In Which I am Impressed by the Resalvage Community and Depressed by a Closet
The house I’m living in has no closets. This is common in New Orleans. In “the old days,” (vague time before now) houses in New Orleans were taxed based on the number of rooms they had, and rooms were determined by number of closets. Thus, my three-room house has no rooms. Tricky, tricky builder from “the olden days.”
My boyfriend and I have made ample use of bookshelves and dressers for storage, but the bedroom has become an unsightly sea of clothes that we are drowning in. We’ve looked into armoires, but they are costly and we’d have to get a huge one to store our stuff. I read a few posts on Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy that encouraged me that my boyfriend and I could build something on our own.
I was eager to find closet-solution materials at one of the organizations that formed post-Katrina to sell salvaged materials. In fact, 23 of these groups have formed an organization called The Reuse District, which promotes the awareness and accessibility of reused materials. Most are located in the 7th Ward, Bywater, St. Roch and St. Claude neighborhoods–areas that were heavily affect by Katrina.
The Green Project
The Green Project operates a warehouse store and lumberyard to sell building materials that otherwise would go into New Orleans Area landfills. They also solicit materials from the public, businesses, agencies and individuals. I was both impressed and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of STUFF at The Green Project. I wish I knew what to do with any of it. Fortunately, the Green Project does offer workshops where they teach you how to build various things–a friend showed us a bookshelf he made out of salvaged closet doors (oh the irony– we need both bookshelves and actual closets.)
Unfortunately, there weren’t any upcoming closet-building classes, but when I told one of the employees about the closet project, she suggested we buy brackets and a metal pole to lay within them. Easy enough, right?
Habitat for Humanity Restore
We also visited the Habitat for Humanity Restore. It was a bit smaller and cleaner than The Green Project. In addition to home goods it had the kind of items you’d find at a Goodwill: VHS tapes, books, etc. I was a little less intimidated by the space, simply because there were cute, hand-painted signs and ideas about what you could make with the materials.
The closet rod project took a few day and a few errands:
We borrowed a hacksaw and (my boyfriend) cut the metal pole.
We painted the brackets and pole.
We tried mounting the brackets, only to learn that we needed things called molly/toggle bolts.
We bought these things.
We mounted the closet rod!
It was glorious hanging up the overflowing boxes of dresses and shirts! When I was nearly done, I called my boyfriend in to bask in the cleanliness of our room and to exchange high fives. We even had space under the clothes to store things. LIKE WE WOULD IF WE HAD AN ACTUAL CLOSET.
“Do you think thing will actually hold up?” I asked.
“Yeah! The bolts are supposed to support up to 150 pounds of weight,” said my boyfriend, giving the rod a slight tap.
A few more dresses later and the project collapsed into my hands. The brackets bent. The rod clattered to the floor.
I tell you, I was actually kind of depressed. One week and one visit to a visit to a Craigslisted armoire later, this is how our room looks.