In yesterday's post about our efficient use of our extra daylight savings "fall back" hour, you got a little glimpse into our master bedroom closets. While we were writing that update, it occurred to us that we've never actually shown much of our bedroom other than a random before and after. Given that we actually moved out of our bedroom for a year during its overhaul, I think it's high time we fill you all in on the nitty gritty details of how our bedroom went from bland and dank... a sanctuary for zzzz's.

Over the next few weeks we'll give you a rundown of the various ups and downs of the project.

The whole project actually started long before we kicked off any real renovation. The "demolition" (as we'll gently call it) actually began on the first day we were in the house in 2003. Our first task in the house was the removal of shoe molding throughout the whole house in anticipation of the pros coming into refinish the floors in the house prior to our moving in.

It was all going well until I found a weird soft spot in the baseboard of the master bedroom. Being a homeowner and DIY newbie, I though "hey, this is rotten, I should pry it out. Using my prybar I did something stupid. I pulled at the "rotten" baseboard until it broke. This revealed a baseboard in good shape, without rot, but with a small wood filler patch where an outlet had been many years ago.

It also revealed an unhappy wife.

You know what they say, "Unhappy wife, unhappy life."

There it sat. Our broken baseboard set back in place for another five years, waiting for our project list to allow us to come back around to correcting this issue we introduced on day one, within only hours of owning the home. We made use of our bedroom as a place to sleep, but it definitely wasn't a place to relax or enjoy.

Over the next several years, we made various attempts to improve our bedroom. Wendy put on a few coats of paint every now and again. We lived with "ripe wheat" seen below, which never really was the "right" color. It looked nice in evening light, but was a garish mustard color in the early morning sun.

We also rearranged the furniture from time to time. But we never really had storage of any kind, and the room always felt cold and uncomfortable, no matter how much we told ourselves otherwise. All the while we had this horrible attic access port without pull down stairs that required us to use a ladder every time we wanted to go up there. Ugh, so horrible.

We even made a completely failed attempt at a DIY window cornice. It didn't look great, but didn't look absolutely horrible either. I think the bigger issue was the fact that we only did it on one window and never did the other one.

Finally, enough was enough and we were really ready to tackle our master bedroom project. We had grown tired of the temporary solutions, and we had gotten sick of looking at that hideous cracked baseboard. We were ready to make better and more efficient use of the space, and we were ready for a bedroom we could be proud of.

The various layout options for the room were minimal. The chimney from the first floor runs through the exterior wall and up the side of the room. This left a bump out on the right wall of the room that made it difficult to place the bed on that wall. The previous owner had put his over sized king size bed on that wall, and beyond being a waste of space, made storage solutions in the room difficult as well.

Though Wendy's preference is to configure the room so you do not walk into the side of the bed, the reality is that it was our only real option, so why not make the best use of the space?

Given the bed's placement on the left wall of the room, the windows across from the door, the chimney on the right, and the door to the bedroom and bathroom on the same wall as the main door, there was little option for closets other than to place them on the right hand wall with the chimney. This would allow us to work the chimney bump out into the design of the closets, making it less of an intrusion into the room.

We knew we would need closet doors for the room, and that was our focus. There's nothing that screams "inappropriate" in an old house renovation like hollow core and non-matching doors, so our mission was set, we had to find salvaged doors that would work.

On a trip to The Brass Knob's Backdoors Warehouse (RIP to that awesome salvage yard), we got lucky. I'm not talking "find $20 on the sidewalk" lucky, I'm talking "win the pick 4 lottery" lucky. Wendy was browsing their massive inventory of doors when she came across five matching doors that had just been taken out of an 1880's house. Get this, they were all identical four panel doors that matched the panel pattern and configuration of our home's original doors PERFECTLY! Can you believe that luck? We had looked on and off for four years, but Wendy was finally able to pluck the needle from the haystack.

After we got our doors home, the real fun started. The paint on the doors was thick, cracked, and needed to be stripped. I started the long process of stripping the paint using my trusty Peel Away 1

Each door took roughly eight hours to strip, using both the chemical stripper and a heat gun in the very corners. That's a full week's work spent just doing paint removal.

Once we had all of the paint removed, we tried to get an idea of what the room would look like with closet doors all along one wall. It was hard to get the idea at first, but we could see it coming together.

Back when we were doing this project we posted the photo of the five doors leaned against the wall on Facebook and a friend said "doors for wall panels...that's an interesting idea." This statement reminded us of just how far we had left to go in this room. We had a whole lot of ideas, but we really needed to work on their execution. 

Other than the doors, we had two other major additions to the room that would help dictate the layout and style. The first was the huge antique rug Wendy found on eBay. 

It was estimated by the seller to be an 80 year old rug, and it's surely seen it's fair share of use. But the color, fade, wear patterns, repaired areas, and general characteristics give it a comfortable feel that would make it feel right at home in the room. The rug was also massive. The only room in our house that could actually have the rug fully unrolled is the master bedroom as no other room has enough floor space.

The final item we were going to be placing in our room was something Wendy had been excited about since we moved into our house. My mother had purchased this antique chandelier for Wendy as a 25th birthday gift.

It was purchased at an antiques store in Cleveland and hung in our basement for more than five years waiting for us to use it. I don't know how many times I slammed my head on it, but I knew it would eventually be in our bedroom. 

We knew we still had a whole ton of work ahead of us, but the steps of purchasing the various items we had to put into the room allowed us to determine the measurements for our closets, which then allowed us to pack up and move out of the room with a clear set of goals in mind for the room. 

We took a couple good (and by that I mean bad) before photos of the room and began moving our stuff out.

With an empty room we were free to dream of what would eventually be. But we were the ones that had to make those dreams a reality.

We'll be back in a future post to fill you in on all of the details on how these doors became our closet, as well as all of the other items we tackled in this rather large bedroom renovation. As is now par for the course, this project ended up much bigger and taking longer than either of us expected at its onset.

Can you see where we were headed, or would you have been concerned for us as our friends on Facebook seemed to be? Have you undertaken a large bedroom renovation where you had to add a significant amount of storage to the room? What tricks did you use?

Comments 15


11/6/2012 at 10:55 AM
I would loooove some tips on stripping doors, or a Toolbox Tuesday on heat guns HINT HINT :) (or maybe you did one already? I think you did, I'll go search).

I have almost the same doors as you but they're dutch style so they're split in the middle and there's a lot of damage to them from nailing stuff in them and from crappy hinges.

I tried using Smart Strip that Peel Away makes and it unfortunately didn't cut it for me. I tested on a decorative strip of trim on my hallway wall. I'm on the 4th application of this stuff (after letting it sit for at least 8 hours each time) and I'm still not down to wood!
Ask and you shall receive. ;-)
Here's the breakdown of paint stripping tools that we reviewed in a Toolbox Tuesday.

Good luck with your project. I LOVE dutch doors!
11/6/2012 at 10:59 AM
I can totally see where you are going - although I have the advantage of seeing the beautiful after!! Im looking forward to seeing more of the progress! I am in a stage of absolutely hating our bedroom - it really looks like something out of a retirement home. Its on the 'start after christmas' list.
Your comment of "something out of a retirement home" made me laugh and I've totally been there. Good luck with the reno! :-)
11/6/2012 at 11:24 AM
I'm really looking forward to reading more about the space! Your bedroom is beautiful, and it's obvious you all have put a lot of work into it!
Aww, thanks Kate! We really love how it all turned out. It's so much warmer (literally and figuratively) than it used to be. :-)
11/6/2012 at 1:35 PM
Your bedroom is stunning! Looks like right out of a magazine.
Thanks so much, Antonella! We're flattered you think so!
11/6/2012 at 2:29 PM
I can't wait to hear the whole story about this transformation! I especially love that your mom gave Wendy a chandelier for her birthday, that is a spectacular birthday present in my book.
It was! We spent a fun day antique shopping and she knew I was eyeing it. It was a great surprise, and one I waited a LONG time to finally use. It was worth the wait. :-)
11/7/2012 at 4:24 PM
Wow... you both are gifted!
It's amazing how you transform everything to gold :)
Aww. Thanks so much, Tamara!
11/7/2012 at 6:21 PM
I too am very interested to see all that you went through on the MBR project (it's quite lovely now).

The MBR in our late 1920s house -- much smaller room than yours -- had one small maybe 2' deep 6' long closet and an ugly wall of plywood "cupboards" (that term does them too much justice) on the opposite wall. These built-ins left no flexibility in placing the bed, weren't an efficient use of space, and could only be used for folded clothes. They had to go. And we eliminated the walk-in closet where I kept most of my clothes, in order to add a second bathroom upstairs.

The solution was to 1) build wardrobe closets in the wide hallway to absorb some of the clothing overflow and (2) appropriate the linen closet abutting the small bedroom closet, tear out walls between these two closets and the room, and add an equal-sized bumpout into the MBR. This allowed for a compact walk-in closet, much more usable than the original shallow closet with its small opening limiting ready access to clothes. We also got rid of those damn cupboards and gained a lot of space back in the room from that change. We have a bookcase and oversized chair in the alcove created by bumping out part of the wall for the enhanced MBR closet.
Wow, you've been hard at work. It sounds like a much better use of space!
11/8/2012 at 11:46 PM
I would totally have been cheering you guys on! I am looking forward to the rest of the reno story.

I was going through boxes full of hardware this afternoon, and I was wondering if you guys were in need of any more white porcelain knobs, or a rim lock. I'm not sure if the lock is a match to yours, but it's in excellent shape, with a privacy latch, and I have no use for it (way too old for my 1923 house).
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