After we made all that mess, we fit a few extra studs into the openings and hung some random sheet rock pieces. It was a little like a puzzle. The big challenge was... guess what!? The concrete walls don't have equal thickness everywhere. We have a new rule - don't ever lay a straight-edge along these walls. They look flat and that's what matters.
I'm planning on creating a welcoming area - much more so than a closet door. A little bench and a row of coat hooks are definitely in the plan. Maybe a mirror, maybe a shelf. All we kept in the closet was a handful of outdoor toys that Noah rarely played with. He can find another home for them. I'll look for a bench that will contain something so we could tuck a couple things in it that might have been in the closet. If we do a shelf in there, maybe a cute basket to hold some balls too. Since we couldn't ever open the front door and the closet door with any more than one person in the tight space anyway, guests coats rarely made it into the closet anyway. Hooks will serve much more useful without a side of claustrophobia. :)
Any bets how many months this will take us?