I am always coming up with grand ideas for our house. In the past, as renters, I’d run them by John and his response was always “Not until we own it.” I get it, I really do.
We now own the house and thanks to Pinterest, I have even grander ideas. Like turning our coat closet into a mudroom. When I told John my idea, I was prepared to hear all sorts of reasons as to why this won’t work or would be a bad idea, but he simply said “okay”. To my surprise, there was zero sarcasm involved with that OK. I got to work immediately, before he could change his mind.
Let me tell you about our coat closet and why I was so ready to tear it down. You see, it’s not really a closet. It’s more of a black hole for unmatched mittens, shoes that don’t fit and coats that have been long forgotten. Anything entering this closet was unlikely to ever reappear. I took these pictures after I had cleaned out the the 33 coats (seriously) that were hanging in there, the vast majority of which have since been donated. To add to the chaos, the door would stick and by chance you get the door open without breaking into a sweat, you’re likely to be toppled by an avalanche of old, neglected board games. It’s amazing how easy it is to hide junk behind a closed door.
So, where do we put our coats and bags if we don’t use the closet? We hang them on hooks next to the front door for easy access. I like using the hooks. Coats are easy to find and my purse and keys are always in the same spot. The only problem I had with this system is the mountain of shoes that pile up in front of the closet door.
I like things that are both pretty and efficient. Form AND function – I’d really rather not have to choose. Unfortunately, our entry qualified for neither. Fortunately, I have Pinterest. This is where I got the idea that I could change a closet into a mudroom. Originally, I wanted to simply remove the door and build a bench as I had seen on The House of Smiths. Then Casa de Lewis gave me the idea to add board and batten and hooks to the wall next to the closet. They made it seem soooo easy with their step by step tutorials (something you will not find here).
I laid out a plan and ran it by my dad, master of all things construction related. He suggested we do away with the doorway and take down the wall to open up the space. This way, I could still have my bench and extend the board and batten around the entire entry space.
I was like, sure…because walls are so easy to take down! I really liked the idea, so we started demo.
Turns out, taking down the wall was the easiest, albeit messiest part of the whole project. Finishing off the wall was the hard part. Our house was built in 1944. The walls are plaster, the studs are actual 2 by 4′s (not 1 1/2 by 3 1/2) and NOTHING is square. This is why you will not see a lovely step by step tutorial with at least 692 steps.
When I planned out this mudroom, I thought it would take about 6-7 days of work. Especially since the wall came down in less than 2 hours, including clean up time. Boy, was I deluded. The whole project took 6 weeks. Six long, dust filled, unorganized weeks. Caulking all the seams was a bear of a job due to the lack of squareness in our house.
The fact that it took me two weeks to pick a white paint did not help either. I know this seems unreasonable, but there are thousands of shades of white paint. Probably tens of thousands. And I’m surprised by how different they are from each other and how different they look in the shade versus the light. My preferred shade of white is going to be replace all the white paint on all the wood work in the entire house. I didn’t want a white that was too yellow or too pink, too bright or too gray. it was a big decision that I did not take lightly.
Speaking of paint, painting the wood work was another tiresome task. I like to paint. I like to paint flat walls with a roller. I find giving a room a fresh coat of paint oddly satisfying. This was not the case with the board and batten. First, it is not flat. Second, I could’t use a roller. Between the numerous coats of paint and primer and the endless nooks and crannies, I was a little over the whole painting thing. Fortunately, Everett was a much more enthusiastic about it than I was.
I’m a pretty handy person. I’m very comfortable using power tools and have even built simple furniture in the past. I have never, ever tackled a project of this magnitude. My dad helped with the demo and hanging the board and batten, but the rest of the project I did myself. That includes, patching the plaster, sanding, caulking, painting, building the drawers and sewing the cushion. I’m always surprised when a project I plan turns out the way I planned it in my head. This project has more than exceeded my expectations. If you can’t tell, I’m just a little bit proud of myself.
The space is definitely more open – I feel like we’ve added a whole other room by taking the wall down. There’s no longer a mountain of shoes now that I built drawers to house them. I made the drawers out of the 2 by 4′s we took out of the walls. There are plenty of spots to hang coats and bags, even when we have guests. Best of all, there’s no where to hide junk.
This one little room makes me so happy every time I walk through the door. Then I walk into the rest of the house and it seems old and dingy in comparison. Even the light switch is sleek and glossy in contrast to the rest of the house where the switches are covered in layers and layers of paint. One thing I am so grateful for is John’s ability to fix anything electrical. He didn’t have much of a hand in this project other than replacing the overhead light and changing out the light switches. Both of which are a pretty big deal for me. One, electricity scares me and two, he has saved us a ton of money by not having to call in an electrician. Now he has a big job ahead of him replacing all the light switches and electrical outlets to match this bright, shiny one.
After all the work this project has entailed, you would think I’d want a break. No, not at all. If anything, I’m re-energized to get more things done now that I’ve seen what we can do. Home renovation is kind of like giving birth. It’s such a pain, but then you see this beautiful end result and you almost forget how bad it hurt. Almost.