Monday, January 12, 2009

The Great Closet Adventure, Part One

I lost my closet.

My closet has been taken over by an unborn child. You see, when my wife and I married, I got the closet in the spare bedroom upstairs for my clothes. The large walk-in closet in the master bedroom was inefficient and, um, full. My little closet was tight, but adequate. I even built some shelves to better utilize the top space above the hanging rods. Even though I had to go to a different bedroom to retrieve my clothes in the mornings, all was well and we were happy with our closet space.

However, when we found out that my lovely wife was pregnant, the spare bedroom upstairs was quickly deemed "the nursery'. At first, I thought "No problem. Baby clothes are tiny and don't need hung up anyway. My closet is safe." Boy, was I wrong. Through the nesting process (learn about that bit of fun here), I was firmly informed that baby clothes are indeed hang-able and will take up a lot of space. They even sell baby clothes hangers, which are basically miniature versions of adult hangers at higher prices, but apparently they're very important. Ask me how I know.

Anyway, I was also informed that under no circumstances was I to enter the nursery every morning at 4:30am to retrieve my clothes. So, I was ousted from my closet and had to come up another solution. The basement bedroom was out (too far), the office closet upstairs was out (full of office-y stuff), and the coat closets downstairs already house, well, coats.

So, that left me with reorganizing and increasing the space efficiency of the master bedroom walk-in closet. So this weekend, we set off on that task.

The master bedroom closet is a pretty big space, although oddly-shaped. The existing shelves and rods were installed by the previous owner and were in rough shape. They were the cheapest plastic-coasted wire shelves you could buy, supported by plastic wall hooks and flimsy sheet metal brackets. Nothing was screwed into studs, but used plastic wall anchors in drywall. Many shelves had started to droop and the anchors were starting to pull out of the drywall. To top it off, it was ridiculously inefficient. All the shelves were hung at approximately eye-level, leaving a three-foot space of unused space above them, and another 2 foot space underneath the clothes that hung off them.

Since the closet was already full of my wife's clothes, belts, and shoes, there was absolutely zero space for my items. Add that to the near-dangerous hardware, and it was clear that I needed to rip everything out and start over.

On Friday (I only work four days a week...more about that later, I suppose), we moved all of her clothing to a couple of portable closets and out of the way. Then we spent the remainder of the day removing the existing shelving.

Apparently, the previous owners were not engineers. Nor were they efficiency experts or likely even high school graduates. What they were, however, is lazy. Complete home improvement hacks. They were the type of folks that wire light sockets backwards so you get zapped with you change a lightbulb. Or the kind that add lights to the garage by looping wires over existing wires and just taping them up. Dangerous home improvement hacks.

As I stated, not a single screw in the closet was screwed into a stud. Screws were either screwed directly into the drywall (which means they did essentially nothing) or used plastic wall anchors of varying sizes. What's more, no less than eleven different screw sizes and types were used. Eleven! Apparently whatever they had laying around sufficed. They ranged from 2" deck screws to 4" wood screws and even some machine screws. Some had flat heads, some had round heads. Some required a Phillips screwdriver, some required a flathead. Some of the brackets were even secured with nails pounded into wall anchors.

Yep. Nails.

When we were finished removing the old stuff, I was left with an empty room with 64 holes the drywall ranging from 1/8" (screws directly into drywall) to 1/2" (BIG plastic wall anchors). Did you see that? Sixty-four holes. None of which lined up with a stud. Zero. I can't believe the whole system didn't collapse under the weight of Wifey's stuff.

So, I used an entire small container of putty and patches and got to work. Four hours later, everything was spackled, dry, sanded, and smooth. Since the putty matched the paint, it didn't even look too bad. I took some measurements of the room and grabbed my green engineering grid paper (yep, I'm a dork).

I made scale drawings of the room from all angles and optimized the space available with the parts I knew were available at our local hardware store. Before long, I had six scale drawings of the closet from varying angles with every shelf, rod, bracket and standard in place, along with a complete parts list.

90 minutes, $700, and one scary car trip later, I had every piece of hardware needed laid out in the garage. I set up my WorkMate (which are awesome) as a portable vise and went to bed. The rest would be tackled in the morning.

More later...


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