So I’ve got six kids. That means six backpacks, ten or twelve jackets, a jillion pairs of shoes, and all sorts of miscellaneous junk that accompanies them. In my house all of this kid gear gets hung on a little coat rack or stuck in some cheap plastic cubbies. The coat rack and cubbies share space with the laundry room (“room” is a generous term. “Tunnel” is more accurate.) Would someone please explain to me why the laundry room, which is used for a few hours each day, is combined with the space where eight people are supposed to put all their stuff? And yet I have a nice-sized dining room that has a chandelier and fancy crown moulding and is used approximately . . . never. (Not to mention it’s carpeted. Hey, builders, in case you hadn’t heard, carpet + food = disgusting! Duh.) Basically we have spent years with a disaster of a room where coats and shoes are always mixed up with spare socks and clean undies. It makes me want to scream. Actually, I think I have screamed about it from time to time.
For years I have been plotting the conversion of my dining room into a mudroom. The dining room occupies the perfect spot between the front door and the garage. Mister and I haven’t exactly seen eye to eye on this matter (he’s all, “resale, people like dining rooms, resale, it’s too weird”, etc. I’m all, “I’m not living this way just because the next people who buy this house may already have dining room furniture.” I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t rather have storage than a big, seldom-used waste of space.
Mister’s parents were here a few months ago and they chimed in on how nice it sounded to convert the dining room to a mudroom and, voilá, he was suddenly on board with the idea. Imagine that. So we got busy ripping out the grody beige carpet and figuring out which color to paint over the ho-hum walls.
I spent hours and hours researching lockers. I knew I wanted something that had plenty of room with hooks inside and a couple of drawers. And most importantly doors. I hate all these storage systems that have eveything just sitting in cubbies out in the open (I’m talking to you Pottery Barn!) I do not want to see all my kids’ junk! I want to close everything and have it look neat and attractive. The cheapest option turned out to be the Pax Komplement closet system from Ikea. Especially after I went there and saw that all their birch and oak doors/drawer fronts were on clearance. But the Ikea systems are really plain and contemporary-looking. Not me at all. But the price! The price was so right. So I got my thinking cap on and ended up buying a stencil to jazz up the cupboards. A stencil of geese. (No, not really. But that’s what I think of when I imagine stencils.) Instead I got this odd-looking beauty from Whitewall & Co. (uh, what is that, Jennie? Just stay tuned, friends.)
I decided on a blue and white color scheme, but I wanted a softer, slightly greener blue than I have in my family room. So after trying a few colors from Benjamin Moore (none of them right) I mixed up a batch of paint that was a combination of my family room paint and my light green bedroom paint. Perfect! I took it to Home Depot to have it color matched and they were way off (right color but four shades too pale.) So I threw in some more green and blue until it was just right–it’s a kind of spa blue. Sadly, that means that when this gallon runs out, I’m out of luck. But I still have a bit left so I think I’ll be OK.
I painted the walls the spa blue color and stencilled the lockers/cabinets spa blue and white. Here is one finished cabinet door and the “wall of experimentation”.
Mister installed my new cherry wood floor (actually fake wood laminate from Costco. I’ve had it in my family room for a year and it’s great stuff) and built my cabinets. I laid out all the cabinet doors and drawer fronts on the floor and stecilled the whole thing at once to keep a sense of continuity.
I didn’t want to label the lockers for each child which would distract from the design. Luckily I found these snappy little knobs in every letter of the alphabet at Hobby Lobby (and they were 50% off that week. $1.50 each! Bargain!) Yet another reason not to give your children all the same initials.
I wanted to close off the open section of wall next to the front door but Mister simply wouldn’t hear of it. While I was in Utah he built this wall of cubby things instead and I really like it.
I painted a bunch of Ikea plastic boxes that fit inside the cubbies. Ikea never makes things in colors I like, so I used a primer made for plastic things and then painted them with the wall paint.
This project wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it. Every time I walk into a clean laundry room with nothing on the floor, I rejoice. The kids are being so wonderful about keeping everything put away so I am one happy mother.