a brief history of closets

Have you ever wondered where closets came from? I mean, really thought about it? It is obviously the place where we store our clothes, and it seems logical that such a place has been a human need since we started wearing clothes. But how have they evolved into the beautiful and extravagant spaces they can be today?

I did a little research.

The word “closet” was originally a term used for a “small room,” adjacent to the bedroom and private, where people read or enjoyed private things. Mostly derived from the Latin word “clausum” (meaning, “closed”) the term has been around for quite some time. Though these rooms varied in size, they were always exclusively for the wealthy. In the United States, built-in wall closets were uncommon, and where they did exist they were small. Post World War II, larger closets were introduced to attract wealthy buyers—perhaps the original reason for drawing city slickers to the suburbs. Today, closets are in abundance: Walk-in Closet, Linen Closet, Utility Closet, Water Closet, Coat Closet, etc. The closet has come a long way from where it started.

Here is a brief timeline for Closet Milestones over the centuries:

1880s—The Dakota Building, Manhattan NYC
Dakota Building
Built between 1880 and 1884, The Dakota building was the first apartment building constructed specifically for the wealthy, and is today considered to be one of Manhattan’s most prestigious and exclusive residential buildings. Though the closets in the Dakota are, by today’s standards, small, it was the beginning of built-in closets for your home.
*Fun Fact: The Dakota building is famous for being the home for John Lennon from 1973-1980 as well as the location of his murder.

1930—740 Park Avenue, Manhattan NYC
740 Park Avenue is photographed Sunday, October 16, 2005, in
The opening of 740 Park Avenue is the first to take big closet living to a whole new level. Master Bedroom closets reported to have outlets and shoe shelves built-in.

1950—Walk-in Closets
Walk-in Closet
Construction began on wider and deeper closets during this decade, only this time not solely for luxury buildings. The walk-in closet was born.

1978—California Closet
California Closet
Neil Balter, a recent high-school graduate, began building shelves in closets during his time as a carpenter. It occurred to him that he could turn this concept into a thriving business. We all know how that turned out.

2006—The Boutique Closet
Mariah Carey appeared with Barbara Walters on 20/20 of this year, with quite possibly the most extravagant closet seen ever at that time.

2008—Sex and the City (the movie)
SATC Proposal Closet
The proposal that any Sex and the City fan was waiting for, took place in a Walk-in…between Ms. Carey’s and the future Mrs. Big, their closets have given inspiration for many a home-buyer.

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