Make Your Linen Closet Work Double Duty for Small House Storage
I live in a two bedroom condo with my husband, two boys (7 and 3) and a small dog. We have a small balcony but no other outside space. To say we live in a small home is an understatement. Since my kids are four years apart, they don’t play with the same toys so we have a lot of toys in our home. I also work from home and have a clutterbug husband so it is really difficult to keep our small home organized.
With my autoimmune condition, I have to really pace myself with cleaning and decluttering. If I tried to do a full house de-clutter or deep clean in one day, I wouldn’t be able to walk the next day!
I recently read an article that talked about de-cluttering spaces you see regularly to motivate you to clear other hidden spaces. Apparently, most of us de-clutter drawers and closets and lose steam before we get to the everyday spaces we see all the time.
While I see the wisdom in this, part of our problem is that we are in a small home with very few places to put things away. If I don’t clear out the hidden spaces, where do I hide things when people are coming over? OK, really, for me, I get a little thrill out of my cleared closets and drawers because my kids and husband won’t mess with them so they are the only spaces that stay clean for a long time. I can clear the dining room table and coffee table and put everything away, but by the end of the day, they have things piled up on them again.
Sneaky Small Home Storage
My favorite space to de-clutter and use as storage is the linen closet. I don’t know why but it gets really messy, really fast. Well, if I’m honest, it gets really messy because my family members have an aversion to putting things away neatly.
Part of me wants to tell them not to put things away so that they don’t mess up my stuff. The other part of me realizes that I’m doing my sons (and their future wives) a disservice if I don’t teach them to pick up after themselves and put things away. I’m working on getting them to put things away in the correct space neatly, but for now, I have to reorganize linen closet regularly.
Linen Closet as Small Home Storage
I de-clutter my linen closet shelf by shelf to make it manageable, starting with the bottom shelf. Since we’re in a small home with no outside storage, every inch of closet space is used. Our linen closet isn’t just a linen closet. We use it as general small home storage since we are so limited.
Create two spaces outside your linen closet – donate and trash. Starting from your bottom shelf, pull every item out of your closet. Since the shelf is empty, clean it with a soapy washcloth and dry it with a dry washcloth. Before putting anything back, decide if you use it or if you will have a future need for it. For example, we had a travel iron in our linen closet for years. I don’t travel for business anymore and even when I did, I never took that iron with me. After years of keeping it, I finally put it in my donate pile.
If you are trying to figure out a system for your linen closet, here’s how I organize my space.
The bottom shelf of our linen closet is actually our emergency supply storage space. We live in earthquake country so we have supplies just in case. I’ve lived in California my entire life and didn’t make an emergency kit until I had kids. We have the following items on our shelf – six bottles of water (gallon size), emergency food pouches, candles and matches, flashlights and extra batteries, emergency blankets and a battery-operated radio. Since there is a bit of extra space on that shelf, I also store my slow cooker there since it isn’t used frequently and I don’t have room in my kitchen.
Small House Storage Tip – If you don’t have room in your kitchen, move infrequently used appliances to another part of your home.
The next shelf up is my gift, extra supplies and craft storage shelf. I tend to buy gift items for friends or family when I come across them at a good price. Aside from gifts for the kids (which are better hidden), I store them on the second to the last shelf for future gift-giving opportunities. I also keep extra coloring books and art supplies on this shelf, along with a bin for extra lotions and beauty supplies.
The next shelf up holds table linens. I recently realized that I almost never use table cloths. In my recent clean up, I got rid of almost all of my table cloths. The stained ones went to the trash and the almost new ones went in the donate pile. Since I got rid of so much stuff, I was able to move the bedding for the kids’ beds to this shelf, which opened up space in their closet.
Next up is my towel shelf. I moved the beach towels to an ottoman in my room and got rid of all of our old towels, except two that I save for big spill clean-up. I moved them to a tiny closet in the kitchen where we keep our cleaning supplies so that we aren’t using the old towels anymore. Everything else was neatly re-folded.
We store our bedding on the shelf above the towels. In addition to the sheet sets for our bed, we keep extra sheets for our couch when we have house guests. I got rid of an old duvet that we never use, as well as two sheet sets that were 12 years old and never used. Since I got rid of some sheets and bedding, the shelf finally had some space to keep it looking neat, rather than like a bomb went off.
The top shelf is where we store extra blankets and pillows. In my recent clean-up, I found a blanket that my grandmother crocheted for me when I was a kid. I had put it up there when we got a dog because I didn’t want the dog to ruin it. I finally pulled it out and now keep it in my room to enjoy.
Clearing out clutter is necessary when you live in a small home. I try to live by the one in one out for myself, but it doesn’t work as well for my husband or the kids. If I want to have my visible spaces clear, it is absolutely necessary for me to de-clutter my not-so-visible spaces so I have a place for everything.