I have been on a mission since this time last year to get my house organized and in order. Its a slow but steady process. Our move in to our new home two years ago come July was an interesting mix of take time to fix up the house and then a grand fast dump of everything into it. (Not my preferred method of moving but what happened.) Since then life has been non-stop of everything that life is filled with as I am sure any wife, mom and/or home owner can understand. One of the areas that has been on my to do list for organization far longer than I would have liked has been our linen closet.
I am sad to say this became almost from day one a shove-stuff-in-and-hope-it-fits kind of closet. And its really more of shelving cabinet/cupboard than a true closet. It represents the lack of built in storage in our rather large home for southern California. I am almost too ashamed to show the before pictures but it was sadly our reality for a while. A few months ago I had enough of shoving towels in, the door ajar because it didn’t close properly, and being unable to find anything. So I finally tackled the problem head on.
I am definitely a practical kind of girl. Something has to be functional, preferably multifunctional, for it to go in our home – not that pretty for just pretty sake does not have its places too. But its limited to accessories. I’m not likely to have a big sculpture in my home just because its pretty. But just because something is functional doesn’t mean it can’t be aesthetically pleasing too. In fact, I am of the school of thought that things can be practical, functional, aesthetically beauty AND affordable. And that’s how I approached this project.
My number one goal was to get things organized in my linen closet so that things were 1. easily accessible, 2. had a clear undeniable home, and 3. removed unnecessary clutter. As we are in the midst of our living room remodel/redesign, my number two goal was that it had to be unbelievably affordable. We are talking pennies, upcycling and sweat equity. In fact, zero cost would be perfect. (I didn’t quite make zero but it was under $5!) My third goal was to find options that would be durable until I decided to upgrade. My last goal was to make sure it had reasonable aesthetics and design. All in all, I think I met every single goal.
As I said, I am almost too ashamed to show you the before of our linen closet. For being the queen of organization and OCD, it was more than a little bit of a peeve. So finally I got fed up of having it on my to do list that I ripped (yes ripped) everything out. We had an over abundance of bedding and beach towels (yes more than are shown in the after) and some items that belonged elsewhere. I created three piles – donate, belongs elsewhere and keep here.
Easily Accessible and An Undeniable Home
If everything is just shoved in, then it is not easily accessible. Once I had de-cluttered, I was able to see what remaining would need a home. To do so, I first separated everything that would be remaining into categories and sub categories – electronics, towels (beach, holiday, everyday), dining linens, toilet paper, bedding (sheet sets and blankets) and toiletries. Then it was a matter of deciding what needed to be in easy reach for everyday use, convenient reach for frequent use and out of reach or more difficult to reach for infrequent use items. This broke down as seen in the after photos like so:
Top Cabinet Top Shelf – fans, humidifier, heaters
These are only used seasonally so getting a step ladder to reach them on those seasonal occasions is not such a big deal. They tend to stay out all season and as such are only pulled out once and put back once a season.
Top Cabinet Middle Shelf – beach towels and holiday towels
Again, these are only seasonal but they are used more frequently than fans, heaters and the humidifier during the season so they need to be in fairly easy reach.
Top Cabinet Bottom Shelf – hand towels, wash clothes and body towels
So it almost goes without saying that these needed to be in extremely easy reach as they are used daily and by multiple people. That said, body towels and wash clothes are used more frequently and changed more frequently than hand towels, so hand towels got put behind the wash clothes.
Bottom Cabinet Top Shelf – Dining linens and toilet paper
When I first reorganized my linen closet, it reminded me of an old Lizzie McGuire episode where she and her mom ended up trying to find space for tons and tons of rolls of tp, but I digress. As I said earlier, storage is at a premium in our house and that includes dining room storage. So my linens ended up in the linen closet. That said, we do entertain a lot, especially around the holidays, so they did need to be in a fairly accessible area. So they got their own bin. As for the tp, its a family of four at the moment with a count of two girls and two boys. Toilet paper is a hot commodity in this house. It needs to be accessible…no ifs, ands or butts about it. Okay, that was even lame for me.
Bottom Cabinet Middle Shelf – toiletries and sheet sets
Extra toiletries such as shampoos, air fresheners, tissues, and so on are really just back ups and can fall all over the place if left unchecked. So they got their own bin. This made it really easy to pull out the bin when they are needed and not have to do death defying maneuvers to get a can of air freshener without knocking over bottles of shampoos.
As for the sheet sets, they really get used infrequently but I needed a way to corral them. I could of just put them on the shelf but this can get messy in a small space. So I first put each set folded neatly inside one of the sets pillow cases. This keeps the set together and easy to pull out when needed. Then, they got their own bin. Neat and tide and out of the way.
Bottom Cabinet Bottom Shelf – blankets
Other than on cold winter nights (which you can imagine how many there are in southern California), they really don’t get used that much. So they got confined to the bottom.
All said and done, everything had a home and everything was in the right level of accessibility. And, other than the wash clothes and hand towels, nothing was blocked by something else.
Goal Two – Affordable
If you have been following along on Wife, Mom, House…Oh My!, then you know we have been doing a redesign for our rather large and blank slate living room. Plus, I’ve been trying my hand at upholstery. So our home improvement funds were already committed. So this project organization had a very, very, very, did I say very small budget. Zero dollars spent would be best. Upcycling and making the most of what was around the house was paramount.
As it turns out, we happened to have a whole lot of heavy duty boxes around the house. So I found the ones that fit the space the best – one large and two matching medium sized boxes – chopped the top flaps off and created much needed bins for zippo! I also used a few other items I had around the house and made only one purchase of $2. Total project cost – $2! Now that’s a budget friendly project if I say so myself!
Another pet peeve of my lovely linen closet was that it never fully closed and it had nothing to do with how much stuff was shoved in it. The hinge, which was painted over, prevented it from closing on its own. I happened to some extra latches from a project downstairs and in my office. I swiped one and installed it on the bottom cabinet. Took maybe five minutes and cost nothing. No more unclosed door.
Goal Three – Durable
I probably won’t be getting back to upgrading this project for a while. Other than getting organized and some paint down the road when we paint the hall, it was always a low priority. Its not really visible. Areas that people see need to be the first priorities for funds. So whatever I chose for bins needed to be durable. The boxes I found were thick, heavy duty cardboard. For the amount of time they will be pulled out, they should last the test of time, at least until I redo it.
Goal Four – Aesthetically Pleasing
I could have stopped at just the boxes and my need for being organized would have been met. But truth be told, opening the linen closet and seeing brown boxes with commercial advertising on them would be just as much a peeve. Solution: wrap them in pretty paper! That’s were the $2 purchase came from. I checked my stash of wrapping paper only to find snowmen, teddy bears and birthday balloons. So I ended up buying two rolls of fun, colorful, non-holiday, non-kid, non-birthday wrapping paper. I loved the simple and colorful design and it hid the ugly brown boxes. I may ultimately wrap them in fabric later for a bit sturdier material but that depends on how much leftover fabric I have when the living room is done.
To add a little organizational design touch, I took some scrap scrapbook paper and made a face plate for each box. Labeling helps others not only know what’s in each box when they are looking but also know where to put it back. It makes staying organized a no brainer.
So there you have it. This project organization linen closet makeover may not be the Cinderella of the ball but she definitely isn’t the ugly step-sister either. All in all, I’m pleased and more importantly, I know longer want to pull my hair out every time I open my linen closet.
Until next post!