For the past eight years, my linen closet has been pure chaos: disheveled piles of mismatched sheets and towels, a wasteland of expired medicine, and random collections of clutter clogging valuable shelf space. Going through my home project to-do list, I finally decided to give the closet the much-needed attention it deserves. I’m embarrassed to even show these photos. Here’s the closet about a month ago.
Let’s count the issues here:
- There are two fitted sheets for a crib we haven’t used in about a year (and no longer own).
- None of the pillow cases match the sheets.
- There is no order to the “folding” of the sheets and towels.
- The horrible contact paper (left by previous owner) is peeling away.
- The storage bins are useless (you have to take the top ones out to open the ones on the bottom — that makes a lot of sense!).
I could go on… It’s a total closet nightmare.
The first step was to take everything out and sort by what to keep, what to throw out/donate, and what to store elsewhere. I also ripped out the heinous contact paper. That felt good.
I wanted to try to use storage bins I already owned, and I found these woven bins that could easily hold supplies. As I put them on the shelves, I noticed two major problems. One, there’s no way to tell what’s actually in those bins and two, the shelves under the contact paper are disgusting! You definitely don’t want sheets and towels that come in direct contact with your skin to touch that filth.
So the next step was to paint the shelves, something my laziness dreaded — you can’t just paint the shelves, you have to paint the entire closet. Fortunately, I had just the amount of white semi-gloss hanging around, so this little spruce-up was quick and easy, after a few weeks of procrastination. And my oh my how crisp and clean they look now!
But I still had the issue of the bins. Following a few bad purchases and trips back and forth to Target, I found these semi-translucent plastic bins that are just right for the space. They are deep enough to extend all the way to the back of the shelf and if you’re too lazy to read the labels you can see what’s inside. (Special thanks to my label maker for helping with this critical step.)
I was able to fit four bins on the shelf — for dental supplies (not shown), skin care products, first aid supplies, and soap. Side note: We’re still having a debate in the house about whether or not Band-Aids should be considered “skin care,” but she who organizes gets to pick the system.
There were a few things that didn’t fit into any category and since we don’t use them very often, I put them in bins at the top of the closet (shoe-shine kit, cotton balls, lightbulbs). “There aren’t labels,” I told the family as I gave them a tour/orientation of the new space. “But if you can’t find it below, just check the blue bins up top.”
Instead of jamming the towels in the closet like we previously did, I purged the ones that were past their prime, allowing ample space to stack the ones we wanted to keep.
In our bathroom we have a small medicine cabinet and a pedestal sink so it’s the linen closet’s job to pick up the slack and hold a variety of household necessities. For smaller items that didn’t fit into the bin categories, I decided to use this wooden IKEA box, going unused in the basement, with custom labels for each little drawer.
It’s a good thing we finally have a spot designated for the thermometer. We could never find one with the old “system” and a few days after getting this organized, one of the kids came down with a fever. Directly above, there’s a drawer for medicine (kid and adult), which also seemed to get lost in the old system.
All together, here’s the final result. A huge improvement over the chaos that once prevailed.
So far, the system is working. Purging, sorting, and clear labeling has helped calm the chaos. Sometimes when the rest of my house seems out of control [on a daily basis], I find myself just gazing at the peace inside this wee little closet. Ahh, serenity now.