The Secret Closet Turned Media Center

Monica’s secret closet

I remember this episode clearly. Because I had a secret closet of my own.

As I was sitting at the desk in our home office working on our master bedroom redesign, I was stumped by what we would do with our books once we removed the giant bookshelf that had taken root in the room. (Read more about our love/hate relationship with this bookshelf here.)

I was dreaming about Belle’s library and worrying about my beloved books when my eye was drawn toward my secret closet, inside of which we had stashed all of the stuff we didn’t know what to do with after our move. It had essentially become an in-home storage unit. Forget the junk drawer. We had a junk closet.

It was the one space I prayed no one would look in when they came to visit.

As I was staring at the hidden trove, a plan began to emerge: besides the fact that the stuff in the closet was definitely not serving any useful purpose and was sparking anything but joy in its current state, it also seemed like if we removed the ugly wire shelving that was lifting our junk off the floor like a shrine for St. Anthony, it just might be big enough to house our giant bookshelf.

So, after taking some measurements, I took a deep breath and began letting the secret closet’s contents lose.

I didn’t even take a “before” picture—it was that bad—but I did snap a pic of all the stuff I pulled out of there:

Secret closet contents revealed! (I was really hoping to find Dobby hiding in there, no such luck.)

Secret closet contents revealed! (I was really hoping to find Dobby hiding in there, no such luck.)

the purge

After pulling out every item, I sorted through the boxes and bins, which though daunting, turned out to be pretty easy. Most of the stuff hadn’t been used for over a year, thus many items were easy to part with (three boxes worth, to be more specific).

After all, if we hadn’t used it or thought about it in the last year, we likely didn’t need it.

After laying hands on each and every item to determine whether to keep, toss or donate, then shredding old files that we no longer needed, I made a plan for the remaining items.

Some things found new homes- like the guitar cases that we pretty much only use when we move, those went into the attic. That bulky but useful luggage? I moved that into our guest room closet where it can swap travel stories with visiting suitcases.

The items that needed to stay included more books (though we did donate several, I swear), cds, dvds, music equipment and some files, which I easily incorporated into the closet re-design.

When you know exactly what you want to have in a space, it is much easier to make—and stick to— a plan.

Making it happen

The only supplies I purchased were a gallon of paint ($30) and a new light fixture to replace the awful fluorescent lighting ($89). I chose a dark, rich blue for the walls to coordinate with the blue-gray office walls and an Edison light bulb fixture to add some modern flair while giving a nod to the past, kind of like our book collection.

After two coats of paint and some handy electrical work on my husband’s part, I moved our Craigslist steal of a bookshelf (seriously, we bought this unit for $40 off Craigslist 9 years ago and it has been one of the most versatile pieces we’ve owned!) and started the best part: dressing the space.

I shelved the books, cds, and movies and added a few personal touches with some of the special objects we had unearthed during the purge— like the apple one of my students made me my first year teaching, so happy to be on display again—and voilá!

Book problem? Solved.

Remnants from our move? Gone.

Home dream into a reality? Check!

Not bad for one weekend.

With a little creative energy and a clear goal in mind, we freed up precious space to make way for the things we really love: stories, music, and objects that make us smile.

And when guests come to visit, I will enthusiastically share this beautiful space with them, instead of padlocking the door.

It may not be quite as intricate as Belle’s, but we still love it!

It may not be quite as intricate as Belle’s, but we still love it!

If you have a home dream of your own or a space that you feel like padlocking shut, let’s go! It’s time to set those secret closets free and make way for the things you love.

You can also check out a video of this project on our gallery page.

Until next time, keep on enjoying this one & wonderful life,

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