The Library Closet – Before & After

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Sometimes the small jobs take much more time than we think they will. Such was the case of the library closet. That said, these little organizational projects often make the greatest impact in our house because finally, everyone knows where items go, and they put them away.

The objectives for this closet project were as follows:

  1. Remove everything that does not belong in the library closet
  2. Save it, toss it, give it away
  3. Fix the cracks in the plaster
  4. Paint the closet
  5. Hang shelves
  6. Return only library items to the closet


A few months after we moved into BHH, we were all anxious to get the boxes unpacked. As a result of that impatience, we began stuffing things into the library closet as a way to get them out of sight and out of mind. Initially, it was not too bad, but as time went on, getting anything out of the closet was like playing a game of Jenga. Soon enough, the library closet became a catch-all, and it was no longer functional.

Want to play a board game? No? I don’t either.

Prep, Primer, and Paint

First, I removed all of the hooks, nails and the additional shelf.

There were superficial cracks in the plaster. I took the easy way out and simply skim-coated them all with wall patch. I also patched the nail holes and smoothed a thin line of caulk on all of the corners, baseboards, and trim.

Most of the trim in our house is painted with oil-based paint. If you put latex paint over oil-based paint without the proper primer, the latex paint will simply chip or flake off. This scenario is playing out in BHH, especially on the staircase and around the front door. We think that before putting BHH on the market, the executors paid to have a someone come in and put a fresh coat of paint throughout the foyer. Unfortunately, they did not do proper prep, and that paint job is failing after just three years. It is going to be a real bear to fix too. I am trying not to think about it.

Oil-based paint and primer is a pain to use. It dries slowly, and it does not move smoothly from the brush to the surface the way latex paint does. Since the closet is small, I decided to try something new when I painted the trim. I used the spray-on version of my favorite KILZ Odorless oil-based primer.

It was definitely faster and more precise using the spray-on version of the primer, but it was also cost-prohibitive. Each can of primer costs around $6, and it took three full cans for the trim and ceiling. If I had used a brush, it would have cost around $6 total. Also, this is an aerosol product, and because of the environmental impact of aerosols, I cannot in good conscience, use it on a regular basis.

This experiment did give me something to think about for future projects. Because the spray cans were easier to use than a brush, putting the oil-based primer in a regular paint sprayer might be the way to go. I am filing that idea away for later.

I used regular Kilz latex primer on the walls and topped everything with a fresh coat of Citilite by Sherwin Williams. (Note: Citilite does not seem to exist on the internet. I have no idea why not. If you like this color, I would be happy to post the formula. Lowe’s displays the paint chip, and the color is not discontinued nor has the name changed. Citilite is a bright white with just a touch of yellow to cut down on the harshness of pure white.)

The Finished Closet

After I had painted, Andy and I installed some basic shelving on both sides of the closet. We also put the original top shelf back into place. This simple track shelving is my favorite. It is durable, easy to install, and very adjustable which is perfect for closets. We also used it for the built-in bookshelf in our son’s room.

Now, when we open the door, the closet looks almost empty.

There is room for a small cart or a narrow set of shelves if we ever need more storage.

The board games are easy to reach.

Across the top, I added bins of items that we use infrequently, but they still belong in library closet.

We could utilize the vertical space more efficiently, but right now it is not necessary.

On the left, I placed our subscription kits (Tinkercrate on the top and Magic School Bus Science on the bottom left) as well as some additional educational and craft supplies.  I hung the meter stick and the yardstick from a small cup hook. (Are we the only people who use a meter stick and a yardstick regularly?)

As I have mentioned before, my son and I are part time Origami teachers. We start co-teaching a block of classes next week. The middle shelf is perfect for origami models and paper. Everything we need is right at our fingertips.

The small black bag on the hook is my classroom bag.

The bins of Lego set on the floor, underneath the shelves on both sides.

Now, everything has a place. It is easy to reach and simple to put away. No more closet Jenga. That feels so good. It is possible that I love organized closets more than the average person. I have never done an official poll.

Note: We could have configured this closet in a completely different way to utilize the center more efficiently. I chose to do it this way for three reasons. First, I wanted to avoid “black hole” corners as much as possible. I find that too many things get lost in the dark recesses of disorganized spaces. Second, keeping the storage at a minimum encourages us to keep our belongings pared down to a reasonable amount. I have a minimalist heart. Third, I try not to alter the original footprint of BHH as much as possible. While I cannot imagine our library being used as a bedroom someday, it is not out of the question. Since we configured it this way, the library closet could easily function as a bedroom closet with very little alteration.

Our Favorite Board Games

Clearly, we have a deep and abiding love for board games here at BHH. I routinely sort through our game selection and purge games that we no longer play or that we have outgrown. Some of the games are so beloved that they always make the cut.

Just for fun, I asked two of the kids to tell me their top five board games.

M . (Age 10)

  1. Clue  (a classic)
  2. Exploding Kittens (Not nearly as violent as it sounds. It was designed by Matthew Inman, creator of  The Oatmeal.
  3. LineUp (This game always makes me feel like I am in the beginning stages of dementia.)
  4. Presto Change-O (A quick Google search shows that this is available for a lower price from other sources. However, it is a discontinued product.)
  5. Telestrations (hilarious family fun)

S. (age 16)

  1. Don’t Break the Ice (I love that he is 16, and this is still a favorite. The nostalgia is strong with this kid.)
  2. Apples to Apples (We have the Jr. Version.)
  3. Munchkin (Be advised: This game is more complicated and requires a more mature audience.)
  4. Clue
  5. Pick Up Sticks (another classic!)

Do you like to play board games at your house? What are some of your family favorites? Also, do you organize your closets or toss everything in and hope for the best?

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