Chamber of Secrets Part Two: Designing the Shelves

The transformation of the Chamber of Secrets into the Chamber of Nice Things (might need a catchier moniker) is underway.  Just so your hopes don’t get dashed like waves upon the shore, this is by no means an after post.  There’s still exposed insulation, an ugly ceiling fan, and teetering stacks of boxes, but don’t despair!  Decisions and progress were made! As a reminder, here is a photo (in all its hideous glory) from a few weeks ago when I introduced you to the Chamber:

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

As I mentioned in that post, this room needs to function as both a guest room and an office.  We’re in dire need of bookshelves, as well as some closed storage for craft supplies.  Our initial plan was to do cabinets the whole length of the wall with bookshelves up to the ceiling, but as we discussed it more we decided there might be merit in adding a closet.  Of the three bedrooms in our house, the only one with a closet is ours.  This wasn’t a deterrent for us when we bought the house, but long term we thought it would be a good addition to this room.  Our first thought was to add a narrow closet that was the same depth as the cabinets.  There would be some extra space because of the slope of the eave, so we considered putting in a couple of drawers too.  Like this:

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

In this first iteration, it would have been just deep enough to accommodate hangers, but I could already imagine the frustration of a door that wouldn’t close because of a bulky coat. It felt like a token closet and we decided a closet would only be worth it if it were actually functional (we like to shoot for the stars, obviously).

Then we remembered a funny, tiny door that had been tucked into the corner of the garage when we moved in, and with the recollection of that door came a plan.

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

In our new plan we still had the closet tucked under the eaves, but bumped it out so it was deeper than the cabinets.  We didn’t want a huge box of wood in the corner so we opted for drywall instead.

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

The door is solid and heavy and probably original to the house.  Because it’s little, we’re going to hang it high so it’s easy to see into the closet. It still needs to be painted, but I decided to give the hardware a little makeover right away.  After a quick Google search, I found that the best way to remove old paint from hardware is to boil them.

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

This was my favorite kind of project – fast, simple, and satisfying.  I just put the hardware in a pot (it’s a pot we use for making soap and such, not for food) and added a little dish soap.  Then I boiled my restoration stew until I could see the paint lifting off.  I transferred the pot to the sink and used the scrubby side of a sponge to work the paint loose.

Red House West//Designing Built-insIt required very little effort and it looks about a million times better:

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

So nice! Even though the room is still in chaos and footprints of drywall dust line the hallway, just looking at the cleaned-up hardware makes my heart feel calm and happy.

Here’s what the room (after lots of running up and down the stairs to the shop, so much mudding and sanding of drywall, (and Cameron saying, as he placed another shim, “it’s like this house was built by fu*#ing Dr. Seuss) looks like now:

Red House West//Designing Built-insIsn’t that closet going to be so cute?  I love that little door and I think the house is happy to have it back in use.  There will also be shelves on the side of the closet that wrap into the corner, like this:

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

I like to think about how one day, from the vantage of my highly-skilled-with-Photoshop future, I’ll look back on this photo and laugh tenderly at my embarrassingly bad mock-up skills. Thanks for bearing with me until that day comes.

The cupboard doors are almost done and then the window seat, with a hinged top, will go in next.

Red House West//Designing Built-ins

I also settled on a paint color.  My initial plan for this room was to paint the walls Crystal Ball (which I love so much in our living room) and the cabinetry and trim bright white.  I started to worry that with the sloped ceiling and all the woodwork it would look choppy, so I decided that a single color -with a matte finish on the ceiling and walls and semi-gloss on the cabinetry and trim – would be better.  Once I made that decision I put up swatches of four paints I already had, and very quickly I decided on White Dove by Benjamin Moore.

Red House West//Designing Built-insIt’s a really pretty almost-white that reads a little almond.  When the whole room is painted it will just look white, but with some warmth.  This decision feels great, and the all white background will really allow me to play with the textile patterns on the daybed and window seat.

I’m learning a lot on this project.  Cameron grew up building things, and also did it professionally for a while.  I did not.  When we first moved in together I brought to our shared home a spray-painted particle board bookshelf.  I had wanted to run my stereo cords through the back but, because the only tool I owned was a hammer, I’d just hacked my through it – leaving a jagged hole.  An inelegant solution, but I guess it showed determination?  Point is, I could do a way better job on that bookshelf now!

It feels good to have the foundation of this room figured out, and I’m putting together the plan for furnishings and decor which I’ll share with you soon.  Thanks for reading along!

11 responses on “Chamber of Secrets Part Two: Designing the Shelves

  1. artpippin

    I am loving the transformation of this cozy space….soon to be cozy space. I just selected Dove White for one of our bathrooms. Dove white seems to be a crowd pleaser!

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks, and ‘soon to be’ is right! I usually have so many reservations about paint colors, but this time I’m feeling really confident. It just looks good at all times of day.

  2. Susan

    That little door! The little room is a big room for imagination — what lies behind and within? Is it a magic cupboard? Can we make a hideaway there? a little house within the big house? Window seats,lots of books, crafting hidden but quickly revealed — and peace, White Dove and mellow wood and a view to the hills across the housetops.

    1. k80bennett

      It definitely has a magical cupboard feeling, which may be why I like it so much. Can’t wait to snuggle up on that window seat!

  3. Carol Crump Bryner

    I’m excited about that tiny door. You and Cameron have done such a good job of fitting alot of usefulness into a small space. And I think you chose the perfect paint color. One of the things I love so much about this blog is that you guys do all the work and we get to have all the fun of seeing how it comes out! Thanks!

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