We Turned a Closet Into a Restful Retreat (and built a Desk)

We Turned a Closet Into a Restful Retreat (and built a Desk)

Flowers, Fairies, Tea Cups, and hiding in the closet

“If you ever do manage to have a girl, she’s gonna be a total tomboy!  She’ll be all short hair, Tonka trucks, and toy guns.  I bet she’ll refuse to wear dresses and throw a fit if you try to put a bow in her hair!”  These charming words were spoken to me, when I was six months pregnant with my daughter.  Grace was very modest and refused to reveal her gender to the sonographer.  So, we had no idea if we were having a girl or a fourth boy until D-Day.

The person speaking above was clearly a little ray of sunshine and encouragement!  However, after Sam having a NICU stay, that came with terrors and tears, we really did only care if the baby was healthy.  (I do have to say though, that girl clothes, hair, and toys have been a blast after fourteen years of having the only estrogen in the house!)

When Grace finally arrived, she did so with a will to run things.  You know, things…like brothers.  She isn’t just our only girl, she is the only girl (and youngest child) in our group of friends.  Every other Saturday, when they were younger, you would find a herd of six or seven boys ranging in age from eight to seventeen (plus one special friend who was twenty-three) at my house, with a seven-year-old girl “headin’em up and movin’em out”.

One of my best friends, (who is the mom of one of those boys), calls Grace the “One Girl to Rule Them All”!  Grace joined in the shoot-outs, sword fights, and orc hunting, but she did it with a princess dress, a tiara, and a sassy attitude.  Now the special friend is twenty-eight and the other boys range from sixteen to twenty-four, but you can still find all but one of them at my house two Saturdays a month.  Grace is still in the thick of the action, keeping the boys in line, and doing it with style!

The last few years have been spatially challenging for Grace.  First, we lived in an RV for over a year, while we remodeled and sold our home, then searched for and bought the farm.  She had to share an “itty bitty living space” with two parents, two brothers, two giant dogs, and a bossy cat.  For a girl who loves pretty things and is innately tidy, living with her brothers and their less-than-tidy stuff right under her nose was challenging.  Then, we moved into our farmhouse.  Suddenly, she had a large room, her own bathroom, and a big walk-in closet.  However, the room had previously been shared by two eight-year-old boys.

Seriously, that hair!

No problem, right?  Slap up some paint; hang new curtains. No worries! It’ll be fun!  Then, life went sideways.  Well, first, life fell off a cliff, bounced a few times, rolled down a hill, and went sideways for the landing (breaking bones in the process).  The short version is I was injured.  I was off work for about sixteen months and couldn’t fasten my own pants or put on a bra, much less paint a wall.

Let me tell you, I was grateful for disability insurance.  It helped keep the bills paid, but it didn’t leave room for DIY or home decor.  Now, I’ve  (mostly) recovered, and I’m (thankfully) back at work.  The paychecks are back too, and we’re slowly climbing out of the financial hole my accident dropped us in.  Also, I can actually use a paint brush again! (The roller is still out of my skill set, but I’m working on it!)

We decided to kick off our much-postponed home improvement projects with Grace’s closet.  Yep, you read that right: her closet.  Her room has a large walk-in closet, with (oddly enough) a window.  All Grace’s clothes and shoes fit in a wardrobe/armoire, so the closet was just a junk magnet.  We decided, that when you have three brothers, you need a quiet retreat to read, craft, sip tea, and do schoolwork.  Oh, and a big stick!  With three big brothers, you definitely need to take Teddy Roosevelt’s advice and: “Walk softly, but carry a big stick.”  (That piece of advice comes from Grace, herself.)

Let’s get down to what we did in our closet conversion.  I was a bad blogger, and didn’t get good before pictures.  So, the pictures below are from when we toured the house.  The closet, as you can see, needed a little love (and a lot less Spiderman).

First, we moved all Grace’s things out. (Spiderman was donated just after we moved in.)  Then, we attacked the stained paint with a roller and paint brush.  The color looks white in these photos, but it was dingy yellowish beige. There were five of us working, so we got her bedroom, bathroom, and closet all painted in one day.  Liam was thrilled, that my injury meant he got to use the roller, and I was stuck with the cut work.  I guess that’s fair since he spent over a year fastening my bra and tying my shoes.

After the paint was dry, we started building a desk/craft table in an alcove.  First, we mounted 1 x 6’s into the studs.

I don’t know why this picture tips. It is the only one I could find at this stage, but it makes me feel like I’m going through a fun house. I promise the floors are level!

The walls in our house are nowhere near plumb, so we were very careful to be sure the supports were level.  Next, we cut the desktop and carefully shaped it to fit the “did these people not own a level?!?” walls.

Once we knew the top fit properly, we cut two 1 x 6 supports and two 1 x 6 foot long pieces for the front.  I painted the front pieces before we put them in.  I hate to paint, so I just sprayed them.  After that, we put those pieces in.

There is a box like this on either side. Not pictured here, are L brackets used to add strength and stability.

Liam then attached the top (made of two craft boards, one is twenty inches wide and one twelve inches).  I’d previously stained and polyurethaned them.

We put cast iron brackets and wooden shelves above to finish the space.

This is where my pictures become a little sketchy.  I was painting things, and Liam doesn’t quite get the idea of step-by-step photos.  He placed two 1 x 6 boards side by side (left to right) to span the gap between the boxes.  He made a lip on the back of those boards with a 1 x 1 strip.  This created a three-foot shelf in the center of the desk with a lip to prevent things sliding off the back.  We then cut and painted a 1 x 6 board to fit the front and act as a door to the cubby.  This was attached with a piano hinge.

This little cubby is perfectly sized to hold her electronic piano keyboard.  This way, she can pull it out and practice on the desk, then put it out of sight.  We installed hardware and a magnetic closure on the cubby.  Liam also cut some simple trim to finish out the job.

The pulls on the outside boxes are faux. The one in the center isn’t attached in this picture, because,  I changed my mind about the color and had to do a swapsie.

Let me explain our decorating ‘theme’.  Grace’s room is intended to feel like you’re outside in a garden.  There are flower fairies throughout.  We wanted a soft feminine feel.  For the closet cum reading space, we went for much the same vibe.  We’re also a family of serious hot tea drinkers.  Grace has a ‘tea maid’ in her room.  This just means, she has an electric kettle, tea, sugar, shelf stable milk, and a tea set.  Now, on to the reveal:

Ignore the slight warping and the blurriness. I just wanted to include the panoramic, so you could get a feel for the whole room.
A quiet place to read and sip tea.

The curtain is a quickie no-sew panel.  I made it and trimmed it with ribbon in about ten minutes.  My mom would have a good time teasing me about using heat-bond, rather than breaking out my sewing machine.  Honestly, though, I made this more quickly than I could have set up the machine!  (I’m fairly sure my mom doesn’t read the blog.  So, if y’all don’t tell, I should be good.)

She’ll love drawing, crafting, and writing here. Math, not so much.
The pink tea set was her first “real” set at about age seven.

Her tea cart is a resale (Op Shop) find.  I refinished and repainted it.  Then, I decoupaged flower fairies on it and painted her name on top.  I think it was for Christmas two years ago.  (I thought about doing a tutorial for the tea cart, but I’m not sure if it would be helpful to others.)  Sam and I made the cookie/candy stand for her this Christmas.  I was the know-how, and he was my hands.  (I was still on the injured list at the time.)

We’ll be finishing the rest of her room over the next week.  I still have some ‘resale renovations’ to do for finishing touches.  I’m also waiting for a couple of specific things to go on 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby.  Grace loves her new reading room.  We’ve been teasing her about hiding in the closet all week.  I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our DIY home project.

That’s a fairy inside, but the doors are always open. The bird cages are just spare rooms for fairy friends! (I thought you might like a sneak peek at her bedroom redecoration.)

Please, leave us a comment if you have a chance!  Have you been doing any home improvement projects lately?  I would love to hear about them!

This post is shared at some of my favorite blog hops and linky parties!  These are a great place for fun, information, and community!  Stop by if you have a moment.


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  1. Wow, I’m so glad my daughter hasn’t seen this post, she would say “now Mum this is how parents decorate their daughters room”. Beautiful, I love the bird cage idea, thanks heaps for sharing.

    1. Thanks, so much! My Mom was always great at decorating. It was very natural for her. For me, not so much. I’m very ‘right brained’. However, I love a pretty house! So, I spend a lot of time analyzing and over-thinking decor. I am always so pleased (and more than a little surprised), when I like the way it turns out. Thanks, for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment. I’m new to blogging, and I get very excited about comments! Lol! Have a wonderful Easter!

  2. Hi Anne! What a beautiful, quiet place! I love the tea set and cookie stand! I think some of us older girls would love this in our homes!!

    1. Rachel,
      The boys were being silly and loud today. Not misbehaving, just singing REALLY loudly, off-key, and in falsetto. Eventually, I told Grace, “I’m going to hide in your closet! Wanna come?” She laughed and we went to have tea. I’m thinking, I need a cookie stand (and a cookie stash) in my room! Thanks, for stopping by, and have a wonderful Easter!

    1. Terri,
      Thank you, so much! She had to be such a grown up (while I was hurt), that I wanted her to have a private place to be a kid again. She’s been starting the day with tea and a book. Those are the times I realize just how like me she is! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Have a wonderful Easter!

  3. What a truly lovely space for a little girl. This is also a space that will grow with her. You are very clever.

    1. Jane,
      Thank you, so much! That kid had to be such a grown up, while I was hurt. She (mostly) ran the house and had to help me dress when my husband was gone. I want her to have a special space where she can read or draw and escape into her imagination! Thanks, for stopping buy and leaving a comment. I’m new to the whole blogging thing, so comments still make me excited that the numbers are REAL people! LOL! Have a wonderful Easter!

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