How to Design a Linen Closet

A linen closet with folded towels and clothes.
Your linen closet can be this picture-perfect, too. AdShooter / Getty Images

Is your linen closet a place you avoid at all costs because you have items so crammed and jammed in there you can't find anything? Half-folded towels wadded up in sheets and an avalanche of pillows doesn't really make for a useful storage area.

Linen closets aren't just for passive storage of items, like attics and basements. These are items you need to access on a weekly, sometimes even a daily, basis. So if you can't find your bed sheets unless they fall on your head, it's time for a linen cabinet makeover.


As with any collection, it's going to be a lot easier to manage if it's well-edited. This means it's finally time to get rid of those dated pillow cases from college and your teenage son's Superman sheets. Make room for the items you actually use. Read on for some tips and tricks to designing a functional and fashionable linen closet.



Think Door Rack

The dead space between the inside of the door and the beginning of the shelves is valuable space when outfitting a linen closet. Door racks are intentionally made narrow to fit into these spaces, so they're perfect for storing toiletries and cleaning products, thus freeing up precious shelf space. Just make sure the shelves are tall enough to contain their contents so you're not constantly picking up fallen bottles every time you open the door.

If you have a different area where you store your toiletries, then consider mounting towel racks or hooks on the inside of the door. If your closet is located in your bathroom, this can serve as a great space saver for towels that need to dry out before you use them again. If you use your linen closet more for dining linens, like tablecloths and cloth napkins, the door is an excellent place to hang long linen tablecloths that need special care to keep from getting wrinkled.


Shelf Space

Add some drawers, too, for some hidden storage. Your guests don't need to see everything!

The needs of a linen closet evolve over time, so it's wise to use a shelving system that can be moved around to accommodate changing needs. Adjustable shelves should be placed a minimum of 10 to 12 inches apart to allow for airflow above a stack. It's best if the linen closet is located in a cool, dry place, but if it's inside your bathroom, ventilated wire shelves are a good choice to keep humidity at bay.

With all of the organizing gadgets on the market today, there are lots of add-ons to help create more space within your shelving. Baskets that mount under the shelves are great for containing smaller items that are hard to stack, like washcloths. And shelf dividers help keep stacks looking neat and orderly and keeping like items together for maximum organization. But as we all know, it's one thing to get it looking neat, but it's quite another to keep it that way. Make it a mess-proof operation by labeling shelves. That way family members and guests can help themselves.


Linen Closet Organization

How to organize your linen closet depends on how many different sets of linens you're dealing with on a weekly basis and how much space you have in your closet. Ideally, each room will have its own section -- one for the master bedroom, another for the master bath, one for each kid's bedroom and another for the kid's bath. Choosing this method not only makes it easy to stay on top of laundry at a quick glance, it also makes it easier to keep the space organized.

But if space is at a premium, you can just stack like items together for easy access. Save the high shelves for items you don't have to reach regularly, like beach towels and guest quilts, so you can keep the easy-to-access shelves clear for your towels and sheets. If there are linens that aren't used frequently, you may want to toss in a sachet to keep things smelling fresh. And finally, for a magazine-worthy linen closet that makes you feel like Martha Stewart every time you open it, be sure to fold towels and sheets so they fit on the shelves and stack neatly without pieces of fabric hanging over.


Lots More Information

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  • Austin, Margot. "How to: Organize your linen closet.", 2010.
  • "Organizing Your Linen Closet.", 2010.