Tag Archives: built in shelves

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!

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!