In case you missed our plan for Slav’s office, you can find it here. The office will get a new opening, and the existing door and the closet opening will be covered to make room for built-in library shelves. Last weekend, we kicked off the renovation by reversing the office closet to face the bedroom.

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Demoing the new opening would have been way more satisfying, but we decided to work on the wall of build-ins first. There is a very good reason for this – and a very practical one – we do not have room:

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Yep, this pile of books is sitting right against the office-living room wall, and we have to move them somewhere before we could work on the new opening. As a household that tries to practice minimalism, books and vinyl records are exceptions.

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This is a picture from our moving day, and all the boxes are books. Soon after we moved in, these books were transported into the office and neatly stacked in the corner. Over the last seven months, these boxes functioned a dumping ground for coats, electronics, half-done projects… anything and everything we did not know where to store.

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The other end of the room is not much better. Once clean and sleek, Slav’s desk has changed from this:

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to this:

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As you can see, before we could work on the new opening and desk, we have to give the books and all the electronics a place to go. The best we can do is to get the library shelves up first so we do not need to move all the books twice.

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Had the decision been made, we started by taking the closet door off. I pried off the trims carefully, and found that the door jamb is attached to the framing lumber using blocks and shims:

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After taking the trims inside off, I was surprised to see how big the gaps were between the door jamb and framing. Is it normal to have so much a big gap only covered by trims? Or is this because the original opening was intended to be larger?

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I removed the door jamb off and unscrewed the top track for the sliding doors. Taking the top track off revealed the header, a pair of 2x4s joined together by small shims.

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For a brief moment, the closet actually looked better. I guess it is because of the clean lines around the framing. Maybe instead of reuse the old trims, morden trim is the way to go?

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The next step was to remove the drywall, which will open the closet to the bedroom behind. We took everything out of the closet including the shelf first:

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Things had to get worse before getting better:

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Slav cut into the drywall using a sawzall. Do not ask me why we have a sawzall. I had no idea.

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It was pretty easy to remove the office side of the drywall. On the bedroom side, we wanted to only cut away the desired opening. While Slav was working on the demo on the office side, I traced the opening on the bedroom side, using old trim pieces as a template:

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This opening is symmetrical to the existing closet in the bedroom. With my pencil lines as a guide, Slav went to town with the drywall demo:

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Thing went pretty fast at this point. Within minutes, the two rooms were connected:

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We kept the windows open during demo and had nice breeze through the two rooms. It was so tempting to keep them connected! The apartments I grew up in China always has windows on both southern and northern side of the building facing each other for cross breeze. I’ve not seen much of similar design in the States.

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But we knew that we desperately need closet space and book storage, so the work continued. The next step is to frame the closet. As you can see, the closet wall was framed with studs 16″ apart, sitting on a bottom plate.

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It was pretty cool to see pencil lines from decades ago indicating where the studs needed to go:

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Slav cut away the studs flash with the bottom plate and top plate, then freed the bottom plate using a pry bar:

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As we predicted, there is no wood flooring below the bottom plate. It was sitting directly on the sub-floor. Fortunately, we have the most standard oak flooring that can be found from any big box store, so patching the floor will not be costly or difficult.

To frame the office side, we simply transferred the bottom plate and studs over  a couple feet to align with the office wall. The studs had to be cut down to fit the old closet opening of course, but in general this step was very straightforward.

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We attached the bottom plate to the side studs, and the vertical studs to the bottom plate and old header. We kept the outlet on the bedroom wall so we can use it in the closet down the road:

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The next step was to frame the closet opening on the bedroom side. The rough opening could use some reinforcement so they would not be floating over empty space, and we need something to attach the door jamb to. We started by building a strong header mimicking the header design on the office side, using leftover lumber from the headboard project.

Someone was excited to put in the new header, I guess.

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After the header was installed, we added two more 2″x4″ studs on each side of the closet opening. The door jamb can be attached to them later.

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This was first time any of us did any framing. It was intimating to think about, but once we started, it was very straightforward with some common sense. We were pretty happy with our new(ly reversed) closet.

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This is what the closets currently look like from the bedroom side. We can finally get dressed without walking back and forth between two rooms. The next step is to drywall, then we can start assembling all the Billy bookshelves. Cannot wait!

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