Monday, January 6, 2014

Home Tour: She Will Move Mountains

"The mountains are calling and I must go." -John Muir

You know that feeling you get when a dream just won't leave you alone? Your thoughts are consumed, day and night, with the ideas spinning in your head, and knowing that you will have no peace until the dream is brought to life, you give yourself over to making the dream come true?

Yeah. That happens to me more often than it probably should.

So last November, when, without warning, my brain began to conjure up notions of a new and improved clothes closet, I knew better than to argue. 

I gave myself over to the fun, squeezed my holiday projects in around the closet work, got sidetracked with yet another impulsive makeover, and somehow, managed to bring my dream to fruition by the twelfth and final day of Christmas

Let me show you around.

^ One of the fantasies that got this makeover ball rolling was my sudden epiphany that I wanted a chandelier in my closet. The internet seemed to be begging me to indulge - everywhere I clicked, I saw one darling candidate after another. 

When I actually committed myself to the purchase, I made a sobering discovery. The clearance between the fixture mount in my closet ceiling and the top of the door that swings underneath is shockingly small. Forced to rule out 99.9% of the sweet little chandies that filled my head with dreams, I found this reasonable fellow at Home Depot. He's no Kristaller but I've grown fond of him.

^ A second area of self-discovery was my previously unexplored need for a fabric-covered wall. Once I found this so-me fabric at IKEA, there was no looking back. Sticking the fabric to the wall was a piece of cake, and required nothing more than a few bottles of spray starch and the assistance of my handy squeegee.

Who knew that a squeegee would one day help my dreams come true. There is no darn way to predict what might happen in life.

^ With the fabric wall in place, I was totally pumped to pimp it out with a mirror. I was the first one to be surprised when I picked out an ornate, faux-distressed, over-the-top fussy frame, but I kinda loved how the frilly features played with the crisp geometric of the fabric.

^ After much deliberation, I decided to rest the mirror on the shelf, rather than hang it on the wall, and design a little vanity area around it. The small trays and organizers range from thrifted finds to Target specials to a real Waterford crystal perfume bottle that I received as a wedding gift. It's an eclectic display, to say the least, and it's still evolving as I tinker and play with it daily.

^ Sometimes, I don't understand myself. Seriously, you would have thought this cheap little RAST dresser from IKEA was the Hope Diamond, the way I yearned and pined to own it. Lucky for me, my $35 dreams can indeed come true. 

I thought about tricking this plain pony out with one of the many amazing hacks to be found online, but after much deliberation, I decided to paint it a plain white; in fact, the exact same color as the walls, ceiling and floor. There was some sort of country cottage vibe that was going on in my head, and plain white dressers were what I needed to satisfy my soul.

I did as my soul instructed. 

^ I'll be honest. I mostly bought the dressers because I loved the way they looked. In the end, I used them to store a lot of smaller items from my wardrobe that tend to get a little messy in open storage. Extra handbags, yoga pants, winter scarves and mittens - that sort of thing. This drawer holds my jammies, and as you can see, I lined the drawers to boot. The paper is actually Christmas wrap, found in the clearance bin at Target, so there is further proof that holiday makeovers are the cat's meow.

At this point in the process, it suddenly dawned on me that I was jamming on an Urban Outfitters vibe. I don't wear many clothes from UO but I shop there often with my daughters and I love the way the store is laid out. Homey dressers and tables heaped with folded clothes; shoes, boots and handbags arranged here and there among the clothes; accessories casually displayed as if someone had just taken them off and laid them there. Whenever I'm wandering through that store, I feel like I'm snooping through someone's gorgeous closet, and when the little dressers slid into their places in my closet, I realized I wanted to capture that sense of space for myself.

^ Left of the fabric wall is a space that's strictly business. Two hanging rods run the length of the wall with shelves atop them. I use the upper rod for my hoodies, sweatshirts, sportswear and fleece collection, as well as my out-of-season wardrobe.

Above my clothes are storage boxes - one for each daughter - that house treasures from their babyhood. Hospital bracelets, locks of hair, first pairs of shoes, favorite baby outfits. Someday, those boxes will go off to life with their full-grown owners, but for now, they stay here with me.

The lower area belongs to my husband, who has an affinity for tartan plaid flannels. Little does he know they are all the fashion rage this year - he's been wearing those same style shirts for decades and has no plans to ever give them up.

Tucked in the corner are two favorite pairs of my boots. They whispered to me and told me they wanted to live back in that little space. I told them I didn't blame them, and if I were a tall pair of boots, I would squeeze in with them.

^ To the right of the fabric wall stands a set of floor-to-ceiling shelves. In and of themselves, they are nothing special to look at - finished particle board - and I considered painting them white to blend in to the walls. But in the end, I decided a) too much work and b) no sense in getting uppity about it. I'm not too fancy for a bit of particle board, here and there.

Mostly smaller, folded items and bin-worthy clothing is stored here. My favorite new detail is the family photo shelf. For some reason, my memory stirred up the image of my parents-in-law's bedroom dresser, atop which always stood framed photos of their parents. That struck me as such a sweet and meaningful gesture of respect to those who made us who we are, and while my photo collection is still evolving, the shots of my in-laws and my mother will always remain front and center.

Also, new laundry baskets. I mean, real baskets, not the white plastic deals. Who knew I would suddenly feel an odd yet inarguable need for natural fiber wicker in order to stash my dirty jeans? But once I thought of these, I could not rest till I found an affordable and agreeable pair.

^ Now, to the right of the shelves, there is a funny little niche in my closet and this is my special space. For years, it was crammed - by necessity - with baby- and child-sized clothes that had been outgrown by one or more daughters and currently awaiting reassignment to a young up-and-comer. However, once my baby hit adolescence, and the rate of hand-me-downs slowed to a trickle, I reclaimed this corner and made it my own. 

^ Here I keep in-season clothes, all of my dresses, and back in a special little section, my baju kurung from Malaysia. I'll be wearing those again someday soon.

^ These Liberty of London storage boxes came from a Target collaboration, a few years back, and store more out-of-season bits, a few odd-shaped items like that three-cornered hat, and a big stash of painting clothes. Super chic.

^ Guess what. My brain decided I needed two more laundry baskets for my light and dark delicate clothes. In an effort to obey, I found these awesome buckets at Target, which were bright red in the store and therefore unusable in my design. Ha. That is why God invented white spray paint, and I could not be more pleased with how they turned out.

^ Shoes and a hat box up above, another dresser stacked with pants and leggings and such. 

^ Originally, I thought I wanted rugs underfoot throughout the closet, but later decided that I'm still loving my plain white painted floors. However, back in my little corner, I made an exception. This pastel pink, green, blue and white striped rag rug has been with me longer than any of my children. I bought it in Chicago at Crate & Barrel, back in the days when I could afford to shop at Crate & Barrel. We have an unbreakable vow, this rug and I, and I plan to keep it forever and ever. 

^ Now, I'll be honest. I'm really happy with how every nook and cranny of my closet turned out. My dreams did not lead me astray. But this corner of my special space took me completely by surprise and provides perhaps the greatest reward. 

Somehow, my brain decided that I needed some inspirational messages here to start my day on the right foot. Yeah, I never saw that coming.

I took a few spins around Pinterest and found plenty of worthy options, all print-ready and just a few clicks away from jumping out of my computer and into the waiting frames. 

But for some reason, I could not settle for that. Compelled by powers I do not understand, I decided to make handmade copies of my favorite designs. The originals are found here, here and here; and I tip my hat to the designers' creativity. In this case, my imitation is indeed meant to be a sincere form of flattery.

Each morning now, when I drag myself out of bed and step into my closet to choose an outfit, my eyes land on these images and I feel myself stir to life. The colors inspire me, set off by my bright Vietnamese elephant coin purse and pink "d" on the right, and a small assortment of favorite handbags and scarves on the left. Even more, the messages take me to a higher level. All three are deeply meaningful to me, but the third gives a delayed sleep phase sleeper like myself a special smile.

And now I can say with certainty that every one of my dreams for my upgraded closet has come true. All that's left to do is give myself a good night's rest, because I never know when a new dream is going to take me by surprise.

Let her sleep for when she wakes, she will move mountains.

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