Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How To: Revive a Cedar Closet

How to revive a cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
In November, just when the weather turned to regular sweater weather, Adam and I made a terrible discovery: one of his cashmere sweaters had a nasty little moth hole right in the center of the chest. Never again, we vowed! And this past weekend, we got to work reviving our 50+ year old cedar closet to prevent the loss of any more clothing.

Today, I'm going to show you how it's done.

To bring our cedar closet back to life, I turned to the internet for advice (namely, This Old House and Do-It-Yourself.com). Both sources assured that the process wasn't labor-intensive but was necessary to increase the longevity of cedar closets--which can be quite an investment!

Eastern Red cedar (whether in closet, armoire or trunk form) requires maintenance to keep that signature aromatic scent working to repel pests like moths and silverfish that can damage wool and cashmere. Over time, the "pores" of the wood get plugged with dust, preventing fragrance from being released. Consider this whole project a facial for your cedar closet!

Off to Home Depot we went to pick up reconditioning cedar oil (from Giles & Kendall), sanding blocks and rags.
Supplies for reviving cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
(cedar oil / dust masks / rags / fine sand paper / vacuum & brush attachment)

Step #1:
To start, Adam and I took turns vacuuming the cedar planks on the walls and ceiling of closet using the brush attachment. 
Vacuuming cedar walls in cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Step #2:
We took our rags--very lightly damp--and wiped down the cedar planks on the walls and ceilings. The used rags showed off just how dusty and dirty the closet really was!
Wiping cedar walls in cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Wiping cedar walls in cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Step #3:
With the walls dry, we grabbed our dust masks and goggles (strongly recommended!) to sand the walls and ceiling with fine-grit sanding blocks. We lightly sanded with the grain of the wood.

If you're hoping to repeat this process in your own cedar closet, trunk or armoire, please take precaution by wearing a mask and goggles. Cedar dust can be irritating to the throat and eyes, so it's better to be safe than sorry!

The vacuum came back out, sucking up as much of the dust as we could. Then, we ran the damp rags over the walls to grab the last bit of the dust.
Sanding cedar walls in cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
Step #4:
Then, it was oil time! We followed the directions on the cedar oil bottle, which stressed the importance of ventilation. A box fan relieved the powerful cedar oil scent. We applied the cedar oil with a rag and, just as quickly, the closet smelled like a cedar forest all over again.

Okay, maybe my first thought was "hamster cage" not "cedar forest," but it's all the same.
Applying cedar oil to cedar closet via Meet Me in Philadelphia
We allowed for plenty of time (about a day) for the oil to soak in and for the space to ventilate a little bit before adding any clothing to the closets. I've still got a few more cashmere sweaters to pick up from the dry cleaner, but I've started adding in our wool and cashmere sweaters.
cedar closet after_meet me in philadelphia
cedar closet after_meet me in philadelphia
cedar closet after_meet me in philadelphia
 The closet is mostly empty, except for some of our most important clothing...like my wedding dress and Adam's vintage Eagles Starter jacket. Yup, he won't let me throw it away.
cedar closet after_meet me in philadelphia
cedar closet after_meet me in philadelphia
(all via Meet Me in Philadelphia)

I am so happy we spent about a hour (in active time) reviving our cedar closet. It is a feature of our home that I want to maintain. I look at it this way: it cost about $30 to bring this closet back to life, which is much less than any sweater I might have lost from those pesky moth holes!

Don't forget: you can follow these same steps to bring a vintage cedar armoire or trunk back to life, too!

8 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you posted this! There is a cedar closet in our son's room that needs maintenance. Might be a good project for us to do together :).

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  2. I had no idea that you had to maintain a cedar closet, but it makes total sense. Thanks for sharing this! I bet it smells great in there. :)

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  3. Very good to know and hysterical about the Starter jacket.

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  4. your tips are always so helpful! You rock Ashley!

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  5. What a great closet! I'm kind of jealous!

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  6. Awesome! I wish I had a cedar closet, yours is beautiful.
    x

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