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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

One-weekend closet repair and reveal! KILZ® Primer and pretty paint

OMG! I never thought I would be motivated to do this, but I just finished a great project and I went bold! One of the closets at the top of our stairs is a great one for my clothes, but was in bad shape--lots of scratches and cracks in the plaster and seriously probably hadn’t been painted since the house was built in 1937. There were stains and the walls just looked terrible, and painting it a fresh coat of white just sounded boring, and like it probably wouldn’t even work to cover everything. Enter… good primer and an exciting color!

Thanks to KILZ® Brand for sponsoring this post!

I worked with KILZ on this project and they recommended KILZ 3® Premium Primer to cover the stains and make a good surface on this old plaster. It is water-based and is ready to accept paint after only an hour! Low VOC as well. I’m going to share what I did step-by-step to get this funky old closet ready for a beautiful color! I chose from the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® paint line, and every single one of those colors is awesome. I kind of can't believe I chose the one I did (way outside my white/beige comfort zone), but it turned out great!!


Funky old closet


This closet was just depressing before. Two good-sized rods but extra space behind them (and extra-deep shelves above) so there was wasted space at the back. I put my dresser in here so all my clothes are in one place, but then there's more lost space on the sides. My tiny cheap-o shoe shelf was just floating. Not a fun place to hang pretty jewelry and clothes!

But equally depressing were the cracks, scratches, and stains on the old plaster. I wasn't sure just basic white wall paint like we have in the rest of the house would cover them. KILZ has several varieties of primers for covering different types of stains. KILZ 3 Premium primer was great for this project: 

fast drying, low odor, very low VOC, water-based primer-sealer-stainblocker. It has excellent adhesion and provides a mildew resistant coating making it ideal for use in moisture-prone areas. blocks most medium to heavy stains caused by water, tannin, ink, pencil, felt marker and grease. Its thicker high hiding formula hides surface imperfections and prepares the surface better for painting. Use on interior and exterior surfaces including woodwork, drywall, plaster, paneling, masonry, brick, painted metal and properly prepared glossy surfaces. Works with oil and water-based paints.

Perfect. Here's the "before..."

Old plaster prep, prime, and paint


I cleared everything out...

And filled the cracks and dents with a spackling compound and a putty knife. I don't mind all the imperfections of old house plaster walls, but the cracks looked really bad. You can see some stains and scratches in these photos, too--they were everywhere.

Once dry, I sanded the patched places. I used this little sanding block but also a larger drywall hand sander for the bigger areas.

Then it was time to prime! I started with edging...

You can see the difference this primer made--in this photo I've edged above and below the wood. Above is wet; below is dry, and you can see some scratched places just ending where the primer is. That's just one hand-brushed coat!

Next I rolled the primer on. I love how fast this part is.

So much brighter and cleaner in here! And ALL the stains and scratches are covered!

It dried super fast. I finished priming just before dinnertime, and started painting after the kids went to bed, and the primer was already totally dry.

The color I chose is called Pink Lemonade, from the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines paint collection. You could seriously do a whole house in colors from that collection and it would all look cohesive. A ton of beautiful colors but plenty of variety--yet it takes the hard part out of choosing when you limit yourself to a good collection like that. I knew I wanted pink but I didn't have to doubt if this one was too blue or too candy-colored--all the pinks/reds were lovely and would work for a modern traditional or modern farmhouse (plus color) home.

The fun part is rolling the color on!! It goes so fast too!

Here it is with just one coat with the roller. I did it the one-coat way of small areas at a time, dipping the roller in very frequently. I did have to touch up a few spots in the morning, but honestly this went so smoothly--the KILZ 3 Premium primer is designed to prepare the walls for paint as well as cover stains. And the Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines paint was excellent to paint with, too! This went so smoothly!

WOW, it's quite the color! I was a little shocked at first but then... the styling!

Simple closet makeover


Here it is!!

So I made a few functional changes, too... I moved the rods back a few inches so there's just enough room for standard hangers, and moved two of the shelf pieces to the right side for shoes (I made little brackets out of scrap wood). That way I don't need the baskets for my bulky sweaters, and can put them right on the shelves. I put the dresser off-center so there's room for art and a laundry basket.

I also added some hooks for bags (way better than the massive funky nails that used to be on the dresser wall). From this view you can see the first room in our house where I ventured into the world of color, our half bathroom.

The art print is this one from the Smithsonian in a thrifted frame. I love how the pink colors in it, and in some of my accessories and clothes, go with the walls! Guess I like that color group.

I am so happy with how this turned out and so glad I did it right and prepped and primed the walls, and used a good paint. Choosing a pretty color made it more fun than just doing white, too. And of course adding art made it feel really nice!

I am so happy with the coverage and how the walls look now!!

Thanks to KILZ for sponsoring this post!

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