Old blankets. Minnie Mouse towels. Sheets that look like tourniquets. A drugstore's worth of toiletries. This month's project is to transform your linen closet into an oasis of order so you can keep everyone in your household cozy, clean, and cared for.

Start fresh. We all get attached to frayed towels, mismatched sheets, and shapeless pillows, associating them with years of comfort, but they have ceased to be functional! Recycle the old stuff into cleaning rags. As for the plethora of hotel freebies, gather them in a basket to be offered as a hospitality service to your overnight guests. They'll be pleased by your thoughtfulness—and amazed that you're so organized.

Color is key. Choose a Zen-like scheme for sheets and towels: all white, beige or ochre. If you must express your creative side, pick one—and only one—color for each bedroom and bathroom, which will make it easier to do laundry and put things away. Color-code your guest linens, and never use them for your own bed or bath.

Return random items to their homes. People often stash random items in their linen closets. Empty the shelves, sort everything that doesn't belong, and either trash it or move it to its rightful home.
  • If you buy toiletries in massive quantities, store them in the attic, basement, or utility closet. Or split the cost and share the bounty with a friend.
  • If you've got tablecloths and napkins in your linen closet, move them to a sideboard in the dining room, where you actually use them.

Presentation is everything. Before you reload your closet, line the shelves with pleasant-smelling paper. Acrylic dividers can keep stacks of towels, sheets, and blankets from toppling onto one another. Fabric-covered boxes and lined baskets hold toiletries and paper supplies with panache. Be sure to label the boxes, which will encourage everyone in the household to maintain the system.

Arrange your space logically. Upper shelves are great for light but bulky things, like extra throws. Middle shelves are convenient for everyday towels and sheets. Lower shelves and the floor are best for sundries and a foldaway ladder.

Short on space? You can mount wire shelves on the door to hold toiletries, and move bulky quilts and blankets to a chest. Alternatively, a vacuum suction device called the Space Bag (available at improvementscatalog.com as well as some housewares stores) compresses rarely used linens into compact bags.


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