The living room closet we have in this house is small and not terribly useful. It seems like it was really more of an effort to hide the stairs and the vent pipe for the wall heater than an actual storage space. The closet has about 5 feet of heater vent pipe running through it, and the pipe gets pretty hot when the heater is running, so I never really felt safe storing anything flammable in the closet:

The wall heater was also old, inefficient, and didn’t contribute much heat to the house, so we decided to get rid of it. Without the heater there wasn’t much use for the closet behind it, so away they both go.

Here’s the closet, with the wall heater inset into it around the corner. The dining room is behind and to the right:

After removing the wall heater:

The yellow propane line and the gas regulator is on the floor. I’ll remove the gas line later.

After emptying the closet (books, of course…I said I didn’t feel safe with anything flammable in the closet, but apparently that didn’t stop me from storing boxes of books in there) I decided to start with the floor. More of that ugly purple carpet was lurking around:

I pulled that up, and underneath it was some old linoleum:

The edges of the linoluem were buried under the framing, so I had to remove the rest of the closet first. I knocked out the shelf and removed the vent pipe:

Here’s the hole through the drywall that the vent pipe occupied. It disturbs me that there wasn’t any kind of metal shielding or insulation between the pipe and the drywall, but too late to worry about it now, I guess.

The pipe went through the wall to the bathroom behind it, and then up the old original chimney:

Now that all that is out of the way, time to start removing the framing. A Sawzall and hammer worked well for this:

This is the short section of stairs the closet was hiding. The stairs go up, take a right, and these are the three stairs into the upstairs bedroom:

After removing most of the framing we found something interesting: the location of the original woodstove was in the corner that the closet now occupies (the old woodstove also went through the wall and up the old chimney.) In this picture you can see the badly patched hole where the woodstove went through, and you can just see the edge of the brick shielding that was built to protect from the heat:

Eventually we’ll get into that wall and remove the brick, but for now it can stay.

After finishing removing the wall framing and cleaning up a bit, I was able to peel up the linoleum:

Under the linoleum was the same cool wood floor that is in the rest of the living room, but this wood was in its original unfinished state:

We also found something pretty cool just peeking out from underneath the drywall. It looks like this was some old shiplap-type planking that used to cover the studs, and old newspaper on the planking. The newspaper was fairly degraded, but readable:

We tried to remove the drywall over this newspaper carefully, and were mostly successful:

More of the newspaper revealed:

There was also what looks like a partial name or signature:

The wall also had these leftover nails with small pieces of fabric attached to them. Not sure what these were for…possibly at some point somebody had used the fabric to cover the bare planks?

My wife suggested we try to keep the planks with the newspaper on them, so we carefully pried them off the wall. We got them off with minimal damage, and will probably frame them later on to help preserve them.

After the studs were revealed and a little bit of cleanup it was time to button the wall back up. I removed the gas pipe by turning off the propane at the tank, crawling under the house and unscrewing the protruding pipe. After capping the pipe and checking for leaks I went back up into the house. A few pieces of drywall cut and screwed to the wall:

Some drywall tape and mud:

and after a little sanding and two coats of paint, the project is pretty much done:

Removing the closet helped open up the living room a bit, and the wall heater was worse than useless, so getting rid of it was a good thing (the wood stove heats the room better and much more cheaply…using the wall heater last winter cost us $300 in propane in about a month, while the wood stove only costs about $100 in wood in the same time frame.) This project is now: