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How to Remove a Closet Addition and Restore an Original Hall Parlor

The experts from Restoration Realities give step-by-step instructions on how to remove a closet and return the space to its original design.

More in Remodeling

remove closet and return space to original design
  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Remove the Closet

Remove all architectural detail carefully. Begin by using a utility knife to score any caulk or old paint build-up. This will allow for a cleaner and less damaged removal.

Use a small pry bar to remove the pieces. Work along the entire length of the moldings to insure that you won't snap or break the wood (Image 1).

If you have a door frame to remove, first remove the trim then use a saws all to cut through any remaining nails that hold the frame to the studs.

Carefully remove the frame. It's a good idea to save your original materials such as trim and base moldings, so set these aside carefully (Image 2).

Start the demolition at the top and work down. Utilize the saws all to cut through the plaster at the ceiling level. Once you've opened up enough area to use a pry bar or hammer, use those to pull off the remaining plaster, lath strips and studs. Continue working until all the unwanted material has been removed (Image 3). Dispose of the refuse materials.

Step 2: Restore the Wainscot Panel

We carefully removed the newfound panel and set it aside (Image 1). Based on the design, it's evident that this piece of panel was part of the original wall beneath the stairwell, and was repurposed for use inside the closet.

Strip the old panel using lacquer thinner and steel wool, making certain to work in a well ventilated area (Image 2).

Prepare the new trim board with finish of your choosing. In our case, we used a dark stain (Image 3).

Step 3: Repair the Drywall

Close up the holes that the demolition created by using wood or -- as in this case -- 1/2" drywall (Image 1).

Patch the holes with joint compound. Let it dry then sand lightly.

Prime and paint the drywall (Image 2).

Step 4: Install the Wainscot Panel

Using a nail gun and level, install the original wainscot panel. Again using the nail gun and level, add a rail cap by installing nails at a 45-degree angle.

Cover nail holes on the rail cap with a piece of small trim molding.
True to the original Victorian manner, we "picture-framed" all of the angled surfaces under the stairway by adding molding.

The removal of the closet and restoration of the entry hall brings this portion of the home interior back closer to its authentic turn-of-the-century Victorian design.

add rail cap to original wainscot panel

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