Help me make a closet look cool

Recently, all our closet shelving came crashing down in the middle of the night. It sucked. But I’m taking the opportunity to install a way better system than the cheap janky poorly-installed one that the previous owners had put in. And I need help!

After some useful Facebook input, I opted for The Container Store’s Elfa system. Even though it’s kind of expensive compared to some other systems, it’s worth it to us to buy the system that can be installed by someone else, since the main blunders we’ve made in home ownership involve attempting to mount things in the wall and failing. Boo. So we’re doing Elfa in platinum. Here’s an example closet that’s hilariously perfect looking!

Hey, but it sort of matches my blog, right?

I’m sort of tempted to take the opportunity to turn our closet into some weird glam corner of seductive mystery (probably in part because I’ve been looking at pictures like this one; it doesn’t help that half their stock photos have like an overstuffed armchair and a lamp and a fucking birdcage inside the closet). After all, this may be the only time since we moved in that I’ll completely remove everything in it, leaving the walls open for some sort of design revamp, you know? And a walk-in closet feels like a safe fun space to go a little design crazy, since it’s not as prominent as any other area in the house. And who doesn’t want a little fun when they get ready in the morning?

Daydream in Red by Hygge & WestMy first thoughts leaned towards wallpaper. I love the idea of wallpaper *right now* somewhere in our home, but I’m sure that my desire to trend-proof will mean that I’m regretful of it down the road. A closet seems like a less regret-prone space than, say, a bathroom or hallway. So I was thinking this Hygge and West pattern, that’s super cheery and fun and bright and on clearance! Great, right?

But then I asked Grant about it and he summed it up well that this is something that looks like a very specific era (i.e. like 2008, my guess not his) and that we’d be sick of it in ten years. Which is totally true, and while not tragic, it’s kind of annoying, right? I mean, I’m not going to want to strip and redo it then. And it DOES read as something incredibly au courant as of like four years before we even bought the house. Already dated; move on.

I don't know the source for this. :(My next inspiration was Nina Campbell’s Perroquet wallpaper, which while stunning is probably insanely expensive and way too girly for Grant’s taste. I mean, he’d let me steamroller him into putting this up, but I’d always feel a TINY bit guilty about it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 6.18.27 PMA close runner-up in the “vaguely avian Chinoiserie” category included this Anthropologie paper (one of their less expensive) which I love but has similar girliness and timelessness concerns, plus I dunno about the yellow.

For some reason it looks way better in this image (which I got from bossy color).And then there’s something super Asian and saturated, like Schumacher’s Chiang Mai (inspired by bossy color). But then this is ALSO probably ungodly expensive, and I don’t like the knockoff nearly as much. Even though it is more masculine feeling (at least to me, dragons over birds) I still suspect Grant will find it a) too Asian, b) too busy, and c) too bright.

sheila bridgesIf I had all the money in the world, I would get some Sheila Bridges stripey wallpaper in this orange color and install it everywhere, walls AND ceiling, and be done with it, because our master bedroom is already orange and black and white and JUST LOOK AT THIS AWESOMENESS. (Sheila Bridges is, like, Domino fancy – I first learned of her via her Harlem Toile de Jouy design in their magazine/book/somewhere, and some silly part of me loves having a *recognizable designer something* in our home even though I logically know that’s ridiculous for non-rich people.)

I just can’t spend $175 a roll right now; sorry Sheila. It’s a stretch to even do the Elfa system given that in the space of one month, our car broke down, our closet shelves crashed, our washer leaked so we need a new one AND we need to spend money repairing the damage we can’t DIY from that, AND we took two trips to see two friends get married which involved paying for two hotel stays. Sigh. No badass bold stripes for moi, nor any other designer elements. Those Hygge & West and Anthropologie wallpapers are probably my only viable options price-wise, which made me start leaning away from paper since those are my least favorites.

PLUS, the walls and ceiling in our closet are full of crazy cuts and angles, which make it insane to wallpaper, AND I realized that I’d be covering up most of the walls with clothes, which sort of makes wallpaper cost and effort pointless, unless I only did the ceiling, which is an option since it’s huge and sloped and prominent, but is still maybe more work than it’s worth and maybe more expense too since it’s hard to get smaller quantities of nice wallpaper.

SO. Now I’m thinking painting. But not, like, painting the whole room, because a) I’m lazy (I can rope my mom into helping with wallpaper but not necessarily paint although I haven’t tried that hard yet, see “lazy” above) and b) I can’t think of a single specific color that I would want to do. BUT I saw this weeks ago in my RSS reader, and I kind of love it.


It’s this super organic pattern that Shauna from Beautiful Matters did by hand, and I think it has a cool bold organic yet modern vibe and would be some work, sure, but actually seems less annoying than actually painting the room – I could leave the blah contractors’ beige in there and even do the stripes in a metallic that would play well with the platinum shelving.

But I showed this to Grant and this is what he said:

I think that idea is much better than the execution.

Like, I don’t think it looks bad, but if I went through that much work I would want it to look much better.

This room is by Mary McDonald but I have no idea where the pinner got the source image.I totally get what he’s saying, but I’m not sure I … care. I pressed him and I think it mostly means that his taste gravitates towards a more regimented, taped-off intentional stripe look. But, like, Shauna’s project seems WAY easier than taping and painting bold stripes. But then maybe I’m crazy! Maybe tape WOULD make doing stripes super duper easy! And I’ve always loved this one green stripey room by Mary McDonald; maybe I should try to paint THAT!?

Should I paint weird hand-done vertical stripe thingies like this in the closet? Should I tape and paint (or free-hand) a more graphic stripe like that Sheila paper I love so much or this Mary room I love so much? Should I just leave it blah beige since it’s JUST A CLOSET? NO I can’t do that, not when I roped my mom into assisting me in transforming it.

Please assist me in making a decision so I can make my closet punchy and fun, people! I welcome your ideas. :)


    1. Thanks Nicole! But NEW PLAN EVERYONE! Grant actually agreed to the Nina Campbell Perroquet in black. So I’m painting the walls black, wallpapering the ceiling, thrifting for a glitzy low-profile chandelier, and using the rest of the paper on this other room in the basement. HOORAY for straight men comfortable with feminine décor, haha.

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