Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Adding a Wall and Pantry to Better Utilize Interior Space

By: Danny Lipford
Using a pneumatic nailer to  frame up an interior wall.

Danny Lipford framing up the new interior wall.

To make better use of the limited space in the home of Jud and Susanne Gardner, we added an interior wall in the master bedroom and turned the 4½’ wide space that was created into a closet and pantry.

To make the closet and pantry more functional, shelves and drawers from ClosetMaid were installed.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: How do you make more space for living and storage without adding on or decreasing the home’s value? This week, Today’s Homeowner is helping this family find out.

Jud Gardner: The house has somehow shrunk, but it didn’t shrink. We just got more kids.

Danny Lipford: Jud and Susanne Gardner built this house about 10 years ago. It had plenty of space for their family. Then several months ago, they decided to become a foster family and the space got tighter.

Jud Gardner: We’re wanting to look for ways to maximize the space that we currently have. The house has somehow shrunk, but it didn’t shrink. We just got more kids. We started looking more and more into foster care as a—as a ministry opportunity for us to reach out to these kids and to take care of them.

There’s a lot of risk involved with that, but part of the benefit with this whole situation that we’ve gotten ourselves involved in is that our kids have become more willing to help, to do chores that they never would’ve done at a certain age.

Susanne Gardner: Our household has definitely shifted with giving kids more responsibility, which was always the kind of parent we wanted to be. But they never really had to, because mom and dad could do it.

And, I mean, as a parent, we all know that oftentimes it’s easier to just do things ourselves. But now that just is not an option, and so everybody is forced to have their game on and to be a team player.

So I’ve always been a couponer, but the amount of storage that we have in our home is not feasible for the amount of groceries that we go through. I’m having to store food in the laundry room, in my closet, and it’s just—

Jud Gardner: In my closet.

Susanne Gardner: Yeah. It’s not good.

Danny Lipford: As you can imagine, space for the children is also a bit of a challenge.

Susanne Gardner: Right now, the rooms are so crammed with beds that there isn’t room for them to play in the rooms, so, the living room takes over—LEGOs take over everything.

Danny Lipford: So, Jud and Susanne are showing me around to see if we can find some solutions. Let’s start in the kitchen there. See if we can find any little place to kind of solve that problem.

Susanne Gardner: Yeah. Um, so when we just had the four children, we built this house, and there was plenty enough space for the pantry, and then over time, it’s gotten to where it just isn’t.

Danny Lipford: Looks pretty full there.

Susanne Gardner: This is the pantry.

Danny Lipford: And also when you have a pantry that’s so deep, sometimes things get lost back there in the back.

Susanne Gardner: Absolutely.

Danny Lipford: What about going back this way, the space right behind the wall?

Jud Gardner: And that’s pushing us to get a little more creative with the space that we do have, and that space is in the office. I’ve got way more office space than I need.

Danny Lipford: Oh, this is a nice-sized room in here. I’ll tell you what, the only thing preventing this from really being a bedroom is a closet, and if we can access this hallway in some manner for pantry, we’ll have to do a little thinking about that. I’ll tell you what—let’s get some measurements. Let me think about this, but we might have a solution on this.

Jud Gardner: Okay. All right.

Danny Lipford: The idea I’m working on involves taking four and a half feet from the office by building a wall across one end of it. Adding a door from the hallway creates access for a large pantry.

Then adding another door from the office and a wall to divide the new space creates a closet, changing the office into a legitimate bedroom. Jud and Susanne love the idea, so, we move out all of the office furniture and we’re ready to get started.

Susanne Gardner: It’s amazing how much a pantry can make you excited.

Danny Lipford: I know—I know. That’s great, though. Plenty of cereal boxes in there.

Susanne Gardner: Absolutely.

Danny Lipford: And then the other closet here, so, what we’ll do is we’ll go ahead and get all the measurements. We’ll start cutting these baseboards. We’ll get the boards in and then we can start framing the wall. The wall is fun.

Susanne Gardner: Perfect.

Danny Lipford: So, Allen gets them started on trim removal.

Allen Lyle: Instead of prying this way, you want to pry this way.

Susanne Gardner: Okay.

Allen Lyle: Okay?

Susanne Gardner: Who knew it could be so easy? Yay!

Danny Lipford: Why did you cut that?

Allen Lyle: Because you marked it.

Danny Lipford: This is coming out.

Allen Lyle: You marked it.

Danny Lipford: No, I only marked this side. I don’t see a mark.

Allen Lyle: Well, you don’t see a mark because I cut it.

Danny Lipford: Because we’re tearing all of this out. The door’s going in here.

Allen Lyle: Thanks a lot.

Danny Lipford: Were you practicing?

Allen Lyle: I was practicing.

Joe Truini: If you’re only using your coffee filters to filter coffee, you’re missing out on some really great other uses.

First of all, they’re lint-free, so they’re great for cleaning glass. Just spray a little cleaner on the filter, and use it to clean windows and mirrors, even windshields of cars. They’re lint-free, so you won’t get any little bits of paper left behind.

They’re also terrific for working in the garden when you have a flower pot, which typically has a drainage hole on the bottom. Just take a filter, put it on the bottom. It’ll let the water drain through, but it’ll keep the dirt, the soil, and the gravel in the pot.

Also, if you’re microwaving food, take a filter, flatten it out, and cover the food. Then when you put it in the microwave, the filter will catch any spatters and keep the inside of your microwave oven really clean.

Another use is when you’re putting away dishes. Put a filter in between to protect the dishes. Or if you’re stacking away glasses, the ones that nest together, put a filter—one or two filters—in between. It’ll protect the glass.

One other use is when you’re storing away your Christmas ornaments. Take each ornament, wrap it in a filter, and put it away. And it’ll be ready for you the next holiday season.

Danny Lipford: Jud and Susanne have recently added three foster children to their family of six. So, their home is full of kids.

To make the most of the space they have, we’re building a large pantry and a closet in one end of their home office so that they can use the office as an additional bedroom and have space to store enough food for their small army.

We’ve laid everything out now and it’s time to start framing the walls. Before long and we’re ready to cut in the new doorway to the hall. Here we go.

Susanne Gardner: hello.

Jud Gardner: Hola, amiga.

Danny Lipford: Once that opening is cleaned up and framed for the door, our electrician Wayne drops by to relocate some outlets and wire lights for the pantry and closet, so, we’re ready to start hanging drywall.

Jud Gardner: Get this bad boy in here.

Danny Lipford: There you go. The moldings have been cut a half-inch short of the stud so we can slide the drywall between the two, which is sometimes easier said than done. Come this way, Jud. Come on Jud. Come on Jud. Don’t be shy Jud.

Allen Lyle: That looks good. Put some nails in this.

Danny Lipford: Watch this!

Allen Lyle: I don’t want— put some nails in this. Put nails in the wall.

Danny Lipford: For some reason, Allen thinks this drywall is heavy, which prompts the question, why such large pieces? If you used regular rock, it’d be 48 inches. Then you’d have a one-foot seam somewhere.

Jud Gardner: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: And you’d have to put one seam there, one seam there. Here we have one seam down the middle. No problem. The only problem, if you can call it that, is so many people working in the same area.

Well, Wayne, that’s great you were able to relocate that electrical outlet from here right over there. That ought to work great.

Now the reason that we’re right on top of Wayne with all of our drywall installation is that our finisher’s coming first thing in the morning. We’ve got to get all this rock installed. So we’re picking up the pace, hanging piece after piece, even putting Brant, Jud and Susanne’s first grader, to work.

Allen Lyle: Should I trust you? Can I hold the nail? Are you going to hit me? What a man. That’s all right.

Danny Lipford: In fact, we’re getting the whole family into the act. Hey we had a great day today. A lot of work was done, but now the fun part—we get to clean up, but we got plenty of help.

We’re ending the day with a clean work area… This is usually where I start sneaking off. So that early on day two, our drywall finisher Hayward can get to work on the new wallboard.

Allen Lyle: Anytime you’ve got drywall finishing, standard way of doing it, usually three trips. Drywall man comes out, he puts the first coat of joint compound, we call it mud on the wall. Some tape. Goes away. Lets it dry.

Comes back. Light sanding. Second coat, sand it, come back, and a third coat—three trips. Hayward, we’ve got the—we don’t have the luxury of time on our side so, the trick you’ve got going on here is what?

Hayward: This is fast-setting mud. Mud usually now sets in 45 minutes.

Allen Lyle: Wow, so by the end of the day, do you think we’re at the point where we final sand. Tomorrow we can start painting?

Hayward: : Yes.

Allen Lyle: Oh yeah.

Danny Lipford: So, while Hayward keeps finishing, we try to stay out of his way. Allen and Susanne are making an inventory of the shelving materials she and Chelsea picked out several weeks ago.

Allen Lyle: Four of those.

Danny Lipford: They went to the company’s web site, where they used a design tool to select the materials and lay out the plan for both the closet and the pantry. That way, they could order exactly what they needed for both spaces.

Allen Lyle: All right. Got the standards, the top track. That should be everything.

Susanne Gardner: Yeah. Great.

Allen Lyle: Just haul it in for me, will you?

Susanne Gardner: Sure. All 800 pounds.

Allen Lyle: All 800 pounds.

Danny Lipford: One of the challenges you always have when you’re cutting a new doorway into an existing wall is what you do with the floor. In a situation like this, we are so lucky in that Susanne and Jud held on to some of the hardwood floor.

They have hardwood floor out in the hall and hardwood floor what once was the office, now the pantry, so, it’s perfect for us to take a few pieces of wood that they were able to hold on to and be able to piece in this little area here.

It’s always a good idea any time you’re doing any flooring around your home, make sure you hold on to every bit of the scraps. You may end up using it just like we’re using it here.

Jodi Marks: Let’s just be honest with each other. How often are you going to use a programmable thermostat if it’s too difficult to program? Chances are, you probably won’t.

But take a look at this. This is the Learning Thermostat by Nest. Now, let me take that little lid off. Look how sleek this design is. The beauty of the Nest is, like I said, it’s a learning thermostat; as opposed to, say, a programmable thermostat, because what it’s doing is it’s learning your behavior.

So let’s just say at night you like to have it set at a certain temperature. Set it, it will remember it. When you get up in the morning, you want to either raise that temperature, if it’s cold outside. It’ll remember that, too.

When you leave for work, you knock it down a peg or two—it will remember that. When you come home, turn it back up again—it will remember it.

And then it will chart over the course of a few days what your likes and dislikes are as far as the temperature goes. And it remembers it and then will start mimicking what you do.

So you don’t have to do any of the programming, you just get on with life. This is part of a whole system. You can run it with your smartphone, and I love the new age, sleek design. It is pretty sharp.

Danny Lipford: Our quest for more space in Jud and Susanne’s home is well underway. In just a day and a half, we built all the new walls to convert an office to a bedroom with a proper closet and added a large pantry to store this growing family’s food supply.

While we’re waiting for the freshly-finished walls to dry, we’ve decided to install the new door unit. Since we made the rough openings the right size, it’s just a simple matter of making sure the unit is plumb and nailing it in place.

In this case, it’s a little tricky because we have to feed in the wire for the hinge switches we had the electrician install. Boy, I do love these hinge switches. Electrician seems to complain about it a lot, but it seems pretty easy to install.

Allen Lyle: Oh, I’ve installed a lot of them. They’re really convenient.

Danny Lipford: I’ll tell you, some of the great uses for a hinge switch around the house is this—a clothes closet where you may not have that hand to flip on the switch to turn the light on.

Here, you open the door, switch comes on, you close it, and it goes off, just like your refrigerator. Also going to work really well over in the pantry. We ordered these door units without trim so that we could match the custom header already in use throughout Jud and Susanne’s house.

That combined with the matching door styles will disguise the fact that we’ve ever even been here. Mine’s a tad off but just— whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s rethink that.

Allen Lyle: And the door looks good, too.

Danny Lipford: With the door casings complete, the baseboards and shoe molding can be installed, followed by the crown molding. Alright I know the drywall still has a little drying time before we can start painting on the walls.

Perfect time to start on all of the puttying. Now, this is fun. So, all you got to do, just get you a little— a little bit like that.

Susanne Gardner: Okay.

Danny Lipford: And then kind of twist it like that. Kind of make a point on it.

Susanne Gardner: Mm-hmm.

Danny Lipford: Then you just put the point in, put some in, and then basically, you’re doing like that. Now, you see how that’s smooth?

Susanne Gardner: Right.

Danny Lipford: That’s just what you want right there. So, you can just continue down anywhere that you see any holes at all. So, this will last you about three years, and there, and you might need that.

Susanne Gardner: Thank you. I appreciate you teaching me.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile in the pantry, Allen’s giving Jud a caulking primer, Lyle style.

Allen Lyle: I like a sponge.

Jud Gardner: Okay.

Allen Lyle: Danny makes fun of me for using a sponge.

Jud Gardner: All right.

Allen Lyle: The reason he makes fun of me is because people make fun of things they don’t understand. That’s why. Now, you can just run your finger down. I like to rub it on there and then take the sponge and just rub it across. And see, it makes a smoother line to me.

Jud Gardner: Oh, wow.

Danny Lipford: So, it looks like Allen made a convert, and maybe his method isn’t so bad, but don’t tell him I said that. Early the next morning, as Hayward promised, the drywall is ready to sand, so Jud and Susanne could begin painting.

Susanne Gardner: I’ve never used a fat brush to cut in. And it works really well.

Danny Lipford: While the paint in the bedroom dries, we can get started on the shelving for the closet. Allen and Jud are assembling the laminate system Susanne selected for the closet; while Chelsea, Susanne, and I tackle the wire shelving for the pantry.

Our first step is marking the wall for the top track and beginning to understand how Susanne keeps these seven kids under control.

Susanne Gardner: This side will be the same from the bottom?

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Yeah.

Susanne Gardner: Okay. They’re mirror images of each other.

Danny Lipford: I like that. I’ll make some more marks now.

Susanne Gardner: The way you’re standing there with your—

Danny Lipford: I can tell you got some kids around here.

Susanne Gardner: Poor Jud, right?

Danny Lipford: Yeah.

Susanne Gardner: Is that going to hold my weight on there with you?

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I don’t know.

Danny Lipford: Yeah it will.

Susanne Gardner: Let’s not try.

Danny Lipford: It will. It’ll hold.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: We’re both petite. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Susanne Gardner: Oh, yeah. Delicate flowers, right?

Danny Lipford: In the process of assembling the closet system, though I can’t imagine how, Allen has managed to injure himself.

Jud Gardner: Real men wear pink.

Allen Lyle: Hello kitty.

Danny Lipford: Meanwhile, I’m advising on the proper use of toggle bolts. Yeah, so, get some tension on it. It’ll work itself right in. Not too tight. Not too tight. Okay? Now, you do the same thing there, ballerina.

Susanne Gardner: Okay. We’ll see.

Allen Lyle: And the drawer guides give me a half-inch clearance on each side, and I’ve only got maybe one-eighth or a one-quarter back here, so, we’re fine. I can put these anywhere, we’ll clear them.

Jud Gardner: That’s why they call you the brains in this…

Allen Lyle: That’s right. Danny just doesn’t know it yet.

Danny Lipford: You’d think after all these years he would know I’m going to hear him. What’s worse is that he’s obviously having a bad influence on my daughter.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: I’m doing it exact and you’re just like, “this one looks good.”

Danny Lipford: But despite the family conflict, we manage to push through, with me cutting the shelves to length as Chelsea and Susanne install them. And Jud and Allen whittling away at the complex closet until finally, they’re both complete.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: Good?

Susanne Gardner: Yeah. We finished. Awesome. Looks great.

Chelsea Lipford Wolf: All right. Let’s go get some food.

Susanne Gardner: Uh-huh.

Danny Lipford: Almost immediately, Susanne sets up a bucket brigade with the kids to move into the pantry. Then later that night, she’s busy getting the kids’ room situated.

Danny Lipford: People with older homes often ask how to get more usable storage from their closets, especially those with bypass doors.

Removing the bypass doors is usually best. But rather than leave the closet open, you can replace them with either bi-fold doors or two traditional doors. In either case it’s important to carefully measure the opening before buying new doors.

The bi-fold doors usually come with the hardware necessary to mount them. That consists of the track, which must be mounted to the header of the closet opening, and the pivot points on the floor at either side.

With traditional doors, the biggest challenge is adding a stop and mortising the hinges into the casing on each side of the opening.

Rather than a latch at the knob, you’ll need to use a magnetic catch on the header to secure the doors. In either case, you’ll have much better access to your closet.

Danny Lipford: Jud and Susanne have a beautiful home with lots of space, but it just wasn’t where they needed it for their new larger family. So Jud moved his office to the master bedroom, where things are a little quieter. And we borrowed a few feet from his old space, part of which we used to create a great, new pantry.

Susanne now has it fully stocked with all the supplies it takes to feed this family. Plus, she has enough room to take advantage of all the deals she gets from couponing. Now what was once dad’s office is now a bedroom for all the boys in the Gardner household. There’s plenty of space to sleep and play, and though the boys won’t care, the new doors and trim match the rest of the house.

We’ve actually added to the value of the home by making this a legitimate bedroom complete with an ample closet, which is now filled with all the clothes, games, and toys that three little boys require.

Man, you guys have already got the boys set up here. You’ve been working hard.

Susanne Gardner: We have. We’ve been so excited just to get all settled in. We have a few more things to do. The kids are wanting to hang some of their artwork pictures up, and then I need to hang some sheers for them.

Danny Lipford: You got to give them a little bit of privacy. You think. You may want to keep that open to see what’s going on in here.

Susanne Gardner: Exactly.

Danny Lipford: So, you have the bunk beds in here for two of them. How are you going to handle the third little boy?

Jud Gardner: We are doing a triple bunk bed. My dad’s working on that right now.

Danny Lipford: Oh, they’ll have fun. Bunk beds are always fun when you’re— when you’re a kid. But everything seems to work out pretty well. I hope it’s served the need.

But I got to tell you, working with you guys this week, you guys are extraordinary. To take these kids in like this and to spend your time and obviously a lot of love to— to create this environment for them. I got to say, it’s really something special.

Susanne Gardner: You have no idea how much we appreciate y’all coming. Your show, I mean, it makes a difference in our family’s lives.

Danny Lipford: Well, it’s fun for all of us.

Jud Gardner: Yeah. It has.

Danny Lipford: And that includes the boys, who seem to really be enjoying their new room. You know, you got to admit, it’d be pretty interesting living in a house with seven kids.

Think of all of the organization you would have to have and all the rules that everybody would have to abide by, and all the love it would take to keep it all together. What an incredible family.

And you know, we’re pretty lucky, that we get a chance to be able to help families out like this from time to time by doing just a little remodeling.

Hey, I’m Danny Lipford. I hope you enjoyed this week’s show and hope to see you next week, right here on Today’s Homeowner.



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