The DIY Series: “Creating Storage Out Of A Useless Space”

I am a very big “Do-It-Yourselfer.”  It goes way back to when I was a kid and would take apart broken toys to try to fix them.  I’ve always liked to try to figure out how things work and come up with a solution when things go wrong.  My first big home DIY project was in our first house in Dallas, Texas.  My then boyfriend, now husband, and I had bought our first home together.  It was a rambling ranch style home that was built in the early nineties.  It was a great house but it still held quite a few of those lovely nineties finishes, and by “lovely” I mean very dated.  Polished gold was in strong effect in that house.  Being our first home we were so green to anything renovation and remodel related.  Beyond changing paint colors we really had no idea what we were doing.

In our living room we had a wet bar (like I said, nineties.)  This wet bar, thankfully, had double doors to close it up and make it un-viewable from the living room because, when you did open those doors you got a “smack in the face” full-on blast of late eighties early nineties elegance.  The bar itself was quite simple: white cabinetry base with a small stainless sink on top of a plain cream countertop.  It was the backsplash however that really turned up the tacky volume.  Smoked glass mirrors lined the back and side walls of the bar, gold brackets were installed counter to ceiling over the mirrors and held narrow glass shelves that rattled whenever anyone would walk across the room.  Now, that may sound kind of kitschy, vintage cool to some but I can assure you it was not.  Maybe in 10-20 more years that look may make a comeback but I sincerely hope it will not.

I waited for my husband to go out of town for work (because I knew he would get too nervous at my “plan”) and I went to work on that wet bar.  I removed the shelving, brackets, and then pulled down the mirror.  I spackled any damage to the drywall behind the mirrors and painted the walls, hung a picture and, “Voila!” Goodbye to the nineties.  Now, I still had a wet bar in the living room, our budget at the time couldn’t do anything about that, but at least it no longer look like Hugh Hefner would be pouring a drink there.

That project, little as it was, turned out to be a major confidence booster to me in doing projects around the house on my own.  It really only takes one time to prove to yourself that, yes, you can actually do things around your house on your own.  You may mess up sometimes, but you will learn from that mistake and it will make you better for the next project.

I love a good DIY project, and, as the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, so does my daughter.  Our latest project took place in her bedroom.  It wasn’t a huge project, and I actually wasn’t planning to post about it, but she has been so excited about it that I promised her I would share.

In my daughter’s room is a cute little window seat nook.  There is a drawer underneath the seat that has been inoperable and stuck for the past 2 years.  We have just ignored the drawer and, quite honestly, I had forgotten about it completely.  That is until I heard a very loud “thunk” one evening after the kids bedtime.  I ran upstairs and found my daughter sitting very proudly on the floor of her room with the drawer that she had somehow managed to not only “unstick,” but pull out completely.  After some examining of the space we realized that the drawer option wasn’t going to work.  Whoever had built it had rigged a system of two boards, set on top of some make-shift molding that this huge drawer was supposed to slide in and out on.  Anytime you tried to move the drawer one of the support boards would fall and the drawer would slip and get jammed in the space.

So we got to work figuring out a new solution.  We removed the drawer and took off the drawer front.  We then removed the oddly placed support boards in the space underneath the window seat.

The inside space was very dirty but it was huge!  The storage potential was so good!  I’m a mom and I live in a house that is almost 100 years old, so uncovering this possible storage space was very exciting and kind of made me feel like a magician pulling a rabbit out of my hat!

I decided to clean the space out which required removing decades-old dust and cobwebs and scraping drops of plaster off the floor.  I then painted the interior white to give it a clean, bright feel and make it look much less like a crime scene (not a good look for a little girl’s room) and more like a space in which you wouldn’t be disgusted storing toys or other items.

Goodbye scary back wall.

Once painted, I went to Locks and Pulls in Overland Park, KS to get help on what kind of hinge I needed for the former drawer front in order to turn it into a door to close off the new storage space.

I wasn’t overly pleased with the type of hinge needed for this project.  It reminded me of something you would see in Colonial days, but I was assured that this would be the only cost effective option for the job.  So, with a little spray paint, I decided we could live with it.

We also picked out a cute brushed brass knob to complete the door.

With all of our hardware ready to go, we set to hanging the new door.

As is common with most DIY projects, we hit a snag when the door refused to stay shut.  One more run to the hardware store to purchase a magnetic cabinet latch and we were good to go.

We now have a perfectly functional storage space in a space that was previously unusable for many years and, the best part is, we figured it out and executed it ourselves.

Well….I’m not sure how much “storage” will actually be happening in this space.

There is a lot of satisfaction in doing a job yourself.  It makes you feel more connected to your living space.  I encourage you to try to tackle a project on your own sometime.  There are so many resources available to help you out, from YouTube to an employee at your local hardware or home improvement store, to your parents or neighbors.  Remember that it is OK to make a mistake.  Plan out your project in advance, have all of your materials and tools ready and go for it.  However, PLEASE, and this is important!  Use caution in all that you do and be smart about your projects.  It’s always best to leave plumbing and electrical work to the professionals and maybe don’t go all-in on power tools such as saws, etc. if you have no experience.  Start small, do your due diligence, be prepared, practice safety first and have fun!




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