Renovating Her Rental’s Closet Was the Best Decision Anna Z. Gray Ever Made
She found more storage space—and a first date.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:44 AM
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With our New Year’s resolutions freshly penned, January at Domino is all about change—the demo and construction kind. Welcome to Reno Month, where we pull back the curtain on the highs (moodboarding!) and lows (finessing the budget—again) that come with creating the home you’ve always wanted, whether that involves a top-to-bottom remodel or a rental kitchen facelift. Sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.
Anna Z. Gray immediately knew the closet in her new rental bedroom just wasn’t going to cut it. The Object Limited cofounder’s vintage clothes collection isn’t exactly small, and the existing storage had only one sad rod and broken doors. But she had been eyeing her apartment for years—a friend from college had been living there for close to a decade. When a room became available, she had to have it. It helped that the space was flooded in natural light, with white floors that only enhanced the rays’ soft glow.
Her first order of business: finding space for her beloved thrifted finds. She had tried many closet organizing systems in previous homes, but in this place, she wanted to attempt something different—something custom. “I just knew I would be in this place for a long, long time,” she remembers. “So spending a little more was worth it to me.” Using the closet’s original footprint as her starting point, she pictured opening up the alcove with an arched door and filling in the gaps with shelves and rods to optimize storage.
Gray found her carpenter as one does these days: on Instagram. She showed him a rough sketch of what she had in mind and laid out her budget. By the end of the consultation, they were drinking wine in her living room and she was inviting him to a friend’s dinner party. “I assumed he was going to be this middle-aged carpenter like my dad, who’s a contractor,” she remembers. “But he showed up and he was 29 and very attractive.”
The pair got to work removing the old doors and cutting through part of the drywall to create the archway. They also moved forward with the dinner party—and many subsequent dates! Operation Custom Closet kept trucking along swimmingly. Next up, they cut the existing clothing rod in three parts to reuse in the finished project: one for dresses and two for shirts and tops. For the shelving, they created a central column with six cubbyholes at different heights for shoes, pants, and sweaters.
At the top, they added two shelves separated into four parts. “The very top shelf is inset from the one underneath it, so I can put tall things on the sides,” Gray explains. “I like that it has a pagoda or Memphis bookcase vibe.” She dedicated the ledge to her collection of books.
Gray now has a place of pride for all her prized possessions: a tan-and-black blazer found on Etsy, a color-blocked wool sweater in shades of lavender and marigold, a simple white tee (with shoulder pads!). Not to mention, she fell in love. Gray’s decision to invest in a mini reno paid off in more ways than one.
See more organization stories: Here’s Where Pro Organizers Stash Their Summer Items There Are Lots of Under-$25 Storage Pieces Hiding in Urban Outfitters’s Sale Section Marie Kondo Fans, Take Note: Another Book Is in the Works