This is actually an unauthorized guest blog by Lauren’s husband, David. Hello. She is sleeping right now and I wanted to suprise her with her a new closet. She’s been dealing with a lot of change lately and has had too much on her plate, running an outrageously successful business, raising the ironically-named Christian and still dealing with the after effects or a flood/ move/ renovations. I read her blog about the 5-10 minute rule, I’m going to fix this… the closet.


I’m going to give you tips on how to do this yourself on the cheap. I’m also going to ramble on philosophically about life and marriage and maybe even, God help me, design. I teach English Literature by day, and am only the master craftsman by night (check the post time, going be well around midnight) so here are my thoughts and some bad jokes, but its all for a good cause.


The only tools I used tonight were, drumroll please

And my little ryobi drill.So the first thing to do is plan out your closet. Lauren showed me how to do this in our townhouse. She says the most important thing about custom closets are the getting the different levels and spaces to stay organized. Figure out if you need lots of room- tall rods for hanging suits or long dresses, or if you have an inordinate amount of shoes maybe you need little cubbie holes. I know, I know all that sounds custom and expensive, but this is how were going to get around that.

It may not look like much, but this little baby is versatile. we spend 10 dollars on five of these things and ten dollars on closets rods. If you knew how little money I gave Lauren to spend on decorating you be so amazed, but they you wouldn’t like me as much. So, first things first, lay out your closet. Lauren had already planned this out before we moved into the house (I know, I know) so I’m kind of cheating, but I did some of it on my own. We have your typical closet. Rods hung at 5 and some odd feet.


Wasted space below and above. We need levels. Lauren fixed this problem at the townhouse. In my closet we took a shirt and a pair of pants on hangers and held them up to see how much room they needed. Wow, if you hang a shirt at six feet and change and then hang the pants at three feet and change, problem solved. You still get a shelf above and room for a pair of shoes below.

So let’s move the rod. We had one of these, which makes it more difficult. If you just have a rod resting against the wall in a socket, just remove the rod and unscrew the socket and ignore the rest, unless of course your enjoying the witty prose.

You have to remove the shelf, remove the rod and then pry off the wood molding (I use that term as loosely as possible, it is just a piece of 5/4 x 4).


I remove the old nails and use the same wood, waste not. I make my mark based on where I want my top closet rod to be and nail in the pieces of wood. Important- pieces of wood will sometimes overlap, so the pieces on the outside have to come out first and go in last.
See how the piece of wood on the right extends all the way to the wall and the piece on the left runs into it? Well that means the piece on the left is coming out first. So pull them out, put pressure on the corners and where the nails are or you might pop through your drywall.

Oops. But hey it’s a closet and that will be covered up by shirts. Select the height you want your top rod to be and then start putting the boards back up. Use the original nail holes, but fresh nails, because they will line up perfectly with the studs, and will just go in more easily. (to any colleagues reading- sorry about the split infinitives but this is hard work) Now I’ve always wanted one of these suit valets:

The finish is wrong anyway. So I put the next rod in with one of these beauties and a few wood screws. Make sure to use wood screws.

The key to these thing is to put them into studs. I know the man at home depot will tell you that sinkers will work. The actual packages of the mollies, or sinkers, or whatever new name they have, claim outrageous holding capacities, 50, 60, even 100 lbs in 3/8″ drywall. Far more than your clothes would ever weigh, right? I’ve been there, these are just a few of my bad memories:

I’ve tried them all. They don’t work. They will never work, and if you used them before for other things and they worked, you got lucky but trust me, they won’t work here. You need to put them into studs. Use this little machine, wait for him to beep. Then he is happy and you will be too. (look again at the picture above, I’ve shamelessly put the dreaded sinkers on an end table I built) Anway, I set the height on my bottom rod to accomodate a some pants on one side and a dresser on the other.


Well not exactly, you can get into a philosophical style debate on dressers but Lauren had this elfa thing from the container store. (lauren’s into these right now)

And I said I want to keep my clothes in one of those things in the closet. That way all of my clothes live together like a happy family, and I don’t change locations when my socks don’t match. Its all right there now. We purchased one of those thing for me.
Now these things take up space and I sacrficed most of my lower side to house it. You’ll see later what Lauren had to sacrifice.

I also got different size mesh baskets because while I have less clothes, I’m larger than Lauren and my clothes physically take up more space. So she has lots of little baskets and I have a few big ones. Here they are together:

I love this thing. Say bad things about dressers in closets, say bad things about Hemingway, but don’t say bad things about this elfa closet organizer, I love it.

So Lauren’s side only has half of a rod on the bottom because she has long, pretty dresses that go on the other. Very custom. It took me two minutes to measure the pole length and then three minutes to saw the pole to size. If they have the nice poles that have rubbers caps on the end then buy those so you don’t have a sawed edge. If they don’t put the sawed edge against the wall so the factory edge stick outs.


In my travels overseas I learned an ancient Chinese secret about getting good photoshoots of closets. Matching hangers with sufficient space in between, even if you have to remove clothes and hide them elsewhere.

Try to ignore the racing stripes, that’s where the old board used to be. I will fix that later, remember what’s important here is not the nailheads uncovered, I’ll get to that later as well. What’s important is that as we speak sleepy lauren just stumbled into the room and said “oh my gosh, so much better.”

She will wake up in the morning and eat breakfast feeling a less stressed, she’ll be singing a song, probably some terrible Cobie Calliet (sp?). After breakfast she will bring a bunch of toys into the bedroom and Christian will make and destroy buildings, in that order, while she organizes her clothes.

While most people see piles of clothes and empty hangers, Lauren sees what was an umanageable nightmare turning into a 5-10 minute mess. Maybe they’ll be organized by occassion, season, I can’t begin to understand the synesthete’s mind, but I can observe its patterns. And I know marital bliss is not found in organizing closets, but I have found doing something nice that you know the other person will like always goes a long way. Now whether or not Lauren is pleased I stole her blog to post on a half-finished closet we’ve yet to see.