Entry Way Makeover Part II - Closet Cubbies

I have a terribly small entrance that has always bothered me how tight and closed in it feels. I would love to knock down a wall to expand it and open it up a little more, unfortunately the surrounding walls are all bearing so they must stay intact. Too bad, because my sledge hammer had been feeling a little unused lately and really wants to have a whack at something. It’s got the itch and if it doesn’t get to tackle this room I’m a little afraid of what room it will set its sights on. There aren’t many walls left in my home! So, I had to go about figuring out another way to open up my entrance and get a little more space. But my mission is two-fold because not only was I looking for more space, I was looking to create organized storage for all our stuff. I absolutely hate dumping grounds in the house. We all have them. Those places where things get dumped and tossed, but there is a convenient cupboard or closet door to close to hide the chaos behind. Drives me insane! If I can create ways that forces things to get put back properly, to keep the décor and beauty of a room intact, I’m all for it. But, I have to make it easy for kids too because they are the worst ones to just dump and shove their stuff without a second thought. Tah dah, enter in cubbies and baskets to get rid of the crutch of a closet door that too easily can be closed to hide everything. I’m doing a coat closet makeover to solve my space and organization issues and make a more beautiful entrance area. This is going to be so much fun!


  • 1 x 3’s 
  • ¾” cabinet grade plywood
  • Miter saw
  • Table saw
  • Jig saw
  • Drill
  • Wood filler
  • Brad nailer
  • 1 ½” brad nails
  • 2 x 2 drywall squares
  • Drywall screws
  • Drywall tape
  • Drywall mud
  • Spatula
  • Orbital sander
  • 220- 320 grit sandpaper
  • Hinges
  • Coat hooks
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Small roller with fluffy sleeve



I started by getting rid of that terrible bi-fold closet door. It was always coming off track and having trouble sliding so I was so happy to see it go. 


There was a header to the closet that I toyed with for a bit trying to decide if I wanted to go to the trouble of knocking it out or save myself some work and leave it as is. I finally came to the decision that if I was wanting to make my space feel bigger then I needed to get rid of it. So glad I did because even though it was only dropped about a foot from the ceiling, as soon as I knocked it out, it felt huge in the room. Sledge hammer got some fun after all!


That left me with a little drywall patching which really didn’t take much work. Just cut drywall pieces to fit the exposed areas and attach them with drywall screws. Always make sure the screws get slightly counter sunk into the drywall. Tape over all the seams and screws then plaster over all the tape. When it’s dry, sand until smooth. Easy!


I’m tying in the wainscoting theme I did in part one of this post so everything would be matchy, matchy. First, I had to decide how high I wanted my built-in bench to be and how high I wanted my top shelf to be. Once I set those measurements, I could determine where my wainscoting would be placed. It was going to have a different design than what I put on the entrance way walls; but, it was all going to coordinate and look fabulous together. Just in case you want a reference point, my bench is 23” high and my shelf came to 22” from the top of the ceiling with the wainscoting being 46” in length.

I have a few tips in part one of this post you can refer to just to help you out along the way and to give a nicer finish at the end.

Basically, I laid out my pattern on the wall, three pieces of 1 x 3 running the width of the wall, one for the top, one for the bottom, and one attached 8” from the bottom edge of the top board that would create the square pattern for the top. Then, I cut and added three shorter pieces of 1 x 3 boards to 8” long completing the small squares on top. 

I cut two pieces to butt up against the back wall wainscoting, running along the left and right sides of the closet walls, extending to the front, flush with the corner wall. This will become the shelf support.

For the bench support, because we don’t want them sitting on a bench without support and having someone fall through to the floor, I ran two boards across the length of the back wall. One on the bottom running the width of the back wall against the floor boards and one 22 ¼” from the top of the bottom board. The reasoning behind the height is, if my bench front is 23” in height, I want the bench seat to be flush with the top edge of the bench front. My plywood for the bench seat is ¾” in width and the bench seat is going to be set on top of that back board as a support. Did my math all work out? I think so! 

Run the left and right side supports at the same heights. The length of those boards should extend towards the front of the closet stopping short about 5”. I want the finished bench to be set inside the closet and not coming out flush with the walls because it makes it feel a little cozier that way. Finally, cut and add two support boards the length between the top and bottom frame where the bench front will rest against.


I happened to have an oversized old cabinet door that would work perfectly as my bench front. I just had to run a couple edges down the table saw to get it to the right size. If you can’t get your hands on one of your own, just cut a front out of plywood. Just remember to cut it to 23” so it can have that ¾” overhang from the support frame to accommodate the bench top.


Cut the bench top out of plywood the same width as the closet space. The depth however is going to be measured to where it will fit against the back surface of the bench front to the front surface of the back wall brace. You need to have a ¾” gap from the back wall so when the bench is installed, and you lift the lid up for use, it has enough space to pivot. Also, measure the centre of the bench top and draw out a hole about 4” in width and 1 ½” in depth for a place to be able to lift the bench up to get access to storage. Cut the hole out using a jig saw.

My top shelf is also cut out of plywood which I ran through the table saw to fit it to the same width as the closet space and 14” in depth.


Then, I wood filled all my nail and screw holes and when that was dry, sanded the wood nice and smooth with my orbital sander and an 180 grit. Prime everything with primer and a brush to prep for painting. Paint with your colour choice using a brush to cut into corners and a small roller for the flat surfaces.

Install the bench using hinges and place the top shelf on its supports. Add coat hook hangers in the centres of the square design of the wainscoting, decorative pillows over the bench seat, and large decorative baskets on the top shelf.

Not only is this now a beautiful and bigger space in my entrance, it’s completely functional for storage keeping everything much more organized. I really feel like I haven’t lost any of the functionality of the old coat closet, if anything, I feel like I’ve gained so much more than I did before. And, now there is a cozy little nook to sit and read a book on this lovely tucked away bench. My front entrance is complete!

Cami Tanner1 Comment