558 What do you do when you can't buy a closet stretcher?


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

I read Teresa McQuerrey's article in yesterday's Roundup and chuckled. The article was a winner; what I was chuckling about were two things:

  1. The article was primarily directed at women, but women ain't the only ones who have a clothes closet problem. The difference is most men won't admit it.

  2. Many of us came up here and bought houses that were already standing, and so we live in places designed for an era when the entire wardrobe for most people could fit into one 3 foot wide closet.

You should have seen our little place when we first bought it!

The advice about what to keep and what to get rid of was great, of course, and Lolly and I did some of that before we moved up here, but we still needed a closet stretcher or a very large shoehorn.

It became my job to figure out how to fix the problem. I came up with a few things that worked for us, and I thought I'd pass them along to you. Lolly worked right beside me as all this happened, so I'll say "we," not "I" as I tell you what we did.


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

Here are some ideas that worked for us:

• The upstairs was originally an attic. Two dormers had been added to create two bedrooms and a half bath. We finished the job by adding more closets. We framed in the sloping wall of a hallway that led to the deck and created a ten foot long closet with folding doors. Then we opened the eaves in each bedroom with a low doorway, floored the eaves with plywood, and ended up with a LOT of dry, clean, indoor storage space.

• Because the house was originally one story, a spiral staircase had been added. The space under the staircase was a closed box which created a short hallway between the living room and the dining room. Along the hallway, we opened up the box, creating a low closet that is perfect for hanging outdoor jackets, and which holds a vacuum cleaner that badly needed a home.

• The space under the upper portion of the stairs had been framed in to create a pantry for the kitchen, but one end of it was useless because it was a low opening into the lower space. We closed that opening and replaced it with floor-to-ceiling shelves, thereby doubling the pantry space.

• On the stairs, facing the point where they made their turn was an angled space under the roof about seven feet wide. At waist height a broad, flat, three feet deep, dust collecting shelf had been created. We enclosed it with a pair of small doors and two attractive end panels. It now holds all of our spare bedding.

• Our open front porch was almost useless even though it was under the roof of the house. Rain, snow, and pine needles blew in all the time making a mess, and the two large pines out front made the porch chilly except during the warmest part of the summer. A window from the master bedroom was set into its end wall, but let in almost no light. We removed the window, replaced it with a folding louvered door, took eight feet off the porch, walled it off, and created a cooled and heated 8 X 8 walk-in closet for Lolly that opened into the master bedroom. (I think maybe it was this idea that convinced her I was a keeper.) :-)

• We enclosed the rest of the porch and turned it into a very cozy garden and reading room with low bookshelves topped by double-paned sliding windows, and added shelves above the windows for things we've collected over the years that Lolly wanted to display.

• The master bedroom originally had a 8 foot wide closet with sliding wooden doors. We changed the doors to sliding glass, which not only was handy for Lolly while she was dressing, but had the effect of making the room look larger than it is.

Maybe some of these ideas have an application in your place. I hope so.

Hey ladies! Put him to work! It'll get rid of some of that baby fat!


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

If you've got any ideas you'd like to pass along, this is a great space to do it in.


Pam Mason 3 years ago

My problem exactly! I cannot seem to get rid of clothes and shoes. Two of my daughters teased me a few years ago about some knee length high heeled boots that I had kept for a number of years. So I got rid of them a few weeks later. Lo and behold the next year they are asking to borrow them as they "are in" Can't tell you how many times I have dug out old sweaters to wear again because I see similar styles in the store.

I will just have to completely take over the spare bedroom closets and when people come to stay, oh well! I did get my hubby to put up a clothes rail in my secret room as I call it, which has a deep sloping roof. Other than that the only suggestion I can pass on is to store used plastic grocery bags inside empty tissue boxes. I keep prowling around the house looking for nooks and crannies such as Tom suggested but I'm out of luck :-)


Pat Randall 3 years ago

No matter what you do, you never have enough closet space. Like Pam, we don't want to get rid of anything. I have a pair of black high heels that are over 50 years old and they have been in and out of style 2 or 3 times. Most comfortable heels I have ever worn. If you are a reader try to find space for 4 or 5 hundred hard back books. (:


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

I guess Lolly and I aren't the only ones. I suspected as much.

I too have an old pair of boots. My Air Force jump boots from 1965 (count those years!). And I once threw away a pair of boots I had bought in England because I didn't think I would need them anymore. A couple of months later I went looking for a solid brass antique telescope. Guess where I had put it to keep it "safe?"

"If you are a reader try to find space for 4 or 5 hundred hard back books."

I'll see your 500 and raise you a thousand. I have almost gone nuts buying and building book shelves. Upstairs, they are everywhere.

I did finally find a solution for books, though. I started downloading them free on the net. I now have 586 books, and counting, on my Mac Pro laptop — more than I can possibly read before I go belly up. And the best part is that they take up no space at all, none — not physical space, anyway.


You think they ever come up with free downloadable virtual closets?

And virtual clothes to go with them?

Can't you see it all now? The whole %$#@! planet walking around naked with virtual clothes on? A masking program to do what the Shadow used to do?

"Mask men's minds," remember?

And of course there will be the....

Can you fill in the next word in that sentence?


Tom Garrett 3 years ago

I know you'll enjoy this. It's one of the funniest things I ever run across.

When Korea came along I enlisted in an Air National Guard outfit and spent three years on active duty. When I got back everything in New London seemed smaller and dirtier. The roads were narrower, the buildings lower and smoke stained, and the store I worked in looked smaller.

We had a new stock boy. His name was Louie, but it should have been Slowie. Louie was so slow that at times I thought he was a manikin. One morning he was sweeping the floor before the store opened. I swear to God it looked as though we had set up a statue to sell push brooms. Either that, or someone had glued the push broom to the floor.

Morris, the manager, stood it as long as he could, and then he said, "LOUIE! Can't you work any faster than that?"

"Pay me more money and I'll work faster."

"Uh-uh, Louie. That's not how it works. FIRST you work faster and then we pay you more money."

About a week later, on a dead Thursday afternoon, Morris got an idea. He grabbed Louie and told him, "Louie, go down to Aaron's Hardware, tell them who you are, and ask them if we can borrow their cellar-stretcher."

Off went Louie. An hour went by. Morris began to smile.

"What a sap that kid must be!" he said.

He said at least two dozen times during the hours Louie was gone. He back just before closing.

As Louie came in the door empty handed, Morris asked him. "Hey, Louie! Where's that cellar stretcher I sent you for?"

"I ain't got it yet. I went to Aaron's and they sent me to Ackley's. They sent me to the drug store. Then they sent me to Lambert's. They sent me somewhere's else. Hell! I been all over town and I still ain't caught up with that thing yet. It was gettin late, so I figured I better come back."

Morris grinned at me. "That's okay. I'll send you out again in the morning."

And he did, even though it was Friday, our busy day. Louie was gone for a full eight hours, and finally came back, shook his head, and said, "The guy at the movie theater said he thinks it's maybe been sent up to Norwich. Should I take a bus up there? You're gonna have to pay for the fare."

Morris, too busy to say much, just shook his head. Friday was also payday. That night, at 9:15, after closing the doors, Morris handed us our pay envelopes. As Louie was taking his he told Morris he was quitting and that he'd gotten a job as an usher in the movie theater.

Morris just shrugged his shoulders and grinned, but the grin faded when Louie stopped at the door on his way out, turned around, and said, "And thanks for a coupla easy days, Morris. I seen a free movie, got a free milkshake from the Emporium, went home and took a nap, and spent three hours down at Ocean Beach with my girlfriend."

For the rest of the time I knew Morris, all it took to get him to explode was to say either of three things:

Either "Louie," "cellar stretcher," or Ocean Beach:-)


Pat Randall 3 years ago

Tom, One time when we moved I gave Pine Library over 400 books and another time I gave the Senior Center about that many. They had no book cases so had to buy some and put them together. (:


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