As always, I took everything out and started pitching. I came to the realization that I do not need five sets of sheets for every bed "just in case", and the old ones could go. You really need to decide what you absolutely have to keep, and what you could do without. Years ago, I participated in some chain letter teatowel exchange, and I was still holding on to three or four never-used kitchen towels that do not (and will not ever) go with my kitchen decor. They have found a new home in my school's staff room.
You also have to think creatively. I never send things to the landfill if they can be donated, but it's even better if they can I can repurpose them myself. When I was in teacher's college, a teacher I did a placement with made me these cute, school-themed pillowcases. I had them sitting in a "Do I donate them even though they have some sentimental value?" pile until I realized that I was also planning to throw out a couple of retired pillows. These items have now found a new home under a table in my classroom where kids like to
hide read during Self-Selected Reading time.
Speaking of sentimental items, I have a very important question for you creative folk out there: what can I do with this leftover (pink satin) fabric from my bridesmaids dresses? It doesn't exactly match with any of my current colour schemes, and I'm too practical to have pink satin dresses made for my daughters, knowing they will never wear them. (And the pieces are too small for any adult-sized clothing. Not that I'm in the market for anything in pink satin at the moment. That I'm going to admit to you.) I considered doll quilts...which I'm sure my Grandma would be more than happy to create...but if anyone has a better idea I'd love to hear it!
Once you know what you have left, put like items together and decide how to store them. One would think that folding and piling items would be a pretty neat and effective system, but clearly it wasn't working for me. My answer? Baskets (from Zellers) and bins. As you can see in the "after" photo below, having things hidden away really makes all the difference.
Here's how I organized my closet:
First shelf: dining room linens in a Rubbermaid bin, heirlooms (doilies, etc.) in another, and adult sleeping bags right on the shelf
Second shelf: kids' comforters, baskets with twin and queen sheet sets (each set kept in its own pillowcase; no Martha Stewart fancy fitted-sheet folding for me)
Third shelf: baskets of throws and extra blankets as well as kids' sleeping bags
Fourth shelf: extra comforter and duvet, rolled instead of folded since they seemed to look better that way (maybe I am folding impaired? Visual/spatial is my weakest area of intelligence, so I might be on to something there.)
Still hidden in bottom corner of closet: the bag of pink fabric shown above...until one of you gives me a really great suggestion for what to do with it!
If you're wondering where the heck all the towels are, I must admit that I also have a closet in the bathroom where those linens are all kept. Another great idea I've seen (probably on Pinterest!) is hanging towel bars on the inside doors of linen closets to allow for even more storage. Something to consider if space is an issue for you.
Since this photo was taken, I've decided to move swimming bags (bathing suits, towels, flip flops, etc.) to the bottom of this closet too, instead of having them in the mudroom, considering we don't need them that often during the winter months.
Now, it's time to go clean your own linen closet! Yay! I wonder if I should give up teaching, and just dedicate my life to making the world better, one linen closet at a time...