. This allows them to simply slide over the cleat and be secured with a few nails.
To make the desk top we’re using a larger piece of plywood with a one-by-two edge band. Tip: Use an adhesive, like Titebond Original Wood Glue, in addition to nails to secure the edge banding. Both the floating shelves and the desk are stained and sealed with polyurethane.
Anthony and Renee’s closet was spacious, inefficient. Both as a closet and as an office. one big compromise. As a closet it was pretty basic and inefficient. By making the closet area more efficient, we could dedicate more space to the office.
By using white painted shelving in the closet area and warm wood tones in the office area, we created two separate rooms in one space. The addition of the window improves the lighting for both areas and makes the whole space seem more like something to be enjoyed… than endured.