Getting Organized — Closet Clash

closetHave you ever noticed the overwhelming number of do-it-yourself magazines and television shows? Your neighborhood bookstore and cable network is overloaded with them. Heck, Home Depot and Lowe’s founded multi-billion dollar businesses supported by do-it-yourselfers who embrace the chance to orchestrate a well-done home improvement project and save a little money doing it. Do-it projects are contagious. Even a dexterity-challenged architect, like me, enjoys a well done do-it-yourself project, so with an elevated vision and ego I decided to build our closet organizers.

Before beginning any do-it-yourself project you need the right tools. I’m blessed with a fast mind but clumsy fingers, so I do my best to leverage conceptual prowess and technical know-how to overcome bumbling dexterity, a short fuse and a basic toolbox to assemble my visionary masterpiece. It’s also wise to keep a level-headed teacher nearby to keep emotions in check.

closetshelf_clipsWe undertook this project because the builder’s standard closet shelf and rod would not suffice. You see, we deliberately designed our closets smaller than average to encourage material reduction, yet a normal shelf and rod would compromise our storage needs. One of us convinced the other we were modern people with modern needs. We don’t need a shelf and rod, we needed a closet organizer (*sparkly music interlude*). Besides, how hard can it be to hang pre-made modular closet shelves? This is the moment when a fool and his money are soon parted because ego trumped capability making the insurmountable seem trite.

closetshelf_supportFirst I designed the closets (under the teacher’s supervision) so I could calculate our material list. I calculated everything two…no, three…no, it was four times. Our goal was to install double decker shelves and rails in four closets — the den, living, and two bedrooms. We smiled when we proudly purchased the ClosetMaid series wire shelving, but hesitated when presented with a staggering price tag. I swallowed hard and my confidence slipped because I realized errors would be expensive.

But a day later, organization necessity displaced sticker shock and we expertly charted our assembly sequence which looked something like this:

  1. Level and attach top guide
  2. Find studs and attach/secure shelf tracks
  3. Select desired shelf height and attach shelf brackets
  4. Install shelf
  5. Hang clothes

It looked simple enough; however, the dialog sounded something like this…

“Where is the level?”, I asked sternly.

The teacher handed me the level that was hidden under the bed.

Ufettered I spouted, “I have to make sure it’s level or the shelves won’t fit. Is it level?”

“It’s right in the middle.”

I scoffed, “No, I think it’s a little off.”

“You’re a little off!”

Oddly enough, installing closets reminded me of my wallpaper hanging experience. Every helper has an opinion and the textbook five step process took me 20 steps to complete.

  1. Use the Never-Fail stud finder to find and mark stud locations
  2. Drill a hole in the wall — no stud
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 four times until stud is located and hide the evidence
  4. Hang top guide
  5. Level top guide
  6. Rehang top guide and repeat step 4 and 5 until you learn to level it first
  7. Find studs to attach shelf tracks — no stud. Try three times — studless
  8. Buy a new stud finder; locate and mark studs – ask the teacher to buy it to avoid being recognized
  9. Position shelf track with one hand while groping for fasteners and drill with the other
  10. Bandage forehead injury sustained when shelf track falls off
  11. Attach/secure shelf tracks with adhesive and 35 screws…each…for revenge
  12. Select desired shelf height and attach shelf brackets
  13. Reattach shelf brackets so each is at the same height
  14. Attach shelf; repeat three times pausing only to rant
  15. Curse because you bought the wrong shelf and wasted loads of money
  16. Watch the teacher hang the shelf in three seconds flat
  17. Slide shelf over shelf bracket from front to back, snap in back edge and pull forward to lock
  18. Hang clothes and stare blankly
  19. Find level — look under the bed
  20. Read directions and start over

Beaming with pride, I admire my…the teacher’s… good work and announce I should start a closet organizer business. But before I make millions in the custom closet business, I will apply my hard-earned lessons.

  • Review the parts list and installation instructions before purchasing material. Sometimes shelves use different support systems and are not compatible with one another
  • Make sure you have a GOOD stud finder. The teacher is the best stud finder I know and was well worth the price of a marriage license
  • Layout all parts and tools and place the tools in the same spot every time. It reduces stress and eye strain.
  • Use support brackets and wall clips instead of the full height adjustable brackets where possible. Support brackets install easier, do not need a stud and cost less.
  • Make the builder construct the closet the right size. When designed to tight tolerances like ours, a 6″ depth error transforms a mini-walk-in to a challenged reach-in.

closetshelf_trackIt may not be easy, but home improvement projects are well worth the effort. This post proves even an assembly-challenged architect can be a home-improver especially if you have ego-maniacal drive and live with an expert instruction reader.


2 thoughts on “Getting Organized — Closet Clash

  1. Well, you have done it again. I am rendered absolutely useless because of side-splitting laughter at reading your latest posting. At least I know where to come if I ever purchase a closet organizer. So, what does the teacher charge per hour to install?

  2. People are supposed to be empathetic beings, yet I’m amazed at how humorous people find another’s pain. The teacher is expensive, but can be bought for a pound of dark chocolate m&m’s.

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