Clown Closet of Doom

I had a life-altering experience a few months back.  I cleaned out my indoor storage closet.  The second sentence really does not support the first sentence very well, does it?  But it’s true.  Cleaning out my storage closet was a serious life-changing event for me.  Plus, my closet looks fantastic now and everything is accessible.

I’m not sure this is the post to go into all the details of that redefining moment… or if there will ever be a time to go into it on TST.  It happened, and the course of my life has been forever altered by the events of that week.  I’m sure TST has been and will be affected by the aftershocks.

I refer to the “before” project as my Clown Closet of Doom… and I really wish now that I’d had the foresight to take pictures of the closet before it was emptied for cleaning.  But who really thinks to themselves that cleaning out a closet is going to be so earth-shattering that you’ll want pictures detailing each step?  The reason it is called the Clown Closet of Doom is because the room itself measures six feet by five feet and has nine foot ceilings.  Quick, someone do the math and tell me what the area of the CCoD is…  270 cubic feet.  Thank you, Self.  270 cubic feet.  Maximum.  And I didn’t use all the available space.  Mostly because I couldn’t stack things that high, nor did I use all the available floor space.  I would say there were a good two feet of clearance (if not three in many places), so we’ll deduct 2.5 feet off the overall height and call it good.  That gives us an adjusted 195 cubic feet of storage space.  195 cubic feet… and yet, somehow, when I removed all the items from the offending closet, it took up more than 900 square feet of my condo.  Like the car full of clowns at the circus, box after box after box was unloaded into my condo until it looked like this:

now picture this in every room of my house... my OCD and ADHD battled for days, and it wasn't always pretty.
now picture this in every room of my house… my OCD and ADHD battled for days, and it wasn’t always pretty.

In the end, I donated six boxes of “stuff” to the local thrift store… and threw out (recycled) 15 empty boxes.  15.  And I still managed to keep 12.  Clown Closet.  I’m telling you.  The culling process is no joke, either.  You would not believe how difficult it was to throw out my “Intensive French” notebooks from college (the first time I went).  Why?  I don’t know.  It’s not like I am going to revisit my homework one day if I want to learn French.  No, I am going to take another class and build another notebook.  Or else I’m not, but apart from the times I sort boxes, I could safely say that I will probably never look in the direction of that notebook again.  But convincing myself of that was not for the faint of heart… in the end, I won, and the French notebook hit the garbage pile.  Math notebooks on the other hand are worth keeping.  I still refer back to them… but they have a home on my bookshelf and not in the closet.

As I was cleaning out my closet, I came across a poem co-authored by the lead singer of Royal Bliss in middle school.  We attended the same middle and high schools, although he was actually the same age as my sister.  This is not that poem.  This is one of their songs. And it’s awesome.  You could totally press play and jam out while you read the rest of this post.

Of course, if you are going to reorganize a closet, it helps to have a plan.  My goal:  I wanted each and every box accessible with little to no effort.  The solution:  build some shelves.  I googled a few ideas, combined some stuff, and created my schematic (feel free to use it because it is brilliant).  I wanted larger totes on the bottom shelves for heavier items, or things I still have entirely too much of (military memorabilia). I am way too lazy to add it all up to tell you how much you need in total for your project.  I had it memorized for a while, but then I didn’t take the time to write this post for three months, and I’ve long since forgotten.  But the measurements are all there if you can decipher them.  But really, this is your world, so you can build it however you want.

It makes sense to my brain, even if it doesn't work for yours.
It makes sense to my brain, even if it doesn’t work for yours.

You also need some tools/materials.  I opted to build my shelves out of PVC.  I used 1 1/4″ pipe because I wanted it to be super sturdy.  And I went for the heavy duty PVC (did you know they come in different weights?)  I decided to use hand cutters because my hands are weak and I wanted the workout (seriously). If you go that way, you might also want gloves.  Unless you prefer blisters.  It’s entirely a preference thing.  I went for both.  I tried the blisters first because I wasn’t sure, and then I tried gloves.  I think I prefer the glove method a little more.  And you know, you need a measuring tape and a blue Sharpie.  And a rubber mallet.

Basic Project Tools
Basic Project Tools

Oh, and connectors.  Don’t forget to grab enough of those bad boys.  I designed my shelf so the cross connectors always have an exposed side for later expansion (oh yeah, already planning for the upgrade option for when I inevitably accumulate more stuff).

♫ "You gotta make sure you're connected... the right end's on the wall" ♪
♫ “You gotta make sure you’re connected… the right end’s on the wall” ♪

Then you start measuring and cutting.  I think they say measure seven or eight or nine times and cut two.  And then you assemble.  I didn’t do all my cuts at once (weak, sissy girl hands needed a break), so I just cut and built as I felt like it.  The assembly part reminded me of my younger brother’s Pipeworks.  Those were the coolest toys.  Someone please tell me why they don’t make them anymore.

Greatest toy since the Lego. (Which was the greatest toy since mud and sticks) Image credit here
Greatest toy since the Lego. (Which was the greatest toy since mud and sticks) Image credit here


Adult Pipeworks!
Adult Pipeworks!

And here we have added a happy little box:

Don't act like you're not impressed already.
Don’t act like you’re not impressed already.

And like any great how-to is made, I got lazy with the camera, and I am going to skip straight to the final product photo:

Behold... the final product
Behold… the final product

Check it out!  I can access anything I need with ease.  And the closet is no longer filled with doom.  Or clowns.  (Please note:  This is not actually the final iteration… it’s clear those totes are all empty because my OCD insisted that I label them with the label maker as I filled them.)

I built a second shelf (which I am also way too lazy to go photograph now since I thought I already did three months ago, but apparently not because it’s not in the shelf project album).  The second shelf was actually a half of the first shelf and has space for five more totes/boxes.  There are two on it currently.  And a box containing a carpet I shipped to myself from Afghanistan.  And a birthday present for a friend.

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11 Responses to Clown Closet of Doom

  1. RageMichelle says:

    Oh wow..awesome. Come over and do mine now.

    • stubbs says:

      If I put it on my “To Do” list today, it will probably only take until 2022 to get to it. But I can’t guarantee life-changing experiences.

  2. Walter says:

    At first I couldn’t understand your drawing but then it became perfectly clear once I saw the adult pipeworks photograph. Brilliant. One question though. Are the pipes and T’s free standing or did you use that purple stuff with the dandelion headed swab to add strength?

    • stubbs says:

      They are free-standing; just pounded together with a rubber mallet. It also makes it easy to take them apart and reassemble for moving. I bought some plumber’s tape to secure them to the wall, but then decided I didn’t need to. If I expand to a larger space and more shelves, I will probably add the security of plumber’s tape.

  3. Robin says:

    Just checking that I too understand your drawing, the PVC from front to back is 12″?
    Got the rest!! Thank you!

  4. Kelly says:

    This may sound stupid but what was the overall cost? Im lookimg into shelves and dont know ANYTHING about pvc costs

    • stubbs says:

      It’s been so long since I build these that I can’t remember the overall cost, but it wasn’t expensive. Much cheaper and lighter than wood. Super easy to take apart and reconfigure.

  5. Kelly says:

    2nd question. Why did ylu put additional pvc between each bin per level? Could that have been skipped or woild it interfere w the overall structural soundness of the shelving? To me, it screams more work I prob dont kniwn how 2 do properly. Lol. grantrd I c benefit in them being sectioned but is it nec?
    Thanks. im going to build this weekend….lot lighter than wood. Ur a genius

    • stubbs says:

      Yes, the added PVC between bins helps maintain the integrity of the structure so it doesn’t wobble as much. These can be pretty wobbly without the braces in between. Even with the braces, if you are planning to put heavy boxes on them, you might want to anchor them to the wall using plumbers tape (the metal kind with wholes in it) or something similar.

  6. Laura says:

    I am going to try and make some for those plastic drawers, as their frames broke cause they are crappy. I think this would work good, I have lots of colors and this will be sturdy, just have to make sure I measure and measure and measure.

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