...because home doesn't happen overnight.

wardrobe misc 1

This is the third post in a series I’m devoting to all things closets. {You can read the first two here and here.} Last time, I shared one of two freestanding wardrobes in our mudroom. That wardrobe mainly functions as a coat and broom closet. The second wardrobe is more of a miscellaneous catchall.

wardrobe misc 2

Instead of hanging rods, we chose to install only shelving in this wardrobe. The shelves are adjustable so we have the ability to move things around when / if our needs change. Originally, we thought this wardrobe could act as an overflow pantry. {The mudroom is just off the kitchen.} We don’t have many upper cabinets in the kitchen but, surprisingly, plentiful base cabinets provide ample space for our dry goods so we’ve never had to resort to putting food in the wardrobe. In fact, this wardrobe is pretty bare – thanks in part to some purging earlier this week!

wardrobe misc 3

Higher shelves hold fragile and less used home accessories. There are baskets {I use some of them as Easter baskets for the kids}, candleholders, vases, decorative bowls, tablecloths, cloth napkins and napkin rings. Since the mudroom is also our dining room, this is the perfect spot for storing table linens.

Taller items are placed in the back and shorter items are staggered in front. This gives me a clear view so I can find what I need quickly. Or, in this case, I can briefly scan my inventory to see what I’m in need of next time I make a trip to Target. =)

wardrobe misc 4

Lower shelves hold heavy and frequently used items. There’s my sewing machine, sewing box, a large basket, lunch boxes {a few are missing from this shot} and other random stuff.

I keep treats for the neighbor’s dog, Pepper, here. The boys grab one – or a handful – before heading out to the bus every day. Pepper is the nicest dog ever. He doesn’t jump or bark. He’s always watching out for the kids. Also, my kids want a dog now.

HH keeps a foam roller and tennis ball on hand for rolling out his muscles at night. Don’t ask. I think it has something to do with CrossFit or Becoming a Supple Leopard?? I dunno.

And then there’s Blokus, the perfect game for serial furniture rearrangers. Really, it’s my favorite board game. The only drawback is that it doesn’t fit in our fauxdenza

wardrobe misc 5

…where all of the normal sized board games live. Such the outcast. There are also a few crafty supplies in the wardrobe for the kids.

But the best thing about this wardrobe? We left room to grow. As our family changes and evolves so will our storage needs. I always like leaving empty spots in each room to allow for the inevitable onslaught of more stuff. But that’s the beauty of it. If I’m mindful of leaving empty spots, then we’re never bursting at the seams.

wardrobe misc 6

Maybe one day I’ll identify a more specific function for this wardrobe {gift wrapping station? storage for interior design swatches and samples? styling props? I dream!} but right now it works as a miscellaneous catchall.

Do you have a designated space in your home for miscellaneous items? Do you purposefully leave spots empty for acquiring more things? I love the design aspect of homes but I’m also curious about how and where homeowners store their belongings. Since downsizing, I’m obsessed with modest, tidy homes that seem to have a place for everything.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I love these, I have two units that I’ve turned into my closet and we’ll be buying a third for our basement for similar storage! I love how easily they can be customized.

If your family is going to be looking for a dog, I have a breeder I could recommend as I’m also in the Cincy area. We have a two year mini labradoodle with the most amazing personality. Rarely barks and he is the most easy going dog I’ve ever had. Another plus, he doesn’t shed at all! We alternate sending him to a groomer and DIYing it to save some money and it hasn’t been bad. He’s also only 45lbs so I can easily pick him up if I need to. I would be happy to pass on any information if you would want it. The breeder is about an hour and twenty minutes north of Cincy.


Hi!! Can you please tell me where you got this wardrobe? My husband and I are looking for one and this looks perfect!

Thanks and love your blog!


It’s a lovely feeling having empty closet space. I wish I had enough closets in this new English house for some empty room! Sadly when there is no built-in storage and your stairs are too narrow to fit even a desk, you resort to IKEA wardrobes and to hanging curtains to “create” eaves storage…
By the way, that planter is just beautiful!! Was there a post on it and did I miss it??


Dana, thank you for this series! We also live in a small house (1940s cape cod outside Washington DC) and I appreciate all your tips and suggestions. Plus, your style is gorgeous! PS. go ahead and turn that lovely silver planter by the back door 180 degrees, so that the plants that are reaching toward the sun from the door now face the wardrobe. I do this with all our plants every few months, so that all sides of the planter fill out more evenly. :-)


I love what you’ve done with the closets, but they aren’t small…they’re actually really big storage units! :)


I have a tiny (900 sf) Arts and Crafts style bungalow. Luckily, it has a full, though unfinished, basement. I keep decor items in large plastic lidded tubs – sorted by season/holiday. There’s a big built in buffet piece in the living room that stores dishes and linens. And a proper linen closet just outside the bathroom. One thing about the A&C style, there are often lots of built in storage, though the actual closets are a bit on the small size.

As with any small house, you have to be concious of your buying habits and purge often. My biggest storage headache is paperwork, as the ‘office’ is a built in secretary desk beside the fireplace – beautiful, but no filing.


First time commenter, longtime reader. Since you mentioned using that wardrobe for props, swatches… I haven’t seen anything lately about your design school courses. How are those going for you?


I love empty spaces and am always trying to make sure things are empty enough. Also, I love seeing into other people’s closets. :) Thanks!


Thanks for the tip!


It was part of the patio makeover earlier this year.


I brought it inside a few weeks ago to save it from the frost. If it makes it through the winter, it will be a miracle!


Sadly, they are on the back burner but I did manage to complete a photography class and blogging class this year. I have all of the material – just need to find / make time to see it through. The main reason for taking the course was to learn more about the business side of design, my weak point. Sheffield {the design school} did send me a birthday email today! Thanks for asking!


It’s the PAX wardrobe from IKEA.


Just sent you an email!


on a similar note- how have the design services you offered a while ago going? Do you have any projects to share yet? wishing you the best :)


Just a random comment…Happy Birthday to the only b-day buddy I know in this world born same day & year as myself! Hope 35 is treating you great! I’ve had a fantastic day with my family & it ended with a delicious slice of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. Take care!
xo Natalie


Your blog constantly inspires me to reevaluate how much stuff I need in my home. I love purging and just did a major job on my closet! I too am sorta obsessed by what’s behind every cupboard closet or curtain in people’s homes. Do you guys have a basement? I thought you mentioned an attic before?


I have loved your small space ideas! We have an extremely small entryway and our pantry and laundry combined into a small space also. You have given me some great ideas for organizing these! Also, the tennis ball and roller are for breaking up knots/muscle. We roll tennis balls on our back for knots, and when in track, rollers on legs for sore muscles :)


So does that mean you just had a birthday? Woot!

Also, I noticed that you haven’t put any progress photos on your house tour page. I know it can be easy to get hung up on little things, and I know a lot of bloggers get stressed about having every photo being deemed pin-worthy, but I have to say I love your progress posts. Possibly even more than before and afters, because it makes me appreciate the eventual finished product even more. Of course, maybe you just haven’t had time to update it (what is this thing called “free time” that you speak of??). But I gotta say, things really are lookin’ pretty good at casa de Miller.


Updating the house tour page is on my to-do list! I need to get on that!!


No basement. Our house sits on a slab. We do have a modest attic where I store Christmas decorations, Layne’s old clothes that I’m saving for Everett, a tote of mementos, out-of-season bedding, etc.


Happy {belated} birthday to you too! I don’t know anyone else either. We ate dinner at my favorite dive, a Mexican place, where I enjoyed a margarita the size of my head. Apparently, once you reach 35 they no longer bring out fried ice cream as the complementary birthday treat…I got a shot of tequila! =)


I’d love to know of any other small & tidy homes that you’ve come across online! We recently moved, and while our new home is slightly larger than our previous home we are really lacking in storage space. We have less closet space and lost our attic storage. :(


Dana, please help! I cant find a color chip for Besalt. Would you share a SW look-a-like?


The swatch should be available in Ace Hardware stores. Next time I’m at Sherwin-Williams, I’ll try to find a comp.


[…] dried and packaged goods. We thought if worse came to worse we could always store pantry items in one of the wardrobes in the adjacent mudroom but, luckily, we haven’t had […]


[…] *https://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/22/making-the-most-of-small-closets-mudroom-part-ii/ […]


What kind of sewing machine do you use? Would you say it’s novice-friendly?


It’s a Brother. It was a gift from Steve so it’s probably more expensive than I would have paid if I was buying for myself. It has some fancier features but it’s easy to thread and use for basic sewing if you’re just getting started.