Making Closet history : A Chris Craft Closet

This 18-foot-long, 1948 Chris Craft sport boat was found in a barn in Wisconsin approximately three 
years ago and restored to its original condition.

St. Charles Closets finds inspiration in an antique boat to create a one of a kind closet.

Inspiration for a truly unique closet can come from anywhere. Designers might look to nature, emerging trends, cultural themes or any number of other muses. When asked by a builder to create the closets for a house that was part of a local homeshow, Dan Lynch of St. Charles Closets, St. Charles, IL, found inspiration for the master bedroom closet in an antique sport boat.

"The particular house involved is a theme house" says Lynch. "Everything about that house, every room, has a different theme to it that coincides with the house".

In addition to the main garage, the home has a detached garage. Originally, the builder wanted to put a sports car in it, Lynch says.

"That didn't seem to fit with the house," he adds. "I offered up the antique boat."

With the detached garage serving as a 'boathouse,' Lynch says he had to carry the nautical theme into part of the house. Thus, the idea for the boat closet was conceived.

"We had to do something with the closet to coincide with the boat in the garage, and so that's why I decided to make it out of the same material as the boat," he remarks.

Not only did St. Charles Closets make the closet out of the same material as the boat, they took steps to make sure the closet was as exact a match as possible. The doors and drawer fronts are made from Philippine mahogany, the same material as the boat decking, and stained with a red mahogany stain. The cabinetry is done in chocolate pear.

"What we tried to do is actually match the color of the boat, so the color of the boat itself and the closet are identical," Lynch says.

After the doors and drawer fronts were cut out and stained, the grooves in the doors and drawer fronts were put in using a kerf saw and then filled with caulk. On a boat, the grooves allow the wood to bend and follow the curve of the deck, Lynch explains, and the caulk gives the lines the yellowish/whitish effect. Then, the doors and drawer fronts were given eight coats of Valspar, a marine varnish. After each coat, the varnish took approximately eight hours to dry and had to be sanded before the next coat was applied.

"It took three weeks of 10- to 12-hour days to do the doors and drawer fronts," he adds.

To accent the doors, Lynch used authentic brass boat cleats, or rope cleats, for the door and drawer pulls. A brass porthole with an inlaid mirror adorns one of the unit's doors.

"I don't think it's something that would be commercially feasible," Lynch says. "It took an extraordinary amount of time. The builder was a personal friend of ours, and I think that was part of the reason we were able to build like that."

Lynch's boat, (Sporting a Woody) is a 1948 Chris Craft sports boat, measuring 18 feet long. The boat itself was only recently restored, Lynch says, after being found in a barn in Wisconsin. He provided the boat for the duration of the show, but says it is "back home now, where it belongs."

[The boat] hadn't been reregistered since the late '50s or early '60s,� he explains. It had been dormant for quite a while.

Lynch takes it to boat shows where 'Sporting a Woody' has won several awards, including Best of Show, Best Transom Name and Best Finish.

Since the home show, St. Charles Closets has had several inquiries about the boat closet, but so far they are just inquiries. "It was a unique design, and we just wanted to be able to say we did it," Lynch remarks.

(Left) St. Charles Closets Inc. of St. Charles, IL, used Philippine mahogany, marine varnish and authentic boat ties to create this nautical-themed closet. (Right) Dan Lynch, of St. Charles Closets Inc., used authentic brass boat ties and a brass porthole to accentuate this closet.