Last month we talked about clearing out the clutter in your home and how important it is to just get up off the couch and begin the process. “You have to start somewhere,” was our motto and that is just what we did. We began with tips on organizing your bedroom closet because it is good to clean up your own mess before you take on the mess of others. The motivation you got from cleaning up your own space will hopefully move you on to other parts of the house. So admit it, doesn’t it feel great to clear the clutter and accomplish a goal? Absolutely! The problem for many of us is that sometimes after accomplishing a goal we feel entitled to a long overdue break. This break could be a big pat on the back or an afternoon of curling up on the couch with a good book or movie. Allowing ourselves this break is not a bad thing, the problem starts when that break turns into a month long rest. We become lazy and allow ourselves to be sucked back in to the stress of family, errands and daily life. So as hard as the battle on organization and clutter can be don’t lose your momentum.
Stay focused by making your next space a project that can be accomplished in a day or even a few hours. The linen closet would be perfect for this. Having a tendency to take on a life of its own, the linen closet wastes space because it is mostly made up of bed sheets, towels and blankets. These items, although important to our daily life, are just space invaders when we hold on to more than we really need.
So first things first – empty it all out! Just like the bedroom closet, you need to see the space that you have to work with. Begin by separating all the contents of the closet into groups: bed sheets and blankets, towels, extra blankets and kitchen linens. Creating these groups will help you take inventory of your linens and force you to decide what stays and what goes. If something does not fit into one of those categories, then it needs to be put in another storage area.
Let’s begin with bed sheets. The amount of bed sheets you own should directly depend on how many beds are regularly used in the house. We often hold onto old sheets “just in case” a houseful of guests descends upon us, but that is typically only a few times a year. Keeping all those extra sheets creates unwanted clutter when in reality we can donate old or unused sheets and throw away ripped or stained sheets. So in order to know how many sets of sheets you really need just examine your house and the people in it. For beds that are used everyday, having two sets of sheets per bed is great. This ensures you that there is always a clean set on hand. For guest bedrooms, one good set should get the job done since house guests come and go only a few times a year. Lastly, if you have a pull out sofa or an air mattress, be sure to have one or two extra sets available. This will help you be prepared when your guest bedroom does not hold all of your guests! When it comes to sheets, learn to maximize your storage space by keeping only what you need. No two linen closets are alike, so fold your sheets based on the size of your shelves. That may mean folding things differently than you are used to, but as long as it fits neatly it will work! The same rules apply for blankets – keep only what you really use. If you live in a seasonal climate, you should have at least one good blanket for each bed or pull out sofa in the house. It is also common to have lighter blankets that get used for lying on the couch or traveling. Since they may get used more, store them in the closet where everyone can get to them easily.
Moving right along to the towels! Most of us have tons of towels, some that are used for everyday bathing and some that get used for recreational activities like swimming. So how do you narrow down what to keep in the linen closet? If a towel is not good enough to use on your body then it should be thrown away or saved as a rag. Those towels should go in the garage or laundry room along with the recreational towels. As for bathing towels, each person in the house should have one good towel to use per week. Since these towels are constantly being used they take up no room in the linen closet leaving space for guest towels. Many people also like to incorporate guest towels as decoration in a bathroom or guestroom, eliminating them from the linen closet. They may roll them up in a basket or stack them on a decorative shelf. This is a great option, but if you choose not to do this, just remember to fold the towels as compact as possible to maximize your space. Once you have finished with towels, the only thing left is kitchen linens. Some people prefer to keep them in the kitchen but it is really up to you. Kitchen storage can sometimes be limited so if you have space in the linen closet, then use it.
Once you have separated all your linens and decided what is staying, it is time to neatly put everything back into the closet. Place commonly used linens at eye level and everything else on shelves above or below. If everything has been put back and you still have some space left, consider your options. You can bring back something that you moved out of the closet, like the recreational towels, or for the time being you can leave the space empty. You never know what you may end up needing to add in the future. From this point on your linen closet should stay organized if you remember to utilize what you have. Don’t hang on to things if you have not seen them in ages. Donation centers are always looking for linens and by donating you will be giving to someone who really needs it.
Congratulations, you can go ahead and check one more accomplishment off the list. As you continue to move one step further in home organization, give yourself that pat on the back and go enjoy something you love. Just remember -don’t lose your momentum. It will soon be time to conquer another space full of clutter and dust!