We've now lived at Le Chalet longer than we've lived anywhere – at least, as a family. It's been a hair over three years and that time has been spent working ourselves to the bone, reviving the lost, old soul of this hundred-year-old cottage. If you remember, part of our home was build right around 1900 and part of it was added as an addition sometime in the early 1960s. Hence the need to create a farmhouse closet!
Because farmhouse closet there certainly wasn't. Instead, in the “new” part of the house, was a bi-fold closet that sat next to the front door – taunting me with its modern hardware and odd functionality. We needed a closet there, don't get me wrong, but that was the wrong closet to be there. Get me?
When we moved in, I prioritized building the gardens, remodeling the kitchen, remodeling the bathroom, and reviving the dining room. It's necessary when you're taking on a project this large (and don't have the crew of a Fixer Upper episode) to set priorities.
Well, ladies and gentleman, a new priority has been set. And it's this 1960's living room.
As time and budget dictate, this will be a longer project than I'd like. It will need to be done in stages: first the closet, then the ceiling timbers, then the rock fireplace, and finally the floor. But more on all that later.
Onward to the farmhouse closet!
So, I sat and ponded for many a day what to do with the bi-fold closet (sorry, I didn't have a full-on photograph of how it started, but I avoided photographing it at all costs). If I wanted this “new” part of the house to feel like the “old” part of the house, what to do with this closet?
The biggest challenge came in knowing what to do with the stuff inside the closet. If you've ever lived through the winter with four littles you know very well the hell-hole that is a winter closet. Coats, hats, boots, gloves, mittens, bags, headlamps, flashlights, fishing poles, shepherd's crooks, hats, purses…
It was my hell, that closet.
I would shove all the stuff in, ram the doors closed, and pray no one would open it.
Thus, keeping it was a “closet” wasn't on my radar. It's far too easy to shove in closets – stuff piles up, falls off the hangers (which the kids can't use, so I hardly blame them), and it becomes a nasty, dark little hidden secret. God forbid a guest actually want to hang their coat when they come to visit. No, there will certainly be none of that.
“What would you like me to do with my coat?” I've heard it more times than I can recall.
“Oh, just throw it on the floor, won't you? My closet is a hellhole of death and destruction and mice droppings. Thanks!”
After weeks of pondering, my mind finally settled on something simple. A “farmhouse closet”.
Time to rock and roll, baby!
Step One. Remove the horrible innards of the closet. Gut it. That includes, but is not limited to, broken fishing rods, old boots, single gloves without a mate, coats that belong in a compost pile, and all manner of odds and ends.
Step Two. Bring in some big guns to rip the closet back to the studs on the right, the left, and above. Essentially, remove the closet lips that make it a closet. Ahh, that's better already.
Step Three. Find an incredibly delicious, vintage-inspired wallpaper to hang on the backside of the closet. Okay, can we just talk about this wallpaper for a second? My word. Here's the thing: I really wanted this closet to feel older – like a wonky, old farmhouse closet that had been there for a while. But remember, this was done in the newer part of the cottage. There's no old shiplap behind the walls in this part of the house and no amazing beams to expose as we found in the kitchen. So I pondered how to get that old charm without those. The wallpaper was the perfect find.
Step Four. Deck out the closet with a few benches, some stained trim, and coat hangers. Batta-bing-batta-boom. The perk of the hooks is that the kids can easily hang their coats and bags – no modern plastic hangers involved. The bench serves as a place to sit while they put on their shoes. And speaking of shoes, yes, they collect on the floor under the benches. This is a home – people love here! My goal in decorating my home is never to not make it look like people live here (though I must admit, that must be quiet lovely at times). Rather, I like to listen to the family about how they use our space and work with that. Many shoes come off at the front door and that's just fine by me.
Step Five. Put up a shelf that you can fill with all manner of really old, cool stuff. Whoops. Did I jump the gun? Looks to be so. Ah well. Timing's never been my forte anyway. Picture an old, timber shelf with all manner of really old, cool stuff on top, will you? Please and thank you.
Turns out, our farmhouse closet isn't really a closet at all. Turns out, old farmhouses didn't really even have closets. They had mud-rooms. We don't have a mud-room in this cottage. Rather, we have a farmhouse closet. Or a farmhouse… built in?… hmm… actually, I don't know what this is.
I NEED MORE COFFEE! STUART! STUART, I NEED MORE COFFEE!
And a shelf built, if you'd please?
Ahh thank you. Good man.