Monday, May 1, 2017

Welcome to My Cowgirl Cave: DIY Tack Room Project

Welcome to my Cowgirl Cave.

For my 50th birthday, dreams became reality, and I now have a place where I can unfurl myself among leather, horse smell, and memories.

When we started this project, I did not know I was going to be drawn to it day after day, multiple times a day, to sit and rest, condition leather, organize and reorganize health care products, blankets, and all my well-loved tack.  As Virginia Woolf said, every woman needs "a room of one's own." It turns out, this is the room I needed.  

Here's the story behind the "Cowgirl Cave."

It started with a shed.  Having not fully finished our barn, I didn't want to wait who knows how long to have my tack room completed, and I didn't want to share it with grains and barn supplies.  I made the decision to start fresh and leave the barn tack room for lead ropes, halters, barn and fencing supplies, tools, the "cat house," and vitamins and feed.

My husband was with me on this project from Day One, and he encouraged me to dream up whatever I wanted so that I would love it when it was done.  I sifted and sorted through hundreds of photos online and pieced together various inspirations for what would be beautiful and functional.  You can see and read about some of those various ideas, photos, shopping trips, in my first post.

Here are a couple of photos of the prep work my husband did before adding the wood panels. 

Lining up the saddle rack braces. Once the panels went on, we relied on those measurements to know where to find the wall braces he'd installed for the racks.

Saddle rack braces and wiring installed.

And, this is what it looks like after.

When I was still in the dreaming stage of the project, I told my husband I'd like an antique hutch to hold horse supplies, and comfy chairs where we could sit and relax--western style--wood and  leather. Also, I wanted a chandelier and carpet to soften it up and make it feel more homey.  

It all fell together like it was meant to be .

I found this hutch from the 1880s in the exact color I'd hoped for--"Sleeping Beauty turquoise."

I found the exact chair I'd described to my husband, too.  I went to a large antique fair two weeks ago, briskly walked the entire thing looking for one item--this chair--and found it at the LAST booth I came across--a booth ran by a HORSE WOMAN.

It's solid oak, original leather, and she brought the price down to a very affordable $200.

I love to sit in that chair and look across the room at this:

The canvas photo in this picture is of my noble, dear friend, Red and his horse wife, Cowgirl, with their "baby," Beautiful Girl.  My four kids surprised me with this photo on my 50th birthday.  They had no idea how much I was going to love it, or that it would end up here, in my Cowgirl Cave.  There is no sweeter thing for me to see, no sweeter thing for me to remember, than this photo that captures the essence of my herd's heart.  A heart that broke when we lost Red, but that is being mended.

The yellow chair (above) has been with me for over 20 years, and is one of my faves.  It fits perfectly in the Cowgirl Cave.

As all you horse folks know, hooks are a very important part of a Cowgirl Cave, and I found these horse shoe hooks on Etsy for $5.00 each.  I purchased twelve: six for helmets and six for various other tack, on the opposite side of the room.

You may remember in my first post, I was unhappy with the brass bridle racks I'd ordered.  I didn't feel they'd match my new tack room.  I waited until it was done, held them up, and instantly knew they would not work.  I ordered these simple black metal ones instead.  

(These black, metal bridle racks were $2.99 each through Schneider Saddlery. They are worth every penny.  Heavy duty, well made, simple and, I think, way under-priced.  But under-priced is good.  The saddle racks are also from Schneider and came in at $19.99 each. They're solid and functional with a separate bar attached for blankets. That is a very good thing to have since blankets are often wet and sweaty after a ride and need to air out.

No Cowgirl Cave is complete without a sign.  I  had this one made by an Etsy seller from Holland, Michigan--3D Woodworker.  The "established" date is my 50th birthday, April 11, 2017.  Love it!

He had several horse designs from which to choose, but I went the mare and foal.  After all, it is a cow-GIRL cave.

 Here it is, under the chandelier.


And, another angle.

The chandelier lighting up the room at night.

No Cowgirl Cave is complete without some refreshments.

Also, wormers, Bute, and Banamine.

I found this old wrought iron rooster at the same store as the 1800's cabinet. It was holding antique bridles, but wasn't for sale.  I asked the owner if he'd consider selling it, and here it is!

 I think he's perfect for holding side reins and various leather straps.

Inside the old hutch, human grooming supplies.

And all the tools of the horse care trade: thermometer, stethoscope, bandages.

Leather conditioner, leather hole punch, and rags.


The Cowgirl Cave also has ample storage in the above lofts, one on each side of the room, for misc stored items: fly masks, tools, winter blankets, extra rags, and other items not used on a day-to-day basis.  A foldable step ladder helps to access these supplies.

I had photos of my daughter & granddaughters, with their horses, printed, which I'll now frame and hang in a montage above the refrigerator.

I feel very blessed to have this room.  As we were working on it, I turned to my husband and said, "Do you realize, all this time with horses, and I've NEVER had a real tack room?"  He said, "You should have had one a long time ago."  

I agree, and I hope every cowgirl gets a chance to have their own.

Today I'm going to haul out the Keurig coffee machine where there are To-Go cups waiting.  Would you like to join me for a cup?  Come on over to the Cowgirl Cave!


  1. My best friend from elementary school all the way through to college was born April 11th. You made your Cowgirl Cave into a special place.

    1. Thank you. That's really cool to know someone so close with the same birthday. Aries!

  2. I'll be right over. I want to sit in the yellow chair. And I want a chandelier in my dark tack room.

    1. A chandelier is easy to remedy! There are so many to choose from, too. Yes, the yellow chair is super comfy. Come on over!

  3. It's just perfect! I love your chairs, and your sign. Very cozy place to spend some quiet time reflecting on those things that matter most in this life. That picture of Red and the others grazing - beautiful. Congratulations on your awesome new space! Wish I could pop right over for a little cuppa and a chat.

    1. Me, too. You could bring Eags. I would love that.

  4. It's beautiful! I hope you have many happy moments there. Love the picture! Everything is set up perfectly for all the tack and it's such a great place to relax and reflect on your rides. It would be a great place to relax with a book too. Can't wait until you have your deck which will be so nice in the warmer weather. The sign is great, the chandelier, the hutch...well the whole thing is gorgeous. Wishing you many happy hours in there.

    1. Thank you! Yes, a good book would be perfect. It's funny. My daughter comes over a lot, and she calls me to find out where I am, and I'm always out in the cave. The horses find it amusing, too. They're always watching me disappear into it, and when I bring them over to tack up, they're always curious to peek in.

  5. LOVE it ALL Linda; this is the nicest, most comfy looking, useful tackroom... and it's so clean! Those horseshoe hooks for $5; that's a total steal. The picture from the kids looks fabulous, & the chandelier is very rustic chic. So much to like, but I think that the sign is really one of my favourite of your personal touches.

    My tackroom is in the barn, & has a cat door, so my saddles all have covers on them which I then drape with another layer of light blanket because the cats insist on sleeping on them. I think I'd be embarassed to show actual pictures...

    1. Ha! You should have seen my old tack rooms. Pretty sad. I had 8 saddles in my trailer tack room, if you can believe that. Of course, that is also when I cried Uncle.

  6. It's beautiful. There's nothing like a special place to hold the stuff that goes with your dreams. :)

    1. Thank you. 😊 yes, my most treasured items are in there.

  7. Everything about it... is so perfect! Truly holds your spirit ~ Wish I could join you for a cup of coffee one day :-)

    1. Thank you. Yes, my spirit is always with my herd, so being surrounded by their things is really special. Wish you could join me for a cup of coffee in the Cowgirl Cave! I'll write a post from out there soon.

  8. Wow!!! Thanks for sharing your happy place & all the thoughtful treasures that make it SO amazing! Incredibly organized, and completely thought out. You put it all together, and so quickly! You would do well if you ever wanted to offer out your cowgirl interior designer skills! I like your horseshoe hooks much better then the brass ones. My hubby made some up a while ago that look very similar. I remember asking him why, when we had no place to put them. We will, eventually. Great chair find, complete with original leather! Love your sign, but what I love most is what your tack room means to you, and that your hubby made it happen. It just doesn't get any better then that.

    1. Thank you so much. I have one bit of "decorating" advice for everyone: surround yourself with things YOU love and let everyone else me damned if they don't like it.

      After a major storm a couple of years ago, my favorite birch tree had been knocked down and pulled apart. I loved that tree so much, I could not stand to part with it. So, one day, I went out there and started hauling all of its pieces inside. I now have a large section over my grand piano and sections of it encircling my whole family room. It feels like we're living in a tree. Some people thought it was a bit cra-cra and others thought it was marvelous. I don't know that it's either, but it's what I love. When I see it, play my piano under it, I feel more complete.

      You will love those hooks your hubby made when you install them, and they can be handed down to future generations of horse lovers in your family. My friend has some her dad made, a long time ago, in her tack room.

      Yes, I owe my husband a big debt of gratitude. And, I'll remember the love that he poured into his work every time I go in there. He never complained. Exact opposite. Every time a new thing came in the mail, he was more excited than me to hurry and get out there to hang it up.

  9. I agree with Aurora- one of the best things is how your husband made it happen for you. We are blessed to have handy and caring husbands!
    I think I have tack room envy now !
    Are you going to put heat in it for the winter?
    I love the whole comfortable, western and well organized look of your Cowgirl Cave. Well done!

    1. One thing I kind of regret is that I didn't insulate it. My husband asked me if I'd like him to, but I thought it would be too much to insulate the entire thing--walls and ceiling. I really did not predict how much I was going to want to be out there. I thought of it as a nice, functional, pretty place to put my saddles, but not myself. So, I was wrong about that. In fact, it is a place I could spend the majority of my day. It does have electricity, so I've had a wall heater out there and it kept it very warm and cozy. I'll probably keep it somewhat warm throughout the winter--just to take the damp off the leather.

      The well-organized part is a MUST for me. My husband asked if we could store other items up in that loft and I said, NO! I don't want to fill it full of junk. I know there will be pressure put on me to do so, but I've seen how fast that can deteriorate into a god-awful mess. I have a rule, it has to be for the horses or it DOES NOT come through those doors.

  10. That's amazing! The height of cowgirl civilization. Coffee, even! I totally love it.

    1. Thanks! Your comment made me think of something, all the photos I found that were really civilized and elegant were English barns. Not a one of them was a "Cowgirl" barn. I'm sure they're out there. I may do an Internet search right now just out of curiosity.


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.