Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Hallway Project

About 6 years ago my husband and I bought a former auto repair shop (basically a shell) that we would convert into our house and his studio. At the time I was working as a visual merchandiser for Urban Outfitters, so in the planning stages of designing the house we accounted for the usual amount of storage two people would need. We thought it would be nice to have an extra wide hallway that would just be empty space. Since the floor plan is so open, an empty resting place for your eye seemed like a good idea. Fast forward to a few years later... I now have my own business which I run from home owing to the fact that we have a lot of extra space. You know - the space that was originally intended to be the nice open empty space. Oh, I already filled all of the out of sight hidden spaces ages ago. I have what was a one car garage filled with clothes that aren't on my website, and the big loft over my husband's tool room filled with clothes that are on the website, and housewares & accessories crammed into every nook and cranny (in a very organized manner...). The hallway stuff is stuff that isn't vintage that I needed to keep separate. Stuff in the "other" category. Since space when confined between walls is in fact finite, I had nowhere else to go with it all except for the extra wide hallway.

So, for the past several years the hall has housed at any given time: several rolling racks of clothes, cardboard boxes of hangers, cardboard boxes of t-shirts, various other junk that I'm "going to get to really soon" (or not), and whatever else I couldn't find a home for. At one point we ordered 2 really awesome red metal cabinets (on wheels!) from a school supply place. They worked great to hide some of the mess, but they only took up 6' of an 18' hallway leaving me plenty of room to pile stuff at the end of the hall, which did not become invisible as much as I hoped it might. We needed a plan for the entire hallway that would look clean, minimal, and most of all hold lots of stuff.

We didn't want anything too tall that would feel imposing, and we thought white would be the best choice since there would be 16' of it. Ideally the cabinets would have been around 42" high, but they ended up being a little higher. We looked around a lot and as is often the case, we ended up with Ikea. There really aren't a lot of choices when it comes to affordable modern furniture when you need to buy a whole wall full of the same cabinet, and happily we found one there that fit the bill. A single cabinet was too short, so we had the idea to stack them. By adding bumpers under the feet, we were able to raise the cabinets on top by just enough to fit the orange storage boxes down the center which is awesome! It added a ton of extra space for jewelry, accessories, and other small items. The labels on the front are key to preserving my sanity. Did I mention I am forbidden from putting anything over, under, beside, near, or otherwise in the exterior vicinity of these cabinets?

Take a peek inside!

We moved the red cabinets into the bedroom. Our original intention for this whole project was to build a closet against this wall. When I looked up some plans, I realized we'd be about an inch short in depth to be able to fit hangers, so it was time for plan B. I'm much happier with plan B anyway - closets are so boring... (I didn't think to take the before picture of the hallway until after I moved the red cabinets into the bedroom - sorry).

It was about 11 pm when we moved the cabinets into the bedroom and when I was about to get in bed I realized there was no way I could sleep looking at work stuff. I've resisted putting anything to do with work in the bedroom - not very romantic and bad Feng Shui I'm sure, so we got the idea to put waxed paper over the windows to hide the stuff. Since it comes on a roll we could easily roll out enough length to double it, and we had just enough to cover all the doors. The doors are metal, so we used magnets to hold the paper on. I think I'll probably look for something a little more opaque and not so easily wrinkled (maybe rice paper?), but it did the trick for now.

As for the rolling racks, I was able to rearrange some cabinets in a storage room to put two 4' hang bars on the wall which can hold the stuff that used to be on the rolling racks. They're double hung, so I'll need a ladder to get to the top row, but this is all stuff I only need to get to a few times a year.
So six days from conception to finish it's all done, and thankfully I have a lot of empty space left over so it should be a few more months at least until I start complaining about needing more room ;)


  1. Love you Lara! Very inventive. Besos, Susan

  2. hey, you do always have a knack for gaining space, must be back from those Urban days when we had to fit 300 sweaters in a 4x4 table. Looks great! Meg

  3. This is precisely what I needed to see today. As soon as I can drag the boy out of bed, we've got some rearranging to do (shh...don't tell him yet)!