Rental Re-do: How to Build a Baby Closet from a Cabinet

This week before I turned in my keys to my old apartment, I was reminded of what our apartment used to look like, before we made it our own. It gave us some good laughs.

Armed with cleaning tools and a big tub of spackle, we set out to restore the apartment to its former glory. In this case, it meant recreating the wet bar that we had long since done away with.


A wet bar is not my favorite feature in an apartment, especially when the kitchen sink is only twenty feet away. This was in Lane’s room, which was a small room on the side with no closet and no room for a dresser. We didn’t need a wet bar, we needed closet space. The shallow glass shelves were not helping.

We removed the glass shelves and replaced them with two sturdy boards. Along the bottom we added a sheet of pegboard covered in white fleece, which made a soft surface and covered up the sink.


We put in a clothes rod, baskets and a hanging shoe organizer to organize all the little outfits and baby items. These were things we could take with us and continue to use after we moved.

It was a joy to open those cabinet doors and see all those cute things every day. It wasn’t hard to change it back to a wet bar, either (so the next tenant can figure out what to do with it).

To make a space you love, be willing to make some changes, even in a rental.

It’s your home. Make it yours.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. What an amazing transformation! We’ve installed “drawers” in our rental’s closets which will allow us to take them to our next place and repurpose them.

  2. Am I the only one who is asking what in the world is a wet bar and why would someone put a sink in a bedroom? I have never seen that before :).

    I wanted to ask you a question. We are renting an older duplex and while some features have been updated there are others that are really unsightly. Like our kitchen cabinets. The entire cabinet and door are covered in a dark brown faux wood contact paper. And it is peeling off. Any ideas on what to do with these or would I just have to bu the landlord to update them?

    • Oh my. I wonder if you would have to peel off the old contact paper before painting or recovering it. Since contact paper is so cheap, I’m sure the landlord doesn’t care about it staying. Maybe he would be willing to have them painted, or reimburse you for doing it. Emily has some tips on painting cabinets.

  3. Very clever!

    Elizabeth´s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  4. I’d take that cute closet over a wet bar anyday!

  5. Hi Rachel,
    This is awesome! You guys are very creative. The thing that annoys me a bit with the kids’ closets right now is that their clothes are so short and there’s so much wasted vertical space. Perhaps I should add some shelves or a second bar to make the most of it?? Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Sherri (Serene Journey)´s last blog post..Quick Clean Your Home In Under 20 Minutes

  6. This is the kind of thinking ability that gets your genes into the next generation. Genuis!
    Working within limitations is a skill set that we are losing rapidly these days. Cheers to you for making do (beautifully) with what you have and realizing the difference between ‘perfect’ and ‘perfectly good’! Once again, you bring the awesome.

    Juliet´s last blog post..Diversity Myth

  7. You’re so handy! I see you have a sponsor now – good job. Hope this goes well for you (smile).

    renee @ FIMBY´s last blog post..Felted Wool Snakes and Other March Creations

  8. Looks great Rachel! You’re so good at coming up with big solutions for small spaces.

    P.S. Thanks for the Daily Tip today. I never thought about freezing the candle wax to get it out.

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog post..How to Stop Procrastination in Its Tracks

  9. I love the transformation. I especially like the labeled baskets and the use of the shoe organizer. You made the space very workable for you, but also very visually appealing. Great job!

    I agree too — who needs a wet bar that close to the regular sink?

  10. Brilliant. I love it!

    Big congrats, I will be featuring this as a best of the web on Worthington Wire. Your listing will go live at 9:30 CST in the Home Sweet Home category.

    You can also pick your Best of the Web badge here-

    Allison Worthington

  11. What a great use of space. I love turning apartment corners that make no sense into a practical area. Yours can’t be beat, Rachel!

    Katie at´s last blog post..We’ve Decided to Leave Berlin

  12. I love that!!

    As a side note, I read the label on the basket on the left as “blowout diapers” and was like “WHY does she put those in a basket in the closet?” *chuckle*

    I may need glasses.

    Emily@remodelingthislife´s last blog post..Photographs and Flowers

  13. So did Lane ever reach in and turn on the faucet?

    • Laura, we shut off the water under the sink so the faucets couldn’t be turned on by accident.

  14. great job – you’re so inventive! Have fun making your new place “yours”!

    jodi @ bpr´s last blog post..Please Pray for the MckFamily

  15. This looks great! I love closet hacks. I recently read about a closet hack where you install a cafe curtain rod (one of those spring-loaded ones) cross-wise in your closet and hang your heeled shoes off of it. Never thought of that before, and you can remove it when you leave.

  16. That’s great! And I bet the mirror at the back made it feel more open, too.

  17. We had a similar experience this past weekend. Returning our apartment of 6+ years to it’s original condition was a strange experience. I told my husband he had to put the door back on the medicine cabinet and he didn’t even remember that it had originally been there. It was a hideous faux wood thing, the only dark item in the bathroom so of course it stuck out like a sore thumb. Funnily enough, when I made him take it off all those years ago he thought I was being silly, but once it was back up he couldn’t believe that he had ever fought me on it’s removal. And once it was back up I felt like I was in someone else’s apartment and was ready to move on.

    Jessica´s last blog post..Living Room Idea Board

  18. i love it!

    nicola´s last blog post..more on food

  19. Too clever!

    Miko’s Girl´s last blog post..The Never-Ending Saga of Decluttering the Home

  20. Very clever and cute!

    deb meyers

  21. Great idea!

    Rachel´s last blog post..Perparing for Easter

  22. That was so smart! I might have kept the sink, though – I tend to wash my hands a lot!

    Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..

  23. :`- I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives great information .';

  24. I have recently started a web site, the info you provide on this web site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.