A Closet Makeover

February 3, 2011

Greetings!  Welcome to any of you stopping by for a visit after my brief appearance on The Nate Berkus Show today !  You can read about my trip to the studio here.  To learn a bit more about me, visit my About Page, and if you want to catch a glimpse of some of the projects I’ve worked on over the past two years, browse my Project Gallery!   You can see all of the rooms in our home here as well. 

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My friends, after all that traveling in January, I returned home to realize my personal closet was a complete disaster.  Absolute chaos is no exaggeration.  I couldn’t see the floor, and anytime I moved something, I could see particles of dust floating through the air.  The time had come to end the madness, I needed to purge!  Shoes, clothes and anything else that was dated, damaged, or never worn at all went out the door.  

I found things in my closet I’m embarrassed to mention.  Things that haven’t been worn by any member of this household in years.   I’m talkin’ pantyhose, swim diapers, flared trousers, and *ashamed to admit* post pregnancy velvet lounge pants. 

By Saturday afternoon the closet was empty, the dust bunnies were gone, and I had rid myself of any embarrassing bad fashion.  Then I looked at those walls, and got a crazy (but typical!) idea.  I decided I was tired of the brown shelving and wanted to paint them gray.  Oh, and I also wanted the hint of perfect peony pink on the walls.  Completely and totally girl.

The Mister then told me I was crazy. 

So then I reminded him that he had his own closet with brown laminate shelving off our bedroom and he could keep his brown shelves, fondle them, caress them and sing sweet love songs to them.  As for me and my closet, we were going girly glam all the way. 

Here is the perfectly fine and totally acceptable space, and I’m sure that many of you will agree with my Mister, it’s a very nice spacious closet. 

closet before


I envisioned something completely feminine, more like a boutique!  So I painted the shelves and the walls, switched out the chandelier, and refinished the jewelry chest too.  Then I put only half my clothes back inside and I think I’ll just live that way forever.


cg kates closet after


Originally, I thought about this pink and gold wallpaper on the walls, but after considering the cost and the extensive and precise trimming required to install around all that shelving, plus the fact that I’d have to wait for a swatch then order and wait and wait and wait for the wallpaper to arrive while all my clothing was strewn everywhere, I took the simple route and opted for paint instead.  Off I went to Benjamin Moore.



I chose ‘Mellow Pink’ for the walls, and ‘Pewter’ for the shelving, plus I added a clematis stencil in champagne and silver metallic paint, and scattered the whimsical stems around the space. 

cg closet shelves after


I’ve painted laminate before, and like I mentioned here and here, the trick is to use the right primer.  Oil based Zinsser has always worked for me, and it’s one of my paint closet essentials, so that’s how I covered up the brown laminate.

priming closet


I use a foam roller for the easiest and quickest application.  Don’t worry about perfection, just even coverage, and it’s OK to see traces of the color of the laminate underneath. 



Once the primer was dry, I cracked open one of BM’s perfect grays called ‘Pewter’.  Do you use the nail trick?  Puncturing a few holes in the rim helps drain your paint so it doesn’t collect in the lid.  When you go to close your paint up, it makes for a cleaner seal!

nail in rim


I also added 1 part metallic silver to 3 parts ‘Pewter’ to give the gray a subtle shimmer and sheen.  You can only see it up close, but it’s oh so purtay !

mixing paint


Remember when I found that free chandy for my kitchen at Habitat for Humanity Restore?  I also happened to pick this one up too.  A quick coat of white spray paint and a ceiling medallion adds a bit more glam to this closet space. 

white chandy


This jewelry chest I’ve had for over ten years, it’s originally from the Bombay Company but I wanted a fresh look, so I painted it!  I’ll show you how I did it next week.

jewelry chest before and after


So that’s the quick tour of this new and improved space !

cg stencil tray


cg closet


I think I’ll add that extra shelf eventually (where the stencil is) but for now, I’m so loving this bright and pretty space where I store my clothes ! 



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243 Responses to “A Closet Makeover”

  1. Holy! Are you serious!? That’s GORGEOUS! I’d send you to MTV Cribs next, if that was still on, because that is the closet of a celebrity! I can only dream of having a closet this lovely. Ahh, someday. My closet is not a walk-in, but I want to open out the door, so I at least can see the stuff!

    Phenomenal job. Very inspiring.

  2. K says:

    You never cease to inspire, teach (thanks for the paint can tip!) and impress.

  3. Cindy says:

    Sooo beautiful! And I’ll watch you on DVR later today! :)

  4. BEAUTIFUL! Every girl’s closet dream! I love how you added a hint of metallic shimmer to the paint!

    Unfortunately, I forgot to set my DVR to record the show today. However, The Nate Berkus Show knows what’s up and posted your segment on their website, so I’m going to watch it after posting this.

  5. Liz says:

    Are you serious that that’s the same closet? It looks AMAZING. I’m jealous, and maybe inspired!

  6. WOW, I haven’t even unpacked my suitcase yet from Blissdom and you did a complete closet makeover (and made a birdhouse and removed your tile)? Sigh. You are amazing. I think I’ll go eat a tub of ice cream right now to console myself.

    Your closet is amazing!!!!!!

  7. Just gorgeous. And it’s the sign of true style, to make the hidden spaces in a home as beautiful as the ones always on show!

  8. Becca says:

    Beautiful. I wish I had a closet big enough to do something spectacular like this. Maybe one day! In the mean time I will just dream about it!

  9. Alicia says:

    This. Is. Fabulous!! If that were my closet, I would just camp out in there. You did an amazing job.

  10. angela says:

    The most amazing closet ever. I want it.

  11. Suze says:

    That closet looks beautiful! The chandelier looks great… what about dressing it up with some clear or aqua glass bead strands? Would be very glam in that gorgeous closet!

  12. wow. that is beautiful. after your post and jen’s from “made by girl”, i am sooo inspired to re-do my closet!!! great job. it looks fabulous!

  13. Alice A says:

    You. Are. Incredibly. Amazing. !!!
    I’ve decided its the climate there… or your law degree…. or that you have a Napoleonic complex… ( the need to lead) … or maybe it’s just your extreme good looks and your DNA!!!!!!!! whatever it is…. YOU”VE GOT IT GIRL!
    I’m with Melissa… I think I’ll just go eat…( but not ice cream… we’ve got ice everywhere here, and I’m too cold for the first time in my life to think about ice cream…. maybe a chili dog!)

    Just one question? DO you EVAH get tired of smelling paint drying?

    LOVE you, C.G….. now i’m off to see you on Nate…

    p.s.When are you getting your own show? It would win the ratings game in a landslide!

  14. Minerva says:

    Beautifull!!! Love the wood colour!!!

  15. MG Atwood says:

    So fun seeing you on Nate! You rocked it! Here’s to many more perks for you.

  16. Claudia says:

    It looks amazing!

  17. MG Atwood says:

    So fun seeing you on Nate! You rocked it! Here’s to many more perks for you. Very photogenic.

  18. MG Atwood says:

    So fun seeing you on Nate. You rocked it! Here’s to more perks to your talented self.

  19. Robyn says:

    I’ve been in the house with 2 kiddos for 3 days now. Every time I go to clean something they are immediately back into it. So this is the perfect project for me. I’m going to clean out my closet! Yours turned out beautifully! You’ve given me the inspiration I’ve needed.

  20. Courtney says:

    Can’t wait to get home to watch TNS! Closet looks fantastic, every girl should have a chandelier in her closet!

  21. Umm, can I move into your closet? Seriously, you turned a functional space into a beautiful & functional space. i bet you smile every time you walk into your closet now. So pretty!

    And what an awesome job you did on Nate! Congrats. You need to be on TV more, sharing your doable DIYs.

  22. ellen says:

    WOW that’s amazing…
    so you must have great answers to your husband’s “so what did you do all day today…?” I only wish that I can say, YEAH REVAMPED MY WHOLE CLOSET! You’re amazing.

    question — I’m thinking of painting the trim and wood encasing around a gas fireplace…special paint for that? do I need to have them remove the fireplace piece?

  23. Sara says:

    Get out! That is one fabulous closet!

  24. Katherine says:

    Wow – simply stunning! What a transformation – doesn’t even look like the same space.

  25. Chelsea says:

    Oh.My. I would seriously die. That is SO gorgeous. I would always want to put my clothes exactly where they go and then I would live in there.

  26. Can you come over and do my closet? Seriously… that’s an amazing transformation Kate.

    I love it!!!
    Great, great job!

  28. Patricia says:

    Just saw the Nate episode with you. Great job.

  29. Cecilia says:

    Just saw you on the Nate Berkus show and ran to your site to check it out…love it! I think I may attempt some of your DIY projects!!

  30. Holly says:

    Kate this is GORGEOUS!! When I first saw your “after” photo, I thought it was an inspiration picture you were using :) What an awesome job – but then, I’ve to expect no less from you!

  31. Absolutely gorgeous!

    I want one this!!!

  32. lesley says:

    Stunning transformation… you really are the Wonder Woman of home makeovers ! :)

  33. Lisa says:

    gorgeous!! when can you come to my house?

  34. Minnesotamom says:

    Gosh, Kate…every time I come here I just want to move in to your house. You serve as a fabulous inspiration for many! Annnnnd…I heard you were on the Nate Berkus show today! Congrats!

  35. Jan says:

    Wow, gorgeous. I’m so jealous.

  36. Kayla says:

    Holy cow! No wait….Holy wow! I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, my closet is a small extra bedroom. It’s amazing to be able to see everything I own, and organize everything. Your closet makeover is so inspired, and just a few changes making such a huge impact! I’m hesitant to go hog wild, as ours will be turned into a Nursery in the next few years….but I think something like a new light fixture, curtains, and some paint could live in there forever!!! Thanks for the inspiration Kate~!

  37. saw you on the nate show today! oh it was fun to watch and you did a great job. how adorable is he is person?

  38. Robyn says:

    I wish we got the Nake Burkus show here in Australia. Everyone is always on about it – it’s juts not fair.

    Anyway, absolutely LOVE your closet makeover! It’s definitely gone from bland to glam. Very interested to know what that is on your jewelry cabinet though. Can’t see properly for the light from the window.

  39. Girl, just saw you on Nate. Great job. Let me know when HGTV calls you for your own show :)

  40. Charlene says:

    I really love your blog. I can’t wait to get home each day to see what you have been up to. Reading your bog has motivated me to get back in the groove. I had a small reupholstering business in Maryland and moved because of my husband’s job. Divorced and moved again. It felt good to climb back in the saddle.

  41. Mary says:

    Wow! I really thought the first finished closet pic was an inspiration photo. How did you do all that in such a short time? Simply amazing…and gorgeous. And the fact that you have room to expand the shoe collection…so jealous!

  42. Stacey says:

    Now I want a girly closet makeover! That is so pretty. I would hide there.

    And you were adorable on Nate! Fun to see you there!

  43. Chrissy says:

    Hi Kate!
    1. Your.Closet.Is.Gorgeous!!! A perfect blend of girly and sophisticated. I’ll have to “staple it to my forehead” for inspiration for when I get around to my own closet overhaul someday!
    2. I just caught your segment on Nate! I was squeeling with delight and cheering for you – anyone who could have seen me would have thought you were my real-life best friend! Congrats, girl!

  44. Jaimie says:

    Our closet is fairly spacious, but it has generic builder shelving in it and so much under-utilized space. I dream of ripping it out and replacing with a shelving system, so I can have all my shoes on display like yours. It looks sooooo dreamy.

  45. Diana says:

    What great inspiration, thank you. I installed a chandelier in my closet last year and I have been dying to paint and install some organizers. This showed me how awesome it can be.

  46. Ashley says:

    Soooo fabulous! Love it!

  47. Jen says:

    Wow, I am so inspired to paint again! I don’t have a closet to do this too, but I know I could probably find something to make over!

    This is just beautiful! Thanks for the eye candy and for getting my wheels spinning. I am extremely envious of your space. And way to go on the purging! :)

    Saw you on Nate today! You were AMAZING!!


  48. Kimberly C. says:

    Look at you! I just saw you on the Nate show! Congrats.

  49. It looks amazing! I love your mirrored tray, so glamorous.

  50. Denise says:


    Awesome job! You should write a book!

  51. Carmel says:

    Seriously beautiful! I love it!

  52. Beautiful!! I love it! So glam and the stencil is amazing!!! Great job!

  53. elz says:

    Love it. What a fun way to get dressed each day!

  54. I’m always so impressed with your transformations! This looks incredible! I love that it’s the perfect mix of glitz and sophistication! Beautiful =)

  55. Alicia says:

    Beautiful as usual! Just saw your Nate Show clip and had to comment how sweet and fabulous you were! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but your spaces never cease to amaze. Keep it up ;)

  56. Jaclyn says:

    I just love your closet! I can’t wait to have a bigger house where I can have my own walk in closet and decorate it! =) I just love what you did! Thanks for the inspiration!

  57. Kelly says:

    I am in absolute AW of your transformations. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, transformations and hints. You are slowly turning me into an “hey, I can do that” decorator!!!

  58. Leone says:

    Wow, what a transformation! Kudos not only on the great idea, but the great execution as well.
    One question: since you’re using an oil based primer do you also have to use oil based paint? I’ve got some laminate shelves that I’m dying to paint so I really appreciate any products/tips to make the process easier.

  59. Leigh says:

    Kate, you always come up with the best ideas. Absolutely love your closet! I don’t think I’d ever leave mine if it looked that good.

  60. Alyssa says:

    I had to check out your Nate Show appearance today and only wish he had time to feature ALL your awesome projects! You rock, Kate. Love you, love your blog, love your fabu projects!

  61. Nancy B says:

    Congratulations Kate. You looked wonderful on the Nate show as did your house. You should be so proud. Glad to have been following you for the past year!

  62. Leone says:

    Okay, I checked out your other post on painting laminate which answered my question (duh). Thanks so much!

  63. Karen says:

    Enjoyed seeing you on Nate’s show, and that closet makeover is fabulous!

  64. Andrea says:

    Lovin this closet makeover! You did a great job on Nate’s show. It was the perfect combination of bubbly and cute, yet sophisticated at the same time. A very difficult feat indeed! I freeze as soon as a camera is in my face =)

  65. Love the closet makeover!

    Is there anything you can do to get rid of the nasty oil paint smell quickly? We primed our baseboards with the same Zinnser product, and the smell was killer. I want to use it again for the trim in another room, but I’m not sure I can handle it!

  66. Allison says:

    Loved you on Nate today, Kate. You did a great job. As I’ve said before I think you need your own show! Your closet is fabulous. So organized, functional and love the glitz and glam look. Perfection!

  67. Kate-

    Thanks for keeping it real and telling us you had the randomness of swim diapers and the like in your closet.

    I am totally going to reference this post when I tackle my own walk-in in the next two months.

    Paring down is amazing, isn’t it? I purged 70% of my wardrobe after baby #2 last fall, and haven’t replaced it yet.

    Something about only really keeping what you truly wear makes more sense.

    Love the makeover!

  68. Beth says:

    Great job today! Nate loved you. I feel like you should be a regular segment. How can we make that happen?

    Also love the closet! Swoon!

  69. Heather says:

    I adore this closet makeover!! It really is a huge change and updates everything in what seems to be a few easy (ish) steps.

  70. Mary says:

    That is absolutely beautiful!

  71. Sarah says:

    I saw you on the Nate show today. You were so cute! How exciting to be on there. Loved it!

    WOW your closet looks amazing. What a makeover! I’m jealous! Love your choice in paint.


  72. karen says:

    Absolutely divine! What a difference! A gorgeous closet is like pretty underwear–no one else sees it but you k wno it’s there!

  73. Jane Little says:

    Beyond gorgeous!

  74. laurie says:

    {sigh!}…..I think I could live in your closet…… lol!

    xoxo laurie

  75. Liesl says:

    That looks incredible! Your posts always make me so inspired!

    I have a question regarding painting laminate (since you mentioned it) :)

    I had a coupon for a couple free Benjamin Moore pint-sized samples and I had the great idea of painting some ugly laminate bookshelves to spruce them up. I knew that primer was key, but then when I mentioned my brilliant idea to the guy at the paint store when picking out my samples, he said the samples wouldn’t work…they’d peel right off, because they have a different composition then paint. If that is true, the samples were free, so I’m not at a loss, but I was so excited about it and want to remain in denial that it might still work :) Wondering if you might have any insight?

  76. sandra says:

    Dang! Can’t believe I missed you on Nate’s show. Oh well… I love you closet. I mean it is really something.

  77. Sandra says:

    Wowza! That is one AWESOME closet. Love what you’ve done with the place girl!

  78. Tonya says:

    OMG!!! GORGEOUS!!! Love it!!!

  79. Ali says:

    This is beautiful!! I covet this space and closet and all its girlishness! Fabulous job!

  80. Kimberly says:

    OMG Kate, your closet looks like a fancy French boutique! It is just perfect in every way. I love the stencil, the shelf color, the chandelier makeover and THAT JEWELRY ARMOIRE! Amazing! Waiting patiently on the post regarding its makeover …


  81. april says:

    Guh-guh-guh GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!! Just beautiful. Can’t wait to see tips on the armoire transformation. I have an lovely old piece me and the Mr. picked up at an antique store in Poughkeepsie a million years ago, and the wood is nice but it needs… *something* Cannot wait to see how you made yours over.

    Brilliant work and a great job on the closet… can I hire you to do mine?? ;)

  82. I watch The Nate Show everyday. What day do I miss it? Today! Boo! :( The kids were home on a snow day and threw me all off. Darn it!

    This is a beautiful closet, you lucky girl!

  83. Chandeen says:

    Your closet look amazing. I have been wanting to do a closet makeover and you have inspired me. Thanks!

  84. Gabriella says:

    I missed you on the Nate show as well. My son was home sick today of all days. Is there any way you can post a clip of it on your blog? I’ve been trying to find it on you tube but can’t seem to make it work. Thank you and I love the closet!

  85. You’re fireproof!
    Good weekend!

  86. What an awesome makeover…I wish this were my closet! Love the glam look and so feminine! Enjoy it!

  87. Ryan says:

    Looks fantastic as usual. Where did you get the stencil?

  88. mypatsyann says:

    I have a Bombay jewelry chest almost exactly like yours. And it’s the same color/has the same hardware. I’ve been staring at it for weeks wondering if anything can be done to it. So I can’t wait for your step-by-step! Most likely I’ll try to (humbly) follow in your footsteps.

  89. I love the updates these are good decor thanks for sharing

  90. The closet is amazing. I hate you. But I love you more. :)

  91. Gorgeous. Really, this closet looks like a beautiful shop. I love how the colors go together.

  92. OMG… Before I scrolled down, I was expecting a regular ol’ closet re-organization. Not nearly as exciting as what you actually did!!

    Husbands don’t get it, do they? That dark wood is so very masculine. What you did is gorgeous.

  93. Heather says:

    I was behind on my blog reading, so I didn’t know you were going to be on the Nate show. What a fun surprise when I sat down with my DVR last night! It was neat seeing rooms on TV that were so familiar after reading your blog for so long. Great job!

    And I love the closet. We just built and I had the builder do something very basic in our closet mostly because I had no clue what I wanted/needed and was overwhelmed by the space (250 sq ft!!). Thanks for the inspiration as we start moving toward a “real” closet.

  94. Aneraida says:

    All I can say is WOWWWW!!!!! You are so talented!!!!

  95. Lauren says:

    Brilliant what you did with the Bombay jewelry chest. I have something similar and would love to freshen it. However, it’s not of the highest quality. I think it’s what some call “wood construction.” So, when you post your “how to,” maybe you can address those of us are dealing with lesser-quality wood pieces. Thanks!

  96. Debbie Guess says:

    I just adore your closet, it is beautiful. It makes getting dressed so much fun doesn’t it. You have inspired me to tackle my closet. I don’t get Nate’s show where I live (rats). I would probably watch it every day if I could. Thanks again for a centsational post.

  97. Cathe Holden says:

    Well, if I manage to get my jaw off the floor anytime soon, I’ll be able to get on with my day. Geez Kate, this is incredible. Everyone loves a before-and-after story and photos, but NO ONE does it like you. Would it be too big sister-ish to say how proud I am of you? You talent is on a level all it’s own and features like this just prove it. Thanks for another beautiful project share. –Cathe

  98. Jo Green says:

    Wow, this is really gorgeous and so well done. Very professional – but I guess that’s what you are!

  99. OH MISS KATE! You’re such a design diva, I love your closet makeover! My closet is BUSTED right now and in dire need of a makeover. You have inspired me to clear out the clutter this weekend!

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