|A wall closet in a residential house in the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Picture of inside a closet by Matthew Paul Argall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
My maternal grandparents didn't even have closets in the bedrooms of their large house that was built in 1909. My mother says that there was a closet in the hallway where she hung up clothes. I don't recall ever seeing that closet, but then again I guess I wasn't looking for a closet when I would visit there.
A Nolo Law site article offers that older homes did not have many closets because houses were taxed according to the number of rooms and closets were considered to be rooms. Other sources dispute this idea, but I think it seems like a rather reasonable explanation. This is also probably why the large pieces of furniture known as armoires or wardrobes were used instead. Of course these large pieces of furniture date back many centuries.
The concept of built in closets may have also presented construction problems in some of the palaces and mansions prior to 18th century. An ornate piece of furniture would have been more of an attractive storage solution than a door in the wall leading to a dark little alcove. Rooms were larger in those homes of the elite and wealthy and they could easily accommodate a large wardrobe cabinet.
Closets are certainly more practical in an age of electrically lit rooms where the inner recesses are more well illuminated. A closet in a small room lit by candle or gaslight could be a gloomy little place where things might be difficult to find. When we take into consideration the greater mobility of modern families we can see the problem of moving an armoire from one house to another. Most people who had a big house didn't move as much in earlier times as people do in our age.
There is also the suggestion that closets were not as necessary for most people in earlier times because they didn't own as many things. Clothing wasn't as easy to obtain back in those days since they didn't have big department stores or clothing produced on the massive scale as it is now. A few standard items and a couple of special occasion outfits were probably the norm back then. Fashions didn't change as rapidly either for most regular folk.
Even when I was growing up our family didn't seem to have as much as people have nowadays. The hanging clothes for each of my family members easily fit into a small closet with room to spare for other items. In each successive house that my parents moved to, the master bedroom seemed to have a larger closet, whereas the closets in my bedrooms were always the single door leading into a mini-room storage space.
I can remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom closet playing with toys or just hiding in retreat. As I grew older I would sometimes sit in the closet to work on my stamp collection since that is where I kept it stored. When I got bigger in my pre and early teens I might sit on the floor just outside my closet having dragged out my stamp collection or model building supplies. The closet always seemed to be my base of operations. I kept my closet neat and orderly with everything in labeled boxes.
My closet was my domain even though I shared a bedroom with my younger brother. I'm not sure where my brother's stuff was kept, but he didn't get any closet space in our room until we moved to our house in Tennessee when I was in high school. By that time sharing the closet didn't matter too much since I was now too big to be inside the closet and I no longer did the activities that I had previously done sitting on the floor. But the closet was still the only place I had for storing my things and I continued to keep things neat and labeled so there was no mistaking what belonged to whom. Even after I moved away from home I had possessions stored in that closet for several years until I had somewhere to keep them.
Compared to the ones in the houses where I grew up, the closets in the house that my wife and I moved into sixteen years ago are very large closets. Our house was new when we bought it and like most houses of comparable size built since the early eighties the bedroom closets have double sliding doors and considerable space for hanging clothes and a sizeable shelf at the top. The closet in our master bedroom is of the walk-in style, but nowhere as big as the walk-in closet in my sister's house. Her closet has hanging racks on each wall, drawers, shelves, and enough room for a dresser. This is a walk-in closet that can be considered an extra room!
Even with all of our kids gone from the nest, our four giant closets are jammed full of clothes and an array of other stored items. In the bedroom that I now use as an office, the closet is filled from top to bottom with boxes containing office supplies, books, my stamp collection, and all sorts of items of personal memories. I've been trying to tackle this one to get rid of things. But it's also one of my treasure troves which I'll have to investigate eventually to decide what I need to do with the contents.
Our closets have gone way past the storage of clothing and accessories. We have everything except skeletons in them. If I did have any skeletons to store they'd go in our garage or attic I suppose. But we'll talk about those storage places in future posts.
Do you have enough closet space in your home? What do you keep in your closets? Do you have any interesting closet memories or good closet stories to tell?
We live in a very small rental house with very few closets. I miss the closet space I had in my CA townhouse. They were ginormous. My childhood home was built in 1889 and I had 2 in my bedroom. One for my clothes and one that was narrow with a sloped ceiling, called 'the long closet' where all the holiday decorations were kept. Sometimes I used to like to sit in there and draw and my cousin and I used it temporarily as a winter clubhouse since it was too cold outside to use the shed on my parents' property.ReplyDelete
What's in my closet? Well to start, a two-foot deep layer of comic books on the floor...ReplyDelete
I'm a very neat person, too, Lee, and the closet we have now in this place built in 2004 is certainly adequate. It's not as big as a walk-in room but those are for people with a love of clothes and things wearable, I guess.ReplyDelete
I do remember one scary closet in our old house. I was sure ghosts lived in there.
When I was five, I used to sit on my closet floor and read. I'm not sure why -- I had my own room. Maybe I just liked the extra privacy.ReplyDelete
Growing up in a farmhouse, closets were usually a couple of hooks on the walls. I finally got a portable clothes hanger when it was clear that I need a closet.ReplyDelete
Our closets are stuffed. Need to be cleaned out desperately.
JoJo -- Those closets with the sloped ceilings are usually under a staircase on the back side of it. We had one of sorts in our present house that is used partly for storage in the back sloped part and for coats in the front part. Where you lived in the old house must not have had the tax issue or the closets may have been "illegal".ReplyDelete
CW -- That would be a lot of comic books! Any treasures?
DG-- I'm not into clothes much but I've certainly filled some of ours up. And then there's my wife--she's got a lot of clothes!
Kelly -- When we're small it's easy to fit into small places and I guess hiding away is kind of a natural thing to do.
Susan -- Closet cleaning is a chore that I keep postponing, though most of ours are pretty well organized.
"CW -- That would be a lot of comic books! Any treasures?"ReplyDelete
Only to me...
Nice reflection on closets! I've had a few closet posts myself : ) I am kind of a organization freak when it comes to my closets. I love the Rubbermaid Configurations closet organizers! I don't like seeing dead space in a closet when it could have stuff neatly stored there (I purge things quite often too--Salvation Army must love me).ReplyDelete
I loved playing hide and go seek among the clothes in my closet growing up!
Kids Math Teacher
Hi Lee - we had wardrobes til we added an extension then I with the new bedroom got a closet .. every place I've owned .. I've put in built in wardrobes/closets - so I can be tidy ...ReplyDelete
I need to sort my paperwork out here - such is life!! It will be clean one day - I hate a mess ..
Cheers to you - Hilary
Teresa -- The over-filled closet was the trademark of the old "Fibber McGee and Molly" series. Some of ours are filled, but neatly stacked enough that everything doesn't fall out when opened. We may be getting close though.ReplyDelete
CW -- That's the problem with most of the "treasures" we keep.
Lucy -- I love all the closet organization gadgets out there. We use mostly those plastic drawer units and storage boxes. A neat organized closet is enviable.
Hilary -- I'm not fond of messes. I think my closets look kind of organized but are chaos when you really start looking into them. I've got to sort out my stuff.
Interesting post and food for thought. We have walk-in closets, multiple closets, attics, and some folks even pay to have storage for more "stuff". I'm pondering if our lives are really that much better with all of these possessions that our parents and grandparents didn't have. I doubt it, in fact I think there is a lot to be said for simplicity and frugality. Still, I have way more "stuff" thank I need and h hope that our upcoming move will be the perfect opportity to simplify.ReplyDelete
We have a large walk in closet that is full of clothes, half of which neither my husband or I wear anymore. We also have boxes of junk that needs to be gone through. We have way too much stuff.ReplyDelete
LOL! I have not had a closet for 10 years and before that the only thing I kept in the small closet I had was sceletons :)ReplyDelete
You made me remember the house we live in when I was 6-9. My brother is two years older. I had the bedroom with the standard double sliding door closet but his was a walk-in square mini room with a window. His collection was baseball cards rather than stamps but he would sit in there for hours. I was so envious.ReplyDelete
Linda -- I've been exploring this issue of too much "stuff" in my last several posts. The material wealth of today's culture is pretty amazing as well as somewhat disturbing.ReplyDelete
Susanne--There's only so many clothes one can wear in a week. I have more than enough. Way more.
Siv -- I'm waiting for the day when I run across a skeleton in mine.
LD -- The closet--a child's office and workshop. It was great.
Dear Lee, I grew up on a farm house built in 1944. There were two bedrooms. My parents slept in one; I slept in the other; and my brother slept on the living-room couch. In my bedroom there was a small closet with a door at one end. So I could see the clothes immediately in front of that door, but the rest of the narrow closet was in darkness and finding anything there meant pushing all the clothes to one side so as to edge between the hanging clothes and the wall. Not well planned, but better than nothing.ReplyDelete
Now I have a walk-in closet and it's quite wonderful. Like your sister, I even have a dresser within it. Peace.