Phase 7: Plan B

Posted by Steve on Wed, 09/13/2006 - 12:30pm

The animals aren't particularly happy about my relocation to the smaller guest bedroom. The cats seem determined to remain in the master bedroom demolition site regardless. But at least the fold-out sofa's pretty comfortable.

I began ripping out the funky old woodwork today which is when Plan B started to take shape in my head. No matter how much time I put into planning, drawings and so forth it's not until I actually start the project that the ideas start coming.

So here's Plan B: the first project will be a new walk-in closet in the master bedroom's alcove, which used to be another (tiny) bedroom. It will be a six foot expansion of an existing closet in that room. The reason I want to do this now is to get rid of the pile of 2x3s, plywood and drywall that's making my shop unnavigable at the moment. I'm gonna need lots of shop floor space to build the cabinets.

Let me see if I can explain this because I'm graphically challenged.

I'll build a new wall parallel to the back wall coming forward to the inside edge of the current closet's right hand side. The header and wall above the existing closet will be removed. This new wall will cut back to the existing rear wall about 42" from the window on the left. That will give me a closet with around 24 s/f of area, not including cabinets above it for dead storage. There will be an opposing pair of standard doors in this new closet, with probably two pairs of cabinet doors above. I may construct those doors myself depending on how sick I am of this project about four months from now.

To the left of the new closet will be a built-in: four large drawers with cabinets above, in red oak. It will be set back from the window on the left, about 16" back from the front of the new closet.

Visualizing this however, there's a problem. It's a small room and lots of right angles in a small space like this would look, well, like somebody glued a big box to the wall. So here's the plan.

The left corner of the new closet (where it cuts back to the rear wall) will be radiused -- I'm thinking about a 10 inch radius. Just enough to eliminate a sharp edge but not so much that it looks like it was built in the early 1970s. This will take the focus off the "edginess" of that corner and also pick up the two radiused corners in the main bedroom.

So how to do this? Back in my scuffling musician days I used to work with a master carpenter who was a curved wall freak. We used to call him Mr. Natural. His loft was full of curved surfaces. The main hallway almost made you seasick. But he taught me how to frame and soak drywall to create the sinuous, organic wall systems he liked.

The problem is that this will be a sharp radius. Half-inch drywall can be radiused to a maximum of ten feet, or about 10 times larger than I want. Quarter-inch drywall can be radiused down to about seven feet. Still way too much.

One option is to soak the drywall. Back in the olden days, we used a shallow 5x9 tub. We would stack a few sheets of drywall in the tub with spacers between them then drown the drywall in warm water for about 15-45 minutes. This would soften the paper and the gypsum core so it was very flexible. We used canvas straps to lift each piece out of the tub, which took four guys to do because the wet drywall was so heavy and fragile.

Using this approach I might be able to get 1/4" drywall down to a 16" radius. But there's better way. I just have to find a source for it. Its called High Flex drywall. With this stuff, you can easily bend a two foot radius, dry, or as small as 10 inches, wet.

My next task after posting this is finding a place that carries it. The Borg stores almost certainly won't.

Update: I've been unable to find flexible drywall in Brooklyn except by special order, and I don't need a skid of this stuff. However, Karen says she knows a place in Long Island that's got it.