Lori Borgman: Bigger house and fewer kids don’t mean more closet space

We began married life in a 1930s Craftsman bungalow with three small bedrooms. Each bedroom had a closet the size of a telephone booth. Everything fit.

We added a baby to the mix. Everything fit.

We added a second and third baby. Everything fit.

Today, we live in a four-bedroom house with double-wide closets in every bedroom and a small walk-in closet in the master bedroom.

The three babies grew up and left home years ago. It is just the two of us.

Nothing fits.

Something is wrong with the math. We decreased the number of people in the house, increased the amount of available closet space, but are out of room.

Critical thinking and analysis are required every time we switch out cold-weather clothes for warm-weather clothes and vice versa in the semi-annual Changing of the Closets.

No article of clothing escapes rigorous scrutiny.

Take the black velvet jacket with a tucked waist and shoulder pads. I last wore it when Bush was president — 41 not 43. Does this fit me anymore? It might if I could stop breathing. Are NFL-size shoulder pads in style? They might be tomorrow. The jacket stays.

Does the dress with the smocked top and free-flowing skirt make me look like someone from “Little House on the Prairie”? Yes. Is the dress flattering? Only in a funhouse mirror that elongates. Is the dress comfortable? Yes. The dress stays.

Off-season clothes rotate to one of the kids’ old closets and in-season clothes return to our closet.

There is a place for everything and everything is in its place. If I could just keep track of all the things and places.

Assorted jeans that vary in fit, depending on my salt-intake and water retention, and my husband’s worn jeans, suitable only for yard work after dark, stay in a bedroom closet that also holds office supplies. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to remind my him, “Your work jeans are under the padded mailing envelopes and next to the toner cartridge!”

Clothes of dubious status move to the closet filled with board games, Legos, Lincoln logs, puzzles and three bridal gowns.

Why we have three bridal gowns when I have only been married once, I am not sure. I suspect closet squatters.

The last closet is crammed with suitcases, computer bags, backpacks, tote bags and four towers of boxes of classroom supplies from when our youngest taught first grade. This is also where we keep all the things I plan to donate and treasures for the neighborhood garage sale.

It is the final resting place of closets.

After going through the Changing of Closets again this spring, I finally understand why pictures of those enormous high-end designer closets the size of our first house all have an upholstered chair in them. All the sorting and rotating is simply exhausting.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at [email protected].