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Fresh Eyes Column

by Caroline Downs

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Anti-climatic closet space . . .

Posted 8/13/13 (Tue)

Some days--some years--I thought it would never happen.

And now that it has, the “I have a new closet” celebration dance I should be doing feels like an anti-climax.

The past few weeks have been a rush of events and activities mostly focused on preparing the husband to leave for his job in Fairbanks, Alaska.

His departure date now stands 12 days away, so one task accomplished rolls into the next.

Fix barn door? Check.

Seed grass between the tree rows? Check.

Clean shop? Check.

Toss in a few walleye fishing trips? Check.

Reschedule dental appointment? Check.

Replace barn windows? On the agenda for this weekend.

The list goes on, but somewhere in the midst of the moving chaos and the summer mowing schedule, I have a new linen closet.

The first and only linen closet during our 12 years there.

The achievement feels bittersweet at this point, but the effect of this little remodeling effort extends beyond the square footage involved.

If you’ve been reading “Fresh Eyes” for the past 12 years, you’ll know this sweet old farmhouse we call home had a shower originally located outside of the bathroom.

In fact, doors from the bathroom, kitchen, living room and first floor bedroom all opened into the center portion of the house, which we dubbed the “Core.” When we moved in, the Core had a shower unit installed in what appeared to be a closet. A portion of the second-story-to-basement laundry chute extended floor to ceiling in one corner, and an ancient, heavy black plastic electric outlet box was located on the linoleum floor for the washing machine, with hot and cold water valves against the south wall.

We ignored the laundry chute, used the washing machine with trepidation until we reunited the washer and dryer in a bigger mudroom a few years later, and showered in the closet on a daily basis.

When the husband remodeled the bathroom last spring, he included a wonderful shower--which meant after years of storing towels and bedding in plastic totes, I could finally have a linen closet in the old shower space.

In fact, the entire Core was gutted and rewired, with new sheetrock, trim and laminate flooring--all done by the husband. He bought and stained a lovely door for the closet. He painted the walls with two complementary colors to use up some leftover paint, but the effect is refreshing.

The Core has transformed from a throwaway space where we piled laundry into a tiny and attractive room.

With a linen closet, which I filled Sunday evening.

Unfortunately, we have to postpone enjoying the new Core. The next item on the to-do list calls. Company arrives this weekend. We have loan papers to complete and freezers to clean.

“No one will ever take a shower there again,” the husband says almost every day as he pauses to review his work.

I look over the Core and think about arranging art on the clean walls or choosing an area rug. I want to hang a rack for brooms and mops in the closet, and I have a small set of shelves that should fit in there, too--perfect to store the extra shampoo, soap and toilet paper.

Things to think about for when we move back, along with a “happy-to-have-a-closet” dance performance, at last.