Organizing & Creating Systems

7 Simple Tips for a Pretty and Functional Linen Closet + Inspiring Linen Closets

May 17, 2020

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Last Updated on September 16, 2022

Linen closets can be a mess, but there are easy ways to make them accessible for the whole family. These simple tips and ideas for linen closet organization create a space that is functional and beautiful!

Our family is normally pretty tidy and clean. (You can take my “real-life” house tour on Instagram to see what our house looks like when it isn't photo-ready!) I know some of you would say my neatness is an understatement, but y'all, there are plenty of areas of my house that are far from perfect. For years our linen closet was near the top of that list. While I'm VERY grateful to have a linen closet (I've lived in houses that had none), we really needed to take the closet we had that was moderately functioning and give it a total linen closet organization overhaul.

This is what our linen closet looked like before. I had some systems in place, but the towels were a mess, the closet door storage wasn't optimized, and it really just needed to be reworked and organized. Now, if that doesn't look that bad to you, just keep reading, because it gets much better!

messy linen closet

Because it is such a small space I was able to totally reorganize the space and give it a major facelift in just two days! So imagine what you can do in just a few hours to get your linen closet under control. Let me show you what it looks like now, and then I'll share my best tips and some great linen closet organization ideas to make yours equally beautiful and useable. 

organized linen closet

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7 Simple Tips for Pretty and Practical Linen Closet Organization

Tip #1: Empty your entire linen closet. 

Take it ALL out! This is the step in the process when you need to purge anything you no longer want or need. That means old beach towels, sheet sets and by all means, get rid of stuff that has expired. I was shocked to see how much expired medication we had! You will probably be shocked by what you find–we were able to purge old hooded baby towels. Clearly, we don't need those anymore! Get rid of as much as you can–some things can be sold online or you can donate useable items. Toss everything else.

Tip #2: Give it a facelift. 

I have always found that when I give a room or closet a fresh coat of paint or otherwise spruce it up, I'm way more motivated to keep it super organized. Closets can start looking dingy over time and this one was no exception! It was a sad color that somewhat resembled a manilla folder and had scuff marks all over it. Giving the walls and shelves a fresh coat of paint did wonders for this hall closet's appearance. We took it one step further and added this removable wallpaper to the back wall. It was a total splurge, but to say I am happy with it is an understatement. And because I am in love with how it looks and I want to see the wallpaper, keeping it tidy has become a priority.

organized linen closet

Tip #3: Maximize the storage on the back of the door.

This made a HUGE difference for us. The plastic shoe hanger that was on the back of the door before was a cool idea in theory, but it was hard to keep things tidy in those flexible pockets. Luckily, we already owned the Elfa system door rack and we knew it would be perfect since we used them when we revamped the kids' closet organization and they are awesome. So after giving the door a fresh coat of black paint, I quickly installed the track and wire baskets and basically quadrupled our storage. It's super sturdy and I'm very happy not to be dealing with floppy shoe pockets anymore.

elfa system in linen closet makeover

Tip #4: Use clear containers to store similar items. 

I bought these clear containers to hold all kinds of small things that need to stay together and would otherwise instantly become clutter. We use some to hold batteries, which are sorted by size and type. I also use one to hold sewing kit items so that it is fast and easy to fix a torn stuffed animal or sew a button on! Anything loose that will easily make a mess should go into a container–ribbon, clothespins, cotton balls, swabs. Evaluate what YOU need organized.

batteries in clear container in linen closet

Tip #5: Use canvas bins for your towels and linens. 

One of the biggest changes that we made is that we are now storing all of our towels and linens in these large canvas bins. Why didn't I think of this before?! We had a stack of these old canvas bins that we used to use in our guest room lying around. When I realized they fit in the linen closet, I loaded them up with our towels and sheets and shoved them back in the closet. No more messy stacks of mismatched towels! I love how tidy the canvas bins make the closet look, and it's super easy to slide them out to find what we are looking for.

storage for linens

Tip #6: Use small organizing bins for small items. 

This may sound SUPER obvious, but when you store small things (like bottles of medicine or bandaids) in big drawers or bins, it's going to wind up being a disorganized mess. You need your storage bins/drawers to be similar in size to what you are storing! I organized all of our medication in these plastic woven storage bins. And I even went a step further and used IKEA Skubb boxes inside to keep things even more organized by type and category. Another small woven bin holds all of our ace bandages and other first aid supplies. And two more are totally empty right now. YAY for purging!

how to organize a linen closet
linen closet organization

Tip #7: Have a designated spot for everything. 

This is not specific to organizing your linen closet. It's just a good organizational tip in general. When you have a designated spot for everything, it's FAR more likely that it will get put back where it belongs. For example, we have a designated spot on the back of the door for all of our sunscreen. Our giant pool bag sits in the very bottom of the closet (that is one thing we didn't change!). We know where things go, so we put them back in those spots. I promise that doing this works if you make the effort! Also, it helps kids because they know where everything is and don't dig around in your neat and orderly closet, and can easily help themselves if they need something. Win-win!

sunscreen on linen closet door

If you are looking for something we used in our linen closet, you can find it below!

Click on any image below for full product details.

More Organized Linen Closet Inspiration

I love what we did to our closet, but I do realize that we all have different needs. While the basics of organizing your closet are the same for everyone, I do think specifics can vary from home to home and family to family. There are so many amazing linen closet ideas. I wanted to share more ideas with y'all to give you some inspiration to get yours functional and pretty. Check out all these genius linen closet ideas!

Organized Bathroom Linen Closet

Lauren from Bless'er House has a bathroom linen closet which I think is probably very common. She uses glass jars for soap and cotton balls, baskets to keep things orderly, and makes sure all her bath towels are folded exactly the same. Everything looks neat and perfectly in its place!

well organized bathroom linen closet

Wire Basket Organization

Using wire basket closet organization is how Sam from Simply Organized got her client's linen closet in tip-top shape. You can see everything in this storage space and it looks really clean and neat. I love that she even stored pillows and blankets neatly in the bottom.

linen closet with wire basket storage

Wallpaper and Coordinating Shelf with Bins

Kate at Domestikated Life made her linen closet in her guest bedroom. She used wallpaper and coordinating drawers in the closet to create a cohesive and organized look. The wallpaper dresses it up and the shelving unit is perfect to hold all the items typically found in a linen closet like toiletries and toilet paper.

linen closet with wallpaper and shelf unit for organization

Pretty Neutral Closet with Stencils

Jenni from Dear Lillie Studio gave her linen closet a total makeover and created a pretty and organized neutral closet. She painted and stenciled the walls and then organized it in a way that hid all the things that she didn't want to have to see (like colorful sheets and towels!) so that her aesthetic is perfectly preserved. Even your closet should reflect how you want your home to feel!

organized linen closet with stenciling and neutral colors

Labeled Shelves

Labeled shelves by The Happy Housie are an organized dream! You never have to wonder where anything goes and it makes it so easy for your anyone in the family to grab what they need from this organized linen closet.

linen closet with labeled shelves

Labeled Baskets

Labeled baskets by Honey We're Home are a great idea if you want more versatility in your linen closet. It is easy to reconfigure where your baskets are and move things around as needed. I also love how cute the tags look hanging from the baskets.

organized hall linen closet with hanging label tags on baskets

Wallpaper and Nailhead Trim on Shelves

Megan Pflug did an amazing job creating a dream linen closet in a bathroom. She made over her closet with wallpaper and painted shelves with nailhead trim and then made simple stacks of towels, washcloths, and blankets and added a pretty basket for small items. She also added a hook on the door which is perfect for a towel or robe! Just a few small improvements made a huge impact!

bathroom linen closet with wallpaper and nailhead trim on shelves

Cedar Closet DIY

This cedar Closet DIY by Shades of Blue Interiors blew my mind. Rachel took a normal messy closet and in one weekend made it into a beautifully organized cedar closet masterpiece. She removed the wire shelving, added the cedar, put in new shelves and then added in her bins and baskets. They don't even all match–but keeping them in the same color palette keeps it feeling cohesive and organized!

DIY cedar linen closet

DIY Fabric Wallpaper

Jen from Tatertots and Jello creates a high-end look that is actually a simple trick with this fabric wallpaper DIY. This is an easy project for small linen closets, and looks great once you have all your items back in and organized! She uses large and small wire baskets to bundle like-items and hangs the iron and ironing board on the door which is a great space saver.

DIY buffalo plaid fabric wallpaper in linen closet

Wood Covered Wire Shelves

These wood-covered wire shelves by Flavia at Neat House Sweet Home are another great way for dealing with the wire linen closet shelves that we all hate. She then added canvas tote baskets to hold their stuff, making it easy to grab what they need, so nothing gets pulled down and stacks don't end up unfolded and crazy!

closet with wood over wire shelves and canvas tote bins

Are these amazing, or what? I LOVE them! So many great linen closet ideas–no matter your style or space, there are things here you can incorporate. I know the idea of dragging out every sheet and pillowcase and all those medicines and bandaids can seem overwhelming. But I promise you that it is so worth the hard work.

So toss all the expired things and purge all the things that are old or worn or you don't use, and then make a plan to truly organize what you have left. Get creative and make the inside beautiful, and then you will really want to keep it tidy!

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