Work Ready Closet Open House + Buffet Makeover

By Kate Riley December 17, 2014

Ten weeks of planning, building and design, and our work is complete! I wrote about the Work Clothes Closet project back in October, since then we’ve spent dozens of hours on this project to benefit our local Committee on the Shelterless (COTS). I’m proud to say that with a team of volunteers, donors, and brands stepping forward, we’ve laid the foundation for a space that will serve the needs of our community’s Work Ready program, transitioning people previously homeless back into the workforce.

This picture will give you an idea of what we started with back in September, nothing but taped sheetrock and a cement floor. I was brought in to help with design and saw this space as one with so much potential. Over the course of 2 ½ months, through a lot of efforts and generous donations, this project took shape and I’m so proud of the result!

cots work closet 2

Here’s a peek at a few corners now complete. We added dressing rooms with framed partitions and built four pipe garment racks to hold clothing, two on the women’s side and two on the men’s side.

womens side

Many local community members stepped up to help finish the project, and it’s an amazing space with a boutique vibe but soon it will be filled with more garment racks in the center to hold much more clothing and we plan to build shoe racks in January for the official opening.

womens side outfits

 work clothes closet mens side


The way it works is this: once the COTS Work Ready clients are trained in a trade, skill, or service, the new COTS Work Clothes Closet will provide them with clothing to reenter the workforce. Training and attire are the biggest self confidence boosters for people reentering the workforce but purchasing clothing is beyond the income level of COTS clients. With this program, they don’t have to worry about it !

Many of you donated money to the project and with those extra funds we were able to purchase extra building and painting supplies, thank you! The floors were painted with Glidden’s Porch and Floor formula in ‘Regal Wave’ a vibrant blue that is a cross between teal and navy. Blue Bori curtains on dressing rooms from World Market.

buffet and dressing rooms

On one focal point wall I created a jewelry station with an old buffet and accessories donated by World Market. This buffet was one of my first thrift store scores ten years ago, it sat in my friend’s dining room for a decade and when she upgraded her furniture asked if I wanted it back and I said “sure!” since it would serve as storage and display in the Work Ready Clothes Closet space.

It was damaged and the stain was discolored in many places, but a paint job reinvented it for our space.

buffet before

I primed and painted this piece with the same method I always use for furniture and for cabinets. I chose Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula in semi gloss in ‘Waterbury Green’ which is a sea green hue, almost aqua, but such a gorgeous color! 

painted buffet waterbury green

To hold jewelry I used World Market’s gold tiered stand and gold mirrored tray, also their wall jewelry holder (spray painted gold) for necklaces and their hooks jewelry stand for earrings.

gold tiered stand


world market gold tray


The arch mirror I bought at World Market for my own home last year and donated to the project, I love the shape and it’s still available! All around the mirror and buffet I hung scarves and necklaces also purchased with gift cards donated by World Market. These accessories will help complete the outfits of Work Ready clients of COTS.

accessories station waterbury green buffet


painted buffet in waterbury green

Last night the team involved hosted the Open House and invited the community and volunteers to see the transformation of our blank canvas into a functioning space.  Thanks so much to Jen (below, far left) from Christmas Tree Market who decorated a beautiful tree as part of their Christmas in the Community campaign, her company also donated ten Trader Joe’s gift cards for families less fortunate to purchase food this season.

girls and tree

A big thanks to Kim of Kim Six Fix (left of tree) who donated signage for the front door and so much of her time on several work weekends to pull this space together. Jenna (right of tree) was my partner from COTS on this project and she organized all the volunteers to make this space happen for our community. Fabulous job ladies!

tree and pendant


It was a great event and we’re so so grateful to the sponsors who helped us create this amazing space! Thank you Lowe’s for donating materials for the garment racks and partitions.

lowes building supplies

A big thanks to Glidden for donating the paint for the walls, ceilings and floors! I’ll share some tips on how to paint a cement floor on their blog later this month.

glidden donated paint


Finally, a huge thank you to World Market who’s generosity added the lighting, curtains, curtain rods, scarves, hooks and jewelry.

world market donations

We’re so grateful to these brands for their philanthropic spirit and support !


  1. Great job for a great cause. Job-hunting can be exhausting nowadays; I can imagine what a boost it will be to have this support for COTS clients. I’m looking forward to the post about painting a cement floor. And those are some fabulous shoes, Kate!

  2. I volunteered at a charitable clothing closet/thrift shop and appreciate how lovely and useable you made this space. The clients will be so thrilled to be able to use this gorgeous space. How uplifting and encouraging for them.

  3. Wonderful cause! Beautiful job! A cherry on top, particularly for the ladies, might be a “fashion stylist” (gal or guy) who would be willing to donate some time and expertise during Grand Opening week to help clients choose well to look great – a huge confidence booster. Perhaps if any of the department stores has trained staff (so many don’t these days), they might volunteer someone and, who knows, they might even want to donate some items to the store and even become involved in the cause on a regular basis.

    Drooling over that gorgeous buffet. Bought an antique sheet music cabinet from an elderly neighbor who said it had belonged to his musical older brother. It’s a true antique, I’m sure, and it’s in pretty good condition but the color, similar to your buffet above, just doesn’t work in my home. The right paint color could turn it into a very functional “file” cabinet for a very narrow wall in my open office. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Looking forward to your post on the grand opening!!!

  4. What a wonderful project! Skills and appearance are deal changers! Fantastic job, ladies…what a gift!!

  5. Awesome job!! I love the buffet makeover….that color is great. What a wonderful cause! You’ve created an uplifting and beautiful environment to help get people back in the work force.,Would love to donate some old work clothing of my own…wonder if such an organization exists here on Long Island. Have a Merry Christmas!

  6. OMIGOSH, this is so amazing! Such a wonderful gift to give to people who really need help, especially this time of year. Great big applause to all of you for your hard work and charity.

  7. Oh Kate! This is fabulous! Blessings to everyone involved. I know it will be for those that will be helped by all of your efforts!
    Merry Christmas!

  8. What a great night & amazing program! The space looks fabulous–you, Jenna, & the host of volunteers worked wonders on the space. A big thanks for letting me and Christmas Tree Market be part of this event! Merry Christmas!

  9. Looks great Kate!

    I wish I’d been able to be involved in the transformation but I never heard back from COTS after filling out their volunteer application. I hope that means there was so much help that everything came together quickly!

  10. My sister is an aesthetician and makeup artist, and she donates her time to a group like this offering advice and tips on a professional makeup job… she has friends who are hairdressers who also donate time to do the same for hair.
    Maybe something to consider adding on down the road, perhaps with the assistance of your local cosmetology school?

    Awesome job! Do you take donated suits/clothing?

  11. I love World Market! and actually just bought two new pieces of furniture from there. Everyone thinks they’re really high-end pieces, and when I tell them I paid $200 each at World Market they’re in shock, i love it!

  12. This is such a labor of love, care and attention!!! It brought tears to my eyes. Great job!!!

    • Thanks everyone! There is still more work to do in this space but we’re off to an awesome start.

  13. Great job, everyone! What a transformation of the space and fantastic addition to your community!

  14. This is truly a great cause! Your community so fortunate to have such wonderful, talented volunteers and you to carry out this project. The space looks great!

  15. An awesome space. Wonderful work by all you volunteers and so nice for anyone that donated items and time. You all are awesome.

  16. Bravo to you and the other volunteers. Such a great cause. I’ve been there. To have help when you are trying so hard to get back on your feet to provide for your family and to put a roof over their heads is priceless. You may never know what a relief and blessing you are to them. This is the true meaning of Christmas. Merriest of holidays to you, your family and your partners in this cause.

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