Front Hall Closet Makeover

Oh man, I haven’t shared an actual DIY in quite a while – it’s been making me crazy! I just can’t find the TIME and with the cold weather upon us here in the Toronto area it’s not easy to be outside to work/paint etc.

But one thing I KNEW I had to get done before the winter came was our ridiculous, useless, nothing of a front closet. With five people in this house, we are about to need storage for a lot of coats and boots! What we had was just not going to cut it.

A few months back I shared my closet stress and ideas for what I wanted to do… you can see that post HERE.

So, here is the “before”:

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Oh my god, I can’t even stand to LOOK at this photo!! Whoever lived here before had built this weird bench with a stack of cubbies on top. So bulky and not functional at all. Mind you, our house is almost 70 years old and families sure didn’t have the amount of stuff they have now, but still.

Here are a few more photos to give you a real look inside the madness…

Small. So. Very. Small.

Small. So. Very. Small.

Strange and unuable bench INSIDE the tiny closet.

Strange and unusable bench INSIDE the tiny closet.

Hanging rod going one way, shelf above going the other way... WHY?

Hanging rod going one way, shelf above going the other way… WHY?

This closet has been on my shit list for the six and a half years we’ve lived here, I’m not kidding. When we bought this house in 2008 it was just me, the hubby and Taya – but even then it was horrid! It’s not just that it’s small, it’s that there is so much wasted space and the way it was put together was just ridiculous.

I knew that one more winter with it would seriously put me over the edge, and aside from that we are hoping to sell this coming spring so I’m trying to tackle my projects for real now.

The one great thing about this house, the thing that sold me on it actually, is the mud room. With a front hall entry so small, having a mudroom out back was amazing:

This is how it looked when the previous owners lived here.

This is how it looked when the previous owners lived here.

So handy! You enter from the driveway at the back of the house, and then go inside through the kitchen.

So handy! You enter from the driveway at the back of the house, and then go inside through the kitchen.

It was perfect. A place to bring in wet boots, wet dogs and groceries, it was just what we needed. It’s insulated, but the many windows are not, so it is really only a three season room. It’s usable in the winter, but it’s COLD. Anyway, after about a year of living here we noticed that the floor was starting to sag, and the exterior door wouldn’t shut properly. It was annoying at first, but then it got bad. The room is essentially not usable at all right now – the back door will not close at ALL and the floor is bad. My husband needs to rip it up and start from scratch, so what does that mean? Yup – we are all forced to used the tiny front hall.

Which brings me back to my issue with the closet.

So, two days ago I just walked up, opened the door, and started ripping everything out. Seriously. This is how I operate. I stare at something for six years and then one day just grab a crow bar.

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OMG that was so awesome. I’ve never really demo’d something like that before! So cool! Thankfully it all fell like a deck of cards, so it wasn’t too hard. The hardest part was prying the wood strips off the floor. If you look above you’ll see them. They are what held the original bench and shelves in place, and they were really hard to get up. But an hour of elbow grease and I had them out. Then it was time to clean the 70 years of GROSS that was hidden in there.

I made a little money for my efforts, Cal got a new toy car and Ella got a Dora doll!

I made a little money for my efforts, Cal got a new toy car and Ella got a Dora doll!

Ooooooh! Mystery film! We are totally getting this developed.

Ooooooh! Mystery film! We are totally getting this developed.

So once I cleared all all the junk, I vacuumed the heck out of it and washed down the walls and the floor. I can’t believe how much better it was already looking!

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Then I got to painting. I just kept everything white and left the floor for now. I could stain it to match the rest of the front hall, or I could just put some peel ‘n’ stick tile down… but honestly I think just putting mats or boot trays in there makes the most sense. We shall see.

I don’t have any pictures of the finished paint job because I just get too excited sometimes and forge ahead. My plan was to take the shelf at the very top and put it on the other side of the closet so that it ran above the coat rod. Then I wanted to add shelves underneath where the coats hang so that we had shoe storage. That would leave the right side of the closet basically empty, and that’s where I wanted to hang a bunch of hooks for school bags, kids coats, etc.

So, I measured what I would need for the shelves and off I went to Lowe’s. When I got back it took me literally ten minutes to get them installed, and I was already freaking out with joy.

You can see the new shelf placement up top, along with the new shoe shelves!

You can see the new shelf placement up top, along with the new shoe shelves!

I will skip ahead now to the end product… there are still some things I want to tweak (like adding more hooks up high for my husband’s hats, and some baskets on the top shelf for our hats and mitts, etc.) but overall, it’s done – and it’s bloody amazing!

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I hung some super high hooks, since long coats can’t be hung on the rod and I also wanted an easy spot to put snow pants in the winter. I am SO SO SO happy with it, and I cannot believe it took me over six years to get it done. I’m really proud of myself, though. I did it 100% on my own and it cost $30. Yup.. that’s it. I already had the white paint, and the MDF that I had cut was $30 on the nose. Can’t beat that!

Don’t let these things eat at you, people… learn from my mistakes. I could kick myself for waiting so long, but instead I will just open the door every time I walk past it today, and admire its amazingness.



Becuase it’s super amazing!!


Exciting News!

A while back I began following a page on Facebook called “Feel Good Giving Birth”. It’s an empowering look at birth and motherhood, with the stance that all women are capable and strong, and shouldn’t fear bringing their baby into the world. I dig it.

Those of you who’ve been reading for some time may remember that I posted the birth story from my third baby, Ella.

(It was amazing – check out that post HERE)

Delivering Ella was a profoundly moving experience for me, and I feel like the third time was sort of that charm in that sense… meaning that I felt like I was in control – of my body and my experience. I wasn’t scared and I didn’t feel like everything was happening to me inside of being really present and experiencing the moment.

I know it sounds kind of hokey, but it’s true. Dare I say, I almost enjoyed it. LOL.

So when FGGB put out the call on Facebook for moms to submit their birth stories, I jumped at the opportunity. There were going to be a number of submissions chosen to be included in a book that’s being published this Christmas – how amazing, right? So I edited my story and sent it in with some photos.

Lo and behold, a few weeks later I got an email… not only had my story been chosen to be featured in the book, but they had also chosen a photo of me and Ella to be on the COVER!

The official book cover!

The official book cover!

I am beyond excited and honoured to even be a part of such a lovely project, let alone have our photo featured on the cover. The book is going to be a compilation of true birth stories, with the goal of empowering women and reminding them that they are MORE than capable of bringing their baby into the world.

My labour and delivery with Ella was remarkable in that I did feel strong. I felt pretty amazing, actually. Unfortunately it took three tries before I was able to deliver a baby the way that felt right to me, but I’m so grateful that I did finally reach that place, and if I can help another woman experience that kind of birth on her first try I’d be SO thrilled.



Giving birth is such an unexplainable mystery unless you’ve experienced it yourself. It’s just one of those things that cannot be described or simulated no matter how hard we try. I completely understand how terrifying it can be – and why – but it really doesn’t need to be that way. In my birth story post that I linked above I talked about how pregnancy has become a condition that is treated like an illness… hospitals, doctors, and a lot of unnecessary intervention. Trust me, I’m not one to push a particular birth style on anyone, but I do think that every mom-to-be would be wise to remember that delivering a baby is quite literally the most natural thing in the world. There is most definitely a time and a place for doctors – including during pregnancy – but expectant women are not sick. They do not need to be treated like patients. Your care as a pregnant woman does not need to be cold, sterile and impersonal.

A book like this one is wonderful because it will share stories of a number of different experiences. I think that one of best things a woman can do is explore all her options when it comes to her birth. There are doctors, midwives, doulas and more. There are home births, hospital births, birthing centres… don’t write any of these off. Talk to friends, research, find what’s best for you.

When I had my first baby in 2004 I asked no questions and just did what I was told. I was in the care of a great doctor and delivered in a hospital. With my second and third babies I knew that I wanted to be a more active participant in the process. I spoke to friends, found information online and talked a lot with my husband about the kind of pregnancy and delivery I wanted to have. In doing that, I found my midwives and it was the best decision I ever made!

(My gushing midwife post can be found HERE)

There is a Kick Starter fund set up to help get this book published, so fingers crossed it reaches its goal in time! I cannot wait to read the finished product.