Hall Closet Zen

According to an episode of 30 Rock, a Rat King occurs when “a bunch of rats get crammed into a tiny space and their tails get all tangled up…eventually their bodies fuse together and they form a multi-headed live mutant rat king.”  That pretty much sums up what happens to our shoes after about a month in the bottom of our hall closet.  Think I’m exaggerating?  This is what we were working with a couple days ago:

The time had come to organize our closet.
I knew I wanted it separated into two halves, one side for hanging coats and the other with shelves, but that was where my plan ended.  The logistics of screwing in the center, dividing piece of wood, took a little planning.  This is what Jason came up with (sorry if I’m dumbing this down too much, but we really had to think to come up with this solution):

The piece of wood to the right of the closet divider also worked as additional support for the shelves.
I decided to make cubbies to keep the “shoe-rat-king” at bay.  Cutting and nailing a bunch of separators didn’t really appeal to me, so I came up with the idea of buying 1/2″ dowels ($1.50 for a 48″ section) at Home Depot and drilling holes with a 9/16″ paddle bit to slide them between our shelves.

If you’ve never used a paddle bit, it’s the attachment on the drill in the photo above.  It attaches to the drill like a bit, but works as a saw and makes a perfectly round cut.  On the base and top shelf I only drilled about halfway through to notch the wood and keep the dowels from sliding around.

This is how it all came together:

Pretty fancy, huh?  I never thought I would be so proud of DIY shoe separators.  Throw on a little Benjamin Moore Aura in White Dove (Aura is great for painting shelving, you don’t have to add a coat of poly, it dries to an enamel-like hardness so it won’t get scratched up):

We added a couple more shelves above the cubbies, then on the left side drilled a piece of 1 x 3″ into the studs to hang coat hooks.  This gave us about 2′ more depth than using a closet rail, so there’s a place for me to toss my purse and the diaper bag when I walk in the door.

Ok, big reveal here.  We actually have more stuff in the closet now (the only thing I left out of the shot was the vacuum cleaner, it was blocking the view of the shelves):

Grant is having a blast with the “garage”, and is less likely to learn any four letter words as I search for the match to my sneaker in the morning, which sometimes is more of a workout than going to spin class.  Jason was even inspired to change out the batteries in Lightening McQueen:

How cute are those two?  They even make the same faces when they work.  Alright, I’m home alone tonight as Jason is on another business trip.  I used to love the rare evening when I put my son to bed and had the house all the myself.  Typically it involved a bottle of wine, Us Magazine, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, and scratch off lottery tickets (all my vices in one go).  It isn’t quite as fun pregnant, though.  Somehow losing scratch off after scratch off doesn’t have the same appeal without an alcoholic beverage in hand.

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