Linen Cupboard Organisation: a practical starter guide

Whether your linen is stored in a neat vertical cupboard, under the bed, or you’re not quite sure where it has spread to, organising your space so you know where to find things makes life easier for you and everyone else in your household. Including when Grandma comes over to mind the kids. You know where to find things, where to put things away and most importantly – for the parents here – if you need to change a bed in the middle of the night you can find the right sheets! 

As you start to get a game plan to organise your space, rest assured that it will get messier before it starts looking neater. You may stop halfway through and wonder why you even bothered to start, but keep going as the outcome will far outweigh the overwhelm you may hit in the middle bit of sorting out your stuff. 

 

Here are the steps and ideas I recommend to get on top of everything in your linen cupboard.

 

1. Set a goal for the space

A goal may be an image or idea of what you want to the space to look like, but more importantly think about how you want it to function. It doesn’t have to be a crazy, life-changing goal, it can be small and simple. Below are a few ideas of goals to get you started. You may decide to pick one, several of them, or just create your own.

  • Be able to actually find stuff
  • Create better flow
  • Free up more space
  • Label shelves clearly
  • Put items into tubs/baskets and label
  • Create a cute, Pinterest worthy space
  • All of the above or just some of the above

 

Having a goal, even if it’s basic, will keep you focused and will help to keep you going when you are sitting in piles of stuff wondering when it will all end. You will get there!

2. Pull everything out

For a smaller space like a linen cupboard, pulling everything out is a worthwhile step. Stuff tends to get hidden in dark corners and towels and sheets can get crushed into tiny spaces. Pulling everything out will show you exactly what you have and also lets you see the empty space with fresh eyes. 

 

3. Gather any items that are lying around the house/in the washing basket

I made this mistake once with a client and never forgot it. We organised a linen cupboard and when I popped in the next week to label everything, chaos had returned. How? We had decluttered on washing day and once everything was washed and dried, the client had (rightly so) popped the freshly cleaned items into the cupboard. But as the categories had instantly grown, the space was not effectively organised anymore. Lesson learnt. 

Gather any items you have in the wash, the laundry, laundry baskets, tucked away in random cupboards or drawers. Bring everything together so you have the full picture or what your linen cupboard will look like at full capacity.

 

4. Separate and start to create categories

Creating categories is putting like with like, but it is individual to each household. Sure tea-towels are one category, but it may make sense to pop tea-towels and hand washers in the same basket to save on space rather than separating them out.

Start by creating overarching categories and then split out sub-categories as needed. 

An example of this is you may put all the towels together, but then realise there is no way they will all fit into the linen cupboard. So you may decide to split them into sub-category of guest towels and everyday towels. And you can then pop the guest towels in the wardrobe in the guestroom or under a bed to free up space.

 

5. Look at the space you have (or don’t have)

Now that you have your categories, start looking at what space you do or don’t have available. Sometimes you can add nifty shelves or do a mini-renovation, but if you’re working with what you’ve got, being realistic about what will fit rather than trying to shove everything in will create more flow in your space.

If you don’t have enough space to easily fit all of your sheets and towels into your linen cupboard, here are some tips to free up some room:

 

  • Remove a category that is large or bulky

This may be doona covers, blankets or beach towels. A small edit can really free up the space. Pop the ‘removed’ category into another space in the home (and yes this may be under a bed etc) but it will mean that the linen cupboard will flow for all the other categories.

  • Put Bed Linen sets in the kids bedrooms 

Package up the kids bed linens and store them in their own wardrobes. This will make night time changes a little easier and less sorting through trying to create the right sets. 

  • Store away ‘off season’ bed linen

Snuggly sheets are the best, but that bit of extra thickness does take up more room. Put the flannelette sheets into storage during the summer to free up room in your linen cupboard. In winter, you can also do the same with your summer bed linen

  • Remove non-linen items

Linen cupboards are usually in a handy location and therefore easily become a catch-all for ‘stuff’. Wrapping paper, cleaning products, beach bags, umbrellas. The list goes on. However, if your goal is to create a space with more flow, it is worthwhile assessing how much space these items are really taking up. Finding new homes for them may make more sense than simply popping them back into the linen cupboard because “they have always lived there”. Simply freeing up one shelf so you can better organise your linens can make a huge difference to create more flow.

 

6. Play Tetris to organise your categories

Tetris is that colourful game we played on our screens as kids trying to organise blocks into available spaces. There were no shoving extra blocks into spaces they wouldn’t fit and there was a limit on how many blocks you could fit into one screen without resulting in game over. 

The same goes for your linen cupboard.

Organising your space effectively for your household is as individual as you, but avoid trying to shove everything in one tiny space that only becomes a point of frustration for everyone. 

Have a play around where categories fit best, are easily accessible for those that need them, or simply make sense for you. Try putting categories on different shelves, maybe the small fiddly items can go into a basket, all the old towels can go in the garage and so on. Get creative and create your own rules for the space. This can take a bit of time to set up, but will make the space flow easier once you have an order that works for your household.

If the space ever starts to feel like it’s not working as well, address what may have changed (and it can be even the small changes like a new bed sheet set taking up more room) and see if you can re-shuffle categories around.

 

7. Labels and Baskets

I prefer to label the shelves in linen cupboards as baskets can always move, but you always want to be able to quickly find exactly what you need. I have seen that if baskets are labelled, these can be moved around by various family members but if you label a shelf, it results in a more permanent system. And yes, you can do both!

For specific labels, I would recommend getting a Dymo labeller. You do have to buy the tape, but it does not require any ink cartridges. Label your shelves as needed and then in a few months, you are happy with the flow of the space, invest in fancy labels from suppliers like Little Label and Co – a lovely Australian business!

On baskets, I would only use them for items that are a bit fiddly to fold or don’t keep their shape. If you’re keen to have everything in a basket for visual consistency, that’s okay, but I do find that baskets for all items can become cumbersome and an over-engineered solution for most linen cupboards. Carefully measure your linen cupboard shelves so you can shop around for baskets that maximise your space. I always opt for quite angular baskets that are made from firm, structural materials (eg plastic, firm felt) as opposed to circular shaped baskets that quickly create dead space or materials that don’t hold their shape over time and can create a sloppy look and feel – not what you want!

 

8. The $64,000 question: how do you fold a fitted sheet?

I get this question a lot. And the answer is simple: I don’t fold them. Well, in the way most people intend. Why? Because I find if I neatly fold both flat and fitted sheets that they are harder to tell the difference between and I find it more annoying trying to guess and hope I pull out the right sheet. Life is too short to be bothered with it. So I roll my fitted sheets and fold my flat. It’s a super simple visual system that works a treat for our household.

Also, I find any wrinkles in cotton sheets tend to come out after one night on the bed and thankfully the crushed linen look is still on-trend. May that trend always remain!

 

I hope this post helps give you some ideas, even if you just take one, practical tip away from it!

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