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Our first project in beautifying our basement was to build a custom mud room locker. Although we do have an entrance on the first floor, our main entrance is through the basement (after coming in from the garage). With two young boys and a husband<hehe>, you can imagine the mess in this area (see the picture below). I tried to buy a ready-made hall tree but the measurements never fit. Either the pieces were too high (our basement has low ceilings) or too short/wide, or just did not include all the features we wanted. In the end, we decided to build our own.

Here the before picture of the mess, and the after picture with the new locker. I break out in a huge grin whenever I walk by as everything is so organized!  Scroll down to see how we got there.

Basement Entrance - Before   Mudroom Locker

The Plan: I have been collecting inspirations from magazines for awhile now. We took various sections of the inspirations and designed our custom locker.  I used Excel to create our plan for lack of having a design software (I also did not want to spend the money or time to learn a new software). Be prepared to be flexible once you have the exact thickness of your wood pieces. For most of the time I used 1″ thickness in my design, however, at the store the thickness of the available wood pieces we found varied. Take your calculator and design plan and adjust at the store as needed.

Update Jan 17, 2014: Here is the Mud room locker Plan in pdf format. I used xls file and used 1″ for each row/column to keep it easy for the main layout. Hope this helps as a template for your projects!

Mudroom Locker - plan from front  Mud room locker plan from  side

The Supplies:  We bought all our wood boards and hardware from Home Depot except the wood for the bench. Initially I was planning for a 2″ thick bench board which needed to be 53″ long. However, Home Depot did not carry these dimensions. After some research, we found a local sawmill and checked out their stock. In the end we decided on a 1″thick bench board (2″ was way too much for this purpose). We paid ~$20 for a 6 foot, unfinished board – what a bargain! I also bought Benjamin Moore Primer and high-gloss white paint, and all the hardware (drawer railings, screws, nails, hooks, etc).

Wood boards to build the locker   Boards for the locker seat

Building it: My husband – the genius – first put together the bench piece and then built the top piece. He sanded the bench seat several times and added a couple of coats of Polyetherene to give it a finished look.  It turned out fantastic. I painted the boards with Benjamin Moore paint. 1 coat of white primer and 2 coats of high-gloss white paint.

Locker bench, before painting it  Locker bench - after applying several coats of paint and adding railings for drawers and pullouts.

Locker top before painting  Locker top - after applying 3 coats of paint

As the bench is very deep (24″) we added pull-outs at the bottom so we did not have to crawl all the way to the back whenever we needed shoes.

Locker bench with pullouts

The  Costs, Timing, Lessons learned:

  • Costs:  We paid ~$430 for everything, where the paint and hardware were the most expensive items.
  • Timing: It took us approx. one week to build, considering that we worked on it mainly in the evenings and weekends, plus adding all the drying time between coats (and a little disturbance in form of a hurricane during the project).
  • Main lessons learned:
  • 12″ boards at Home Depot (or other home improvement stores) are really ~11 1/4″ (what’s up with that??)
  • Verify that your boards are right-angled
  • Sand your boards before painting to get a really smooth finish (I found that out after I painted <ugh>)
  • Update Sept 26, 2013: Make sure the wood you get is fully dried. The boards we got for the bench shrunk after a couple of month so we had to “fix” the gap. Also, DON’T paint the pull-outs (where you put your shoes on) white – EVER. After some use it turns quiet disgusting. We are planning to paint it a darker color sometime.

The Final Product: And voila – here is the locker in all its glory. I am thinking of adding baskets one day..  but for now – I am basking in the glory of this beautiful piece of furniture, and in my husband’s achievement of building it all by himself.