Organizing 101: Linen closets
There's something really satisfying about organizing the linen closet. It's a manageable task, plus items look great and are easier to find when they're in neat piles. Get started with our easy step-by-step approach, which takes a few hours - even fewer if you stock only linens in your closet.
Take inventory and edit
1 Empty the closet. Use the floor of a nearby bedroom to separate items into categories such as bed linens, towels, table linens, knitting supplies, sewing kit and so on.
2 Weed out items. As you sort, ask yourself, Could this be stored elsewhere? Where is the most convenient spot? (Remember the golden rule: Store items closest to where they'll be used.) And, of course, Do I need this? When did I last use it? When will I use it again? Your goal should be to keep only linens in the linen closet; however, you may need to store other items here, especially if you're an apartment dweller.
3 Make a clean sweep. Wipe off the shelves and line them with paper (wooden shelves may have oils that will stain linens). If using scented liners, check that they're safe for linens (scented oils could stain). Acid-free tissue paper is only necessary for storing vintage linens.
1 Designate what will be stored on each shelf. Keep towels and sheets easily accessible; blankets, hobby materials and other less frequently used or bulky items should go on the top and bottom.
2 Label the edge of each shelf, so every family member knows what goes where.
3 Keep everything in sight. As you return items to shelves, ensure that everything is visible to eliminate frustrating searches.
1 How much is enough? Three sets per bed is ideal - one on the bed, one in the laundry, one extra. Six crib sets and four sets for older kids should do. Mattress and pillow covers get changed less often, so two sets per bed is sufficient. Consider donating underused sets to a shelter.
2 Keep sets together. Store them by tucking the folded fitted sheet and pillowcases into a folded flat sheet. Face the folded edge of the flat sheet outward, so everything looks neat and you can grab a whole set easily.
3 Divide and conquer. Organize the sheet shelf with wire shelf dividers separating stacks of different-size sets; you can also label the shelf edge to identify at a glance which stack is for which size. Use freestanding stackable wire shelves (available at organizing stores) to separate each set within size categories.
4 Mark the seasons. Place items used seasonally (flannel sheets, heavy blankets) in a bedding bag (combo cloth-and-plastic bags allow you to see the contents and let fibres breathe) and store on top or bottom shelf, under a bed, or on the top shelf of a bedroom closet.
Image courtesty of California Closets
1 Throw in the towel. Recycle old, frayed towels into rags. They're excellent for drying bathroom surfaces that you've just cleaned.
2 Get set - or not. If you have the room and if you use sets of towels, store them so that the bath towel is on the bottom, and hand and face towels are on top. Otherwise, keep one basket of hand towels in each bathroom; that way if company's coming and you're rushed, you can just pull out a clean one and leave it by the sink. In the main bath, store the basket under the sink to eliminate clutter. That leaves one stack each of bath towels and face cloths on one shelf in the closet. Having same-colour towels looks neater.
1 Storage. I'm a firm believer in keeping these linens in the dining room. But if there's no space, separate table linens into categories: napkins, tablecloths and runners, placemats, and seasonal and special-event linens.
2 Napkins. Fold each napkin, stack and tie a ribbon around each set. Store all sets in one lidded plastic container (napkin sets don't stack well, so this way, you can grab a collection of napkins, take out the set you need and replace the rest without any danger of avalanches).
3 Tablecloths and runners. These are best stored in a closet, each hung on a wooden hanger. Alternatively, fold and stack them on a shelf (place acid-free tissue paper between each cloth if they're high-quality or heirloom pieces).
4 Placemats. A drawer in the kitchen or in the dining room sideboard is the ideal spot. Otherwise, place them in a lidded container on top of your napkin bin.
5 Seasonal and special-event linens. Pack Christmas items in a cloth storage bag and place with your decorations. Other linens can go in a stackable plastic container; put it below the napkin bin or in a spot that you don't access regularly.
Image courtesy of California Closets