The Ultimate DIY Hall Tree

DSC_5566I don’t know exactly when it happened or how it came about exactly, but one day my wife said to me, “I want a hall tree”. I replied, “Um, you want a tree in the hall?” She said, “No, crazy, I want one of those things, like an entryway bench, but with coat hooks so you can hang your coat and the kids can hand their backpacks.” Ah yes, I did know what she was talking about and a quick Google image search confirmed my suspicions of exactly what this so-called hall tree looks like. “Can you build me one of these?” Sure I thought, no problem, looks easy enough, how big do you want it? We walked over to the proposed location of the hall tree and she started at one end of the hall and said, “How about we start it here” and then she walked and walked and walked until she reached the other end of the hall and said “to here”.

“What? that’s like 10 feet long. You want a 10-foot long hall tree?”
“Yes, with 6 cubbies, one for everybody in the family.”
“Including the baby? But he’s only two! What does he need his own spot in the hall tree for?”
“Well, one day he will grow up and he will need a spot for his stuff too.”

Good grief. Okay, let’s draw it up and see what we can do – a 10-foot long hall tree with a spot for everybody in the family, including the two-year old baby. So basically what I came up with was a single 5-foot wide hall tree with 3 spots or cubbies and I would just build two of them. Just from the standpoint of trying to move it and the weight alone, this made sense. I had a few constraints that sort of defined this size, which in my opinion can really be scaled to any size that works in your home if need be. But this thing was actually going to go in our hallway to the garage. We rarely leave or come in the front door, so the hall tree would be going in our hallway which is only about 5 feet wide. So this hall tree had to be shallow, I mean at most, I wanted it only a foot deep, thus not to intrude into the hallway and be a nuisance. Next I capped the height at 72″ or 6 feet. My plan was to build the this hall tree entirely out of 3/4″ common pine which come in 6′ pieces at various widths ranging from 1-1/2″ to 12″. Also I have a light, a sconce, that is about 6′ from the floor on the wall and while I could have moved it up to allow a taller hall tree, it wouldn’t have been in the same location as the other sconces throughout the house so I decided just to leave it. I also could have removed it and added an overhead light but honestly didn’t see a need for the hall tree to be much taller than this. So with the basic exterior dimensions settled on, I started to design out the rest of the unit.

For purposes of this write-up I will assume we are building just one hall-tree, or half of what I built here.

It starts with a base structure made from 3 pieces of 1x12x6′ common pine which make 3 cubbies that are 17″ wide x 15-1/4″ high by 12″ deep. (Note that 1×12 common pine is actually 3/4″x11-1/2″).

Base Cut Pieces:
Top (1) = 1x12x54″
Bottom (1) = 1x12x52-1/2″
Exterior Sides (2) = 1x12x20-1/4″
Interior Cubby Sides (2) = 1x12x15-1/4″
Bottom Face (1) = 1x4x52-1/2″
Base Board Molding = 1/2″x4-1/4″x54″+12″

I will attempt to make some drawings of how this goes together since I did not take near enough pictures to show how it goes together. But it’s not too hard to figure it out from the finished pics. Butt joints are made where every piece is glued and screwed together. The top part of the hall tree is made up of the following cut pieces:

Upper Cabinet Cut Pieces:
Sides (4) = 1x10x49″
Top and Bottom (1) = 1x10x54″
Shelves (3) = 1x10x17″
Back (hook part) (3) = 1x6x17″
Trim Top (1) = 1x11x55-1/2″

Same thing with the bottom, all the pieces are butt joints which are glued and screwed together. With this part complete, it doesn’t look like much actually. It isn’t until the base molding and side facing and cove molding is added that it starts to actually look kinda nice. Those are all made up of 1×3 pieces of pine which are just cut to fit the sides. I did leave a 1/2″ overhang on the back to cover the 1/2″ pieces of red pine which make up the back. The 11/16″ cove molding sits nicely on the inside corners of each piece of 1×3″ pine to again give it a finished look. The back is what I really love. I stumbled upon these 5″ wide tongue and groove style red pine boards in the lumber section and thought they would look great as the backing to my hall tree. They give it that great french country look having a real groove every 5″ for that bead-board look without being fake. And since they are real wood, I decided not to paint them and instead finished them with a couple coats of a satin polyacrylic just to bring out the natural colors in the wood and make it look nicer. It contrasts with the white everywhere else and to me just finishes off the whole thing in style.

Anyway, here’s some pictures of just the wood, before being painted, and then done. I will try and get some more drawings of how it goes together if anyone is interested. As well as a complete parts list. Though honestly I don’t imagine anyone trying to duplicate this design exactly, for us this was a pretty custom solution that met a specific need for us. But if nothing else, I hope it might inspire others who are looking for something similar to at least consider what can be built with just a few pieces of lumber from your local hardware store.

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