...because home doesn't happen overnight.

girl bedroom 8

I had to rework the closet in Mabrey’s room when I replaced her crib/toddler bed with a twin trundle. Bringing in a larger bed necessitated moving most of the playthings to the closet to free up floor space. You can see how the closet used to look when the room served as a nursery right here. A freestanding shelving unit (it lived in our previous home’s craft closet) was a temporary fix that worked well for the first few years to corral diapering essentials and a quickly evolving wardrobe. (Little ones outgrow clothing so quickly!) However, it wasn’t the most functional solution for a preschooler.

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I sold the shelving unit and put the money towards the room makeover. To accommodate larger toy items like the dollhouse, shopping cart and stroller, we added a second shelf under the existing shelf and hanging rod. I measured the height of the dollhouse and shopping cart to allow for clearance, then we added cleats to the back and sides of the closet. We cut and laid a shelf board across the cleats. All the wood was left over from the whole house renovation (a longer shelf used to hang in the boys’ closet), so the cost to add the shelf was nil. I painted the shelf and closet to match the rest of the room.

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I kept the closet curtain panel. With the door to the room opening up on to the closet, it’s just a less cumbersome setup versus a legit door. Plus, I really like using curtains vs. doors on children’s closets for practical reasons: no smashed fingers, easy access for little ones, no slamming doors! The curtain matches the panels at the window and hangs from an inexpensive tension rod just behind the stop of the door frame. Years ago, I hemmed it to puddle slightly at the floor for a casual vibe. The wood dot hooks next to the closet double as curtain tie backs.

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The floor of the closet serves as a mini “garage” housing wheeled items like a stroller, shopping cart and portable toy box. The shopping cart was a joint gift from family a few years back, and it’s the toy Mabrey plays with most often. The rolling toy box is new. (Yes, I spray painted the green rims white and replaced the green rope with a white one because #typeA.) I filled it with blocks and Lincoln Logs from the boys’ closet since they’ve pretty much outgrown them and Mabrey plays with them more. (BONUS: This freed up space in the boys’ closet!) It’s so great having these items out of the way but within easy reach. Mabrey can pull them out on her own to play with in her room or in the living room. A laundry basket sits to the right of the toy box.

Mabrey doesn’t play with the stroller all that much so it sits in the corner for now. She doesn’t seem to have a huge interest in baby dolls. In fact, she keeps asking me if she has to have a husband and kids when she grows up. I tell her, “Absolutely not! You can do whatever you want and have any kind of family you want.” She says she wants to work, have a house and a cat, and she wants me to visit. So sweet!

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The newly added shelf holds a dollhouse which Mabrey actually enjoys playing with in the closet. (See how I tweaked it here.) It’s right at eye level, so I guess that’s why. Even so, it can be easily moved out to the coffee table in the living room for access to all sides. A small wire basket off to the right holds a set of mini wooden figurines that Mabrey plays with in the house.

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I stash books on the left and rotate them in and out of the wall-mounted bookshelf next to Mabrey’s bed, so we don’t get stuck reading the same books over and over again. It kinda works? If Mabrey had it her way, we’d read Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever every night until she moved out. #somuchpointing

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Dresses, tutus, butterfly wings and a few sweaters hang from an existing rod. I finally upgraded to wooden children’s hangers. I always thought they were too expensive for fast-growing kids, but I found these at IKEA for cheap. Woven baskets along the top shelf hold hand-me-downs that don’t quite fit yet. They’re organized by size and I rotate them in as needed.

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One of my renovation regrets is not adding a hardwired light to Mabrey’s closet. (We did in the other bedroom closets.) The closet is so teeny that I thought it wouldn’t matter, but I was wrong. Hindsight is 20/20. We finally added a battery-operated, motion-sensing LED light overhead, and it’s my favorite thing about the closet now. We can actually see the closet contents in the dark, and the light turns off on its own!

I love how functional this closet is now, and I can totally see it evolving with Mabrey’s needs. Once the toys are long gone, a second hanging rod could be installed below the lower shelf for more clothing storage. Small, tidy closets for the win!

P.S. – A DIY hidden litter box.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

25 Comments

19.September.2016

Love it! One question how do you have the curtain door hung up? We have one on a small closet in a spare room. I out it up with a tension rod, just wondering if there is a better solution

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replied on September 19th, 2016

I mentioned within the post that the curtain is hung from an inexpensive tension rod. It works for us!

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19.September.2016

Wood dot hooks – HOW DID YOU GET THEM TO STAY IN THE WALL? I’ve had them for 3 apartments, love them, but they dont stay in the wall! They are currently in my goodwill pile :(

Maybe a newer version is better engineered? If anyone can tweak them, its you – no pressure…

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replied on September 19th, 2016

These are a few years old. They don’t budge! The walls in Mabrey’s room are plaster so I had to use masonry anchors to install them. Maybe that’s the difference?

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replied on September 22nd, 2016

Must be… the walls in texas are weird.

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19.September.2016

I kind of love how a smaller closet gives you opportunities (i.e. forces) you to be smart about storage, and that LED light is just what we’ve been needing for our little closet, thanks Dana!

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19.September.2016

This is just so good! Way to use such a little space so well! Can I ask where her little stroller is from? I’ve been looking and looking for one that is not too bulky or flashy or crazy expensive. Thank you!

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replied on September 19th, 2016

It’s from Land of Nod and was a gift from grandparents. I believe it has been discontinued, but they offer a similar, equally adorable version.

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19.September.2016

I am all about Mabrey’s future goals. House, cat, job, and visitors you love? Sounds perfect.

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replied on September 27th, 2016

She’s got it all figured out ;)

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20.September.2016

Love it but especially loved your response that she can have any kind of family she wants – way to go, Mom!!!

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20.September.2016

I recently discovered you on Instagram. I just love your idea of living more simply-great post. :) I look forward to following along.

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replied on September 27th, 2016

Welcome!

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20.September.2016

I hope you get a kick back, you just got me to buy the closet light. #smallclosetforthewin

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20.September.2016

Thanks for the Amazon light link, that’s exactly what we need. Just a recommendation from an older mom – the books I most loved reading to my kids, and my kids loved at that age, were Shirley Hughes books. The Nursery Collection I read every night for about two years, and then all the Alfie and Annie Rose books. The one off Alfie books like Alfie Gets in First, and then the compilation books like The Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook. They are the only books that I bought and am actually making sure that I keep.

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replied on September 27th, 2016

Thanks for the book recs! We’ll have to add them to our wish list.

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20.September.2016

I am a silent viewer. I think I’ve written one comment. I just have to say….you have such great style. I am impressed with your work and your ideas. I admire, too, how much energy you have into making things your own(like what you did to your own home. Unreal) I am glad that I’ve read your blog for all these years. You are so gifted.

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replied on September 27th, 2016

What a nice thing to say! Thanks for reading all these years :)

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20.September.2016

I love how you make even the small spaces look planned, cared for and attractive.

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22.September.2016

Hello, love your home!. I also live in a small house so managing space is something I am always doing. My kids rooms are also small with small closets. I have been trying to move most of my daughters toys into her closet as well to have more floor space. I noticed not all clothes is stored in your daughters closet. Where/how do you store clothes like shirts, undergarments, shorts pants, shoes?

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replied on September 27th, 2016

Non-hanging clothing is stored here…

http://www.housetweaking.com/2016/08/30/a-multipurpose-dresser-for-mabreys-room/

Shoes are kept in a basket in the mudroom. (We don’t wear shoes indoors.) Hope that helps!

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22.September.2016

Love Mabrey’s new big girl room and your blog! My comment isn’t exactly related to this post, but I recently bought the LATT table and chairs for my daughter and of course want to paint them. Do you recommend using a primer first on the raw pine? Okay, I guess my comment is more of a question!

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replied on September 27th, 2016

I usually go with a primer + paint in one to save time. I really like the Clark + Kensington (from Ace Hardware) line.

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22.September.2016

I LOVE budget decor. Bravo! We also have very small closets in our home, so I feel ya. :-)

https://wanderlustingbydesign.com/2016/09/22/sharpie-subway-tiles/

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20.October.2016

We put a small bookcase in our daughter’s closet to hold all of her clothes and it’s worked GREAT for optimizing space. We found ours at a furniture store in Kansas City (Crowley Furniture I think: http://www.crowleyfurniture.com/ ) and it’s made her closet so much more organized! I believe it was the Carlyle small bookcase.

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