Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Closet Consultants.

There is an old adage that says something to the effect that the amount of stuff we own is directly proportional to the amount of space we have to store it all. If you want proof of this, just go have a look in your garage. Remember when you didn’t have all that stuff? What did you do before you had a garage? Where did all that stuff come from? Would a larger garage solve the problem? No, it would just mean more stuff
The adage applies especially to closet space. Is there such a thing as too much closet space? That’s like asking if it’s possible to be too rich – the answer to both is no. There is a reason why one of the first questions out of the mouths of potential new homeowners is “how much closet space is there?” They know that even though they live in a small place now with very little closet space, as soon as they move into their bigger home with acres of closet space, the space will instantly fill up with stuff that apparently appeared out of thin air – either that or closets around the country are shrinking.
The problem of shrinking closet space has been addressed by a large number of design entrepreneurs who stake their futures and fortunes on the consumer’s desire for more closet space, and on their own abilities to fight the laws of quantum physics and create space where there isn’t any. Go to any home show and most mall openings, and you will find enthusiastic closet consultants eagerly trying to sell you on the latest in closet space makers – an oxymoron if ever there was one!
Closet space makers are essentially organizing systems, and the people who come up with these designs want to do for your closets what time management consultants want to do for your life: create more space. The organizing systems are both very elaborate and very expensive. The pictures the manufacturers use to display the versatility of their products are an obsessive-compulsive’s delight: rows upon rows of neatly sorted shoes; sweaters stacked with military precision; and shirts, pants, dresses and blouses neatly organized on hangers, ready to be instantly matched and worn. And look! There, up on top! Even MORE SPACE for hat boxes (do people still have hat boxes?) Christmas presents, equipment for sports long since abandoned (where else are you going to store your riding hat and scuba gear?) and summer (or winter) clothes! Amazing! How do they do it?
Well, the answer is simple: they stack all the stuff, take pictures of it, and then never use it again! As anybody with real clothes and real closets will tell you, there is no force on Earth that can keep anything organized in a closet for any significant length of time. And those of us who have tried installing closet organizers have quickly learned that all those wire shelves, drawers and racks take up more space than eight boxes of shoes and three suits.
The sad reality is that the time has come for us to abandon our dreams of creating more space for our clothes and shoes by filling our closet space with wire contraptions, and accept the fact that the only solution is to either move to a still larger house with even more shrinking closet space, or have a yard sale (although those contemplating a yard sale may want to see the column entitled “What Happened to the Space in our Garage?” in a later issue of the magazine).
But don’t despair. If you – like I – have bought a closet organizer, remember that the one truly wonderful thing about closet organizers is that they are eminently suitable for holding tools and gardening equipment in the backyard shed.
And getting them out of the closet will open up a ton of space.
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