The Case of the Missing Coat Closet

This is not a post I was planning to write this week, but, since I found out about it, it’s the only thing I can think about it, so I should probably share.

A house just went up for sale in our neighborhood a few days ago. This is noteworthy (to us) in and of itself because it’s a very small neighborhood, so that doesn’t happen terribly often. But this one is especially interesting to us because it appears, from the pictures, to have a layout nearly identical to our house.

From the outside, the houses in our neighborhood are all very similar: all colonial revivals, all except for a couple with red brick fronts. But there’s a surprising amount of variation on the insides. This is the first one we’ve seen that’s so similar to ours.

So imagine my surprise when I was looking through the pictures and noticed that this house’s otherwise identical to ours foyer has a coat closet in it! This discovery caused no end of excitement around here. We ran to our foyer and examined it….sure enough, there is clearly a space between the foyer and the stairs–maybe around 2 by 4 feet–that’s just….not being used.

I have no idea why we never figured this out before. I guess we just trusted that surely had there been a place for a coat closet, the builders would have put one there. I mean, who doesn’t want a coat closet?! And if you’re already building a whole house, how much trouble can it be to finish off one more tiny closet?! Mysteries that will never be solved.

To really understand our excitement (tempered with disappointment with our house’s builders), you should know that a coat closet was one of the only high up on our wish list things that we didn’t get with this house. (Along with a fifth bedroom, but that was kind of  a bigger reach than a coat closet). We didn’t have one in our old house, either, and I was really tired of trying to find a decent, out of sight place to keep the vacuum cleaner. And when you consider that our house has EIGHT closets upstairs, it really seems a little silly that there’s not a single one downstairs.

Let me try to show you where our coat closet is supposed to be:



See my squirrel wall and where that mirror is? That’s where the door to coat closet is in the other house.



Around the corner is the door to the basement, but you can see that there’s a two foot wide space between the foyer and the door.



…and nothing there but a wall!



And here’s the last side to our missing coat closet: that same two foot space before the stairs turn (the basement stairs turn at the same point down below).

I am now obsessed with finding out how reasonable (i.e. how expensive) it would be to make the coat closet happen. It would look like this, complete with sparkly goodness, because I’d be so happy every time I stowed the vacuum cleaner in there:



Anyone done anything like this before? Is it as simple in real life as it is in my head? Someone want to hold me back from grabbing a sledgehammer and going at the drywall myself right now?


The Case of the Missing Coat Closet — 27 Comments

  1. This is complete craziness! Why wouldn’t a closet have been put there if there is one in the other home? You have a lot of self control as I would be ripping the wall apart immediately!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

    • Right?! I’m not sure it’s self control so much as fear of hitting some sort of pipe or wiring and blowing the house up 🙂

  2. Schedule a showing for the house that’s for sale to see all the other missing things! Builders are stupid so there’s the answer to all your questions about that aspect. Although in reading this I realized I have no closet upstairs to hide a vacuum.

    • ha–when I think about it, none of our eight closets upstairs are really ideal for our vacuum, either. There are three linen closet type things with shelves in them so it won’t fit (although I guess I could take the lower shelves out of one of them)….and the kids’ closets. the only real option is our master closet, which isn’t as nice as a little place in the hallway to tuck it away.

  3. Oh I think you should go through the other house as well! I did it! A lady down the street was selling her house that was just like ours and they added an addition…I so wanted to see how they laid everything out so I knocked on their door and introduced myself. She was so happy to walk me through her home and I was blown away by things she had and didn’t have!! I think a closet makes so much sense there! You should go for it!! And by the way I obsess about things like this too! Nicole xoxo

  4. Hold back on the stupid builders for second guys! OK first step, small hole with a hole saw (see my boring towel bar post for how to patch it afterwards) step 2, snake light and a mirror. Your ‘closet’ may be being used for HVAC returns, plumbing chases, or anything else that would need a direct run between the basement and upper house. If That stuff isn’t there, is there a laundry chute that the previous owners opted for instead of a closet? Once you know its dead space, then smashy-smashy time! It is entirely possible that the previous owners didn’t like the closet and closed it up, or hid gold bars in there.

    • We looked from underneath, and it’s doesn’t look like there are any pipes or anything going into the space. no laundry chute since the laundry’s upstairs. Dave wants to drill a hole and check it out, but I think I’m timid enough about hitting something we shouldn’t that I want a professional opinion before any actual demolition goes on….I can’t imagine anyone not wanting a coat closet, so much do I covet one myself, but I’ll hold out hope for the gold bar theory to be correct 😉

    • I really want to see it, but probably not enough to actually schedule a showing….fingers crossed for an open house! My SIL who lives in CA mentioned that it’s cheaper than her (1000 sq ft) house would be and that SHE wants it. I think she’s mostly kidding, but it’d be pretty awesome if she weren’t and the kids got cousins living down the street 🙂

  5. That’s so weird! Then again, I’ve seen some of the newer houses they’ve built in our neighborhood that are the exact same model as mine and yet there’s little differences in them that aren’t in my house. Why can’t builders keep things the same from house to house?! It’s not like that’s their job or anything! 😉

    • Yeah, I mean, I LIKE that there are differences between all the houses….but not when the difference is eliminating something I WANT! Wah!

  6. I love stories like this! We also have some space that we think is dead, and we’d love to expand our existing closet into it. (Sometimes I wonder if there might be something that’s the opposite of gold bars–a skeleton or something equally morbid.) I think you should smash a hole in yours, and then I’ll know what we should do with ours! 🙂

    • Ha! Everyone who won’t have to deal with the consequences seems very eager for me to bust through my wall 😉 But, yeah, if I find a skeleton in there I’ll definitely warn you to leave your walls alone!

    • One thing that’s helping me a lot is that I don’t think we actually HAVE a sledgehammer :). And we’re iced in until Friday probably!

  7. Stephanie is 100% right about the squirrels being big on storage! LOL!

    If it were me, I’d pop a small, fist-sized hole between the studs from the basement stairwell side, and then shove a mirror and some light in there to see what’s what. Then, damage control is minimal should the project be something you DON’T want to tackle. (And the squirrels would be free to live another day.)

  8. I love the idea of this. Like, really love the idea of this. (Spoken from the woman without a coat closet.)

    I hope that it’s actually doable. In my mind, it is. But I also don’t trust my mind. You shouldn’t either. (It’s a trickster.)

  9. This is the same thing I have discovered in our house!! Except, unfortunately it is dead space upstairs and not downstairs, in the which we still don’t have a coat closet. Have you tried looking into the wall yet. I wish Incould find a tiny camera I could poke through the wall. Good luck with your endeavors!

    • I need to go back and update, except there’s not much to say. My husband did drill through the wall (on the basement side), and….there’s empty space there. So that’s about all we know. Not sure when we’ll finally get around to making a closet; demo-ing walls makes me a little nervous!

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