Fi­nally, a space that makes sense

The Southern Gazette - - Saltwire Homes - Heather Laura Clarke My Hand­made Home Heather Laura Clarke chron­i­cles the trans­for­ma­tion of her fam­ily’s builder­ba­sic house into a per­son­al­ized House of Dreams – us­ing paint, fab­ric, wood, and her trusty glue-gun.

Thirty-four inches is not rea­son­able for a walk-in closet.

But that’s the width of the ridicu­lous closet in our base­ment. It came with two skinny wire shelves, and we added a third at some point. For years I loaded them down with craft sup­plies be­cause the room was my home of­fice.

I loathed that closet and how I had to turn side­ways to squeeze in to re­trieve any­thing. Most of the time, I couldn’t get in. It was crammed, but there didn’t seem to be a way to make bet­ter use of the space.

Once I moved my home of­fice into what used to be our fam­ily room/play­room — the largest space in our fin­ished base­ment — this room be­came a guest room. In­stead of hous­ing craft sup­plies, the closet was where we stashed the kids’ “some­times toys.”

(What are some­times toys? Well, they’re an as­sort­ment of toys they love too much to do­nate and still en­joy oc­ca­sion­ally. Two bas­kets of beloved baby/tod­dler toys we’ll keep for­ever — a wooden air­port set, two wooden puz­zles, Play­mo­bil 123 and some ve­hi­cles. There’s the dress-up bin, the Lite Brite and our board games and puz­zles. There’s also the plas­tic doll­house and the Cal­ico Crit­ters — used pretty reg­u­larly, but not enough to earn spots in their bed­rooms.)

Our daugh­ter loved the idea Heather’s guest room closet was just 34” wide and im­pos­si­ble to keep or­ga­nized. of a closet full of toys she rarely saw, so she started squeez­ing into it af­ter school to play, of­ten bring­ing her friends in, too. It was way too small for that, and I was wor­ried the over­loaded wire shelves would send board games crash­ing down onto their lit­tle heads.

I got fed up one day and tore Heather took down all of the shelves so she could patch the holes and start over. ev­ery­thing out, in­clud­ing the wire shelves that ran across the length of the closet. I patched and primed the holes and painted the closet with left­over paint from our daugh­ter’s room (PPG’s Pinot Noir, a su­per soft grey/mauve).

While I sorted through the mess of toys and board games, and carted away an en­tire truck­load of do­na­tions, my handy hus­band used 1x3s and The re­vamped closet is much eas­ier to use and has space for the kids’ “some­times toys.”

1x2s to frame out two sturdy shelves run­ning across the width of the closet. He plunked some in­ex­pen­sive ply­wood on top of each, added a strip of 1x3 across the front of each to “make it pretty” (I in­sisted), and we were good to go.

I only wanted two shelves, but I made sure they were nice and deep (32 inches) so we could store large plas­tic totes. In­stead of a messy stack of board games, most of them fit into a tote la­belled GAMES that would be easy for the kids to pull out.

The heavy stuff tucks un­der the low­est shelf, in­clud­ing a box of my files. I put the toys they play with most of­ten — the doll­house and the Cal­ico Crit­ters — on the main level, right at their height.

The top shelf holds puz­zles, tod­dler toys and dress-up clothes, and I can eas­ily lift those down when they want them.

The kids love their new toy closet and I love that it’s fi­nally a space that makes sense. They can go in and help them­selves, and we can even swap out toys they have in their rooms — some­thing we could never do eas­ily be­fore. Thanks to the huge la­bels — and the fact that they can both fi­nally read — there’s no ex­cuse not to put ev­ery­thing where it be­longs when they’re fin­ished with it.

This skinny lit­tle closet is al­most done. It’s just miss­ing some deep hooks for guests to hang their clothes, since we re­moved the hang­ing bar, but I have a neat idea in mind for that.

Stay tuned.

Heather’s kids can ac­cess their toys eas­ily (or have her lift down a bin for them) and there’s plenty of space to put ev­ery­thing back.

Heather painted the closet and her Handy Hus­band started in­stalling wooden shelves in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

The skinny wire shelves just weren’t work­ing any­more.

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