Organized A Linen Closet (19/366)

“Don't agonize, organize.”
Florynce Kennedy

The duplex Nick and I live in currently is my childhood home. My grandparents were involved in the design process as the building was being constructed, before I was born; when I came home from the hospital, it was to this house (a different flat, but the same building). My grandparents lived in the top unit, and we were in the middle. Then my grandparents moved, and my mom, brother, and I moved into the top unit. Jay went away to school and settled in the East Bay. Later on, my mom moved to Millbrae. My brother Jim even moved in for a while, and then out again. I had outlasted them all, and I got to have the apartment. Score!

The only problem with all this, I've come to realize, is that there were always "leftovers" from different people who'd lived here - remnants of several different households. Although most of the stuff we have now is mine and Nick's, there are always things I still have from the past just because they'd always been there, and they were "still good". Along with that, there are also leftover pockets of clutter, items shoved into a corner and forgotten about, odds and ends that may have been useful at one time, but have long since lost their importance - or even their purpose! While I've of course tried to organize and make the best use of the space we have, there are two spots in the house that never got completely cleared out. One of the spots is the hallway linen closet.

What a disaster area - and we still had laundry baskets overflowing with more things that should be in there!

First, I had to take everything out of the closet. I knew there would be some stuff we didn't need anymore, some stuff that we'd actually been looking for, and some stuff that we wouldn't even know who it belonged to. Here are some of the highlights.

(L) This card was still in the closet from my grandparents' days. Way more organized than me. (R) Christmas lights?! What are these doing here?

Hilariously awesome wastes of space:

This one's so great it deserves its own line:

(L) Things get lost in the abyss, so we buy more. Argh! (R) Remember this TP kids? If you do, "far out"!

But the crown jewels of the collection - A FILM SPLICER (no joke!):

and a Polaroid Colorpack II:

Finally, everything was cleared out (and this was just the non-linen stuff - the linens were all on our bed):

Nick and I have way too much stuff. But one of the reasons, as I noted above, is because a lot of it we've "inherited" over the years when people moved out and left things behind. A lot went into the donation box. A LOT. Mom came to help me and basically folded (or re-folded) and sorted all the linens. I love my mom. Did I mention a lot went into the donation box?

Since we live in a small flat, we still won't have a strictly "linen" closet - it will be more of a linen/utility closet - but it's in a good central location and now that it's getting organized, hopefully it will stay useful. Now, stuff started going back into the closet. Things we don't need to access a lot (like light bulbs) up top. Also, our tool kit bag. Although I'd like it to be lower, the bottom needs to stay clear for the huge Costco packages we buy of TP and paper towels. Next - a breakthrough for me - beach towels up high as well. How often do you use beach towels (living in SF)? They shouldn't be taking up the valuable real estate of a more reachable shelf. I also have a few baby bath towels for when the kids come over. Those go up with the beach towels. First Aid kit and sports aids (
KT tape, hot pack, blister care stuff, etc.) on the shelf below the beach towels. Still reachable, but now organized. Also wrinkle releaser, Febreze, and a few miscellaneous household helpers (tube of bathroom caulk, 3M removable hook fixtures, etc.) in a clear storage box, labeled with the contents inside. Then our towels, guest towels, and finally sheet sets. Whew! Table linens go in the buffet, kitchen linens go in the kitchen.

One more time, the Before, During, and After shots:

I'm really, really, REALLY glad I was able to do this one. I realized that a lot of the clutter in the linen category was there because before we got married, Nick and I didn't have a buffet (where the tablecloths and such go now) and our kitchen storage was half the size it is now (we remodeled the kitchen the year we got married). I even found a bag of pumpkin carving books and tools in the linen closet that I had put in there years ago because we had no space in the kitchen cabinets!

Big overhauls are pretty daunting to me, but after they're done I feel so much better. Organization helps me breathe easier. We did an overhaul of our walk-in closet a few years ago and some of my friends have said, "You're so good to keep this so organized!" but really, it's the organization that helps
me. If I know where something belongs, and there's space for it, it's so much easier to just put it away, instead of having to spend the mental energy on figuring out what the heck to do with it (that's usually the most common cause of clutter). "A place for everything and everything in its place" is not just a housekeeping tip - for me, it's like a mantra ... and maybe a little bit of a prayer.

Are you listening, Nicolas? Just kidding ... KIDDING! ... ?

Related Links:
Making a Home: Housekeeping For Real Life (Better Homes & Gardens)
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