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The Hobbit has inspired generations of Tolkien-minded creators of fantastical content. Sadly, not a single one seemed to have had a hand in the construction of our early 80s-era home.
A Hobbit-hole is supposed to be synonymous with comfort, yet our bedroom closet, though hole-like, looked anything but. Dated but serviceable, we hung clothes in it when we moved in, which fell down a few months later, taking the rod and pressed wood shelf with them. Not neatly so we could re-hang them of course, but dramatically, leaving giant holes and sawdust in their wake.
Jeff brought in two huge rolling garment racks as a makeshift solution, which ended up hanging around for years. They took up most of the closet and predictably turned the entire thing into a catch-all that we stopped caring about. Because catch-all.
Then Wayfair challenged us to conquer our closet, and since challenges sing the song of my DIY people, I agreed and told Jeff about it later. Like when the closet organizing kit arrived on our doorstep and I had to explain why I was suddenly complimenting his dreamy ear hair and penchant for measuring twice and cutting once.
Here’s what the closet looked like when we started:
Not the worst closet in the world I guess, but still highly questionable. The walls and their holes have never been patched, and since the closet redo had to happen within a very short timeframe – Saturday-to-Sunday – with basically no budget, we decided to skip repairing them for now. We also nixed the idea of replacing the rod and shelf on my side of the closet. They aren’t damaged and haven’t fallen down, so we’ll revamp them in the future.
Starting with an empty closet-turned-blank slate was nerdy exciting:
And I got major brownie points for being budget-conscious when it came to choosing the organizing system. There are approximately eleventy mabillion options out there, and the grand majority are sell-your-firstborn expensive. This Rubbermaid Closet Organizer had me at $86, and its promises of customizable layouts, telescoping rods, and expanded shelves may or may not have sent me into a fit of the vapors.
Jeff’s pretty handy, so we didn’t have to factor in the cost of hiring a handyman, but it did take him a half a day to measure, drill all the pilot holes, plug in the wall dogs and install the actual system. It probably would have gone faster if the house had studs in the right places and wasn’t crooked, but hey.
We also took a couple of hours to go through everything we had emptied from the closet, earmarking items for Goodwill, for sale and for the kids (the boy-child took all my hoodies from college that suddenly fit him much better than they fit me).
Then there was an impromptu dance party to “Shake it Off” and “Uptown Funk” on repeat; plus a long conversation about where we were going to sleep since our bed was buried in closet. (Our couch is not comfy.)
Once the basic framework was installed though, Jeff was able to quickly decide on a layout that would work well for his things. And since his clothes took up more than half the closet space pre-redo (shhh), the change was immediately and awesomely noticeable when fully assembled.
Then came the super fun part – glamming the space up with extra furniture and finds from around the house, mainly because we didn’t have any money in our shoestring budget for anything outside of the closet organizer. Repurposing owned pieces turned out to be a fantastic way to save money, and we rediscovered a lot of great things we’d forgotten about.
We definitely couldn’t splurge on wallpaper, so we faked it with inexpensive vinyl stickers instead. I actually found them buried in the closet, so it was kismet.
The wrought iron zebra pattern bench and full-length mirror suit the closet’s eclectic vibe, and the punchy yellow throw pillow on top adds a sunny pop of color. Now Jeff can sit down to pull on his socks if he wants to, and I can make sure the backs of my dresses aren’t tucked into my Spanx.
The vanity area is my favorite. Built on stackable plastic drawers, it’s simple and streamlined but feels incredibly fancy. We already had the silver mirror, faux orchid and green nailhead bench, and Jeff hung inexpensive kitchen hooks on the wall for my necklaces. A ceramic bowl the kids painted for me at one of those make-your-own pottery places holds my bracelets, and my wedding invitation, housed in a mother-of-pearl frame a friend made for us, hangs where I’ll see it every day.
I love the idea of shopping in my own closet, and wanted to go for a cozy boutique-type feel. Pretty patterned hatboxes and small storage bins for scarves and shoeboxes help pull it off, while a few tchotchkes (my kids’ tooth boxes, a beloved Mad Hatter hat and battered Indiana Jones fedora) makes it uniquely ours.
We even covered the ugly naked bulb with a linen lampshade that used to hang out in our son’s nursery. Installed upside down, it softens the light, and while it isn’t as chic as a sparkling chandy, it’s definitely one-of-a-kind.
A capsule wardrobe (a collection of clothes and accessories made up of only essentials that don’t include space-sucking hoodies) means a lot of extra room on the rod, so I took the opportunity to arrange everything by color too. I’d always wanted to do it, and it’s kind of thrilling. Highly recommend.
You should know I’m so head over feet with how the closet turned out that I keep opening and closing the door to make sure it’s still there. Also, Jeff and I may have made standing plans to hide out in it the next time we need a break from the kids.