Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Closeted Organizationalists

No matter how well organized you are, any space that can be closed off to the world becomes, overtime a safe haven for junk and disorder. Other than the classic junk drawer in your house the bedroom closet has to be the number two offender. You have to store sweaters, shoes, coats, shirts, pants, and lots of other items that migrate in there over the years. Our bedroom closet was no different. Megs and I were both fed up with the rampant disorder the current layout created. Our “long” hanging items would bump into our first attempt to organize: a shoe rack, knocking them off whenever we simply tried to retrieve any single item, or looked at it cross-eyed. The other issue we were having were the bi-fold doors that took up so much space when open and could never really be closed because of the displaced shoe chaos on the floor.

The only before picture we could find- if you peek through the bed slates you can get an idea of what the closet looked like... NIGHTMARE!

Finally, one morning we had enough and Megs proclaimed… that’s the next project while pointing angrily like Patton observing the German lines. I was on board and happily went off to work. That night when I came home we had a great dinner but I could see Megs mind racing with the possibilities of a dream closet fully decked out by the Container Store. The tabs open on the iPad proved me right. Websites a plenty on closet design layouts and articles discussing maximum space efficiencies of small closets; she is a mad woman when she digs into a project. The next day I was greeted at the door with one of Megs all time used phrases… “Do you have time to discuss…” fill in the blanks, but for tonight’s discussion was to review her blueprint of the closet proposal.
Copyright Megan Peterson, closet design genius

Once the kids were down and she had my FULL attention, I was walked through a gold jacket style presentation, as if she were trying to sell me a Beverly Hills mansion circa 2010. “Yup, looks good” was my response and off I went with the sketch to figure out my cut sheet for materials. 2 – ½” sheets of birch plywood, 2 – 4x8 pine trim boards for the face frames, 1 – 4’ section of hangar rod, and a few hardware odds and ends and we would be all set. I look forward to new projects not just because I have a short attention span but because I get to drive our farm truck to the lumber yard and feel like a real country boy.

Saturday morning bright and early, I set up the saw horses outside the shop and got to rough cutting. Never underestimate the usefulness of a good circular saw, blade and a straight edge combo. One can cut damn near anything accurately with that set up, and it is much safer than trying to run a full sheet of plywood through a table saw not properly designed for it. 

Rough cut shelves

Once I had all my plywood rough cut I returned to the shop to cut everything to final size and mill the face frame. I decided for strength to cut dados into the two vertical walls of the center organizer to accept all the shelves, and as an added bonus it helps in glue up assembly when you have to deal with 7… no wait 8 shelves, read on.  While in the process of laying out all the dados needed I started doing some mental math and quickly realized Megs can’t add. Her sketch gave me an overall height dimension of 76” and then individual dimensions broken down for each shelf. Those two numbers which should add up did not, and enough so it made me laugh out loud. Ill give you a minute to go back to the actual sketch above and see the insanity for yourself. To be fair she is a music teacher and they only have to count to 4 pretty repeatedly, with a 6 and 8 thrown in there at random.

With the correct spacing now drawn, I was able to set up the table saw and cut all the dados in the vertical side walls. I also ripped a rabbet down the back side of the side walls to accept the back panel. 

Notice the table "extension" to the left so the panel would sag and bind
Vertical side walls, ready for assembly
The back panel of most cabinets, shelves, etc. are made from ¼” ply but I had some extra ½” I had on hand, so strength wise, this thing is now hurricane proof. Building furniture like a brick shit house is an attribute I am always proud of until I have to move or install it, and bust a proverbial nut. Glue, brads, and clamps in place, Shawshank Redemption  on pause, I headed in for the night.

The next day I cut and trimmed the face frame and set about moving the beast into the house in install. Meg’s and I reviewed her sketch, measured moved the unit back and forth in the closet until we (she) was happy. A couple of shims to level and the whole thing got screwed into the wall with some 2-½” cabinet screws. 

Meg’s original sketch had me building look alike shelve boxes off the main unit but they would have created more trouble for access than useful storage. I instead cut some mounting feet for the hangar bars and built shelves around them. This maximized the remaining space. I was also able to use the original shelves and support them with some pine trim runners I glued and screwed to the wall. Viola!

Megs was going to paint the whole think white, as per our usual built-ins, but we both like the natural wood look and plan to keep it. I think this winter would be a good time to fill all the holes and brush on some flat polyurethane just to give it a bit of protection. We are both extremely happy with how it turned out and it is now much easier to stay organized. Megs also introduced me to space saving hangers, which at first I scoffed at, but now secretly love. Stay tuned for more bedroom organization to come soon.


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