dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mini-mudroom Reveal

I am so excited to show you the finished mini-mudroom!  You can read about phase one here, phase two here, and about how I made some storage crates for the mudroom here.  But, without further ado, I present to you our new, finished mini-mudroom:

I love this space way more than I thought I would.  It is so functional for our family, and I find myself lingering in front of it staring at it adoringly.  Haha, I can't help it!  So, let's take a trip down memory lane.  Shall we?

We started with your builder basic closet:  one bar, two shelves, and a whole lot of wasted space.
From there, I took it down to a blank slate with a nice fresh coat of white paint, and my dad installed a couple shelves and hooks in the top half of the closet.
After that, we got busy on the bottom of the closet.  My dad built a platform and a bench.
From there, I added molding to the platform and to the bench.  I had to play around with different molding heights, which was a bit of a challenge, but in the end it all turned out just right.
I made all of the molding cuts with a hand saw and miter box, and I even surprised myself by successfully notching out the corner piece for the molding that frames the opening inside the closet.
After that, I constructed two wooden storage crates for under the bench.
Then, I turned my focus to the top of the bench.  I made three equal sized cushions for the bench by topping pieces of 1/2" plywood with foam, wrapping them in batting, and then covering the whole thing with fabric.
And, then it was just a matter of slapping up some paint.  I had a half gallon of leftover gray paint (Anonymous by Behr) that I used as a jumping off point.  After adding some white, I settled on a nice, medium gray.  (And somewhere along the line, I swapped out those dark baskets up top for some lighter ones.)
I also stuck up some fun little battery powered lights for a nice nighttime effect.
And, because I know there are people out there wondering: no, the mini-mudroom does not always look like this.  Of course, it was staged for these photos.  But here's a snapshot of the space on Christmas morning with my vest, Colin's coat and a bag of goodies that was going to my sister's.
Even with the added stuff, I still think the space looks lovely.  Actually, I think it looks better with all of the signs that it is used, and that a real family really does live here.
I totally get that having your coat closet out in the open like this might not work for everyone.  But, for our family, it just works!  We have an extra entire closet dedicated to our coats, so this space can be for our favorite(s), plus my purse, Colin's book bag and anything else that is coming in from or going out to the car.  Plus, with the concealed storage below for shoes and the pretty baskets above for miscellaneous items, we are storing all of the same non-coat items as we were before but in a much more organized way!

And, before I forget, I'd like to give a major shout-out to Shelley and Cason of The House of Smiths.  Their coat closet to mini-mudroom was my inspiration for this whole transformation, and while I did execute the project, all of the inspiration came from the Smiths.  From the idea of the platform below the bench, to the wooden storage crates, to the color scheme, I found much of their design too good to change.  And, while some might find my project a little too copy-cat, I like to think this is just one of the many reasons we DIY bloggers blog in the first place:  to provide inspiration and encouragement and ideas on how to better use and customize the place where you spend much of your day.  Your home sweet home.



PS-  I nearly forgot my signature before and after!
**Linking to:
A Bowl Full of Lemons' One Project at a Time
Shabby Creek Cottage's Transformation Thursday
A Bowl Full of Lemons
DIY Show Off

TDC Before and After

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Custom wooden crates

Alternate title:  Oh my gosh, I successfully made something!  Like built it from scratch with my own two hands, and it works and doesn't fall apart!!
If you follow me on Instragram (emilysteplowski), you might have seen this picture pop up on your feed a week or so ago.
And, if you're smart you probably figured the plywood was for the second installment of the closet to mudroom transformation, but what about all those wood slats?  32 of them, to be exact.  Well, now you know they were for a couple wooden crates I built.  Okay, here goes with another attempt at a tutorial.  Regular disclaimers apply.

Since I was making these crates specifically for under the bench that my Dad and I had just built in the closet, I had exact dimensions that I needed to use for my crates.  But, the beauty of this project is that you can build these to any size you want.  I needed my finished product to be 22 1/2" wide, 22 1/2" deep, and about 12" tall.  Here's a shot of the lumber I used for each crate.
This consists of 16 slats (1/2" x 2 1/2" pine boards), 4 corner pieces (2x2), and a sheet of 1/2" birch plywood.  The slats were cut to two different dimensions:  the 4 front and the 4 back slats were cut to 22 1/2" long.  The side 8 slats were cut to 21 1/2" long.  The corner pieces are approximately 11 1/2" long, and the plywood is 22 1/2" square.  Turning this pile of wood into a crate was pretty simple and only required a nail gun, which I borrowed from a friend.

I started by building the sides of the crates.  I laid out the corner pieces flat on the floor and spanned a slat from one side to the other.  Since the height of our already-built bench dictated the height of these crates, I left some space between the slats to get to the required finished height.
 Once I had the two sides built, I started building the front by standing the sides up on end.
 One by one, I added the front slats, and then the back ones.  Pretty soon, I had a box!
Here you can see the way I constructed the box, and this should explain why the side slats were cut shorter than the front and back ones. 
From there, I attached the plywood bottom, slapped on a coat of Minwax stain in Ebony, and added some rope handles.  I went back and forth about adding any sort of protective finish but eventually decided against it, as I don't really mind if these crates become more distressed looking over time.  After a couple days outside to air out, I brought my sturdy crates back in and slid them into place.  And, well, it was pretty much love all over again.
I love the way they fit the space perfectly.  I love the dark finish against the crisp white of the molding.  I love that they are super relaxed looking and feeling. We are keeping our shoes in them already, which is super convenient right here by the front door.  Colin uses one bin, and I use the other.
I want to show you the million other pictures I've snapped, but I must resist or else I won't have anything left for a final reveal of the coat closet to mudroom!  So, here are a couple other shots of the bins being used for storage.

 I could totally imagine using these crates throughout my house for various things.  How cute would one of these be in a kids room or a playroom?!
Now, I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to 2 people with regards to the construction of these wooden crates.  Because while I did build them all by myself, I did have help with the project.  You see, I don't own a miter saw.  All I have is a handsaw and a miter box.  And, while I do make that work for cutting molding and such, I cannot imagine if I had to cut all 32 of these slats by hand.  I'd have carpel tunnel for sure.  So, my dad cut half of the slats for me and a friend's husband cut the other half for me.  And, they each also cut a piece of plywood down for me- one with a circular saw, and one with a table saw.  So, to Dad and Nate:  thank you!  I couldn't have done this without your help!



**sharing with the girls at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coat closet to mini-mudroom: phase II

Upon starting this little "Coat closet to mini-mudroom" series, I was thinking there would be two phases.  I can now see that is not the case.  Oh well- who knows how many phases there will be at this point, but fingers crossed there aren't too many more!

So, let's see.  When we last spoke, the closet looked something like this, right?
The construction of the top half of the closet was done, and I had rolled the cedar chest in to get an idea of what it might look like with a bench.  Well just last week, Dad and I had some time to get back to work on making that bench a reality.  Since we had already had several planning sessions about how the bottom would be constructed and what the finished product would look like, he was able to get started at his house.  So, when he showed up last Monday, he had this grid already made.
Which, he could just set into place.
Now, I suppose this grid and the resulting platform is really not necessary to the construction of the bench, or anything really, but as I scoured the internet for inspiration for this project I was really struck by the fact that the closet-turned-mudrooms with these platforms really looked much more custom and finished then those without it.  So, that is why we my dad went to the trouble of making it.  Once we topped the platform off with a piece of luan, my dad built an almost identical grid out of 2x4s to act as the bench.
Lots of support all the way across means this thing is sturdy.
My dad has rated it to 500 lbs, which means Colin, me and both dogs can all sit up there at the same time.
The bench was topped with 1/2" plywood.
Colin had the honor of nailing down the plywood after a quick pointer from my Dad.
And, before we knew it, this thing was really starting to take shape!
And, because I do love staging even my incomplete projects, here it is staged and white balanced.

Oh, and stay tuned, because I've just finished constructing the storage crates for under the bench, and they are totally cute!



**linking to the girls at