There’s a unique satisfaction in having a well organized home. And while some areas easily lend themselves to order, the linen closet can often be a source of frustration. For those in need of a bit of assistance, we asked four organization experts to share advice on how to turn a place of high thread count chaos into a closet of function and beauty. Here, they offer recommendations for not only having a place for everything, but also keeping your pieces in top shape for years to come.
Conduct a bi-annual audit. According to Katie Buchanan, professional organizer and owner of Little Rock Paper Scissors in Little Rock, Arkansas, sheets and towels are two categories of home goods that sustain a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, she recommends surveying the quality and quantity of what you have on hand at least twice a year. Kate Turk, professional organizer and owner of House of Turk in Main Line, Pennsylvania, adds that a quick edit of anything stained or musty will keep your collection guest room-ready. “Logic says that if you wouldn’t use it if provided to you at a hotel, then it is probably time for it to go,” she explains.
Don’t overstock. It can be tempting to stock up on sheets, but overdoing it can quickly lead to disorganization. For beds used regularly, Turk recommends a maximum of two to three sets per bed to be put into rotation. “There will always be the special Pottery Barn Kids holiday-edition flannel sheets that make their way into the mix,” she says. “But as a rule of thumb, there should be a set of sheets on your bed, one set clean in your linen closet, and one waiting to be laundered.”
Create zones. In absence of an organization system, a linen closet can easily become a black hole. To keep this from happening, Buchanan finds it imperative to create designated shelf space for bed linens, extra blankets, bath towels, etc. Then within each section, she recommends creating micro-zones for the smaller categorization of linens (see below).
Separate sheets out by bedroom. For many, the biggest challenge in organizing a linen closet is the storage of varying sheet sets. While you can sort by size, Buchanan urges clients to store according to bedrooms instead. “It lessens the risk of things getting shifted to incorrect areas after washing,” she says. “The same applies to bath towels.”
Strategically stack and streamline. Once you have your linens organized by bedroom, it’s time to micro-organize within those zones so your sheets don’t become a jumbled mess. Buchanan finds that closed or open-top bins are an ideal way to keep stacks separate. As an added bonus, they make carrying the linens to the intended room of use a breeze. If you choose not to use storage bins, Turk suggests that large linens like sheet sets and bath towels be stored directly on a solid shelf, stacked two to three pieces high. Pillowcases can be stacked two on top of the sheet set or directly next to or in front of the sheets. Alternatively, Buchanan recommends storing all sheet components neatly in one of the set’s pillowcases. For smaller items like hand and face towels, Turk uses a low lined or canvas basket. “If you prefer to use flannel or brushed cotton sheets in the colder months, I recommend keeping those in a lidded canvas bin in the offseason with a lavender pouch for freshness,” she says.
Remember to label. All of your organizational strategies will likely be for naught if you don’t label your bins or shelves. “Many bins have built-in label windows, so that sizes/rooms can be identified easily,” Buchanan says. If you decide to forego the bin, be sure to use narrow labels under each sheet/towel set on the shelf below so you’ll know where to reach when seeking fresh linens.
Keep clutter in check. If you’re low on storage space, your linen closet can become the catch-all closet where everything from wrapping paper to home décor to toiletries are kept. When this is the case, Beverly Ahlefeld, designer at Wilshire Closets in Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma, recommends grouping smaller, odd-sized items in pretty bins, which not only keep things from falling over but makes the space aesthetically pleasing. She also recommends utilizing side walls for storing slim items, such as gift wrap and cleaning tools.
Consider hanging your linens. If you’re short on shelf space, Turk suggests storing guest linens, tablecloths, and runners on pants hangers in any underutilized closets, which can help keep less used linens fresh longer. “I love using a canvas garment bag with a lavender pouch inside to hang guest sheet sets and two crisp white towels,” she says. This allows you to have your guests’ complete sets of linens ready to go.
Don’t forget about fragrance. Once you’ve achieved an organization system, Grace Bets, owner of Elizabeth Grace Home in Cincinnati, Ohio, suggests taking your linen closet to the next level with fragrance. Her go-to trick is tucking her favorite scented, paper-wrapped bar of soap between sheets in her closet, but other options include using a reed diffuser, placed in a non-spillable space, or a candle that hasn’t been burned to add a pleasant scent to the area.
TSG Tip 399 from Katie Buchanan, professional organizer and owner of Little Rock Paper Scissors in Little Rock, Arkansas; Kate Turk, professional organizer and owner of House of Turk in Main Line, Pennsylvania; Grace Bets, owner of Elizabeth Grace Home in Cincinnati, Ohio; Beverly Ahlefel, designer at Wilshire Closets in Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma. Little Rock Paper Scissors is featured in The Scout Guide Little Rock. House of Turk is featured in The Scout Guide Main Line. Wilshire Closets is featured in The Scout Guide Oklahoma City. Elizabeth Grace Home is featured in The Scout Guide Cincinnati.