Last fall we embarked on a redesign of our living-dining space. Maybe that adventure will get its own post some day, but for now, I will focus on the closet transformation. Not because I want to say, “Hey, look at us, we’re so handy!” but rather: “Look, if we can do it, so can you!”
The closet is located next to our dining space and is, essentially, an entryway closet. When the painter was set to come as part of the redesign, we wanted the closet to be painted, too. We wanted no trace of the original colour (we really despised it). However, the closet organizer kit needed to be removed for the painter to reach the wall. We never really liked this set up, so this was going to force us to find a better way to use the closet space.
These are not the best “before” pictures because I was not intentional about capturing the “before”. We were generally “good” about keeping the closet doors closed to hide the chaos. The point is that the closet organizer kit had shelves at various heights inside. There was no rod, so we just hung coats on hangers along the top-most shelf. The other shelves held a combination of board games, seasonal clothing (mittens, scarves, hats), bike helmets, and baby gear (car seats, baby carriers, etc.).
Once the painting was done, we had a blank canvas. David and I talked about how we wanted the space to function: easy for all to put away shoes, jackets/coats, mittens, bags, and bike gear (especially wet gear). We would need hooks low to the ground for the girls to be able to hang up their own coats (hangers are tricky for little ones). We would need a shoe rack to store wet shoes off the ground, providing circulation for them to dry. We also wanted the girls to be able to put away their own hats, mittens, etc., so drawers or bins seemed like a good idea. And we needed a way to protect our drywall from the wet coats and bike gear.
After much research, I found “Turn a Coat Closet … into the perfect MUDROOM”. This design seemed to meet our needs: the bench and bins would be good storage, the hooks make it quick and easy to hang coats/bags, and the bead board would provide the protection we needed against our wet gear. Although this design meets our needs now, we wanted the flexibility to change things up in the future. Instead of building the bench into the closet, we reused materials we already had to build a removable bench unit. We used a shoe rack that had already been in the closet and built a bench around it.
We used four picture shelves for the legs of the bench (cut to provide enough height between the top of the shoe rack and bench seat for bins) and disassembled a wall shelf to use wood for the seat and supports. The bench unit can move around in the closet depending on the space we need beside or behind it. The unit is slightly smaller than our closet door opening, so it can be removed easily, too, if we need extra seating for guests.
We customized the closet design by using one shelf (we are currently using it to store car seats, so needed the vertical space at the top of the closet), one MDF strip (we did not like the look of having the hooks on a separate MDF strip), and horizontal double prong hooks. Since we opted for one MDF strip, it was difficult to find hooks that could be secured to the MDF strip and still had clearance under the shelf. The double prong hooks we found at our local stores were too tall and the prongs were set overtop of one another. After more discussion, we realized we wanted to maximize the horizontal space for air circulation for wet coats and bike gear. So, the horizontal double prong hooks we have were custom made.
(A note about this project: using wood filler for the nail holes in the bead board and then sanding is a pain. I did it by hand and it took me hours … granted, I was doing this project under the supervision of my two kids. Later, a friend recommended filling small holes like this with caulking and using the wet paper towel method. Good to know for next time!)
The closet has been usable for a couple of months, now, and I really like how everything has a place; it is less cluttered than our “before”. I also like that each person puts their own belongings in the appropriate place (sometimes with extra reminding). Most importantly (for us), when we put wet gear in at the end of the day it is dry in the morning. This project was worth the effort.