transformation month

Before and After: This Messy Linen Closet with Wire Shelves Gets a Whole New Look for $400

published Sep 13, 2022
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Before: a closet with hangers on the door knob
Credit: Abby Madsen

As a mostly utilitarian space, linen closets don’t have to look like they belong in a magazine spread. The most important thing is that it serves up the towels, bedding, or toiletries that you need to grab with ease. Having it look aesthetically pleasing is the cherry on top. 

Abby Madsen (@homebyabs) created a dream linen closet out of one that used to be a frustrating disaster. With $400, in a little less than a week, Abby wrestled beauty from a mess and gave herself the gift of a functional space that not only meets her storage needs but that’s also a peaceful place to set her eyes. 

Abby realized she needed to make a change when her linen closet became a virtually useless dumping ground. “My linen closet was a mess,” Abby says. “There was no system, nothing to keep things organized, and don’t even get me started on the wire shelves.”

“It got to the point where I wouldn’t even take the time to do my hair or makeup before work, or I would take my makeup bag with me to work and do it there,” she adds. “I knew it was going to be a big project but one day I just finally decided to start.”

Credit: Abby Madsen

Since there was no counter space, her sink would be filled with her makeup and products whenever she got ready. “A space that I used every day to get ready in was making me feel anxious and overwhelmed every morning,” she says.

Abby had three goals for her made-over linen closet: 1) no more wire shelves, 2) a container for everything, and 3) extra space to grow into. With her spare time in the evening, Abby set out to make these wishes a reality. 

First, she removed everything from the closet. Then, she categorized items, decluttering along the way. At this point, she started venturing out to Target and The Container Store, where she ended up spending the majority of her budget on organizational solutions. At Target, she purchased a Four Cube Decorative Bookshelf and two types of decorative baskets: white ones with leather handles and paper rope ones. She purchased farmhouse-style cubes from The Container Store to fill the bookshelf, along with The Home Edit by iDesign’s complete collection of bath storage solutions.

The wire shelves were the next piece of the puzzle. “After looking into some different solutions for the wire shelves, my fiancé and I decided to create our own custom wood covers!” she says. Since they already had the tools they needed, they only had to buy the pine and poplar boards, stain, filler, and screws — all from Lowe’s.

Finally came the fun part. “Once the new shelves were installed I got to work organizing all of my stuff into the new bins and making the closet look pretty! My full-time job is an interior designer and I love space planning so this part was my favorite.”

Credit: Abby Madsen

Abby describes her thinking when it came to setting up the organization of her linen closet: “I made sure to put the things I use every day on the most easily accessible shelf at eyesight. I also used lazy Susan (carousel) containers to easily access everything inside without having to take it off the shelf. From there, everything is organized by category such as medicine, first aid, haircare, makeup, etc.”

She loves that “the closet now matches the design of the rest of the bathroom” and that she can happily leave the door open at any time. “I love how organized and functional everything is now,” she adds.

Abby shares that the hardest part of the project was “deciding which sizes and styles of containers to use.” She “wanted it to be both functional and beautiful,” so she spent a lot of time debating between different options.

Abby advises others who want to take on a similar project to browse Pinterest and Instagram to conquer the intimidation they may feel when looking at the current state of affairs in their linen closets. She also extends this practical advice from her fiancé: “If you also decide to make custom shelf covers, cut your boards 3/4-inch shorter than the wall-to-wall measurement to make sure they don’t scratch the walls when installing.”

In the end, Abby loves how her linen closet turned out and is proud to have made her linen closet “just as beautiful as it is functional.” 

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This piece is part of Transformation Month, where we’re showing off amazing home makeovers, brilliant tiny tweaks, inspiring before & afters, and so much more. Head on over here to see it all!