MakeShift is a design series for city dwellers with roommates, space constrictions, and other such awkwardness. It's a conversation for people who are being artful with their space and kicking ass while doing it.
Want to be in the next MakeShift? Submit to: firstname.lastname@example.orgFor National Coming Out Day on October 11, we're cleaning out our closets Eminem-style, but with more references to drag queens.
I've never been good at organization, and I pretty much use the closet to hide things so that my house looks cleaner. One thing my mom taught me is that organization is expensive. The more stuff you have, the more places you'll need to put the stuff, and a single wall shelf costs $10. When you need seven wall shelves, that's $70 to hold your display items. Your hand-whittled nativity scene or whatever it is you like to display.
Most queers don't have millions of dollars like Eminem. And if we do, we have our houseboy organize our closet. But that doesn't mean there aren't affordable ways!
Expensive to store, cheap to get rid of
Apartment Therapy shares this Discardia Rule: If you haven't worn it in six months, you probably won't wear it again. But sometimes you don't know how long it's been since you've worn something. What they call "The Closet Trick" is to face your hangers backwards (toward you) and if you've worn it, hang it and face the hanger the right way (away from you). In six months, all the hangers toward you are clothes to donate.
But what about the clothes you don't hang? I thought. You could safety pin a ribbon to it. Or put a bird on it. Or save all your weird "Hello my name is" conference tags and use those on them, if they're still sticky.
Use your door
I got this shoe-organizer thingie at The Brown Elephant in Chicago 10 years ago. Yup, I thrifted a shoe organizer. It was still new in the bag, and I find brand new shoe organizers in thrift stores all the time! They're also at dollar stores. For mine, the brand is Parcel. I just liked the colors. I think it was something like $5. It was definitely not more than $5. It should hold shoes, but mine does not, it holds a bunch of junk that I need to go through, typical of my approach to life. But I'm getting there! These things take time.
The biggest problem most people have is their crazy shoe collection. Our feet naturally want to feel a variety of footwear and not just the same pair, the way our palates don't have a taste for macaroni and cheese three times a day every day until death. So we have lots of shoes, cumbersome, rubbery, awkwardly shaped to fit us awkwardly shaped humans. Hang 'em on your door. Forget these shoe organizer shelves that no one has ever had room in their closet to fit. You know, this thing your shins probably hate by now:
Now, for our linen
Ok, so the first time your landlord or master tenant or whoever you were starting your houseboy position with showed you the closet, this white space with a shelf up high and a single bar running along the width of it.
What about the wasted space below?
Shelving, right? I'm not gonna show you a five million dollar Elfa system or a bunch of pictures of clear bins and basket weave containers. You've seen 'em. What to do, perhaps, is create your own shelving, and do it cheaply. This instructional will show you how to make shelves the old school, uncle's garage way, with those un-fancy gray L-brackets from the hardware store. These are the exact shelves I have in my pantry. They are pure function. You can paint the gray brackets to match the shelf, if you want it to look uniform. Shelving close to the wall will take up less space, and if you have weird closet angles, you can buy some basic wood at a lumber shop and have it cut to your specs.
If you're not into the idea of DIY-ing, get your organizational shelves off of Craigslist, although organizational anything is harder to find on Craigslist (people are happily using it).
Organization is sort of like queer history. Over time, it gets better.