Chadds Ford Historical Society

Revisiting History

Spring Cleaning Series – May 13, 2016

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Closet make overs don’t have to cost you a fortune! Be like a colonist and hang your one and only pair of clothes for the month on your bedroom wall peg! But, all kidding aside, sometimes thinking about having to reorganize can bring on the frustration of “what to do with all that stuff!?” in your mind. It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Here are some interesting tips on how to make your messy and very full closet, completely easy to navigate by some simple organizational tools you can find at your local hardware or department store. If you have more shoes than you can ever imagine, invest in a shoe rack. Sometimes you may see the versions that hang without adding holes to the walls by simple placement of hooks over your closet door. If you don’t mind hanging items from the wall, there are versions that can cater to that need. Otherwise there is track shelving you can install on your walls. This would probably take you a little more time. You can even use plastic storage bins that stack high and roll on wheels. If using this method, you can throw a small sachet of baking soda into each compartment to keep odors at bay.

For all of those clothes you have hanging up with mismatched hangers, the best route is to take big bulky or wire hangers that don’t match, and toss them into the recycle bin. Purchase new plastic hangers, all uniform in size and shape, to make clothes fit more easily on the rack. Sometimes you can find them for $5 or less at your local dollar store or discount department store.



Today we have the luxury of closet space for clothing. Colonial times were “simple” in the fact that they used a few pegs on the walls to hang their clothing or a chest of drawers to store it away. When we speak about clothing, we mean, one outfit that was probably worn daily for a week and then changed. Sometimes a pair of breeches or apron would be changed, depending on the occasion, whether going to church or a more formal event. Elite individuals had the opportunity to change in and out of clothes multiple times a day due to their particular eating habits and social gatherings (individuals had dinner and supper which prompted them to change their clothing because of the formality of these rituals). The common folk typically kept it pretty simple. Colonials often wore clothing that was made of a combination of flax, linen or wool (linsey-woolsey) due to time constraints for actually having the fabric made to wear, money, and practicality. Cotton was not common in the Pennsylvania region until after the 1800s. The elite had more access to satins and silks based on their income and accessibility.

Storage space was not only limited (and still isn’t) to a few bedroom or linen closets. The image below shows a good use of storage space in a colonial home for kitchen and dining items. Today we utilize our kitchen cabinets with shelves in much of the same fashion, except they are typically closed off with cabinet doors. We also have kitchen islands or counter tops with pull drawers to store away our silverware or other items.


Regardless of how you choose to reorganize, there will probably always one place in the home where you can declutter and maximize your space by placing in a few extra shelves, dividers, or hangers. Start now, spring is here!

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Published By: Sarah Krykew, Guide Specialist

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