A Pro Organizer’s Simple Trick to Organizing a Linen Closet

published Jul 8, 2023
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different colors and textures of towels, sheets, blankets, folded in linen closet
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

I’ve loved writing and seeing organizing before-and-after pieces, and I always learn so much. From offering insightful perspectives from pro organizers to showcasing how DIYers transform their own spaces, the projects always offer novel approaches to various storage problems — and I never fail to come away inspired. 

One article, in particular, about a linen closet overhaul in which pro organizer Megan Ludvinsky of About Space Organizing turned a jumbled mess into a functional space, really inspired me. This strategy stood out: After taking all the items out of the linen closet, she lined up the contents along the wall and attached sticky notes to the wall above each pile.

Ludvinsky explained that this tactic allows the client to “see everything at once,” which is “very important in the decluttering process.” I agree wholeheartedly and decided to apply the approach to my own linen closet re-organization.

I couldn’t locate any actual sticky notes, so I grabbed some notepad paper, cut it in half, and wrote my categories with Sharpie on them. I hung them on the wall with blue tape

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

Writing the categories down made me think more than I thought it would; I had to decide on what categories I wanted. For example, I decided to categorize my sheets first by size (queen, king, twin) rather than by type because I like to store my sets together. 

I taped all the notes to the wall and then took items out of my linen closet. This streamlined the sorting process significantly. Rather than emptying the closet and then taking another step to sort it, having the notes on the wall guided me into sorting as I was emptying. 

Once I had everything emptied and sorted, I was able to examine what I have and what was missing. Since my family and I moved last year, I’ve gone through several rounds of purging and adding to our linens. I’ve weeded out stained towels and sheets and added guest linens that I don’t allow into our family’s regular rotation so they stay nice for guests. 

In this case, having the categories lined up against the wall made it very clear where I need to add to our household’s linen selection. For instance, even though I’ve drastically thinned out our towels, I still have plenty of both bath towels and hand towels for replacing towels that are put into the wash. 

Credit: Shifrah Combiths

I do, however, want to pick up a second set of our everyday sheets so that we can have a clean set to put on the beds while one set is getting washed. This will save us from bedtime scrambles to put sheets on the bed after a day of washing and drying and then forgetting to make the beds. The empty categories of twin sheets, queen sheets, and king sheets made it clear that all we have are the sets on our beds. 

After emptying and sorting, I put everything back in the closet according to their categories. Where applicable, I re-folded items to make use of the depth of the shelves in the linen closet and to make sure everything is folded uniformly. 

By combining emptying with categorizing, I was able to devote more attention to deciding what I needed to declutter and what I needed to add to my “buy” list. Even adding things back to the linen closet felt easier. 

Just like writing things down on a list helps get those items completed and crossed off, there seems to be a special kind of organizing power in putting things down on paper. I loved this technique of categorizing first on sticky notes (or the like) and then filling in the items, and I can’t wait to use it in future decluttering and organizing projects.