Before and After: A Surprising (and Very Sweet) Use For A Dysfunctional Closet

Before and After: A Surprising (and Very Sweet) Use For A Dysfunctional Closet

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Tess Wilson
Oct 19, 2018
(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

Whether you're a pet owner looking for some inspiration, a design enthusiast who loves a good transformation, someone stressed out by this photo who needs to know that this closet is nice and neat now, or simply a human who could really use some photos of two darling dogs, this is for you.

(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

I so appreciate the realness of this photo, as well as that of this paragraph:

With five children we found our entryway coat closet in constant disarray. We tried using it as a conventional coat closet and the kids would go in there and pull down all of the coats. We tried using it as a clean laundry halfway house to store clothes that needed to be folded and put away and well... that didn't work at all. Our last attempt at making this room useful was to use it as a toy storage closet. No matter how many times I organized the kids toys they always ended up as a giant pile of mess that we just closed the door on.

(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

I love multi-stage projects—like this recent basement—and this one is no exception. This photo reveals an in-between stage, and Ash Brockinton of Busy Girls Society@ashbrockinton on Instagram—is here to explain:

The week of my birthday we brought home a new chocolate lab puppy, Ivy. This was a big deal because our beloved Lola dog had passed earlier in the year and we had a puppy shaped hole in our hearts. We brought Ivy home Monday and on Friday, my actual birthday we went hiking to a remote waterfall and swimming hole. When we got to the waterfall we found a coon hound. To make a long story shorter, this coon hound had been abandoned by her owners and even when we finally tracked them down they told us they couldn't take care of her and to keep her.

All of the sudden we had two large breed dogs, which meant two large breed dog crates. Those giant crates are hideous. I searched Pinterest for ways to disguise or hide the crates but the only solutions I could find were for tiny dogs or just looked like someone put a dog prison under a random table. As I opened up the exploding coat/toy closet one day, the idea to convert the space into a dog room came to me! It was like a little den, not too big and not too small for our two large breed pups. From that point my creative juices started flowing...

(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

Wow, wow, wow! This is a puppy sanctuary! It's so peaceful and clean, and I especially enjoy the grayscale landscape—it's like a nod to the old belief that dogs only see in black and white. The addition of the storage basket to hold dog accessories is smart, though I would need a much larger, opaque basket. (I keep a black one on top of my puppy's crate, and it holds collars, leash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, heartworm meds, tick meds, rolls of poop bags, and other non-decorative essentials.) The tile is easy to clean, and the plant adds a bit of vibrancy.

Here's how this space went from non-functioning closet to dreamy dog retreat:

The process took us about two months but that's because it was in the middle of raising five kids, getting ready for back to school, and taking a surprise trip to visit my sister for a week after an emergency health situations. We remodeled the room without any help. I'm most proud of the tiling job because it was our first time and I think it looks pretty amazing. We used the Nola gray cement tile from Riad tile and it was so fun to lay out the design and just go for it. The instructions Riad provided were easy to follow and very precise.

Patching, painting, and wallpapering the walls and tiling the floors cost about $700. The dog bed accessories and mantel decor cost another $350. My only regret with this room is that I chose an expensive piece of wood for the mantel shelf because I originally wanted to stain it with a weathered oak finish. I ended up just white washing it and the grain really didn't matter... I could have saved about $20 by going with a common board.

The dog bed is from MiaCara, the wallpaper is from ColorRay, the leather collars and dog toys are from Band & Roll, and the tile is of course from Riad.

(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

Even without the beauty of the pups themselves, this is a lovely space that adds to the appeal of the home. And if Ash ever decides the room is no longer working for the dogs, this could easily be a reading nook for the kids or an overachieving storage closet.

It sounds like Ash is thrilled with this solution:

I know it's cliché, but I love everything about this room. There's nothing I would do differently (besides using a cheaper wood for the shelf). Without the wallpaper I think the room would maybe feel a little boring so in my opinion, that is kind of the focal point and what ties the room together. Since the wallpaper has a very romantic look and I like a very modern and clean look I knew I needed the tile, dog bed, and shelf accessories to read pretty modern and clean and not compete.

Congrats to Ash on a job well done!

(Image credit: Ash Brockinton)

This photo is simply too much. My heart! This noble beast went from abandoned by a waterfall to snoozing on a floofy poof; what a lovely turn of events for this beautiful pup. If you have your own beautiful pup and an extra closet, Ash has some insight for you:

My advice to anyone wanting to convert a coat closet to a dog room is:

1. Make sure your subfloor is completely level before tiling.

2. Bring tile into the paint store to match the paint to (I guessed the first time based on a photo of the tile and painted the whole room a white that was much too blue for the tile and had to re-paint).

3. Less is more when it comes to styling if you want a modern look.

4. Lastly, use Instagram and Etsy to find small businesses and niche artisans if you really want your room to look custom.

Really, that's all good advice for anyone tackling any renovation project!

Thank you, Ash Brockinton of Busy Girls Society!

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