In most respectable areas of the country, there are certain things one doesn’t discuss in polite company. In some areas it’s money. Others, it’s politics or religion. In New York City, especially when you and your friends are all still young and strapped for cash, it can seem like the most taboo of subjects is not any of the above. It’s talking too much about how much you love your apartment. Especially, especially, if what you love about your apartment is storage space.

Mia would not be able to talk about this closet and still expect to be invited to hang out with anyone ever again. 

Everyone can appreciate a good mouse story, or a leak, or poor lighting. Everyone has dealt with terrible neighbors or an incompetent landlord (I once had a guy who had been “staying” in the apartment above mine jump from a second story window into my backyard to avoid the police, who were there to evict him). There’s nothing like a good apartment horror story to turn an awkward happy hour into a full on summer camp bonding exercise. Telling everyone about your great apartment, though, in a real estate market designed to fold you into teeny, tiny closet-sized spaces until you’re about 35, can sound suspiciously like bragging. No one likes a bragger.

I often find myself beginning conversations about our apartment with “I mean, there’s a lot wrong with it but…” or “Don’t hate me when I tell you this but…,” which is even worse! Ugh, it’s like the “no offense, but…” that plagued my middle school years, always accompanied by a half smirk and the kind of intense glitter eye shadow only a twelve-year-old can pull off. But the thing is, if this apartment has one thing going for it, it has closets. Our apartment is replete with closets. We have closets in every area of the house. Living room, front hall, bedroom. I hope you’ll forgive me for bragging this once, though, because they’re kind of the focal point of this entire post. And then I promise I’ll never speak of them again.

So! These closets almost made me cry of happiness the first time I saw them. But the problem was, they each had only been equipped with one shelf, even the 7 foot deep, 3 foot wide utility closet, meaning they all pretty much looked like this:

Photo Mar 15, 3 17 23 PMIf you can’t tell, that’s our utility closet literally filled with all of our junk, with one under-utilized shelf way in the back. I don’t have before pictures of the coat and bedroom closets, but I think you get the idea. At first I was stressing out all over the place, looking for nightstands and a dresser for the front hall and an ugly, expensive bathroom cabinet to fit on the floor between our sink and toilet to take care of the storage issue. Then I realized, I could just build shelves. Why not? Ok, so I didn’t have a cordless drill and getting lumber to our apartment would be an issue, but I soon realized that this is New York. You can get anything delivered here.

So I emailed like three different lumber yards in the city with my order to find the cheapest one (Prince Lumber on 15th and 9th Ave, they are awesome!) and bought a cordless drill to knock my order over the minimum for free delivery. They delivered the next day and while Sam and I debated whether or not to tip, the guy dropped off the wood and drove away so fast it became very clear tipping is not necessary. To prepare, I watched like six thousand youtube videos on how to build shelves, listened to hardcore music to pump myself up, and wore my most lumberjack-like red plaid flannel shirt to get in character. Next I had to figure out what “cleats” and “toggle bolts” were. Then I spent three days out of the four day weekend I took to spend with Sam on his spring break doing this:

Photo Mar 22, 5 56 56 PM


Photo Mar 23, 8 49 06 PM

Photo Mar 17, 9 21 03 PMWhile I know Sam appreciates all the extra storage we now have, I don’t think sitting on the couch doing schoolwork while I hid in our closets hogging our best floor lamp for hours at a time was exactly how he envisioned his break. But that’s love, man: being understanding of one person’s need for more home organization over quality together time. And now all of the stuff that was in every corner of our house is up out of the way in our closets, which makes me so calm and happy I cannot even describe. I love a well organized, utilized-to-capacity closet more than I love almost anything. Except Sam.


3 thoughts on “The Closet Shelves (or, how I spent three out of my four vacation days drilling holes for six hours straight)

  1. Beth says:

    Well done!


  2. Susan says:

    I am in AWE!


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