Our first step was cleaning it out so we had a clear idea of what we had to work with. Then we removed the coat rack, took down the door, and but down the top shelf (it originally ran all the way from back to front, so we took it down and used our circular saw to cut it down to only about 12" deep).
Before we did any more work, I did a little pinterest hunting to get ideas. I like to see what other people have thought of that I haven't to make sure I'm not missing any great ideas! I'm a very visual person so once I found a few inspiration pictures I printed them out so I could mark my favorite parts of each one and compare them. (pictures from here, here, and here) I really like the shoe storage under the bench, the use of cubbies, the coat hooks along the back wall, the wallpaper, the storage baskets, and some of the fun colors.
Then we got down to business. The first step was actually putting up some wallpaper! I have to say, wallpaper has kind of a bad wrap. Granted, it's a pain to take down and I would never do a whole room with it, but I think it really makes the room here! I used a yellow and white striped paper (I got several rolls for $0.50 at a yard sale last summer) because I thought it would go nicely with the yellow kitchen. To put it up, we just followed the directions and cut our paper to size, ran some warm water in the bathtub, soaked the paper for a few seconds, and applied it to the wall starting at the top and smoothing out all the bubbles as we went. It was really pretty easy.
I wanted to install coat hooks so we ran a 1x3 around all three walls. I just eyeballed how high I wanted it and used a level to keep things straight while we attached it with a few drywall screws. Make sure you predrill holes in the wood or you might split it. It also would have been much easier to paint these boards before I put them up. Live & learn. :)
Once this was installed we stood back... and realized something was really crooked. It was the shelf. The easiest fix for this problem was to cut a little strip of wood to bump the left side up even with the right side.
Then it was time for the seat. We ran 1x3's around all three walls to support the seat. We measured up 18" from the floor (standard chair height) and lined up the top of our boards with that mark. A few drywall screws held these in place, too. (if you have a larger span you will need more support than this, like legs in the middle)
Then we cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to use as the seat. We chose the depth of our seat based on the scraps of plywood we had laying around, but you could make it any depth you want! Then we gave it the weight test. It failed. There was some major sagging going on.
Fortunately, my grandpa is a woodworking extraordinaire and he gave us a tip. It turns out attaching a 1x2 along the front of a shelf (or bench in this case) makes it significantly stronger and sturdier! You can see below how we attached it, and how it also gave the bench a nice finished edge. It completely solved the sag problem!
Of course Baby B wanted to test it out for himself.
Once Baby B gave us the go-ahead I played around a little more with the design. I found it really helpful to bring in some baskets and shoes to see how things would fit. I found out we couldn't really do any of the shelves or cubbies from inspiration pictures because our closet is just too small, so I made the call to leave the space under the bench open and just use large tubs or baskets to collect shoes or toys.
Once all those decisions were made it was time to paint! I used a basic white paint in semi gloss and went crazy. White plays really well with the wallpaper because it matches the white stripes and lets the yellow be the star so I painted everything else in there white. The walls, bench, shelves, ceiling, and trim all got a new white finish. It ended up taking about 3 coats to get really good coverage. Then, of course, Baby B came in to inspect things again.
Once the paint was dry I put up the coat hooks I bought at Lowe's - three on the back wall and one on the left. I might get one more to put on the right wall, or I might do something else over there. We'll see. :)
I spent about $15 on the hooks, $20 on paint, $0.50 on wallpaper, and already had everything else we used. That cam to a total of $35 for our new mud"room".
I looked around the house for a few fun accessories and then the space was ready to go! My favorite pillow work really well in there and makes it feel more comfortable and inviting.
If I put our coats away and just hang up the jackets, will spring come faster?
I'm really happy with how it's turned out so far, but I'm sure I'll tweak things as life goes on.
I'm really glad we took the door off because this closet is in door-central! To the left is the basement door and the backdoor is on the right (which still has the former owner's floral curtains. I need to get on that.). I think it will be really convenient to have this space near the backdoor and right off the kitchen!
I moved some great baskets to the top shelf. The left one was a gift from my sister and holds all our gloves & hats. The one on the right was from WalMart and has our cleaning supplies safely out of Baby B's reach.
And down below is a basket for shoes and a tub that I hope to use for outside toys or something like that this summer. I also would like to eventually get more green tubs like the one up top to replace these, but for now we work with what we have. And it's okay. :)
I also like the idea of keeping a bag ready to go for trips to the library or park or whatever this summer. One we can fill with books or balls or snacks. Baby B and I plan to live outside once spring hits. :)
That's it for my new mud"room" so far. I love how it's coming together, and it will be nice to start using the back door and keeping our mess out of the living room. And I'm glad we found a better way to utilize this old closet that fits our family in this season of life.
Do you have a closet (or other space) that could be more useful if tap into its potential? Do you have a small boy who likes to eat snow shovels?