Carving Out Some Space

Since moving to NYC, finding enough space has been an ongoing struggle for me.

Everyone knows that you’re going to have to downsize if you want to live in the Big Apple, but what does that really mean?

At first, it means being picky about your shoes. (Don’t bring the high heels – you won’t touch them…unless your going out-of-town for a wedding, or you can afford to travel by cab all night long – you can’t).

Then you get picky about your clothing. (Bring only the basics. You will feel instantly behind the times and want all new clothing the second you get here).

Now here’s a question: Does anyone bring anything other than clothes and shoes with them when they move to NYC?! I sure didn’t. You’d think that would be downsizing enough…but inevitably you begin to collect things again and your once empty apartment, now seems extraordinarily full.

As New Yorkers, we are always attempting to create more storage space. We’ve gotten pretty creative in our attempts to live like “normal” people:

storage under bed

Redefining “under the bed” storage.


You can never have too many bookshelves.

So you can see my dilemma when I received my surprise (and not-so-compact) Sewing Machine from Santa last Christmas.

It needed a home, and I needed a plan!

When my husband and I first saw our current apartment we were newly engaged and planning a wedding. My gut reaction to the glorious amount of closet space in this teeny apartment, may have been, “Perfect! Now we can go start our Wedding Registry!” – not my finest moment.

Up until now, we hadn’t been forced to utilize our storage to its fullest (despite my Registry additions). The linen closet was poorly designed as a simple coat closet, with only a rod across the top. I knew installing shelving would improve its capacity, organization, and aesthetics – win-win-win! This would be the perfect spot to store my sewing machine and my fabric stash that was soon to follow.

I did extensive research online and in-stores, looking for the best deal and the right size shelves. A lot of the shelves were too shallow for my deep closet. Custom shelving was way too expensive, and cutting lumber in my apartment certainly wasn’t an option.

I ended up deciding on an L-shaped layout using 2 short, but deep shelves I found at Home Depot. The 6 shelves and 12 brackets I needed were only available in stores and were way too heavy for me to carry home on the subway. This delayed the project for months, until my friend generously offered to help me run my errand with her car – saved my life!

Here’s the layout I was hoping to achieve:


Please excuse the poor diagraming…I’m still learning.


These were my inspirations:


Family Circle

linen closet

Better Homes and Gardens

Here’s where I got stuck:


Yep, that’s ONE shelf (of 6) installed successfully.

At this moment, I had piles of linens all around me and was breaking out in a sweat because of the large hole I had just carved out of our drywall. You could fit a whole finger through it! I was in full panic mode.

Thank Goodness I found a dry wall patch kit leftover from our last move, and I patched the wall with some mesh and spackle.

My husband never needed to know (unless he’s reading it now…whoops!). He was out-of-town on business at the time. I know better than to attempt big projects while he’s around. :)

I almost threw the towel in, but then I really wanted a new and improved linen closet!

Instead, I calmed down, reviewed the steps I had taken, and considered what I could do to avoid putting 18 more finger sized holes in the back of our closet.

I had been using the electric screwdriver on our drill to install the drywall anchors as well as the screws that attached the brackets to the wall. I’d basically over-rotated the anchor and caused it to carve out the entire space it was filling in the wall. If I only used the drill for the anchor and not the screw, I thought I could avoid a “swiss cheese wall” scenario.

My hands were sore after hand tightening 10 more screws into brackets and anchors, and 6 screws directly into the wall, but my shelves were up and they were solid! They were even (mostly) level – an absolute miracle considering I balanced them on my head while I tried to figure out if they were aligned and level or not. (Yeah, I wish I had pictures of that too).

Here’s how it turned out: (sorry about the poor quality cell phone photos)


You might notice that there are two fewer shelves than my original plan included. (The top shelf was already installed, but the other two are too heavy to return and therefore…still under my bed).

I realized that by leaving the larger space at the bottom of the closet, I could keep the metal shelf storage for my steamer (another Christmas present that needed a home), and my fabrics and sewing supplies. At the last-minute, I decided to bring in the Rubbermaid drawers to consolidate my tools and painting supplies in one place too! I can even fit my vacuum in here if I hold my mouth just right!


And you can’t even see where I ruined the wall in the back!! :)

Even better, this reorganization made room in the foyer closet for my husband’s birthday gift  – a much-needed rack for his golf clubs.

I’d still like to paint some wide stripes to add a bit of color and happiness when you open the door, but with the brackets and shelves already installed it’s a more complicated project than it would have been before. Perhaps this winter will deliver the perfect snow storm to inspire me to stay indoors all day and paint.

Until then, I’m pretty happy with the space I literally carved out (in finger-sized holes) for my little linen closet. After all, making better use of my storage space allows me to keep bringing home treasures (aka keep shopping)… for now.

2 thoughts on “Carving Out Some Space

  1. Pingback: Hanging in There: Let There Be Light! – Part 2 | Tickled in NYC

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