Linen closets are a chore to organize the first time, but once you do it and do it right, it will be a snap to maintain for the long term.
Empty out the closet and sort sheet sets together. This is the most tedious part of the process. Have a Sharpie felt pin (won’t smear in the wash) at the ready. Check the fabric style and size to create sets of one fitted sheet and one flat sheet.
Some brands, thank goodness, put the size of the sheet on the tag. If you can’t find a size, get out a measuring tape and start measuring. From corner points, a king-sized fitted sheet is 70 inches or more wide and 80 inches or more long. A queen is 60 x 80 and a twin is 39 x 75. Most full-sized sheets are just slightly smaller than queen-sized, 54 x 75. Flat sheet sizes are king, 102 x 108; queen, 90 x 102, full 81 x 96 and twin, 66 x 96.
Once you’ve done the measuring, take the Sharpie and put a K, Q, F or T on the tag for the sheet’s size so that you never have to size them again. If you have all white sheets and want to match them in sets, mark them Q1 for the fitted and flat of the first set, Q2 for the fitted and flat of the second set, etc.
I am a fan of all white sheets for every bedroom, but since we are on a well and our water is not the best for getting whites their whitest, I have opted for sheets in some of the darker grey shades—slate, pewter, etc. Fifty Shades of Grey: The Bedding Collection!
Another bonus to not using white sheets is that you can designate a color for each bedroom. For example, the guest room can be all yellow sheets, the master bedroom all taupe and the children’s room all blue. That way it is easy for whoever is making the beds to know exactly which sheets to grab.
As you sort, get rid of any fitted sheets with dead elastic. Toss any sheets that are ripped or stained. Some people like rags made out of old sheets, I don’t find them very absorbent. I do use old sheets as drop cloths or as sun protection over my outdoor couch in the summer.
Pillows take up a ton of room, so besides having good, clean pillows on each bed, I don’t store pillows. If you have a fold out or blow up bed for guests, you will either have to store a couple pillows or ask guests to bring their own. Store pillows in extra-large, resealable plastic bags, such as Ziplok XL. Flatten out as much air as you can, then zip shut.
A large dining room table is the best place to fold sheets. The best folding instructions I’ve seen are from Martha Stewart: http://www.marthastewart.com/857014/how-fold-fitted-sheet. In about four minutes you will learn to fold a fitted sheet; it’s pretty funny too, if you’re into housekeeping humor.
Regarding blankets and duvets, for California all we really need is a down or down alternative duvet and cover for summer and a blanket or two for on top in the winter. Off-season blankets should be stored in large resealable bags in the linen closet or, if you have the room, in the bedroom associated with the blanket on the upper closet shelf. If you like to change up the pattern or style of your duvet cover, keep the extras folded as you would fold flat sheets in a section of the linen closet.
If you want to go the extra mile, label your linen closet shelves with spaces for Queen Sheets, Twin Sheets, Duvet Covers, Extra Pillows or whatever you are storing, especially if you have a cleaning service or house sitters who will need to know how to put away the laundry.
I don’t store towels in my linen closet because I don’t have the space. Instead, I have found ways to store extra towels in each bathroom. More on towels and towel storage in the next column.