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Closet of Hidden Treasures?

Since I retired at the end of last October, I have been making good progress on completing many of the items I had on my Short-term To Do list. In fact, as I approached crossing off the last few items, it was becoming a rather tattered list. The few remaining activities mostly involved cleaning out three different closets.

I chose to work on my oldest son’s closet first as once it was cleaned out, I would be able to unload several boxes I had brought home from work that have been just sitting on the floor in my son’s room for the past four months.

Several years ago, I wrote about undertaking the task of cleaning out our playroom closet and the amazing treasures I found in the process. I wondered if I would make similar discoveries this time.

As I began to unload the closet, I found that in addition to our oldest son’s belongings, the closet also contained some of our youngest son’s possessions. I knew that I had stowed some of my older clothing items in there as I had cleaned out my own closet over the years but I’m not sure how our youngest son’s items ended up in there.

Once I had made a nice pile of my things to take to Goodwill and organized my youngest son’s items together. I was left with mostly my oldest son’s items filling the bedroom.

But I gained a very empty closet, one larger than some of the others in the house. Since our oldest son’s room was now being used for my “retirement office,” I planned to put shelving in to maximize storage space since little clothing would be hung in the closet.

I found the perfect shelving at our local IKEA but with only one catch. Due to its height, it would not fit flush against the wall because of the three support brackets that held up the wire shelving. Having relocated this type of shelving in our house before, I knew it would be no big deal to move it up the six inches necessary to clear the top of the new shelf. The only problem with that was I would leave numerous large gaping holes where the rack attached to the wall. Plastering over the holes with spackling would eliminate that problem but then would still look unfinished. At that point, I thought it best to just paint the entire closet since trying to match 20 year old paint would be next to impossible.

Even though this was turning into a bigger task than just cleaning out the closet—another one of my “Honey, it took longer than I thought” projects—I headed off to the paint store. Knowing that there was standard “Ceiling White” paint, I asked for the standard builder “Closet Paint.” It didn’t exist. So I just picked out a custom-tinted color paint that I thought would be similar.

Fortunately my wife was out of town so she didn’t have to witness all the extra steps I ended up having to take to “clean out the closet.”

Fast forward past the painting of two coats and removing the painter’s tape, I had a nice clean closet…

…and with the shelving installed, I had a nice, new more efficient storage space.

With the newly cleaned closet ready for occupancy, my original plan had been to FaceTime with my oldest son who lived on the West coast so he could identify what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to throw away. But as I started looking through the boxes, I discovered that much of it he would probably have to go through in person the next time he was in town (and since he was in the middle of moving to a new home, he didn’t really have the time).

It just so happened that we moved to this house right after he graduated from high school and not long before he went away to college. Some of the boxes were from his early Boy Scout and high school days and it appeared that they had been moved already in boxes from our old house and simply stacked in his new closet. There were also pictures of him with old girl friends along with letters from girl friends that I would never go through.

But with more practical storage space available now, even these items were much more organized.

It also allowed me to organize all of my work items that I would likely continue to use going forward in my professional teaching.

And, it provided a nice home for the five boxes of my dad’s sermons that I got from my sister a couple of years ago that had also just been sitting on the floor.

So while cleaning out the closet did not yield the treasure-trove of wonderful discoveries for me like cleaning out our play closet did, it will possibly provide one for my oldest son the next time he is in town and hauls out the boxes to go through them; like this one of him with his first car in high school.

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