who will think of the towels?
August 30, 2009 6:08 AM   Subscribe

If you don't have a linen closet, where do you keep your towels and sheets?

I was cleaning out our guest room and realized that the large decorative wooden chest that we cram all our extra blankets, afghans, sheets and towels in was straining at the seams, so I took the towels out. But now I have nowhere to put them. I've tried storing linens in large plastic totes before, but they always end up musty.

Do you have an actual piece of furniture for this purpose? Link it!
posted by pinky to Home & Garden (34 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
On the theory that you don't need more than 3 sets of towels/sheets, you shouldn't need a whole separate piece of furniture. Keep one set in use (on the towel racks/on the bed), one set in a drawer or on a shelf in the room in question, and one set in the wash. Rotate. Reduce that to two sets (one in use, one in the wash) and you don't need the storage. (This also works for towels, if you color-code for each member of the household you can use bath towels more than once if you hang them up properly each time.)
posted by nax at 6:23 AM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I keep things where I use them. So, for example, guest room sheets and towels go in the guest room, if not in a bureau then on the bed in a pillow case used just for this. I leave blankets folded neatfully/artfully (depending on my time and if people are visiting) on a chair. Guest bath towels I just leave folded on the bureau or bed. We have guests every 2-3 months so unless the cats decide to cuddle up on them, they're just out until they're needed.

For master bed/bath and kids rooms, I put a set or sets in a pillowcase and stick them in the closet or bureau in that room. Kids linens can sometimes go under their beds depending on how much they use the space, if you don't have closets. Towels take up more room. We usually have just two for each person. What's not in use is folded or rolled (which looks nice if you have all the same color or lots of different colors) under a bench in our bathroom. Apartment Therapy shows a couple ideas, too.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:34 AM on August 30, 2009

A cedar chest is large enough for sheets and blankets but I wouldn't store towels in there. We have plenty of shelving in the bathroom for extra towels but unless you have times when you have lots of guests, do as nax suggests.
posted by JJ86 at 6:46 AM on August 30, 2009

I use a plastic container that is made to fit under the bed. It keeps everything clean and dust-free. It holds an extra set of sheets and about 4 towels. Place one in each bedroom. As nax says, rotate and refill.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2009

We have this guy, used for sheets and towels.
posted by BundleOfHers at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2009

You could look into those vacuum compression bags to cut down on space too.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:49 AM on August 30, 2009

I also used to store sheets in an old trunk back in college, but the smell was ridiculous. I think it was the trunk itself causing the problems. Our current apartment has that 1890s style One Closet to Rule Them All issue, so now everything is stored closer to where they get used:

All sheets are in a big cardboard box (moving-box size) in The One Closet. We have three summer-weight sets and three winter-weight (flannel) sets. If the sheets smell musty, we'll wash them before rotating them into rotation, but the cardboard box is a lot less musty than my old trunk was.

Bath towels are all in the bathroom. Giant towel rack/stand, with shelves and bars. They're all stacked there. We have probably 8 towels for the two of us, and a hundred-thousand washcloths.

Overflow storage is only for beach towels, which go on an IKEA rack in the corner of the oddly-shaped bathroom.

Kitchen towels, cabinet under the sink.

The blankets were, and still are, an ongoing issue. I ended up buying a deep cabinet from IKEA. This cabinet sits in the front room. There aren't doors on it, but there could be if I change my mind. All the blankets are folded up and stacked there, except for the big winter comforters. Given the age of our apartment, we're usually cold in the winter, and when we have guests over, they're welcome to grab a blanket from the open console.
(On top of that cabinet? The liquor. It seems I can't part them from the linens.)

The big winter comforters are shoved into the top of The One Closet. I've considered using those vacuum-compression bags for them, but never got around to trying.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:51 AM on August 30, 2009

Ah, linens. And it's not just towels and sheets, but also extra blankets, tablecloths, and napkins. In my old place, I didn't have a linen closet, so I set aside this area on a pseudo-shelf in the coat closet for that kind of thing. It wasn't ideal. I have a linen closet now, but no coat closet.

I have a cedar chest that I use for some things, mainly extra blankets. I agree that if you have space in a drawer in the guest room that will be good for the guest room sheets/towels. As to the ones you use regularly, I've seen good results with shelves in the bathroom or even baskets with bunches of towels rolled up. I think if I needed a good way to store towels, I'd look to hotels and do something like this.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:55 AM on August 30, 2009

I just stick mine in the wardrobe
posted by jannw at 7:06 AM on August 30, 2009

I always had problems with the plastic tubs making linens smell strange, so we bought a large open bookshelf (the sides and back are open, not solid wood - sort of like a ladder bookshelf without the tapering effect) off of Craigslist and keep all of the blankets, towels, sheets, and other stuff on the open shelves in our bedroom. I don't like the idea of keeping linens in a closed environment like a trunk or a box because I think that they need circulating air to keep them fresh and nice.

Nax is right, you only need three sets of sheets - per bed. I also don't like having the dirty sheets sit in the laundry for a week so I wash them right when I change the bed, which means that I'm always storing two sets for each bed in the house. Add a few quilts, extra pillows for guests, and one down comforter - plus towel sets and the like - and the bookshelf is just the right size for everything. Note that you do have to dust a bit because the shelves are open, but this is true in a linen closet too.
posted by k8lin at 7:11 AM on August 30, 2009

Our house has no storage. Zero. It did not contain a single closet until we renovated the downstairs and now it has one.

We have a large double wardrobe in our bedroom. Sheets go in the double-wide drawer underneath it. Towels go in one half of a hall cupboard outside the bathroom.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:36 AM on August 30, 2009

In my small studio I just moved out of, the towels were kept rolled up in a basket under the sink. I keep my sheets and blankets in a drum table that had doors. However, I am thrilled to be back in a place with a linen closet!
posted by kimdog at 7:37 AM on August 30, 2009

Three sets? We only have one set per bed. We take them off every Saturday or Sunday and wash them, and put them back on. It's heaven....we have NO sheets to store, and always have sheets on the bed that smell freshly clean. Each bed has all of its linens and bedclothes on it, and there's an extra blanket or two for each bed stored in that room, in a dresser drawer or closet shelf. We have a pull-out sofa for guests and those sheets are under the sofa. When someone's set of sheets start looking beat, we buy a new set and use the old for rags.

We adhere to the same "we don't need all the extra stuff" theory for towels as well, and now have only 12 towels, all white. No finding matches or losing one of a set. We have 4 hanging on bars or hooks to use, and the rest are folded or rolled and put on a shelf in the bathroom. We wash the towels along with the sheets.

I wish I was as organized in all aspects of life as I am about sheets and towels, but all that extra stuff was making me nuts. I'm always trying to pare down.
posted by iconomy at 7:39 AM on August 30, 2009

I've got sheets and towels in the closest in the bedroom at my apartment. Actually, I've got two milk crate like things I got from Target stacked on the shelf in the closet, one for towels and one for sheets.

At my parents house there's a closet in the bathroom where some towels go, and some in the dressing room between the bathroom and my brothers room on top of the dresser in there.

Just out of curiosity, how are you keeping the sheets together? I've started folding the stupid fitted sheet, the flat sheet, and one pillowcase then putting everything in the other pillowcase. It does seem to maybe have the sheets take up more room, but it also keeps everything together and the fitted sheet from exploding.
posted by theichibun at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I keep my towels and sheets on a shelf in my bedroom closet in my apartment. The other closets are filled with clothes and food and whatnot, so that was pretty much the only place left.
posted by gchucky at 8:15 AM on August 30, 2009

Towels, blankets, spare pillows all go in my airing cupboard in the shelves over the boiler. Kitchen towels go in the kitchen drawer, the bedroom wardrobe has one section with just shelves from top to bottom and all the sheets are on one of the shelves.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:27 AM on August 30, 2009

I use a bakers rack placed outside the bathroom. I find it to be an simple and well-ventilated solution.
posted by nikitabot at 8:29 AM on August 30, 2009

We bought an inexpensive clothes rack from Ikea - the PS, plain white fabric, with wheels on the bottom. (Link is to UK Ikea, we're in US, bt same item.) We have two actually, one in the basement with all shelves installed, and one in the kid's room with only half the shelves installed. Towels and blankets on one by the washer, and kid clothes and blankets on the other. They aren't the most fashionable things, but they are light-weight and easily moved or customized.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:01 AM on August 30, 2009

I'm not organized enough for just 1 set of sheets per bed, and when my son lives w/me, he uses a lot of towels. Currently towels are stored in a wire basket shelf thingie, so they stay aired out. Sheets are in a small chest. I mostly use white sheets, so I don't have to designate sheets for a particular room.

In my uncle's very old house that had no closets, every room had a blanket chest at the foot of the bed. It made a nice bench, as well.
posted by theora55 at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2009

Adding to Stewriffic's idea: Take those rolled towels and put them into the spaces in pretty much any wine rack that fits with your decor. You could have one on top of your chest, or on any available counter space, or even hanging on the wall. Plus, you can get wine racks cheap or free at most garage sales or secondhand stores. Depending on the materials, you could paint it to match your decor.

A standard wine rack usually holds 9-12 bottles, so you could have at least 12 towels, hand towels, or wash clothes handy.

Good luck. I'm thankful I have a linen closet, but we still have decorative towels around in different places.
posted by emjay at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2009

Previous owners of my condo created a linen closet by putting doors on a narrow IKEA billy bookcase. It's narrower and shallower than ideal, but it does the trick, and looks like it's supposed to be there (ie in the main living space just outside my bathroom.)
posted by Kololo at 10:07 AM on August 30, 2009

"One set of sheets per bed" doesn't work for us, as we have a shared laundry thingie with the other two units in our building, so we have three or four sets of sheets which live in a drawer of the hutch/media stand thingie that sits in the living room. The extra blankets live in drawers under the bed itself.

Towels live on a shelf in the walk-in closet in our bedroom.

We also have a blanket chest (a lovely 1950s Lane maple-finish cedar chest) that has things like sleeping bags in it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:22 AM on August 30, 2009

Here's what I use. It is definitely a budget option but has worked great for me. I like it because the blankets, towels, and linens are exposed at the ends, so you don't need to dig and lift in order to get to a particular item. Also, items will only get as musty as the closet you hang it in.
posted by nowoutside at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2009

We have had only one set of sheets per bed for the past 20 years and it's been perfectly fine. Towels--we have six of each kind (bath, hand, and washcloth), all white, which we keep in the bathroom cabinet.
posted by HotToddy at 1:50 PM on August 30, 2009

Our house has one closet & a bathroom that literally fits the tub, toilet, & sink & that's it (thanks, 1880s), so we keep our towels, for now, in the dining room buffet & our sheets in an old secretary in the spare bedroom. Winter blankets & bedding are stored in a chest at the foot of the bed.

We are so klassy, I know.
posted by oh really at 3:03 PM on August 30, 2009

Simple two-door cabinets with shelves inside are perfect for this, whether in bathrooms (where they can double as counter space) or in guest rooms. I've been admiring this linen cabinet from Ikea for a while, but can't speak to its quality. Anthropologie's furniture store is horribly overpriced, but this and this and this could all be nice homes for towels and bedsheets. Another from Crate and Barrel.
posted by oinopaponton at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2009

posted by idiomatika at 3:53 PM on August 30, 2009

I use this cabinet from IKEA. It's plan and fit nicely into the house without taking up too much space. It's surprisingly big on the inside and fits my extra linens, towels as well as some off-season coats.
posted by machine at 3:57 PM on August 30, 2009

Do you have an over-the-toilet cabinet? Extra storage in the bathroom for towels, but not taking up any extra real estate on the floors.
posted by pised at 4:54 PM on August 30, 2009

Everything everyone suggested from IKEA - I want that!

Also - we have a whole bunch of like-new towels, my mother-in-law liked to give us towels as gifts, and I've pruned the collection as much as I could. I do believe in having as few sets of things as possible, but I don't want to get rid of really nice newish towels.
posted by pinky at 4:57 PM on August 30, 2009

I have an Ikea Aneboda tall skinny wardrobe with the door removed, which lives in the side of my closet (I have a fairly large closet). All foldy things (sweaters and pants), plus purses and belts, plus extra sheets live in its cubbies.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:11 PM on August 30, 2009

I hang sheets and pillowcases on hangers and keep them in the bedroom closet. I drape them over the lower bar on the hanger, and try to minimize the thickness.
posted by wryly at 9:45 PM on August 30, 2009

So while I was busy yesterday, my husband went to Lowe's, had a shelf cut, installed it in his office closet, and put all the towels up there. He piled a down comforter and extra quilts below, on top of a small dresser. How did he do this without me noticing, and WITH a toddler? I have no idea.

But the situation is in hand for now, ha!
posted by pinky at 5:19 AM on August 31, 2009

Mr. pinky ftw. I hope pinky, jr. took notes :)
posted by nax at 5:44 AM on August 31, 2009

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