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Our Dream and (Kinda Genius) Master Closet


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The room I’m most excited about in the mountain project is the master bedroom. We vaulted the ceilings, brought in a fireplace, and installed new huge beautiful windows. We have a space for a big closet and while it’s not a top priority, I handed Velinda some art direction and said Design your/our dream closet.  I wanted something super functional and modern, but with a mountain vibe which really just meant “add wood somewhere.” She took it and ran, and did a genius job with some VERY unexpected elements (glass ceiling?).

So I’ll hand this post over to her and she can walk you through her process designing my dream master closet. The only caveat is that we will likely do the interior build-out of the closet in phase 2 because, well, phase one is costing a ton and taking so long. So we plan on pushing some of these more custom “luxury” builds until next year in order to temporarily save some money and actually start enjoying this house sooner. I don’t need a luxury master closet and the kids don’t NEED custom bunk beds this year (a decision that was just made yesterday). But that doesn’t mean that we can’t blog about it and show you what we WOULD (and hopefully will still) do and for those of you currently designing your closet or bedroom, stick around because what she did was kinda genius.

Hi, guys! Velinda here. I joined the EHD team in March, exactly a day after finishing a final school project as a design student. This was my second solo design (first being the bunk room reading nook). So, beyond school projects, what experience have I had with closets? (Insert obvious gay joke here).

Well, my own closet in my 1926 East LA bungalow is a 15-square-foot “step-in” closet that I share with my wife. Guys…two girls sharing one, tiny space (sort of cheating by wearing all the same clothes….we actually do that) is a FEAT! But needless to say, I’ve had to practice utilizing every corner and inch. On my budget, that has meant removing an existing single-rod hanging rack (space-waster) and creating multiple layers using IKEA shelves and other such “luxuries.” So, no pressure when my second, real-world closet design comes from Emily. “Design the perfect closet for my dream house. Pretend it’s yours and do whatever you want,” she said to me.

“Yep…you got it, Emily!” (nervous emoji).

Look, if it were mine, there’d be a secret door and hidden whiskey display (which I’m sure Emily and Brian would actually appreciate). But like my own closet, Emily’s had some serious space issues, so unfortunately the whiskey room had to go (though I’ll point out to you later where I dreamed of putting it).

Here’s what this space looked like originally (prior to me joining the team…I actually had trouble finding this “before” shot while prepping the design because the space is SO unrecognizable!):

Emily Henderson Lake House Mountain Fixer Master Bedroom Closet Before Plans Grid Upstairs Living Room New 1

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Master Bedroom Closet Before 1

And here is how the floor plan has changed (so grateful to the MVP reader who suggested closing up those stairs!).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Floor Plan Master Bedroom Closet 1

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Floor Plan Master Bedroom Closet Before After 1

When Emily sent me on this mission, the closet space looked like this:

Emily Henderson Design Mountain Fixer Master Bedroom Closet Progress 1

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Master Closet Progress 1

The box had been framed out and electrical was in for a few can lights. The bed was (and is) set to go on the other side of the closet wall, so in order to not crowd the room, the closet was built a bit (a lot) on the narrow side. There had been a debate as to whether or not the walls of the closet should go all the way to the ceiling, but ultimately, it was decided that would drastically shrink the room and hide too much of the gorgeous ceiling. So, we ended up with this floating square in the room that looked somewhat temporary and definitely unintentional. Like a PODS storage box crammed into a corner that we hoped, somehow, no one would notice.

The goal was to visually hide it/make it feel intentional. On a quest to do that, and to make the space minimalistically beautiful, I was inspired by the following: 

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These spaces, in particular, got the engines rolling with their use of gorgeous, wood-clad walls:

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Elegant Bright Studio Apartments Bedroom Design Ideas 33
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Could we extend wood beyond our use of it on the ceiling in a way that either helped hide the box or make it feel incorporated through more intentional lines? Here’s what came from some early playing-around, (note that the ceiling of the closet is extended to the wall in an attempt to streamline the space):

Emily Henderson Design Mountain Fixer Master Closet Process Updated 1

Ok, perhaps these could have worked. But walking through a dark, pseudo-hallway without seeing mountain sunlight bounce off that warm wood made me sad. What a dud first-impression.

*Note, secret whiskey room would have gone somewhere up here…it might have involved dodging some low-set beams and likely the occasional concussion, but…worth it?!

Emily Henderson Design Mountain Fixer Master Closet Process Updated 2

So instead of streamlining/visually hiding the floating box, I started seeking a way to make the square seem “cool” (and intentional?). I aimed to amp up that first impression too by showing off more natural light (thanks, Velux skylights!).

Enter the idea to add some glass…

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A mix of the wood and glass inspirations, ultimately, the shell of the space became this:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Master Closet Design 1

Final8.8.18 Master Bedroom For Rendering 2018 08 09 11490800000

It’s simple, open and a WAAAAAYYYYY better first impression:

Final 8.8.18 Master Bedroom For Rendering 2018 08 09 14344600000

I figured Emily probably didn’t mean I hope you make us redo all the electrical we just did and tear out some of the new construction, too when she said “do whatever you want,” so I wasn’t sure this design would pass, but it was the version we (the rest of the design team) were most excited about.

Speaking of electrical, track lighting is utilized in this design so that the fixtures won’t be visible through the glass from anywhere else in the room. A pendant hanging from a beam would have been messy. Sconces along the wall inside the closet wouldn’t have created a flexible/functional use of light. So, when Emily asked, “Can track lighting be cool?” our new answer is…well, let’s hope so, folks!

Final 8.8.18 Master Bedroom 12 For Rendering 2018 08 09 14490000000

I was thrilled when Emily approved the design wholeheartedly! And we were very lucky that the beam placement we had (somewhat) arbitrarily decided on positioned a beam almost exactly above our closet wall, giving us a clean line for ending the glass…or so it appeared in the Sketchup model I’d done. One night, after Emily had already gotten excited, I woke up in a sweat, “WHAT IF I’M WRONG ABOUT THAT BEAM PLACEMENT?” Design nightmares… Surely no profession in the world comes with such important things to worry about. 😉 But after an on-site visit and a chat with our contractor, it looks like this works (but, friends, please keep your fingers crossed along with me).

Here’s what the space looked like when we visited the house earlier this week, now open to that natural light.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer For Blog Master Closet Progress 1

Even though this space APPEARS larger than the floating box it used to be, it isn’t. Which brings us to our space challenges. The width of the space (when you walk through the door) is only 52 inches. The length isn’t bad at 150 inches, but the wardrobe can’t go all the way to the wall because it would either butt right up against the glass—ugly and view-blocking—or mean just going back to drywall. Plus, the light switch and outlet are on the inside of that low wall. And due to the swing of the door, keeping the switch here is optimal. So, that means limited wardrobe space.

To still utilize this space but allow for the switch to be accessed, I created lower storage with a space for Emily/Brian to sit and put on snow boots, plus a mirror to make sure they look snazzy in their matching fisherman vests/hats on their way to the boat (at least that’s what I imagine they wear on their boat…wait, I’m not even sure there’s a boat, but let’s pretend, at least. Emily, don’t disappoint!).

Final 8.8.18 Master Bedroom For Rendering 2018 08 09 10042100000

So, not only is our wardrobe now reduced in length by 24 inches but for extra fun, iIt can’t be deep enough to allow for hanging clothes (hung the traditional way) because it would shrink our walkable space to under 30 inches (far less than ideal). Pull-out poles with clothing hung flat could be a solution for the shallow wardrobe, but Emily said she and Brian use shelves and drawers more than hangers, so I wanted to keep this larger section dedicated to those things. It became important to use every bit of the deeper wardrobe, the small section along the perpendicular wall (which is a standard 24-inches deep), for hanging clothes. Check out the use of the corner for longer hanging items and the shallow storage around it to keep from blocking visibility:

Final 8.8.18 Master Bedroom 14 For Rendering 2018 08 09 13084500000

Final 8.8.18 Master Bedroom For Rendering 2018 08 09 13092800000

Here’s what I did with the rest of the space with all the measurements in case you’re at that level of design nerd (or it’s helpful for any of your own projects):

Emily Henderson Design Mountain Fixer Master Bedroom Closet Elevations 1

Emily Henderson Design Mountain Fixer Master Bedroom Closet Functionality 1

For anyone curious what our GC quoted us for this project, he said it would be about $3,500 for the glass (including the drawer fronts and mirror), and an additional $4,500 for the closet build out, prefinished plywood and all the accessories. 

As far as materials, the idea is to keep it super clean, blending with the same wood as the rest of the room. So, material = wood, with integrated hardware for a minimalist feel (and space-saving need). BUT, I haven’t finished the detail of that integrated handle just yet. Any ideas? It needs to work with a three-part sliding door (doors had to slide due to the narrow walkway and desire not to shatter the light fixtures). The smaller section opens like your typical cabinet, but I want the line of that “hardware” to match the rest. So, can one of you please come up with something for me? (Don’t tell Emily). And while you’re at it, please let me know what might make this initial design better…but be nice, friends. It’s my first time on the blog (insert another nervous emoji)! Thanks, folks!


Fin Mark


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I love your flawless style (since brass petal!). I’m so thrilled for your great sucess-it is well deserved! Alas, your blog has become aspirational instead of inspirational as a result and I sure do miss that part. I don’t mean this as a snark. I do feel glad for you, but I also want to be honest about the change.


I had no idea what the expect when I began reading this. By the time I got to the end, my jaw was on the ground. Damn, honey….that’s a closet.


Ditto. Awesome and unexpected.


Very lovely. The glass makes such a difference… I’d recommend losing the deep hanging space double cabinet door, or having one large door that opens against the wall. That way the pegboard and other storage aren’t blocked when opening the hanging storage area.


I agree with this comment. If it’s possible to do one large door that opens against the wall. Also I love the glass above the wall. Fantastic job! Definitely a closet I would love to use.


Do you need a door covering the hanging stuff? When I’m in a rush to get ready or putting stuff away I find that the more obstacles I have to my view and access get irritating.

Also I want you to know that I flipping love this design and I love your writing style! Welcome to the team and let me know if you feel like resdisigining my whole house for $300 ?

Velinda Hellen

Aaahaha! I love this. You and I are apparently on the same decor budget. And could easily be convinced to join ‘team no doors’. Thanks for the feedback

Velinda Hellen

I think this is a great point! I totally agree the blockage created isn’t ideal… If it’s one large door, though, it would hit the track lighting or the three tracks would have to squeeze closer together, causing that corner to be on the darker side. Would love your thoughts b/c you’ve clearly got great instinct!


This is an epic closest! Such awesome work, Velinda!


Looks great and different, but I would honestly nix the glass transom above the closet door and the glass trapezoid transom. It seems they don’t add anything and actually compete with the beams and will detract from the ceiling. The ceiling and beams (and the light from the skylights) look gorgeous.


I agree with you. The glass above detracts from the gorgeous wood. But I think the glass door can be interesting.


agree, doesnt add anything, and I was thinking why have a ceiling at all? which you actually dont- so why closed in on the upper side? Love the slatted pant hanger. awesome job


agree, not a big fan of the glass and metal in this context; IMHO it adds little visual value, with a high expense.
the #2 rendering, with a single material throughout the space [wood cladding] makes the closet visually recede.

the glass+metal accentuates the angles because you are introducing two more, contrasting materials. the space is tricky, so when you add more, it gets even more complicated. if the glass & metal idea were repeated in the space, [say, the bathroom] then it would make more sense. sometimes a single gesture comes off as random vs intentional.

is the money shot when you face the bed/closet? trick out the inside but keep the architecture simple.


Kudos on the approach to the design challenge! The wardrobes look so nice, however, that I would just remove the one wall blocking them from the rest of the bedroom and leave the rest. In other words, without the 4th wall, you get rid of the walking space challenges and people see the pretty wardrobes (and still have the glass and seating area to the right for the electrical/coolness factor. (You also avoid the wardrobe in a cloche factor that way).


I think they want the wall, door, and transom so the space can be locked up when the home is rented. But that would require a additional storage space (maybe an armoire) for renters. But I’m just guessing.


I think get rid of the wall too. With doors on the closet you could lock them if necessary for renters. You could have a low wall/bed head to seperate the space if necessary and bed is positioned best from there.

Lisa Hamel

I love the addition of the glass at the top! If you’re using wardrobes anyway, why does the closet even need a door? Along the same lines, can you eliminate the short wall completely? It just seems to close in the space, and breaks it up a bit clunkily. I know you mentioned it houses the light switch. Can that be moved to the long wall you have the bulk of the cupboards in? It seems like the wires probably come out from there, anyway, and eliminating the short wall would free up space there, too. It might be an added expense, but perhaps that would be offset by not having to build the glass/drywall short wall.

Finally, have you considered using the wardrobes to “build” the wall behind the bed instead? Basically, you would flip the closet design and, if necessary, clad the back of the wardrobes with an appropriately pretty wood or other material. Maybe a terrible idea, but I threw it out there, as it would add a few inches to the narrowness of the room.

Great job, overall! You’ve got a great voice in your writing. 🙂


I agree with flipping the design to the opposite wall, also agree with removing the doors and keeping everything open.

Velinda Hellend

This is definitely worth playing around with, especially as a more affordable option. Thanks for the ideas!


Velinda!!!! This is good! So good! The glass just takes something ordinary to the next level!


Velinda-You worked magic!!! But… This seems overly complicated? (Especially for a “retreat”.) I long for something simpler.


GORGEOUS! What a fantastic design. I love introducing track lighting as a way for every day joes who live with it, to envision the cooler cousin design. One question, why bother with the expense of sliding doors? the closet is hidden enough from view that it doesn’t seem necessary, but it is lovely! 🙂 I get the doors for the south end unit, though. I can’t way to see progress shots. congrats!


Holy cow, CLOSET QUEEN! You done good! I did want to state I did not imagine Brian and Emily are shelves/drawers people. After discovering ADD folks (me) usually do better with seeing (rather than hiding) everything they need, I went for hangers and have never looked back! I have assumed ever since all people do this. Those pull out racks for pants do something for me in a way I never thought possible, looking at a closet. Kuddos to your first blog post, Velinda!


Love love love! I don’t think I would change a thing.


This is amazing. So clever and beautiful! You’ve given me so many ideas for my closet makeover…


This is the first space in the mountain house that fits the style perfectly, in my opinion. It is both unique and inspiring. I absolutely love it!


Wow! That closet is outstanding! Such a creative way to make the space intentional and useful. Great job


Beautiful! A dream for sure. One recommendation for the the hardware, I would look to marine recessed or push button pulls. There are such beautiful brass, flush mount pulls made for boats that could work for both the sliding doors and the cabinet. This company makes amazingly beautiful products in Maine and can also do custom machining:


Yes to this!

Velinda Hellen

Thank you so much for the new resource! Such great stuff.


Can you share whether this is custom, Elfa, IKEA, etc.? Would be great to have resources for the closet systems!


Ditto! Would love to know who offers these gorgeous details. Love the design and love your voice!


You are a design genius! And thank you for basically helping me organize my own closet, which has the identical narrow layout to this one and is a hott mess. I won’t be able to put in a cool glass wall, but I sure as heck and going to jump all over how you laid out those storage units. If I could buy you a shot of whiskey, I would 😉

Paige Cassandra Flamm

I love the teal counter in the middle!



Why have doors at all? It seems like most of your inspiration pics don’t have doors, and the renderings look better with the doors way open/nonexistent. Plus, sliding doors mean there’s always something you can’t get to… opening a door, then sliding a door… all just to get to the laundry hamper? You’d be over that by day 2.
Plus, the rendering with all the doors closed feels claustrophobic. I think keeping everything open gives you an opportunity to do something cool with the backs of the shelves and hanging area (shou shugi ban?), and, more importantly, makes the closet easier to use.


I thought the same thing about doors. The beauty and functionality of an organized closet is that you can see what you’re looking for. And the closet space is already closed off by a wall so you don’t have to see it when you don’t want to. Also, I happen to have sliding doors on a tricked out closet and I’m always swinging the doors from one side to the other to get what I need. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Also, I agree with other posters – you write with a compelling voice and brava on your first blog post.




terrific design, but I agree about the sliding doors – not neccessary for this space and annoying to use (I speak from experience!)

Congratulations, Velinda!


Agree with no doors on the casework. The whole room is the closet. LOVE the glass.


Another vote for nixing the doors inside the closet. I absolutely loved the walk-in closet I had in my last place with all open shelves and hanging space – I could see EVERYTHING at once!


My husband and I had the master closet in our house gutted and customized to suit us. I let us be talked out of doors for the same reasons listed in the comments: “pain to slide back and forth / open and close”, “obstacle between you and your clothes / accessories”, “not necessary”, etc. I have regretted it from the first week because his side perpetually looks like a three year old had a party in it. I’ve organized it numerous times and within 24 hours it’s chaos again. He is going to be gently rehomed without harm into a new closet that we’re building and will have SOLID DOORS so I can close them and practice “out of sight, out of mind”. So that requires Emily and Brian to honestly answer the age-old design question: “How will you REALLY use this space?” Then she can decide whether to keep the doors or not.


I strongly vote to nix the doors!
We have sliding doors and it is such a pain to always have this obstacle.
If it does end up looking messy, it won’t matter because of the wall behind the bed.
Great use of closet space and the corner, Velinda!


Nicely done, Velinda! I think the glass is unique & interesting, and there’s a good opportunity to tie it in with the lighting/sconces next to the bed.

One thought…the closet storage is meticulously designed, and since this is a 2nd home (with ostensibly less items to store), why not show it off and nix the closet doors? You could use solid, flat panel drawers instead of the frosted/clear ones to hide unsightly fishing vests, and it will probably feel more functional. Plus, who doesn’t want the opportunity to style out their closet, amirite? 🙂


This is really great and inspiring me to fix up my own closet.


Love it! The glass and wood beams really marry the modern and cabin vibes well. I wouldn’t be too worried about having a small closet, it’s a seasonal home so it won’t house all the “maybe I’ll wear it someday clothes”.


Velinda, it’s gorgeous! And you have that ehd charm down too. 🙂 I’m wondering what it would look like if the drywall line on the adjacent wall was raised so that it’s flush. And all glass instead of that little bit of drywall on the closet door side?


Daaaaaang Velinda! Welcome to the team, you are worth every penny. How is it even possible that you come up with the things you do?! You make everything look SO custom and so amazing. Like blowing up my brain of what a closet can be.


I agree with others. The wall should just come down (without that wall you could just do a floating bed).

Julie S

This is REALLY nice design. Seriously. Super beautiful, professional, and functional. Way to solve some serious layout issues in a way that feels so architectural and purposeful.


For some reason I still feel like the half wall should be wood paneled to flow better and look less like a box hanging out. I also think the wood would look good as a backdrop to the bed headboard.

I really liked how those first photos looked when you were trying to make it look more intentional.

great work.


Good job, Velinda! I really like what you’ve done, especially with the glass panels. What a great way to integrate the big rectangular drywall box! The only thing I might suggest is revisiting the idea of having doors within the closet at all. The interior of the closet is only visible for a brief moment when entering or leaving the room, and having doors in there just adds to the tightness and cramped feeling, IMHO. If it’s substantially irritating to glimpse stacks of sweaters or hanging shirts as you walk by, maybe reeded glass or glass with some kind of subtle etching would help. Snowflakes? Leaves? Just throwing stuff out there.

Jeanette Smith

I’m totally stealing your glass idea for our master bath/closet remodel! Great work!


Hi Velinda, I am impressed! Looking great and you really resolved that tight space very well! Very clever resolving that awkward modern height wall in the room by completing with glass and steel, plus the peg board to get around to the corner hanging, plus getting that sconce in above the mirror without visually seeing it from elsewhere. A few tiny measurement tweaks I would consider from a maximizing manhattan closet reader:) and because you mentioned asking for any of our thoughts to make better/maximize. 1. Most people (5ft 4 and over) can reach to 90 inch with double hanging. Hence you have yours at 81 inch, I would take the extra/bonus 9 inch to get a drawer btw the 2 hanging clothes rod height. – I love that look, or otherwise lift top bar to 90 inch and add another drawer at floor level. I see the angle so make sure the end of the hanger fits in there. that space from 81 inch to 90 inch is less assessable. 2. Re; shoe shelf depth, 10 inch is unusual height choice. I suspect most shoes up there are flats or runners, which do great in 6 inch depth, so… Read more »


Just wanted to say to you Gabrielle, it’s so nice to read such thoughtful and functional comments! I would never have the eye to make such good use of the space!

Velinda Hellen

This is incredible feedback! Thank you so much for keeping an eye on the details. I was hoping someone might have measurement suggestions. Cheers to your manhattan insight!


Velinda – this closet is like WHOA. Amazing job on this design, so beautifully done!

Emily – I’m thinking a closet a for a vacation home should have a few wood shelves and call it a day. Right??
I can’t even imagine the budget for this.

Regarding the bunk room (since you mentioned), I was pleasantly shocked to see that the custom build-out is the same price we paid for our (double over double) RH bunks. I think the bunk room will get tons of use early on, and should def be a priority from the get go 🙂

alex m

I think this is SO SO beautiful, Velinda, you’re a genius! The only thing is that side view looking into the closet from the door, it looks SO claustrophobic from that view! What if you took the wall down to a half wall (so you don’t necessarily have to move the bed below the windows,) and did something similar to the first and second inspirations? I don’t know if that’s not incredibly busy… but A) that beautiful closet deserves to be seen and B) it could definitely open up the closet while inside. But beautiful design! I really love the whole thing!


I hi k your ideas and design are brilliant! You really knocked it ou5 of the Park. The only suggestion I have, if you want to increase usable space at least up to the height of the “pony” wall where the window next to the door is, is to put the light switch and outlet directly outside the closet. Maybe the same placement, but just on the other side of the wall. This might give you enough vertical space inside the closet (where the bench and mirror currently are) for longer hanging items? You could always put a short, square mirror above it. Just a thought. I loooove what you’ve done.


So first things first I wanna hear more from Velinda!
I was so intrigued by the glass and wanted to love it, but with the wood… all I can see is a sauna ?


Great work! Love your glass solution! Have you considered not using doors inside the closet since it already separate and a little tight? Brava 🙂


Am I the only one who really wants to see Velinda’s 15 square foot closet for 2? That sounds like it would be SO useful to see!


nope. I want to see that closet too – but maybe because it sounds like my closet.

I’m loving the track lighting in this closet, the suspended look elevates it from what I expect track lighting to look like.


Very interesting. I think this closet (and the bunk room) will be epic on Pinterest when they’re done. Keep up the good work!

Megan Lec

I am in love with this closet design and agree completely that this closet (and room) are hitting the mountain house aesthetic perfectly! I cannot wait to see the completed product. I think this might become the Pinterest heavyweight of the house, who wouldn’t be inspired by such a warm, modern space!


Beautiful design and great post.


Can you please tell me what program was used for the elevations? Thx ???


This is a random idea – but what if you made the entire wall behind the bed the iron glass “windows” like in your inspiration pictures and just made all the cabinets the same smooth front so it would be nice to look into? It would make the room feel bigger and I LOVE the interior iron windows look..


Beautifully done. I love how it’s unique, but still practical and inspiring but not trying too hard. Perfect balance.

Welcome, Velinda. 🙂


Very cool! Love the glass. I would suggest some of the shelf storage wall a hook zone instead. Vacation clothes tend to be worn more than once before wash, and hooks are better for those in-between clothes.


The closet is gorgeous, Velinda! Awesome job. I wouldn’t change a thing, the wood and glass are a perfect match. You created so much storage in a small space.

You might not be able to have a secret whiskey room, but if needed, you could probably squeeze in a tiny wine fridge 😉


I would pin that


I love it so much! One of my favorite designs and want to incorporate it into my house. Great work Velinda!


In regard to putting on snow boots, that should be done
by the front door somewhere. Very awkward to walk in them, especially from upstairs!


OK. I am obsessed with this design. It’s so cool! I read it on my phone earlier today and came back to see the bigger photos on my computer because there’s SO much there. Such a perfect example of why EHD is crushing the blog game 🙂

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