Decluttering – it’s more addictive than caffeine. It’s the housewives’ crack. That’s right, kids – don’t do drugs; declutter!
You may not enjoy it at first; you may go in kicking and screaming. But once you’ve filled your first garbage bag, that sense of giddy satisfaction will have you stuffing things into bags with such wild abandon that your family will fear they’ll be left with no possessions at all. But that’s okay! Because you’re a decluttering goddess! Clutter must bow to your supremacy. You wreak a path of simplicity and order in your wake.
Actually, I feel like my mission in life right now is to make you all feel better about your homes. I’m baring it all and showing you some fairly hideous “before” photos, because let’s be honest… we all have those secret messy spaces. Even Monica from Friends, the most OCD woman on television, had a Monica closet.
For our last zone we tackled the home office and I showed you my desk drawer transformation. Today we’re taking a look at the linen cupboard. Here’s my guilty secret:
I have never struggled so much in my life with cupboard chaos as I have in this house. We moved into a home that had previously been used as a holiday rental, so it came fully furnished and set up with linen, crockery and appliances. Basically, we ended up with two households’ worth of stuff. Add to that the fact that the storage capacity at the new house is about half (or less) of what we had at the old house, and you can see why I had a problem.
It was high time to declutter and get rid of all that unused excess. Want some tips for tackling your own linen cupboard disaster? Here’s how I did it.
1. Empty the cupboard completely.
I know, I know. It seems so extreme. Surely you can just take a few things out that you don’t need, and leave the rest?
Well, look. An extreme clutter situation calls for extreme measures. It’s actually a really important part of the process. It’s very difficult to declutter using the “subtraction” method, because when our basic assumption is that we’re just getting rid of a few items here and there, we have a tendency to never subtract enough.
When you start with a completely blank slate, on the other hand, the emphasis shifts. The assumption is that it’s all going. You only add back in what you genuinely love or will actually use.
2. Sort and purge.
I recently wrote a list of 250+ things to throw away. Here’s the checklist for the linen cupboard:
- Excess sheets. You don’t need more than 2-3 sets per bed.
- Old towels
- Unused table linen
- Anything stained or holey
- Kids hooded towels or baby towels that they’ve grown out of
- Baby quilts
- Crocheted doilies or anything that is not your style
- Extra pillows. Get rid of any that are lumpy, thin, stained or uncomfortable. If you wouldn’t give it to a guest or use it yourself, why are you keeping it?
- Old quilt covers that you’ve hung onto since upgrading to a new one
- Too many extra blankets. If it’s freezing, you’ll use the heating anyway.
I ended up with three garbage bags full of stuff that I don’t need. One bag of linen in good condition went to a friend who wanted it. Another two bags went to Vinnies (our local charity store.) A few things got tossed, as they were not fit for anyone else to use.
3. Group similar items together.
As you put things back away, have a think about logical “zones” for your items. My linen cupboard has to hold a lot of non-linen storage items as well. I needed a place for towels and sheets, but also cleaning supplies, beach bags, toilet paper, party supplies and more. I tried to group “like” items together so it made functional sense.
I also subtracted some categories altogether. I previously stored gift bags and cards inside this cupboard, but because the rolls of gift wrap were too big for this space, they were hanging out in a completely different room. So, I removed all the gift stuff from the linen cupboard altogether and stored it WITH the gift wrap, creating a “gift wrap station” that will be much more functional and useable than what I had before.
This then made room for me to bring in other items that I’d previously struggled to store (or hadn’t even unpacked yet due to our lack of space!)
4. Use baskets and caddies to corral supplies.
This is especially helpful when it comes to items that are hard to stack neatly, such as small washers. If your piles are always toppling and in disarray, give them a dedicated container.
It’s also handy when you want to be able to pull out a complete set of supplies in one go.
5. Make it pretty.
Totally optional, but I find I take more pride in an area that actually looks nice. If it’s pretty, I want to keep it that way – I don’t want it ending up a disorganised mess all over again.
I used a patterned contact paper that I ordered online from Amazon (it’s made in the U.S.) Then I just measured the shelves and cut long strips of the contact to fit. So easy (it took about half an hour) and it gives the cupboard an instant lift.
6. Label the zones.
If you want the rest of the family on board with maintaining your new organised space, you’ll need to make it easy for them. Don’t assume that they’ll put the towels back in the “right” spot if they don’t know where that is. An easy solution? Label the shelves!
I used Martha Stewart bookplates, which have an adhesive backing, so they can stick straight to the shelf. I measured the size of the paper labels that slip inside each bookplate, and made my own labels in Word using these dimensions. Then it was simply a matter of printing and cutting them out.
7. Store sheets sets inside their matching pillowcase.
This is a brilliant little hack that will save you the frustration of digging around to find a matching set of sheets, or having to unfold sheets unnecessarily because you can’t tell which ones are flat and which are fitted.
As sheets are washed and dried, fold them and tuck them away inside the pillowcase that matches the set. Next time you need to make up a bed, just pull out the pillowcase and you’ll find everything you need in one place – fitted sheet, flat sheet and matching pillowcase tucked away inside.
So, those were the steps I used. Would you like to take a tour of our new, organised linen cupboard? So much better!
Our linen cupboard – AFTER!
Here’s the left hand side:
On the top shelf, I now have space to store my photo props that I use for food photography. It makes so much more sense to store them near the table linen and “special” crockery, instead of in my overcrowded Walk-In-Robe where they were hanging out before. (I mean, what the what?!)
On the next shelf is a basket of table linen (tablecloths and napkins).
I bought a clear acrylic caddy to store washers and hand towels. It’s designed as a fridge caddy, but works great for this purpose.
Below, we have space for our stash of toilet paper.
I also keep a basket in the cupboard for items to donate to charity. That way, when I see that the kids have grown out of something, or I come across an item I don’t use, I can stash it straight in the basket. When the basket’s full, I put the contents in a garbage bag and take it to Vinnies. It’s an easy way to keep things decluttered on a daily and weekly basis, even when you’re not doing a complete purge.
Here’s a view of the lower shelves:
We now have a dedicated section for party supplies. I use a slide-out drawer to store plastic plates, cups and serviettes. The snaplock box on top holds plastic cutlery.
Below, I finally have room to properly store the remainder of my entertaining supplies – my two cupcake holders, a box of cute glass bottles that we use for drinks at kids parties, Christmas chargers, a punch bowl with specialty cake tins nested inside, and boxed wine glasses for when we need extras to serve a crowd.
Here’s the right hand side of the cupboard. We keep our most frequently-used items on this side, as it’s easier to access (the hallway door opens in front of the other side.)
And the lower shelves:
The top shelf holds our cleaning supplies. I purchased a couple of metal caddies, so it’s easy to pull out the whole thing and carry it around the house while cleaning. It also looks so much neater!
The next shelf down holds sheet sets, stored inside the pillowcase. I’m loving this new system so far. I have them categorised into Queen sheets, kids sheets, and to the left of that there’s a pile of mattress protectors.
Below that is the towels and bath mats.
It’s a good feeling being able to fold the towels nicely and fit them in without jamming them. I got rid of a whole heap, but we still have plenty of towels – enough to have a set in the wash, a set hanging up in the bathrooms, and some extras for visitors besides. Why did I ever think I needed more than that?! (Sing with me… Let it go! Let it go! Don’t hold onto it anymore!) 😉
Underneath is the shelf for our beach towels. We live an eight minute walk from the beach, so we use these a lot.
I store these in two piles – one for the large “grown-ups” towels, one for kids towels.
And finally, I added a large mesh basket on the bottom to corral our swimming gear. The boys each have a swimming bag for school, which we keep stocked with their swimming caps, goggles and thongs (flip-flops, that is – sorry Americans, I know that one’s a bit of a shocker in translation!) We also keep a family beach bag in here, as well as the kids flippers and swim toys. Having it all in a basket that we can pull out has made a huge difference to what was previously a jumbled mess.
I’m so happy with our newly organised, pretty linen cupboard! I hope you’re inspired to do a bit of decluttering and prettifying of your own.
Let’s chat: Do you have a process that you use when you’re decluttering?
Linked up at these parties this week!