We finally got a new walk-in robe! Well, when I say new, I mean that we got our old 1970s walk-in robe fitted out at last – after 11 years with our old robe. Nala turns 11 this month, and her birthday made me realise that we have been in our house a whole 11 years now – woah. To think that when I first moved here I genuinely – and very naively – thought I’d probably renovate the whole house in about two to three years (on my freelance writer’s budget, no less) and move onto another fixer upper. Ha.
So. There was nothing truly bad about our old walk-in robe set up. It had one shelf and a single rail going around both walls, which I think was pretty standard for a lot of homes built in the 70s and 80s. We just felt like the space could be better utilised, but I never knew exactly how. But I always counted myself lucky to have a walk-in robe full stop.
When I was in my early 20s and looking at different homes on the market in my price range, a walk-in robe seemed like the epitome of luxe. Who cared if it had 70s yellow glass windows, beige floral wallpaper and original 70s shagpile carpet that smelled very, very fusty? Those things were totally fixable! We distinctly remember a woman at the home open walking out of the main bedroom wrinkling her nose and muttering, “Disgusting” (yes, the shagpile and the wallpaper – not to mention the dusty old curtains throughout the home – gave it a certain, er, aroma).
First thing we did back then, before moving in, was rip out that smelly shagpile. I had to turf that out in a wheelbarrow as Mr Nerd has asthma, and there is almost nothing as bad for asthmatics as filthy decades old carpet. Then we stripped off the old wallpaper, painted and laid new bamboo floorboards. We replaced the old yellow glass windows a couple of years later when we could afford it and that made a big difference.
Then we just used the robe as is for years. I would have regular purges and get it looking quite nice, like in my Marie Kondo phase below, but I can’t lie, it would always slowly return to being cluttered!
See that old melamine chest of drawers? That was my mum’s from the 80s… then it became my teenage bedroom suite when I was 14… then I took it here when I moved out of home and so basically I have used it for 20 years and my mum used it before that. It was absolutely falling apart (think finding little bits of chipboard in my bras) and once one of the plastic handle just came off in my hand one day, so I had to kind of pincer grip it to open it, lot of fun. But there is that dumb stubborn part of me that, sometimes just cannot bring myself to spend money on something new I’ll just ‘use for now’ because I have done that so many times and it has almost never worked out for me, instead I will just insist on running that old thing into the ground. (But if I find something on the side of the road that I can use? You can bet my cheap ass I’ll drag it home).
Anyway, doing the robe got pushed to the end of our never-ending home improvements list, until The Year That Was 2020 happened. With everyone spending more time at home, I felt like we all collectively looked at our homes and thought about what we really needed from them and what didn’t work. What we wanted to improve, how we wanted our homes to make us FEEL. Now with two kids in our house (including a very messy two year old) I literally have days where I feel like there are toys and clothes and stuff EVERYWHERE and that I am going to scream. I knew we were lucky to have built-in robes in all three of the bedrooms, but I felt like the spaces could be better utilised. I decided that adding storage and improving what we already had would be my gift to myself for 2020. So I saved up some money and started looking around for a good company to do our walk-in robe. I did consider IKEA initially, by the way, but after hearing from other people who had massive wait times on closet pieces that were late coming into Australia because of COVID-19, I decided to forego even having a look. My complete inability to follow an IKEA instruction manual without tears of rage, frustration or boredom also played a part.
The Perth wardrobe/cupboard company that I decided on was Innerspace Wardrobes. They have branches in WA, Victoria and Tasmania. A fellow Perth house renovator and Instagram friend, @twokidsatradieandme, used them to do her kids’ rooms robes and recommended them – nothing like word of mouth, right?
I was looking at Innerspace’s feed and saw a pic of a walk-in robe with a very similar configuration to ours and thought ‘Boom! That’s what I want.’ I know it’s so simple but I would probably never have been able to come up with that layout myself, even after years of looking at that wardrobe every day.
I got a rough quote from them via email and once I committed to it they came out to do a quote measure after. I made a couple of small adjustments, like including a jewellery drawer – it was an added cost, but it is SO NICE. And – I don’t know about you guys, but with small kids and #mumlife I feel like when I’ve gotten so used to skipping jewellery, because everything I wear is just…. practical. Before kids, I felt like a small chunk of bangles on my arm was a semi-permanent fixture. Hopefully having a pretty jewellery drawer will be a nice reminder to myself to wear jewellery more often, like I used to. (Mr Nerd wanted to know why I didn’t get him a fancy jewellery drawer; I reminded him all he has is a ring).
I really liked that Steve, who runs the business with his wife Deb, was happy to advise on what he thought would be best for our house and our family’s needs. While he was here I got him to quote for the kids robes as well – that will be on our to do list for future. He took into account our kids ages, what they would need as they grew, how long we plan to be here and so on.
Isn’t it funny, when you start going through the quoting process, how much someone’s interest in your job (or lack thereof) can steer you towards them or away from them? I’d had other people come here in the past to quote/advise on our walk-in robe, and I remember them being so nonplussed and half-hearted about it, it ended up putting me off their service full stop. I know it’s not a huge robe (it’s about 1800mm x 1400mm) and I totally get that people can be having a bad day or something when they come out, but when they seem half-hearted about your project I think it sort of diminishes my belief in them that the end result will be worth the outlay. If they’re into my project, it makes me even more excited. One company that I had over to quote and measure said they would block up our walk-in robe’s windows and just do a line of drawers or shelves running along the bottom, and I was bemused, like, “But I don’t want to block up the windows? I like the natural light.” They just shrugged and were like, “Well, that’s what we would suggest. You don’t need windows in a robe.” She just wasn’t keen on coming up with something else. But I like it when tradies or designers tend to be MORE opinionated rather than less (in a good way). I want to hear their advice! They are the experts, not me. So I appreciate it when they are happy to tell you your idea could be done better, or if there’s a better way to fix the problem.
I totally believe in showing the real life mess of renos, rather than solely glorious before and afters. I want to see the messes! So after the new robe was installed, what followed for me was three nights of puttying up the old fixture holes and painting when the kids were in bed. This level of nocturnal energy is quite unusual for me these days, let’s be honest. Sitting on the couch, half watching a movie, half mindlessly scrolling is more my current sloth level these days. I was going to keep the original beige-y colour but ended up painting the whole thing white afterward which was the right move – made it seem even more seamless and custom. We had lots of Dulux Natural White leftover from our living room and exterior, it was a fairly good colour match for the melamine.
Anyway, I was stoked with our robe – it’s a small project, but it felt like a happy win. After a year of not blogging much at all (thanks 2020!) that’s my goal for the blog for 2021 – to share more of our small DIY projects, nice local companies and little house wins. Maya x