Cleaning the closets


And so it begins. I usually overthink things and take appropriate time to edit, edit, and re-edit, but this process is going to be different. I am allowing myslef to just enter random thoughts as they occur that will in many ways create a more trial and error course of events. It's not that I don't have a plan, but sometimes for me I just have to do. I am afterall focussing on the the WHY as that is unique to my experience and can create a dialogue for that which connects us on a level different than the more common "how to". One foot in front of the other. Knock down the wall to force myself to see the possibilities. But, before the smack and grab starts, the never ending cleaning and moving of decades of things, stuff and memories must come to some form of comfort balance with my brain and my heart. For others , and their problems I am usually pretty good at seeing what is at hand and using my head, but for me, especially in this instant, my heart often hedges the lead. Except now, I have crossed a threshhold.

I finally took the video cam out of the closet that had been ominously stashed behind some linens since the day I took a permanent recorded look at what I was dealing with over a year and a half ago, and almost 2 years now that Mom has passed. I've turned the corner from emotional to more pragmatic and functionally minded. It was a more difficult look at my "now" than I was willing to take until this very moment. I forced myself. It was time.

I was left with a bit of a mess and have done well to this point. It's time to move forward. I have had a number of offers from friends and professionals to edit for me, but as I am an artist at heart, and relatively grammatical, I have chosen to let my long, short, edited, and bat-shit crazy thoughts and sentences speak for themselves. It's who I am, and what I choose to parlay as thought and idea. Each of us is a unique set of education, experience, work, and karma that makes us who we are. I have chosen at this point and time in my life to let that which I excel in, shy away from, edit from content and put foremost to speak for itself. I don't judge. I certainly expect the same from others. So, if you want to ride my flying monkey, I might slap a few Scarecrows along the way, but we'll all end up back in Kansas when the day is over and clap the shutters back on the house for shits and giggles with a beer or two. In the end we're all Dorothy looking for a way out and ultimately a way back.

We're getting ready in the morning to actually work physically on the flow and function of the house. (2/15/2016) It's a 50's ranch with good bones. but the way that we live today is a bit different than the typical "let's put a closet in that empty hole between the studs" mentality. So, until there's a designated new place for what's in those places,, it all has to be removed. This isn't the first or even second attempt at giving, donating, throwing away, packing, re-packing, thinking, over-thinking, reminiscing, laughing and crying, it's more like # 6 or 7., Let's face it, at 52 I need to be preparing for the last 1/3 of my run.....................if I'm lucky. My Grandmother used to say that " your best years are your 40's They're the perfect combination of health, wealth and the ability to still want to do things". Grandad would retort by saying," but you don't make a dime till you're 50". So, it reminds me that no matter the emotion that comes with "home" and what my needs will be for it in the future, it's still necessary to be financially responsible in these decisions. Because as next comes my 60's. We certainly don't say he's 60 going on 30 for a reason and as much as 50 is the new 40 it really deosn't change the reality. Things need to have purpose, and there needs to be good reasons to keep those that just have function for maybe someday, and those that

simply have memories attached. For those that have purpose means now and everyday. For those with someday comes a chance that it will never happen, and for memory comes heart and no logic whatsoever. I've got to let my head take the lead on this one.

I also need to be cognizant of the pre-renovation value of the home, and what I need to do, want to do and am forced to to in the this process. Square footage, location and condition dictate what the house is worth in the inception, and even though you might want to turn your childhood home into your own personal Disney Land with Michael Jackson zoo and gold plated guilding, being realistic and adult makes the decisions in the process extremely fiscally important. There's a point at which the property "tops out". Anyone can put $50,000 towards a kitchen redo, but will you recoup those numbers when you go to sell? You need to teeter- totter with Happy Gilmore and keep in mind that even he could turn into Freddy Krueger. Be very aware of how much your are truly spending on the lotion and the basket that you put it in. Even Anthony Hopkins would tell you that. He can smell an "over-do" and apparently much more. This is WHY there's more to it than just how.


I have chosen a young man to work with that is close to my heart. I didn't really know it at the time, but have learned much about myself by moving back home. He is a 27 year old budding artist that "belongs" to a couple that I grew up with. Good people. Great kid. He gives me hope, memories, and a connection to my past that is needed in this process. I am coming home, yet moving forward. I will leave it at that for the moment as Mack and his parents and family with undoubtedly become an entire post of their they should be.


There are three closets in the small L-shaped hallway. The first houses the water heater, water softener and backs up to the furnace which is housed in it's own simple sheet rock covering that stands in the utility (laundry room) which is located in the very center of the house.

Yes, you have to walk right by the guts of the home and washer and dryer to get to anywhere in the house. So as a matter of practical function and reasonable renovation costs, the "guts" of the home will stay intact and dealt with cosmetcially later. The washer and dryer are going to be relocated into the second closet space that will become part of the main bathroom.

The wahser and dryer will be changed out to stack units to take less valuable square footage and free up the "drive by" in the middle of the house for better flow. The freed up space from the centrally located yet functional location of the laundy facilities will allow for a more open doorway between that area and kitchen to create a sort of butlers pantry and possible small desk and chair for daily mail and bookwork. It will be more aesthietically pleasing and function at the same time. The W/D combo will now be housed in the old utility closet that was next to the bathroom to take advantage of water feed and drainage next to the current tub/shower combo. This is a great solution for what could have been a costly problem.

The original doorway from the pantry closet will be drywalled eliminating all casing trims to allow a slider door to give freedom of movement when entering and exiting each room.


This is the closet that was the catch all that we all have, but will be dry walled up to now open into the master bathroom to house the laundry facilities. It is currently full of all of the things from the kitchen that have nowhere else to go. Turkey roaster, muffin pans, ice cream maker, blender number 2 and 3, food prcessor. 4 bundt cake pans (OMG how many bundt cakes did we actually eat in the 70's?) and enough tea lite candles to make Mrs. O'leary dance a jig. The empty corners and spaces are crammed with nic-nacs, linens and something or anothers that I have kept from days past of my own retail stores Things that are too nice to throw away, yet still haven't been used 15 years later. At this point I am pretty sure that I will never use 95% of what's here. AAAahhh, but letting go. A few things will be boxed to re-evaluate yet again when the process is over, Others kept to functionally use and placed in the new storage area to come in the kitchen and pantry, and yes the majority will be boxed, and at the urging of a friend, donated to the mission to give new life and opportunity to someone that needs it more. It is time. I too have a mission. Just looking at it all with eyes of someone more removed from the situation, I blessed each piece for what it gave me at the time, kissed the memory, and threw much of what was old, broken, stained, unusable, and yes, uneccesary, away. It felt right. The trash man commeth tomorrow. I won't think of it again.

Now to closet # 3. The linen closet.

It is located between the two bedrooms. This one won't be as difficult as it houses every day toiletries and all of what I have retained of Mom's very personal things. Mainly jewelery and small momentos, years of eyeglasses, half used perfume bottles and Grandma's Evening in Paris compacts and powder puff that I'm not quite sure I could ever let go of. Sometimes I just open the lids and smell. They say that the sense of smell most triggers a memory. My tears agree. It somehow seems disrespectful to react any differentlyt.. Everything here has been visited so many times that there is nothing to ever delete until the perfect timing situation of giving those of great importance to family or friend of equal importance. Now is where I just take the time to relocate all of it on top of the bed in the master bedroom as I have taken up sleeping residence in the family room that we have all used as a third master-suite since I deemed it that in my college days. This will be the catch all and my retreat during this live-in renovation and be tackled last. It's like living out of a small suitcase on a weekend trip and still can't find anything that you know for a fact that you have packed, but without champagne brunch and the pool boy.

This closet too will be closed off and opened from the back to join with the secondary "coat" closet in the master bedroom to create one larger closet. There is a double door closet currently in the master, but was created years ago from stolen floor space in the already small room. The problem is that one must place the headboard of the bed in front of a window as the existing floor plan allows for nothing else. Bad Feng Shui. This closet will be deleted allowing a few more elegant inches to the bathroom, and make space for a mounted headboard and floating night stands which will face the windows and make the room seem bigger. Bigger bedroom and bigger bathroom while losing very little closet space by relocating doorways and opening. It's a win, win. The sliding door system from the old closet will be reused as a matter of cost and practicality. I don't always recommend using everything over if possible as it doesn't always work with your new plan, but if it works, use it. Trust me, you will have plenty of other purchases to make that you have no choice in the matter, so if you're alteast neutral about something.................go with it.

The door leading to the bedroom will be replaced with slider type barn doors to mimmick the bathroom entrance. They are cheaper than pocket doors if you consider the easier mounting. Pocket doors frequently require more structual changes and added cost. The sliders will create an easier entry and exit without taking up valuable floor space. They have a fresh look and are experiencing a re-surge in popularity. In this project we will be using refurbished 6 panel doors. They are much less expensive, have great character, and generally are of a time of better quality. The simplicity of it all is functional enough to fit with most all decors. Any home with great functions seems more modern and contemporary and lends well to that aesthetic. If your taste is less tailored , the added details help to make over-simplified design become a bit more warm and traditional if so desired. Most of all they are more" functional" in a smaller space. Function always comes first. In essence, 4 different doors that open in and out in limited space will be edited to 2 that will take up no floor footage. The doors will easily slide for entry/exit, and while open can be viewed as beautiful up-scale panneled walls. If desired, a small portion of the now re-designed closets can have a shallow built in created, with or without lighting, for atrwork, books, collectibles or necessities that can be visible when the doors are closed to the rooms and simply hidden when the rooms are in private use. If done properly, the niches will take very little usable space from the newly created adjoining closets and can be accomplished for minimal costs if done as part of an entirely larger project.

The second bedroom, which is doorway #6, will be walled up in the halway and opened to the living area to allow a double set of sliding doors to mimic the look in the adjoining area. This room will technically function as a bedroom, as it has a closet when door double doors are closed. For my purpose being able to increase the size of my living space to a more open floor plan is key.

Thinking of resale is important as bedrooms equate to better sellabiltiy, so the closet is key. I will most likely rarely if ever need formerly closed off "guest" bedroom, but would daily use and enjoy another 150sq ft to my main entertaining area. The doors will primarily remain open taking in all of the light from the two large picture windows in the living room and the French doors which by Spring will be installed replacing an unused entry door giving access to the gazebo now just feet from the house. This is almost an entire room of glass, and luckily, even as a 60 year old house, is open to the kitchen. You will be able to see from one end of the house east to west, window to window, and for a house with typical 8 ft ceilings, the light is key. It's not practical in this budget to raise the ceilings.

Not to lose complete function of the bedroom, we will install a murphy bed that can be raised and lowered eliminating the visual eye sore, and add a bump out small desk to the back side of the raised bed as to create an office space. The desk will fold down and become part of the bed support when needed.

Currently there is a wall of built-in book cases in this room that made it virtually uneccesary to have furniture besides a bed when I was a child.

The cabinets will be removed to allow for a more directionally functional layout, and the drawer bases will be used for additional kitchen and panty storage, and the doored cabinet sections will be used in the master bedroom as built-ins much like a California system to replace lost closet storage and eliminate the need for free standing furnishings that will be a visually cleaner contemporary feel. The cabinets will be flush to the ceiling and finished with crown moldings, while the lower portion will be open for basket storage, connected in the middle with a built in bench for practicality. They will flank a window which will make it a focal point and give the feel of a window sear. They will get a fresh coat of paint, new hardware, and the cushions and window treatments will match or coordinate with the rest of the soft funishings to pull it all together, making a realtively small room by todays "master" standards, as warm and sophisticated. The cabinetry, bed and nightstands will have a floating off the floor look to make the room visually appear bigger.

The gentleman that lived here in the 60's was a cabinet maker and I find no need to not use what is here. They have a very practical, almost Scandinavian clean lined aesthetic, and simply painting them and the existing pine stained cabinetry in the kitchen in a fresh white or pale gray with comtemporary hardware will be a look that I already gravitate towards. All things being equal, I prefer clean lines and simplicity. I wouldn't try and force something that doesn't work, but they are all functionally designed, well made very geometric pieces that can be restructured in a million ways. It's like Legos for big boys. It also makes me feel better to use what I have on hand. Thrifty, ecologically repsonsible, and just good sense. Budget is always a concern in any renovation as a good rule of thumb is to expect unforseen time and expense. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Don't want to overthink it! Life is too short to stress your own decisions, as being forced to deal with others on a daily basis is hard enough, so will call this a post and give it a good Scarlet O'hara reference and worry about it tomorrow...........



Thanks for following along, and hope that each entry helps you find your WHY?