Katie’s House and the Chamber of Secrets

Today we are venturing into a room in our house that few visitors (and certainly no blog readers) have ever seen.  Since we moved in two years ago, it has essentially been a large and chaotic storage room (and a source of shame).  But no more.  Today, readers, begins our journey of redemption.  Today we enter the Chamber of Secrets.

chamber of secrets sign

Cue music from the Psycho shower scene

from the door

Oy, teetering stacks of books and craft supplies, ugly carpet, furniture in need of repair and . . . is that exposed insulation, you ask?  Why are there squares of plywood on the floor and ceiling, you query?  And well you might.  To answer the first of those two very valid questions we must first go back in time, to when this happened.

no windowIt started one morning after a monsoon-level rainstorm, when we noticed a large, water-filled bubble on the ceiling of our downstairs bathroom.  It proceeded with the removal of a square of ceiling which led to the discovery of water leaking from an ancient and monstrous cast iron pipe.  Turns out that said pipe was a venting pipe that exited through the roof, acting as a catchment system for rainwater, which would then come down through the walls and – leaking from the pipe’s rusted out elbow – through our bathroom ceiling.

So we replaced it, a herculean task that required pulling two stories worth of massive pipe up and out through the wall.  Resulting in the missing drywall pictured above.  And once it was removed?  We saw the window had been poorly installed and water was getting in, so Cameron took it out, re-framed it, and put it back in.

window back in

So that explains the missing drywall, but how about the plywood squares?  And to answer that question dear readers, I must show you one of the worst ‘before’ photos in the history of the World Wide Web.  In my defense, it was taken in the olden days before the existence of organization or cameras that focus.

Chimney casing

Sharing this has some cathartic value for me.  Thank you.

Heavens to Betsy.  But!  It shows the origin of those plywood pieces, so it’s worth it.  Back in the day (pre-1960s), a chimney ran up and through that drywalled column in the center of the room.  When we bought the house the chimney was long gone and the previous owners had scabbed some shelving into the remaining structure.  It was neither pretty nor functional, so we decided to take it out.  Leaving us here:

from door 2The room is generously sized and our plan is to turn it into a guest room/office.  The wood framing on the floor is the base for built-in bookshelves with cabinets.  The replaced windows look out into the treetops and down into a nice part of the yard.

desk and windows

Cupboards will run the length of the wall  below window height to provide storage for craft supplies.  Bookshelves will go up to the ceiling.  There will be a seat with storage underneath the windows.

whole wall

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at shelf and cupboard designs that I think will work in this room.  I want the design to be very simple, and I especially want the cupboard doors to be unfussy.  If you can, tear your eyes from the awesomeness of the room in the next photo and focus on the cabinet fronts:

I love that they are flush with the shelves, and I love the simple hardware and clean lines. The beautiful built-in cabinets in Jenny Komenda’s library have a similar look, but with slightly  recessed shelves and a single pull:

JK libraryI also like these super basic ones dressed up with pretty hardware:

For the guest room part of the equation, I’ve started looking at trundle beds and pullout couches.  A queen-sized bed will take up a big part of the room, so it would be great to have one that retracted so I could have floor space for crafting.  I’ve seen some beautiful ones out there, and I’m picturing that when we don’t have guests it will look something like this:

Or this:

The desk will sit between the window seat and the door, and I’m still pondering what that area will look like.  Ideally it will have an adorable yellow chair and sleek desk like this:

Of course, there’s a long way to go before furniture comes into the picture; the to-do list that will transform this into a room my mama could sleep in is a mile long.  Our plan is to:

  • Tear out the carpet
  • Pull out every single staple (my hands hurt just thinking about it)
  • Fix the drywall on the ceiling and wall
  • Replace the ceiling fan and maybe add a second light fixture
  • Build shelves
  • Replace the crawlspace door (it may be hard to see in my photos, but this is a necessity)
  • Trim out the windows and maybe replace the baseboards with taller ones
  • Paint
  • Install a wood floor

I’ll be sharing progress on this room as well as some of my ideas for paint, decor and furnishings in future posts.  Thanks for reading along and come back for Faraway Friday!


17 responses on “Katie’s House and the Chamber of Secrets

  1. papict

    I look forward to seeing the progress. I’ve always had a terrible room in each house I’ve owned. In previous houses, it was the spare room which would fill with surplus things until the imminent arrival of guests would have me frantically organizing and tidying. In our new home it’s the office, a converted garage that houses our office stuff and two single sofa beds for guests. And my vacuum cleaner. And my family history files. And my clothes horse. It needs sorting. Big time. And it’s also floor to ceiling yellow knotted pine. It will be a major project. It’s not the top priority though so it will remain the Room of Shame for some time to come. Thanks for sharing your Chamber of Secrets with us.

    1. k80bennett

      It’s very handy to have a space to shove all the homeless objects in the house (your list sounds a lot like mine). I’ll have to be careful not to let the chaos just shift to another space in the house. Shame no more!

  2. y2knina

    Thank you for trusting us with your shame chaos! We are here for you!!

    I am really looking forward to following along with this project. I love all of your inspiration pix – this is going to be great.

    Are you sure you want to lose the plywood, though? Its very on-trend at the moment. 😉

  3. michellet2013

    Great project Katie—I look forward to watching it progress. Have you considered a Murphy Bed? I don’t know if you have the wall space but I’m sure your handy Cameron would be up to the task!

    1. k80bennett

      We have considered a Murphy bed! Cameron’s eyes light up at the though of pulleys and counterweights. I’m concerned it would be just too much cabinetry for one room though, and I’m liking the idea of a cozy lounge spot even when the full bed isn’t out. Thanks Michelle!

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    How lucky you are to be able to tackle these projects yourselves. Can’t wait to see what you do with this “Chamber of Secrets.” Thanks for creating this very entertaining installment of your house saga.

    1. k80bennett

      I am really fortunate that Cameron has the skills to execute even my most harebrained of schemes. And I’m learning to do a bunch of stuff along the way 🙂 Thanks Carol!

  5. Marlene Miller

    Oh my gosh Katie, I can’t wait to see how this progresses! I am such a sucker for any remodeling project, or show, or before and after photos…. as long as it’s not currently mine. Reading your to-do list brought me right back to the last two years, actually three, during which Dennis and I were, at times, in the process of updating spaces in three different houses (not at the same time, thank you very much). I especially felt your staple pain. The formerly-carpeted living room of our West Seattle house seemed to have more staples than carpet, clearly having had at least three different types of carpet padding over the years, judging from the odd bits of variously colored foam left attached to the staples which remained after we pulled the most recent layer.

    It’s going to be so much fun to follow along with you on this room. And I have to say how much I love the first bookshelves and cabinets wall you’re showing, especially the cabinet doors and the flush shelving.

  6. Katy Gilmore

    Oh Katie, I so hope you have more shameful secrets since they are so much fun to read about! I covet those bookshelves – white and tall and in need of a ladder – dream bookshelves! You will make such a lovely space – and will be great to watch it happen.(There must be some special tool that makes staple pulling easier, but I don’t know it.)

    1. k80bennett

      No shortage of shameful secrets around here Katy! Blog fodder 4 life. And yes, I will one day have a bookcase with a ladder – not in this house, but one day.

  7. Catharine

    Love your inspirations. Frankly, I’m relieved that they were sources of inspiration and not your finished product. I looked around my studio for a minute when I first saw them and thought, jeez, maybe I should just jump out the window now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *