Here are before and after shots of my living room closet. It took me weeks to finish this. The first shot was taken shortly after I had moved in (note the lovely paper lantern, which has thankfully been replaced). The second shot shows the pre-spackling stage. Someone had painted over most of the wallpaper. The plaster was crumbly and separating, mostly in the corners, at the baseboard and the ceiling. I didn't remove the shelving and wood strips due to fear of creating a lot more damage. Someone had also used some type of plastic substance on the right side, which is the plaster covering the chimney. The walls on either side of the doorframe are a cheap wallboard-type material. Eventually I'll remove them and put longer shelves in place.
As you might be able to see, this closet is very shallow and narrow and was not pleasant to be working in on those hot summer days we had. Also, the closet reaches to the full height of the ceiling, and I could only fit that little stool in the space, with telephone books on it so I could reach. Had I fallen, I might have been as upset about damage to my plaster as to my body!