You might have it in your kitchen, to hold the best china and silver. Or you could have it in your bathroom, keeping medicines way out of reach of children. And you could have at least one in your bedroom, where everything from clothes to shoes, yearbooks to photos are stored.
Taken for granted and often abused, closets make up a great part of our every day lives. They are called by many other names; the word “closet” is, in fact, native to North America, and is associated with cabinets, cupboards, or pantries. The British call it a “wardrobe,” or even an “armoire.”
Way before C.S. Lewis introduced the world to a magical universe past the furs hanging in a closet, the Elizabethans closeted themselves and referred to any room as a “closet,” as long as someone could read in it and have privacy. In the modern age, even the bathroom is referred to as a “water closet,” or W.C.
Closets can be made in a variety of materials. The traditional wood allows a closet to be decorated with carvings and mirrors. The more modern closets are made of less insect-prone materials, and are more lightweight.
Whatever they are made of, and whichever name they are called, closets come in many types depending on their use.
• A broom closet is a closet narrower than wide, often stretching in space from the floor to the ceiling. It is made to store length objects such as mops, brooms, or hockey sticks
• A coat closet is a storage space in which to store jackets, hoods, and coats. Such a closet will often have no shelves, and only rails on which to hang clothes on. In a house, it is located near the front door, so that anyone entering the house can place their jackets in a safe place, then take it out again and wear it when they leave the house.
Some restaurants also have coat closets, and these are usually located in an isolated space farther from the entryway.
• A linen closet is typically built with shelves instead of rods on which to hang clothes on. It is located near bedrooms or bathrooms, and is used to keep washcloths, towels, blankets, sheets, toiletries, and curtains.
• Wall closets are shallow closets separated from a room with folding doors, curtains, or strings of beads. They have just enough space to store folded clothes or to hang them.
• A walk-in closet is a large closet large enough for a user to walk inside, and wide enough to keep a greater number of clothes, shoes, books, and other paraphernalia. Some walk-in closets have lights and mirrors, and will often have unique flooring.
• California closets are larger versions of walk-in closets. They will contain more shelves, shoe drawers, rails on which to hang clothes, racks in which to keep books, and even netting on which to hang earrings! The more luxurious California closets will even have safes, secret compartments, and drawers in which to store money or precious jewelry.
They are often ignored in favor of their contents, but closets do perform a good number of duties their users take for granted. They store shoes and clothing in an organized manner, and keep them clean. They keep out humidity, preserving precious books and photographs. If made skillfully, they can serve as accents to rooms, even as conversation pieces.
Closets, most of all, store memories, no matter what they are for.