Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Closet Crisis

In 1915, people didn't own many clothes.  The closets of the time attest to this fact quite vividly!  Clothes were either store-bought and expensive or handmade which was time-consuming.  Either way, there were fewer of them!

True to their day, the closets at 419 S. Taylor are miniscule.  They are even smaller than what one would normally think of as a "small closet" (those 1920-1960 models).  The two original bedrooms have identical closets that look like this (don't miss the peek at the quaint vintage wallpaper before it runs into the ugly panelling that covers access to the bathroom pipes!):

Both closets are about 7 feet wide but only 18 inches deep -- so shallow, in fact, that you can't hang clothes from side to side like you would in a regular closet.  A clothes hanger is about 17 inches wide so, once you add clothing to it, you'd be rubbing the sides of the closet.  Instead, in these closets, the clothes must be hung in each of the little side alcoves from front to back in that 18" depth.  This allows for about 12 items of clothing on each side.  With some creativity, it is possible to squeeze a few more clothes in here and there but, basically, these closets are completely inadequate for modern humans. 

The middle bedroom had another closet that someone (who still couldn't be called a clothes horse!) built out of 2x4's and paneling.  But it was too ugly for words.  So I took it out.  Actually, I started to take it out but, when I lacked the strength (aka "man power"), Mark happily stepped in for me and had a great time tearing it down in about 2 1/2 minutes flat!

The closet in the sunporch master bedroom is even worse.  Since the sunporch as been used as a laundry room for much of it's life, the closet is, essentially, a broom closet.  It measures 24 inches wide and 28 inches deep.  Spacious for brooms, yes, but it doesn't even seem worth it to try to hang clothes in it.
The picture below is all doors but the closet is the second from the right -- behind the open, unpainted hollow-core bathroom door.

Never fear, however, because one of my favorite mental exercises is to try to solve the spacial and functional problems in a house!  I have it all figured out! 

The partial basement has two rooms.  One will be a bedroom for the boys when I can finish it out.  The other is about 9 x 15 and has laundry hookups (I realize now that I have never even taken photos of the basement.  I'll add them in when I can so check back!).  This will be both the laundry room and the "family closet".  The bulk of everyone's clothing can be kept here.  The closets upstairs can be used for immediate clothes storage without having to pack them to bursting!

Several years ago I became enamoured with the concept of an "Everything Closet" that I learned about in a wonderful book called A Place For Everything: Organizing the Stuff of Life by Peri Wolfman and Charles Gold.  Wolfman and Gold show a master closet that is also the laundry room. This concept makes so much sense to me because I've spent decades hauling laundry up and down stairs and to and from the laundry room.  I even put in a new UPSTAIRS laundry room in my Fayetteville house and turned the downstairs laundry room into a little office.  This was after years of throwing the dirty clothes from the second floor down to the front hall to be sorted and hauled to the laundry room only to have to lug them back up when they were clean. Why not just have it all in one place?  Here are a couple of photos of pages from the book so you can see their version:

I've expanded on the "everything closet" concept in a house plan I designed (but haven't built - yet!) in which the upstairs laundry room adjoins the master closet (and other closets as well, if configured carefully) so that it is close but everyone else's clothes don't end up in mom and dad's closet.

My inspiration for the laundry room at Taylor comes from this magazine spread (Country Home, March 2006):

Isn't it glorious?  This room just makes me HAPPY!  I could look at it all day.  I could live in it.  I could die happy there (but not for another 60+ years because I'm nowhere near done yet)! 

By the way, the laundry room at Taylor looks a lot like what this laundry room looked liked before (see below).  Very basementy!

I hope to post equally dramatic before and after pictures of MY basement laundry room when I'm done with it! 

I can't believe I just wrote a whole piece on ugly, empty closets and a creepy basement laundry room.  But maybe, just maybe, seeing the dingy, boring, uninspiring "before" will give you a greater appreciation when you finally get to see the "after"!  In the meantime, you can spend every waking moment anticipating it!  Oh, wait a minute, you're probably not as obsessed with my laundry room as I am.  Well, anyway, I'm entertaining myself even if I'm boring YOU!

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