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Publication numberUS20080174214 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/956,131
Publication dateJul 24, 2008
Filing dateDec 13, 2007
Priority dateDec 13, 2006
Publication number11956131, 956131, US 2008/0174214 A1, US 2008/174214 A1, US 20080174214 A1, US 20080174214A1, US 2008174214 A1, US 2008174214A1, US-A1-20080174214, US-A1-2008174214, US2008/0174214A1, US2008/174214A1, US20080174214 A1, US20080174214A1, US2008174214 A1, US2008174214A1
InventorsPaul M. Segall, Charles Bain
Original AssigneeSegall Paul M, Charles Bain
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Storage Closet Having Frame and Soft Sided Storage Unit
US 20080174214 A1
Abstract
A storage closet is disclosed that has a frame that supports a soft-sided storage unit. The frame is configured for ease of assembly. Some of the components may be packaged already assembled or at least partially assembled in subassemblies in order to reduce the difficulty of sorting. Moreover, the frame may be disposed externally relative to the soft-sided storage unit in order to reduce the potential for the frame to cause tears in the soft-sided storage unit.
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Claims(21)
1. A storage closet comprising:
a frame having a pair of legs connected at upper ends by an upper cross member, the upper cross member having a center beam extending between the pair of legs and at each end a pair of wings selectively foldable between a position generally parallel to the center beam and a position extending outward relative to the center beam; and
a soft-sided storage unit configured to be supported by the frame.
2. The storage closet of claim 1, wherein the pair of legs are connected at bottom ends by a lower cross member.
3. The storage closet of claim 2, wherein lower cross member includes a first element pivotably connected to one of the legs and a second element pivotably connected to another of the legs, the first and second elements being joinable to form the lower cross member.
4. The storage closet of claim 1, wherein a wing connection assembly joins one of the legs, the center beam and a pair of wings, the wing connection assembly including an unfolded stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the position extending outward relative to the center beam and a folded stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the positioned generally parallel to the center beam.
5. The storage closet of claim 4, wherein a spring is associated with each of the wings and biases the wings into engagement with either the unfolded stop or the folded stop.
6. The storage closet of claim 5, wherein the unfolded stop and the folded stop each include a groove formed in the wing connection assembly.
7. The storage closet of claim 4, wherein the wings in the folded position are generally perpendicular to the center beam.
8. The storage closet of claim 4, wherein the wings at one end of the center beam are at different angles, one of the wings being at an obtuse angle and the other of the wings being at an acute angle relative to the center beam.
9. The storage closet of claim 1, wherein the storage unit has an upper panel hanging from the wings.
10. The storage closet of claim 1, wherein the storage unit has an upper panel supported on its underside by the wings.
11. The storage closet of claim 1, wherein a pair of wings are positioned along the center beam between the pairs of wings at the ends of the center beam and the center beam has two components that are joined via a center connection assembly, the center connection assembly being configured to support the pair of wings that are positioned along the center beam between the pairs of wings at the ends of the center beam.
12. A subassembly of a frame having legs and a cross beam for supporting a storage unit, the subassembly comprising:
a wing connection member adapted to join one of the legs and the cross beam; and
a plurality of wings pivotably attached to the wing connection member and moveable between positions generally parallel to each other and positions extending outwardly relative to each other, the plurality of wings be adapted to support the storage unit.
13. The subassembly of claim 12, wherein the wing connection element has a first stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the extended position and a second stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the positioned generally parallel to each other.
14. The subassembly of claim 13, wherein:
a spring is associated with each of the wings and biases the wings into engagement with either the unfolded stop or the folded stop; and
the unfolded stop and the folded stop each include a groove formed in the wing connection assembly.
15. A storage closet comprising:
a frame having a pair of legs connected at top portions by an upper cross member and connected at bottom portions by a lower cross member, a plurality of wings extending outwardly relative to the upper cross member; and
a soft-sided storage unit, the soft sided storage unit having an upper panel disposed between the upper and lower cross members and hanging from at least some of the plurality of wings.
16. The storage closet of claim 15, wherein the soft-sided storage unit includes a pair of side panels each disposed between the pair of legs.
17. The storage closet of claim 16, wherein legs each include outward extensions adjacent their bottom portions and the soft-sided storage unit includes a bottom panel that is connected to the outward extensions of the legs.
18. The storage closet of claim 15, wherein the wings are pivotably attached relative to the upper cross member.
19. The storage closet of claim 15, wherein a portion at least one of the wings is received in a slot in one or more of the top portions of the legs and the upper cross member.
20. The storage closet of claim 19, wherein the slot is in a tubular portion of the legs or upper cross member and a plug is inserterable at least partially into the tubular portion, the plug having a slot for being positioned adjacent the portion of the wings.
21. The storage closet of claim 19, wherein the wing has an arcuate segment for abutting against an arcuate exterior surface of the one or more of the top portions of the legs and the upper cross member.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from U.S. Patent Appl. No. 60/869,858, filed on Dec. 13, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

This disclosure relates to storage closets, and in particular storage closets having a frame supporting a soft sided storage unit.

BACKGROUND

Storage closets can be used as temporary or permanent storage, and can be used in place of or to supplement permanent storage closets, such as those permanently built into homes.

One type of storage closet is rigid, and may be made of particle board or plastic. A disadvantage of such rigid storage closets is that they can be bulky, as in the case of plastic storage closets, or heavy, as in the case of particle board storage closets. Bulky storage closets can be expensive to ship, particularly as compared to less bulky items and when shipping rates are based upon volume. Particle board storage closets can be difficult for purchasers to carry given their weights. Both types of storage closets can be difficult for consumers to assemble, and may require multiple bolts, nuts, screws and the like for assembly.

Another type of storage closet includes a rigid frame and a soft-sided storage bag. The rigid frame typically includes multiple upstanding tubular legs, which are connected at their top ends by one or more cross tubes and at their bottom ends by one or more different cross tubes. The soft-sided storage bag may be cloth or plastic, for example, and is supported on its interior side by the rigid frame. An example of such a storage closet is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,718,490.

Assembly of storage closets having rigid frames and soft-sided storage bags can be difficult. In many instances, assembly of the tubular frames requires sorting and joining of multiple tubes to other tubes and intermediate connecting members. Some of the tubes, such as the legs and the cross tubes, may resemble each other and can be difficult to sort. Moreover, in some circumstances components of the frame can tear the soft-sided storage bags.

SUMMARY

A storage closet is disclosed that has a frame that supports a soft-sided storage unit. The frame is configured for ease of assembly by reducing the number of components required for assembly and/or providing the components with features to facilitate their assembly. Some of the components may be packaged already assembled or at least partially assembled in subassemblies in order to reduce the difficulty of sorting. Some of the components may be configured to readily join to other components, such as without the use of tools. Moreover, the frame may be disposed externally relative to the soft-sided storage unit in order to reduce the potential for the frame to cause tears in the soft-sided storage unit.

In one aspect, the storage closet includes a frame having a pair of legs connected at upper ends by an upper cross member. The upper cross member includes a center beam extending between the pair of legs. A pair of wings are disposed proximate one or both ends of the center beam. The wings may be provided already attached to the center beam in order to reduce the amount of assembly that is required. In order to reduce the volume of the storage closet for shipping, storage and retail display, the wings may be selectively moveable between a collapsed position generally parallel to the center beam and a position extending outward relative to the center beam for supporting the soft-sided storage unit.

The angle of the wings when in the position extending outward relative to the center beam can vary, depending upon the configuration of the storage closet. For instance, the wings may be generally perpendicular to the center beam when in the position extending outward relative to the center beam, or they may be at an angle thereto. Furthermore, the wings at one end of the center beam may be at different angles, with one of the wings being at an obtuse angle and the other of the wings being at an acute angle relative to the center beam.

In another aspect, a wing connection assembly may be provided to join one of the legs, the center beam and a pair of wings. The wing connection assembly may be provided with the wings already attached, thereby requiring only attachment of the center beam and the associated leg and thus simplified assembly of the frame. The wing connection assembly may be provided with the wings and center beam already attached, thus requiring attachment of only the associated leg. The wing connection assembly may include an unfolded stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the position extending outward relative to the center beam. The wing connection assembly may also include a folded stop associated with each of the wings to generally maintain each of the wings in the positioned generally parallel to the center beam. A spring may be associated with each of the wings to bias the wings into engagement with either or both of the unfolded stop and the folded stop.

The soft-sided storage unit may hang from the wings. To this end, straps, hooks or the like may be attached to an upper panel of the storage unit and used to hang the storage unit from the wings. In another aspect, the soft sided-storage unit may have an upper panel that is positioned on top of the wings, and the wings and other adjacent components may be configured to reduce tearing of the storage unit.

For storage closets that have a longer spacing between the legs, a pair of intermediate wings may be positioned along the center beam between the pairs of wings at the ends of the center beam in order to provide additional support for the soft-sided storage unit. Like the aforementioned wings, the intermediate wings may be pivotable between extended and collapsed positions, and may be provided preassembled with a wing connection assembly. For such longer storage closets, the center beam may have two components that are joined via a center connection assembly or the wing connection assembly.

In another aspect, the pair of legs of the frame may be connected at their bottom ends by a lower cross member. The lower cross member may include a first portion that is pivotably connected to a lower end of one of the legs. The lower cross member may also include a second portion pivotably connected to a lower end of another of the legs. Providing portions of the lower cross member preassembled to be pivotably connected to lower ends of the legs can reduce and/or simplify the amount of assembly of the frame that is required. The first and second portions of the lower cross member may be joinable to form the lower cross member, or may be one piece or packaged preassembled into one piece. Similarly, the legs can include separate portions, or may be one piece or packaged preassembled into one piece.

In yet another aspect, a storage closet is disclosed that includes a frame and a soft-sided storage unit. The frame has a pair of legs connected at top portions by an upper cross member and connected at bottom portions by a lower cross member. A plurality of wings extend outwardly relative to the upper cross member. The soft-sided storage unit has an upper panel disposed between the upper and lower cross members and is configured to hang from at least some of the plurality of wings. The soft-sided storage unit may include a pair of side panels each disposed between the pair of legs. The legs may each include outward extensions adjacent their bottom portions, and the soft-sided storage unit may include a bottom panel that is connected to the outward extensions of the legs. The wings are pivotably attached relative to the upper cross member, and moveable between extended and collapsed positions.

In another aspect, the storage closet includes a frame having a pair of legs connected at upper ends by an upper cross member. The upper cross member includes a center beam extending between the pair of legs. A pair of wings are disposed proximate one or both ends of the center beam. The wings are removable from the center beam to minimize the size of the components when disassembled. In one example, the wings may each have a portion that can be inserted into a slot or other opening in an associated one of the legs to simplify assembly. A plug can be used to secure the wing relative to the leg. In this or any of the embodiments, the legs and other tubular members that are to be joined may include rubber, plastic or other materials on their ends that are inserted into other tubular members to provide increased friction to assist in maintaining the members joined.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a storage closet having an external frame supporting a soft-sided storage unit;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a detailed perspective view of a lower portion of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a detailed perspective view of an attachment between the lower portion of the external frame and the soft-sided storage unit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an upper cross assembly of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 1 showing end wings and center wings in extended positions;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of the center wings and assembly of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of one of the end wings of the upper cross assembly of FIG. 5 in folded positions;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the one of the end wings of the upper cross assembly of FIG. 5 in extended positions;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of one of the end wings and a center beam being inserted thereinto;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of one of the end wings and with the center beam inserted thereinto;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a storage closet having an external frame supporting a soft-sided storage unit;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an upper cross assembly of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 11 showing end wings in folded positions;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an upper cross assembly of the external frame of the storage closet of FIG. 11 showing end wings in extended positions;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a storage closet having an internal frame supporting a soft-sided storage unit;

FIG. 16 is a partial exploded perspective view of an end wing and center beam of the internal frame of the storage closet of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a storage closet having an external frame for supporting a soft-sided storage unit;

FIG. 18 is an exploded perspective view of the storage closet of FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is a detailed exploded perspective view of a wing, leg and plug of the storage closet of FIG. 17;

FIG. 20A is a partial perspective view of a joined center assembly for use in storage closets; and

FIG. 20B is a partial exploded perspective view of the center assembly of FIG. 20A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various embodiments of storage closets in accordance with the above-discussed aspects are illustrated in FIGS. 1-20 herein. The storage closets illustrated and described herein include a frame and a soft-sided storage unit. The frame and storage unit are configured for both reduced volume during shipping, warehousing and retail display as well as simplified assembly. To this end, the frame may include components that are preassembled so that sorting is minimized, the number of components that must be joined to each other is reduced, and the components are configured for ease of assembly.

In one embodiment, illustrated in FIGS. 1-10, the storage closet 10 includes a frame 50 that supports a soft-sided storage unit 20. The frame 50 includes a pair of legs 52 with an upper cross member 70 extending between top end portions thereof and a pair of lower cross members 62 extending between bottom end portions thereof, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The upper cross member 70 includes a center beam 72 and multiple pairs of outwardly-extending wings 86 and 88. The soft-sided storage unit 20 is adapted to be supported by the wings 86 and 88, such as by hanging, as illustrated in FIG. 1, or by fitting over the upper cross member 70.

The frame 50 of the storage closet 10 is configured for minimized sorting and simplified assembly. One way that this is accomplished is by providing a subassembly 15 of the wings 86 and 88 that can be joined to ends of the center beam 72 and one of the legs 52. The subassembly 15, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8, includes a pair of wings 86 and 88 that are pivotably attached to a wing connection member 78. The wings 86 and 88 are moveable from a compact or collapsed arrangement where they are generally parallel to each other, as illustrated in FIG. 7, to an extended arrangement where they extend outwardly relative to each other, as illustrated in FIG. 8. The wing connection member 78 is adapted to permit simplified attachment one of the legs 52 and the center beam 72. The wings 86 and 88 are adapted to permit the soft-sided storage unit 20 to hang therefrom, such as by providing hooks 90 on the ends 86 and 88 of the wings that received loops 42 attached to the top of the storage unit 20.

Another way that the storage closet 10 is configured for minimized sorting and simplified assembly is by providing the lower cross member 62 preassembled with the legs 52. This can advantageously reduce the amount of sorting of components that would be required, as well as simplify the assembly of the storage closet 10. More specifically, the lower cross member 62 comprises two separate components 64 and 66. One of the components 64 is pivotably attached to one of the legs 52, and the other of the components 66 is pivotably attached to another of the legs 52. Pivotably attaching the components 64 and 66 to the legs permits the components 64 and 66 to be readily moved from a storage position where the components 64 and 66 are generally aligned with the associated leg 52 to an erected position where the components 64 and 66 are generally perpendicular to the legs 52, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. The legs 52 may include an attached transverse outer sleeve 58 that pivotably receives a transverse extension 60 that is attached to one of the components 64 and 66, as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. These components 64 and 66 can be selectively joined to each other once the legs 52 and components 64 and 66 are in the erected position. For example, one of the components 64 may have a hollow end, opposite the transverse extension 60, of a first diameter, and the other of the components 66 may have an end, opposite the transverse extension 60, having a second diameter. The second diameter may be less than the first diameter to permit the ends of the components 64 and 66 to join. A friction fit, pin, or the like may be used to secure the ends of the components 64 and 66 together. Providing the legs 52 preattached to the lower cross member 62 in a subassembly permits the components 64 and 66 to be readily pivoted from the storage position to the erected position, thereby simplifying assembly of the storage closet 10. Footings 140, which can include platforms 142 for supporting the frame 50 on a support surface or floor, are attached at opposing ends of the transverse extension, as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4.

Turning now to more of the details of the subassembly of the wings 86 and 88 and the wing connection element 78, the wing connection element 78 includes a center stem 120, an upper platform 122, a lower platform 124 and a depending shaft 126. The upper platform 122 is attached to the top of the center stem 120, and the lower platform 124 is attached to the bottom of the center stem 120, as illustrated in FIGS. 7-10. The depending shaft 126 extends from the lower platform 124, on an opposite side thereof from the center stem 120. The depending shaft 126 and the center stem 120 are generally coaxial, and the upper and lower platforms 122 and 124 are generally perpendicular thereto. The upper and lower platforms 122 and 124 each include through apertures 138 through which prongs 106 on the ends of the wings 86 and 88 are inserted, as illustrated in FIG. 10.

Upwardly-facing surfaces on the upper and lower platforms 122 and 124 include grooves 128 that function as stops to limit movement of the wings 86 and 88. In particular, each of the grooves 128 includes a first segment and a second segment that intersect at a generally right angle. With reference to one of the wings 86, its prongs 106 each have depending portions and longitudinal portions that intersect at generally a right angle. The prongs 106 of the wing 86 are vertically aligned. The depending portion of an uppermost prong 106 is inserted into the aperture 138 in the upper platform 122, and a depending portion of a lowermost prong 106 is inserted into the aperture 138 in the lower platform 124. The prongs 106 of the wing 86 are pivotable in the apertures 138 between two positions defined by the grooves 128, which function as a stop. In one of the positions, the longitudinal portion of each of the prongs 106 at least partially lies in one of the segments of the groove 128, and in another of the positions, the longitudinal portion of each of the prongs 106 at least partially lies in the other of the segments of the groove 128. When the longitudinal portion of the prongs 106 of the wing 86 lie in an aligned set of segments of the grooves 128, the wing 86 is generally positioned either in the collapsed or expanded position.

The longitudinal portion of the prongs 106 of the wing 86 are biased into the segments of the grooves 128, such as by a spring 134, and thus generally held in either the collapsed or expanded position. The spring 134 may be a compression spring, and surrounds the depending portion of at least one of the prongs 106, as illustrated in FIG. 10. One end of the spring 134 abuts against an underside of the lower platform 124, and the other end of the spring 134 abuts against an end cap 136 secured at the end of the depending portion of the prongs 106. In this manner, the spring 138 biases the longitudinal portion of the prong 106, which is disposed on an opposite side of the lower platform 124 from the spring 138, into the groove 128. To move the wing 86 between collapsed and extended positions, the wing 86 is lifted, against the biasing force of the spring, until the longitudinal portion of the prong 106 is spaced from one of the segments of the groove 128, and then can be rotated into a position above the other of the segments of the groove 128 and released to allow the spring 138 to bias the longitudinal portion of the prong 106 into the aligned segment of the groove 128. Although a spring 138 has been illustrated as being on only one of the two prongs 106 of the wings 86 and 88, a spring 138 may be placed on both of the two prongs 106.

The wing connection element 78 is adapted to connect to both one of the legs 52 and to the center beam 72 in order to join the wings 86 and 88, the one of the legs 52 and the center beam 72. The center beam 72 has a pair of vertically-arranged depending prongs 116 at each end, as illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10. A lowermost prong 116 is adapted to be inserted through a through slot 130 formed in the center stem 120, while an uppermost prong 116 is adapted to be inserted into an aperture in the upper platform 122. Each of the platforms 122 and 124 includes a groove 132 for receiving a longitudinal portions of the prongs 116 adjacent each of the depending portions of the prongs 116. When the longitudinal portions of the prongs 116 are received in the grooves 132, and when the depending portions of the prongs 116 are received in the aperture in the upper platform 122 and the through slot 130 in the center stem 120, the center beam 72 is connected to the wing connection element 78. The interior of the wing connection element 78 may have a bore that is optionally sized to provide a friction fit with the depending portions of the prongs 116 of the center beam 72 in order to provide additional securement between the center beam 72 and the wing connection element 78. In order to connect the upper end of the legs 52 to the wing connection elements 78, the bottom of the depending shaft 126 may have a bore with an opening on an opposite end from the lower platform 124. The bore may have an internal diameter dimensioned to receive an external diameter of the upper end of one of the legs 52 to join the leg 52 to the wing connection element 78. Alternatively, the outer diameter of the depending shaft 126 may be dimensioned to be received in a bore on the upper end of the leg 52. In either case, the diameters may be configured to provide a friction fit to secure the leg 52 to the wing connection element 78.

In order to reduce the required length of any packaging of the unassembled storage closet 10, several of the longer components may comprise multiple elements that are easily joined to form a single component. As discussed above, the lower cross member 62 may include multiple components 64 and 66, of less length than when combined, that are configured to be easily joined to each other to form the longer lower cross member 62. Similarly, the legs 52 may each comprise two separate components, and upper leg component 54 and a lower leg component 56, that can be easily joined to form the leg 52. Like the lower cross member 62, one of the leg components 54 and 56 may have a reduced diameter end that is received in a larger diameter end of the other of the leg components 54 and 56. A friction fit, pin, or the like may be used to secure the ends of the upper and lower leg components 54 and 56 together.

In addition to having the legs 52 and lower cross member 62 formed of separate components in order to reduce the require length of any packaging of the unassembled storage closet 10, the upper cross member 70 may also be formed of separate components. In particular, the center beam 72 may be formed of two separate components 82 and 84 in order to reduce the unassembled length of the center beam 72. Each of the components 82 and 84 of the center beam 72 has an end with a pair of prongs 116 for joining to one of the wing connection elements 78 and an opposite end configured to be joined relative to the like end of the other of the components 82 and 84. The components 82 and 84 may each include a hinge cylinder. That is, one of the components 82 may include a hinge cylinder 94, and the other of the components 84 may include a hinge cylinder 96 positioned below the other hinge cylinder 94 when the components 82 and 84 are arranged with axes of bores of the hinge cylinders 94 and 96 aligned. A hinge pin 112 can be inserted through the aligned bores of the hinge cylinders 94 and 96 to pivotably join the components 82 and 84 of the center beam 72. Alternatively, the components 82 and 84 may be provided already hinged together, whether permanently or otherwise.

In order to prevent the connected components 82 and 84 of the center beam 72 from pivoting when the storage closet 10 is fully assembled, an upper bracket 80 may be positioned around an upper side of the components 82 and 84 and a lower bracket 98 may be positioned around a lower side of the components 82 and 84, as illustrated in FIG. 6. With reference to the lower bracket 98, it being understood that the upper bracket 80 is similar in construction, a longitudinal channel 100 is provided for receiving ends of the components 82 and 84 and preventing them from pivoting about the hinge pin 112. Internal ribs 102 may be disposed on the internal and facing surfaces of the channel 100 in order to provide a friction fit with the ends of the components 82 and 84 of the center beam 72. In order to secure the upper and lower brackets 80 and 98 with the ends of the components 82 and 84 therebetween, the hinge pin 112 extends through central openings in both brackets 80 and 98. One end of the hinge pin 112 has a gripping knob 114, and the other end of the hinge pin 112 has external threading. The end of the hinge pin 112 with threading can be inserted through the central opening in the lower bracket 98, through the bores of the hinge cylinders 92 and 94, and through the central opening in the upper bracket 80. A cap 110 having internal threading may be threaded onto the external threading of the hinge pin 112 to secure the upper and lower brackets 80 and 98 together, with the ends of the components 82 and 84 of the center beam 72 sandwiched therebetween. The hinge pin 112 is restricted from removal by the gripping knob 114 at one end and the cap 110 at the other end. To simplify assembly of the center beam 72, the cap 110 may have an external polygonal shape that is received in and prevented from rotating by a corresponding polygonal-shaped recess 96 formed about the central opening in the upper bracket 80. Thus, when the knob 114 is rotated to rotate the attached hinge pin 112, the cap 110 does not rotate and the threaded end of the hinge pin 112 can be threaded into the cap 110.

In order to provide additional support for the soft-sided storage unit 20, a pair of wings 86 and 88 may be attached to the upper and lower brackets 80 and 98. More specifically, the upper and lower brackets 80 and 98 may each have a projecting platform 104 on opposite sides of the channels 100, extending transverse to an axis of the channels 100, with a through aperture for receiving the depending portion of the prongs 106. The platforms 104 also can include grooves 108 disposed on upper surfaces to receive longitudinal portions of the prongs 106 of the wings 86 and 88 to assist in preventing the wings 86 and 88 from rotating and maintain the wings 86 and 88 in positions extending outwardly from the center beam 72.

Turning now to more of the details of an exemplary embodiment of the soft-sided storage unit 20, the unit 20 has multiple rectangular-shaped panels, including a top panel 22, and bottom panel 24, a pair of side panels 26, a back panel 28 and a front panel 30. The front panel 30 may include a large opening 38, selectively coverable by an attached door panel 40, for providing access to an interior of the unit 20. Clothes may be hung on the interior of the storage unit 20, such as on hangers hung from an interior rod. The interior rod may in turn be connected to the underside of the top panel 22, hang from the center beam 72, or otherwise be supported inside the unit 20. The front panel 30 may also include a small opening 32, selectively coverable by an attached door panel 36, for providing access to an interior of the unit 20. The interior of the unit 20 disposed behind the small opening 32 may include shelves 34 suspended in the interior of the unit 20, such as in the same manner as the rod. The doors 36 and 40 may be removably attached to the front panel 30 via zippers, Velcro or the like. As discussed above, the top panel 22 may have loops for attachment to the hooks 90 of the wings 86 and 88 to hang the soft-sided storage unit 20 from the frame. In order to provide additional securement, the bottom panel 24 of the storage unit 20 may include straps 44 that can be positioned between a body 144 and a projection 146 of the footing 140, as illustrated in FIG. 4.

Another embodiment of a storage closet 200 is illustrated in FIGS. 11-14. The storage closet 200 of FIGS. 11-14 is similar in many aspects to the storage closet 10 of FIGS. 1-10, with the primary difference being that the storage closet 200 of FIGS. 11-14 has a reduced length.

The storage closet 200 includes a frame 250 that supports a soft-sided storage unit 210, as illustrated in FIG. 11. The storage unit 220 is formed of generally rectangular panels, including a top panel 214, a bottom panel 216, a pair of side panels 212, a front panel 220 and a back panel 218. The front panel 220 includes an opening 222 selectively coverable by a door panel 224. The interior of the storage unit 210 includes a rod for hanging clothes on hangers.

The frame 250 includes a pair of legs 252, lower cross members 262 extending between bottom ends of the legs 252 and an upper cross member 270 extending between top ends of the legs 252. Like the prior embodiment, the legs 252 may include two separate components 254 and 256 that can readily be joined and the lower cross members 262 may include two separate components 264 and 266 that can readily be joined. The lower cross members 62 can be preassembled with the legs 52 to reduce the amount of sorting of components that would be required, as well as simplify the assembly of the storage closet 200. One of the components 264 is pivotably attached to one of the legs 252, and the other of the components 266 is pivotably attached to another of the legs 252. The legs 252 include an attached transverse outer sleeve 258 that pivotably receives a transverse extension 260 that is attached to one of the components 264 and 266, as illustrated in FIG. 12. These components 264 and 266 can be selectively joined to each other once the legs 52 and components 264 and 266 are in the erected position.

The upper cross member 270 of the storage closet 200 includes pairs of wings 286 and 288 attached via wing connection elements 278 disposed at opposite ends of a center beam 272. The subassemblies of the wings 286 and 288 and the wing connection element 278 is generally the same as that described above with respect to the storage closet 10 of FIGS. 1-10. However, the center beam 272, due to its decreased length as compared to the center beam 72 of the storage closet 10, is unitary. A center hook 292 is provided in the mid-section of the center beam 272 to receive a loop attached to the top panel 214 of the soft-sided storage unit 210 for providing additional support. The subassemblies of the wings 286 and 288 and the wing connection element 278 may be provided either already attached to the center beam 272 or separate. If the subassemblies are already attached, as illustrated in FIG. 13, the wings 286 and 288 can simply be pivoted from their collapsed positions, illustrated in FIG. 13, to their expanded positions, illustrated in FIG. 14.

Another embodiment of a storage closet 300 is illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 16. The storage closet 300 of FIGS. 15 and 16 is similar in many aspects to the storage closet 10 of FIGS. 1-10 and the storage closet 200 of FIGS. 11-14, with the primary difference being that the storage closet 300 of FIGS. 15 and 16 is non-rectangular. That is, the soft-sided storage unit 310 is trapezoidal, having non-parallel side panels 316 and a front panel 312 with a length greater than a back panel 314.

The storage closet 300 includes a frame 350 that supports the soft-sided storage unit 310, as illustrated in FIG. 15. The interior of the storage unit 310 includes a rod for hanging clothes on hangers. Instead of hanging from the frame 350, as in the previous embodiments, the soft-sided storage unit 310 is illustrated as fitting around the frame 350. Specifically, a top panel 318 of the soft-sided storage unit 300 is disposed on top of wings 386 and 388 and a center beam 372 of an upper cross element 370. Alternatively, the storage closet 300 could be configured, as described with respect to the above embodiments, to have the top panel 318 disposed below and hung from the upper cross member 370.

The subassemblies of the wings 386 and 388 and the wing connection element 378 is similar to those subassemblies discussed above with respect to the previous embodiments. However, in order to accommodate the trapezoidal shape of the storage unit 310, several modifications are made to the frame 350 as compared to the frames 50 and 250 of the previous embodiments. In particular, the prong 316 on each end of the center beam 372 is positioned at an angle. When the prong 316 is inserted into an aperture 382 of the wing connection element 378, and a cross-tie 318 is nested in a vertical groove 380 on the wing connection element 378, as illustrated in FIG. 16, the wings 386 and 388 are at different angles relative to the center beam 372. One of the wings 386 is at an acute angle θ and the other of the wings 388 is at an obtuse angle α in order to support the trapezoidal top panel 318 of the soft-sided storage unit 310. Ends of the wings 386 and 388 are rounded so that they will not tear the soft-sided storage unit 310.

In another embodiment of a storage closet 400 as illustrated in FIGS. 17-19, wings 430 are provided separate from a center beam assembly 410 but are configured to be readily joined during assembly of the storage closet 400. The center beam assembly 410 includes a truss 428 extending between a pair of connector posts 412. The connector posts 412 are adapted to mate with associated legs 414, as will be discussed in greater detail below. Each of the wings 430 has a central cross piece 434, a central arcuate support piece 436 and a pair of closet support hooks 432 at opposing ends, as illustrated in FIG. 19. To facilitate joining the wings 430 to the center beam assembly 410, the cross piece 434 is configured to be received in a slot 438 formed in an end of the connector post 412 of the center beam assembly 412. Engagement between the cross piece 434 and the portions of the connector post 412 adjacent the slot 438 can restrict rotation of the wing 430 about a longitudinal axis of the post 412. When the cross piece 434 is seated in the slot 438, the arcuate support piece 436 abuts against the exterior of the connector post 412, as illustrated in FIG. 17, to further restrict the wing 430 from movement relative to the post 412 in a direction transverse to the longitudinal axis of the post 412. Finally, a plug 442 can be inserted into the open end of the tubular connector post 412 to restrict the wing 430 from being lifted away from the post 412.

The plug 442 has a circular cap portion 444 with a circular depending skirt 446. The skirt 446 has a slot 448 formed therein for receiving the portion of the cross piece 434 of the wing 430 that is positioned in the post 412 to further restrict movement of the wing 430. The diameter of the cap portion 444 is preferably, though not necessarily, larger than the inner diameter of the post 412 such that the cap portion 444 limits the extent to which the plug 442 can be inserted into the post 412. The diameter of the skirt 446 can be less than or about the same as the inner diameter of the post 412 to permit the skirt 446 to be inserted into the post 412, and can be sized to provide a friction fit therebetween.

Turning now to other details of the storage closet 400, the frame includes legs 414 that are joined to transverse legs 422 at one end and to the connector posts 412 at an opposite end. As in the aforementioned embodiments, the legs 414 may include two separate components 416 and 418 that can readily be joined. The transverse legs 422 can include footings 426, such as those discussed above. The transverse legs 422 may also include a perpendicularly extending portion 424 comprising a tubular member that is configured to mate with the legs 414. Lower cross members 420 are also provided extending between the transverse legs 422, as illustrated in FIGS. 17 and 18. The lower cross members 420 may be unitary, or may comprise multiple components. To join the lower cross members 420 to the transverse legs 422, the transverse legs 422 may each have openings 456 facing each other for receiving the ends of the lower cross members 420. To this end, the openings 456 have a diameter larger than that of the lower cross members 420. Once received in the opening 456, a screw 452 can be inserted through an aligned but outwardly facing opening 450 in the transverse legs 422 and threaded into an internally threaded portion 454 on the end of the lower cross member 420 to secure the lower cross member 420 to the transverse legs 422.

The tubular elements of the storage closet 400 that are to be assembled, including the leg components 416 and 418, the connector posts 412 and the perpendicularly extending portion 424 of the transverse legs, are configured for simplified assembly having narrow diameter ends that are insertable into hollow standard diameter ends of adjacent components to secure the components to each other. To further facilitate assembly, the narrow diameter ends may have a different type of material thereon to provide a friction fit with the hollow standard diameter ends. For example, if the tubular components are metal, then a rubber or plastic coating, sleeve, or protruding plug 440 can be fitted to the narrow diameter ends for frictional engagement with the inner walls of the hollow standard diameter ends of the adjacent components. Such a friction component can be used with any of the aforementioned embodiments when a like method is used to join the components.

Although not illustrated, a soft sided storage bag of the types discussed above can be used with the frame of the storage closet 400 of FIGS. 17-19. The storage bag can hang from the hooks 432 of the wings 430, and may include a central fabric loop that can be attached to a midpoint of the center beam assembly 410. To provide a hanging rod in this or other of the disclosed embodiments, s-shaped hooks, or other suitable hooks, are hung at one of their ends from the truss 428 and have their opposite ends inserted through openings in the top panel of the storage bag. A plurality of such hooks can be used to hang a rod in the interior of the storage bag. The openings in the top panel may be surrounded by rivet rings for reinforcement.

In one aspect, the aforementioned center beam assemblies may be divided into two or more components joinable using a combination of pins and apertures, as illustrated in FIGS. 20A and 20B. This can result in center beam assemblies 500 that can be shipped in shorter packaging, then assembled after shipping or after sale to the end user. The center assembly 500 includes two components 502 and 504 in the illustrated example, although more than two could also be used. Each of the components 502 and 504 includes a plate 512 and 514 having an aperture 518 and 520. When the plates 512 and 514 are aligned, a pin 516 or the like can be inserted through the apertures 518 and 520 to assist in joining the components 502 and 504. One of the components 504 may also include an extending pin 510 that can be inserted through an aperture 508 in a plate 506 attached to the other of the components 502 to assist in joining the components 502 and 504.

The drawings and the foregoing descriptions are not intended to represent the only forms of the storage closets in regard to the details of construction and manner of operation. Changes in form and in the proportion of parts, as well as the substitution of equivalents, are contemplated as circumstances may suggest or render expedient; and although specific terms have been employed, they are intended in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for the purposes of limitation.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7866493 *Nov 20, 2007Jan 11, 2011Jacqueline HurtStorage apparatus for use in a hospital environment and associated method
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/6
International ClassificationA47B43/04, A47B47/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B43/04, A47B61/00
European ClassificationA47B61/00, A47B43/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 7, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: LA-LA IMPORTS LP, TEXAS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SEGALL, PAUL M.;BAIN, CHARLES;REEL/FRAME:020763/0459;SIGNING DATES FROM 20080318 TO 20080324