Our Dream and (Kinda Genius) Master Closet
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!):
And here is how the floor plan has changed (so grateful to the MVP reader who suggested closing up those stairs!).
When Emily sent me on this mission, the closet space looked like this:
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:
These spaces, in particular, got the engines rolling with their use of gorgeous, wood-clad walls:
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):
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?!
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…
A mix of the wood and glass inspirations, ultimately, the shell of the space became this:
It’s simple, open and a WAAAAAYYYYY better first impression:
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!
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.
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!).
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:
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):
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!