Every time I get more than a day or two off from work, my husband and I tackle a more involved home improvement project. This past Memorial Day weekend we attacked a really ugly closet in our front hall. It's the first thing you see when you come in the front door and it's bothered me since day one. Of course, I forgot to take a true before photo so this is a very similar closet in another room. In a bedroom it's a great closet with practical doors, in an entrance it's not a very striking view.
Over the years, we've toyed with the idea of building some sort of sliding apparatus to cover the opening with a big painting, or removing the doors and adding shelves from top to bottom, or a myriad of other more artful solutions to its rampant ugliness. After we ripped out the doors, the hardware, and the moulding (because we're also slowly replacing all of the too-short, painted colonial moulding in the house with more substantial clean-lined moulding of my husband's design) the erstwhile closet looked like this:
The closet was nearly useless as it was before - it was barely 17" deep, so it was too narrow for clothes hangers, and did I mention that it was ugly?
Now we have an art niche with recessed lighting under the shelf and track lighting overhead, a terrific spot to showcase some of our art collection and a gorgeous view as you walk in the front door.
From the other direction you can see a sliver of the wall to the left of the niche where I'm auditioning two collages that I recently purchased from Karen Stiehl Osborn. Finding walls to hang art is always a challenge in a small house (especially when you live with a painter of very large canvases). That particular wall had a thermostat smack dab in the center of it, so while I was wiring an outlet and switch for the lights in the niche I moved the thermostat over so the wall is now usable for art. As soon as I frame the collages I'll take a picture of them hanging for real. So, back to the studio, with the occasional foray into the hall to admire the niche...
If you're wondering, the piece on the bottom shelf is a reproduction of a ceramic sculpture from the Chancay civilization of Peru. While all of the other pieces in our collection are originals, Chancay pottery, as part of Peru's rich pre-colombian heritage, isn't allowed out of the country (except for museums) and we liked the form well enough to compromise.