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Inside the "Secret Closet"

Once we had an arched doorway and the closet door finished, we moved on to the inside of the closet.

For me, personally, the biggest design challenge of the whole project was to come up with a closet design that would help us utilize the given closet space to its fullest. The closet space is located on top of the basement stairway and thus has a slanted floor. The floor is so slanted and long that it's impossible to reach either back of the closet or use the top area.

Initially, when we moved into the house, the closet only had a one-rod hanging in the front, which we used as out-of-season clothing storage. After some time, I got fed up with limited space and asked my husband to add some basic steps and shelves at the back. So, this is how we ended up with the stairs in the closet (I get why stairs in the closet question a lot...).

The temporary setup solved the storage shortage issue and added area for my ever-growing shoe collection (COVID wasn't a thing back then... ), however, it wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing setup. It looked so messy that, it would make me anxious every time I opened the door. So, when I decided to redo the closet, making it visually appealing was as important as functionality.

Once I and my husband agreed on the design, the building process started. Here is a step-by-step guide to how we transformed inside of the closet.

Inside Secret Closet before the renovations
Inside Secret Closet - BEFORE

Step 1 \\ Demo & Building The New Base

First, we took down the old "DIY" stairs and shelves and patched everything. Then we moved on to building the new stairs. Unfortunately, there is no way to reach the back wall of the closet without stairs, so we had to build new ones. This time we went with professionally done, good-looking ones.

To build new stairs, first, we took 2x10s and cut out stair stingers, and using a mix of nailgun and screws, attached them to the slanted floor.

Inside "Secret Closet" - building the new stairs

Step 2 \\ Attach plywood & Prep

Once the stingers were secured, we started attaching the pieces of plywood to the front and the top, using the nail gun. Then filled the holes with the wood putty, waited for a day, sanded everything down using a 120 grit sanding pad first, and then smoothed everything out with 220-grit.

Tip: When using the wood filler, make sure you overfill the hole a bit and leave it for at least 12 hours to dry. When the filler dries, it shrinks and it's much easier to sand a little off rather than fill it again and wait for another day to dry.

Step 3 \\ Veneer The Plywood Edges

When using plywood with the exposed edge, you can go in 3 different directions. You can either fill the edges with the wood putty, add a piece of 1x2 to the edge or buy a veneer and iron it on. For this project, I wanted a smooth edge, so I went with the ironed veneer. If you are dealing with a high-traffic area, I would recommend using 1x2s.

As we used 3/4 plywood for this project, I ordered a 3/4 plywood border veneer (it comes in all sizes) and ironed it to the edges, onto the exposed part of the plywood.

Ironing on the veneer on the exposed edge of the plywood
Ironing on the veneer on the exposed edge of the plywood

Stairs with veneer edge
Stairs with veneer edge

Step 4 \\ Prep for Paint:

Then sanded everything down once again using 220 grit sandpaper. After evening everything out, I vacuumed all the dust and cleaned off everything using the microfiber cloth. Then added a coat of primer. After the primer dried, I sanded everything one more time with 220. I highly recommend waiting for at least 24 hours between applying the primer and sanding it.

Primed stairs
Primed stairs

Step 5 \\ Adding the Wallpaper

Once the stairs were ready for the paint we moved on to the wallpaper. I have been loving the wallpaper inside the closet trend for some time now and this closet was a perfect spot for the experiment. Although I wanted to put up the wallpaper, I had to find something that wouldn't be overpowering and blend smoothly with the doors' transitional style and greenish-gray color scheme. After going through multiple wallpaper websites and samples, I settled on the wallpaper that had a linen texture print background and gray stripes.

Some of my Favorite Wallpapers:

However, one of the most important attributes before I made the final decision, was the ability to easily remove it, down the road. Traditional wallpapers are hard to remove and leave a residue that requires refinishing the wall. The wallpaper that I chose has water-activated glue that is easily removable. To be honest I haven't tried removing it to see the residue that it leaves, however, I can tell you that it's not peel and stick type either. I will update you in a few years if I decide to take it down.

It took quite some time for the wallpaper to arrive, due to the COVID supply chain issues, but after a 2-month wait, it finally arrived and we were able to start the process.

We have never put up wallpaper before and learned a few things about the process as we went. When putting up the water-activated wallpaper the wall should be perfectly even and dry and water should be sprayed only on the paper. Initially, I was afraid to spray a lot of water so I spritzed here and there but I realized that the adhesive needs larger amounts of water to stick to the walls. For the first panel, I tried measuring, cutting, and installing it but later learned it was much easier to cut as I went.

Step 6 \\ Add Shelves:

Once the wallpaper was done, we added 2 large shelves to the wall at the back of the closet. We made the base of the shelf from 3/4 plywood and attached 1x2 pieces of pine to the front using the nailgun. Filled the holes, sanded, and primed.

Step 7 \\ Paint the Stairs:

Finally, I painted. both shelves and stairs are in the same color as the closet door (Nantucket Gray by Benjamin Moore).

Step 8 \\Finishing Touches:

We got small flush mount ceiling light and mounted it to the ceiling. We don't have electric wiring inside the closet and didn't want to spend much money on hiring the electrician either, so we decided to substitute the normal light bulb with the battery-powered one that is operated by a little remote.

Some of my Favorite Small Flush Mount Lights:

Inside the"Secret Closet"
Inside the"Secret Closet"

Items in the Picture:

Materials Used:

Sandpaper (120 grit; 220 grit)

3/4 border plywood veneer

Tools Used:


Mariam K.jpg


Welcome to my creative corner where my passion for home design and DIY projects meets inspiration and practical tips. Join me on this journey of turning houses into homes, one room at a time.


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