A contribution from our good friend Amanda Watters.
This past autumn 2018, we connected with the like-minded Amanda Watters, creator of the eloquent and intimate blog Homesong.
She and her family call Kansas City home, where they focus their energies on each other, good food, creative projects, and spending time exploring the outdoors. Amanda has become a wonderful friend, whose philosophy on thoughtful living resonates strongly with us. This is especially true when it comes to her approach to clutter, organization, and intentionality.
When we heard she was about to start the daunting task of organizing her linen catch-all closet last autumn, we thought we might lend a hand. So, we provided her with a few items we knew would help ease her experience, from baskets to bins—all things that help with compartmentalizing items.
Here, she shares her thoughts on achieving peace of mind through the interplay of beauty and function. Today’s journal is about achieving transformation with simple tools, all of which you can find in our shop! We hope you enjoy Amanda’s contribution to our Journal, and her 10 tips for Organizing and Beautifying Linen and Catch-All Closets!
It’s spring-cleaning in autumn! Have you been puttering around your home lately cleaning and organizing like I have? It’s definitely something I do much more of around here before the holidays, and then again in early spring when the earth starts thawing and the crocuses start peeking out. Summer and winter, as I’ve found, are not ideal for deep cleaning and organizing. Spring and autumn on the other hand are better suited for taking the time to freshen up your living spaces to make them a more mindful reflection of what you value and hold dear because they are transition seasons. If you’ve had the itch to tidy up your home this season, I think a messy linen closet is a great place to start.
Making mindful everyday living at home a priority because it offers an abundance of inner peace while lessening my sometimes crippling anxiety.
Vacations sans kids and yoga practiced alone aside, nothing gives me greater inner peace than de-cluttering and organizing a disheveled and messy closet. It’s like a physical manifestation of my mental clutter sorting itself out with each and every fold. A zen home, a zen mind. Some people find this mantra overwhelming, untrue, or simply unnecessary, whereas it happens to rings true and vital for someone like me, who has learned over time the importance of making mindful everyday living at home a priority because it offers an abundance of inner peace while lessening my sometimes crippling anxiety.Bringing order to our lives through simplicity and beauty in how we choose to keep our home is one way to infuse calming energy into the space we live most intimately. Thomas Merton reflects upon how wonderfully divine the ordinary bits of life can be, and how alive and grateful we can become if we choose to see life through the lens where the mundane radiates meaning, connection, and beauty, instead of drudgery we take for granted.
“Let us come alive to the splendor that is all around us, and see the beauty in ordinary things.”
For me, keeping our home – not only running well for our family’s needs – but also flowing well with regard to our family’s overall wellbeing. This means revering the ordinary as valuable and important, it means practicing thankfulness and folding that grateful energy into the work done here, so that where we live is a place rooted in care and appreciation for the little things in life, while teaching the five of us abundant lessons on how to “kneel and kiss the ground wherever we may stand,” as the mystic Rumi once shared.
And so, organizing and putting things in their rightful place has always brought me a great deal of peace, especially when it’s a part of our home that’s hidden away, like junk drawers or closets. Not everyone is this way, in fact, Stella just “cleaned her room” by shoving everything under her bed. So. But some of us are! And, some of us don’t even realize how much clutter affects our day-to-day doings. Maybe you too shove things in hidden places but feel weighed down by knowing chaos is brimming.
When the insides are just as neat and tidy and pretty to look at as the outsides, I believe you can feel it. The inner environments we are a part of affect the way we perceive the outer environment, and this goes for our emotional landscape too!
I somehow discovered this about myself a long time ago, and now I know that doing my best to keep the inside spaces of our home tidy will affect my inner wellbeing too. I was the kid who prided her shy self on her color-coded closet growing up, along with the tidy contents of her elementary school desk and her orderly middle school locker. This is probably a strange personality quirk, but frankly, I’ve always received satisfaction from such tidy pursuits. Because, when the insides are just as neat and tidy and pretty to look at as the outsides, I believe you can feel it. The inner environments we are a part of affect the way we perceive the outer environment, and this goes for our emotional landscape too! It’s easy to toss things into these often overlooked spaced and think to oneself, “One day I’ll get to it…or…it doesn’t matter because it’s behind this door, wall, or cupboard etc.” but the problem lies in the negative energy there in the clutter, excess, and mess that can compound and add stress to your wellbeing and your environment over time.
In keeping with the ethos of June Home Supply and how I do things here on Homesong, I’ve come up with 10 simple tips to help you bring order and beauty to your linen and catch-all closet at home. These steps are tangible ways you can spruce up the interior today, so you can feel the serenity at home from the inside out, tomorrow.
1. Use Baskets & Bins
Holy Moses, I love baskets! I hope Moses doesn’t mind me using his name given my enthusiasm, but given that he was rescued in one, and by Pharaohs no less, I would venture he probably likes them too. What problem can’t a basket solve, may I ask? For the problem of un-kept closets and other untidy home spaces, baskets are one’s dear friend. They keep small things in order through a grouping system of your choosing, thereby making it easy to find particular items when you need them. Bins are similar to baskets in that they are usually metal, but the way you can use them is precisely the same. We have all sorts of baskets and bins in our home; made of all kinds of natural materials and sourced both secondhand and from shops we love. In our linen & catch-all closet, we have baskets for each of the following categories:
- Adult wellness products (white birch basket – IKEA)
- Children and doggy wellness products (white birch basket – IKEA)
- Home improving odds and ends (white birch basket – IKEA)
- Bulk wellness supplies (white birch basket – IKEA)
- Upstairs cleaning products and quick-dry towels (small wire basket)
- Bed linens (two large wire textile baskets)
- Dirty laundry (large brown wicker – thrifted)
- Rubbish (white enamel waste bin)
- Extra Toilet Paper & Rice Pad (white enamel bin – thrifted)
- First Aid (Small cream bin with lid – IKEA)
Less is more. Repeat: Less. Is. More. Give yourself the challenge of going through one closet today and paring down to the bare essentials. You do not need seven sets of sheets for one bed. Two-three per bed will do. Get rid of all expired medicine and things you haven’t used in a year. Do you really use those toiletries? Give away extra blankets to shelters. Donate what you can, recycle what you’re able, and toss the rest. Keep your closet space as simple as possible, because this will help you greatly in keeping it orderly as the year goes on. Stuff = clutter. So, less stuff = less clutter.
3. Fold This Way
Folding linens and towels in a tidy fashion will help make your closest roomier, more orderly, easier to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing. Follow this folding method if you find you’re in need of a different method to store your linens. You will find it makes locating a certain item quicker to find, therefore, saving you time and energy.
4. Add Lavender
Have you ever thought about putting a little bouquet of lavender inside your closet? This is very Enneagram Four of me, but I cannot help myself. I enjoy adding floral freshness wherever I can in our home, and it only makes sense to add a bit of Southern France where our linens live, making this tiny space smell like lavender fields. You can find dried lavender all over these days, as well as old apothecary vases for them to live in. A bonus of considering viewing the insides of your home just as important as the outside, is that you’ll find you will end up taking better care of those spaces as well. So adding lavender becomes more than adding lavender, you see?
5. Utilize the Door
This tip is a must for those who have little to no storage in their home. This old colonial of ours has one catch-all closet on the second floor, which you see above. Each room in our home has one small closet for clothing, well two in the master bedroom thank heavens, but we do not have a closet at all on the main floor at all. Where did folks keep things that needed keeping downstairs back then? Because all of our odds and ends need a place to live, these things are kept inside our linen closet, mainly on the door. This sturdy, beautiful, and well-made canvas door organizer helps keep all our small tools and the like orderly and easy to find. I love how the pocket sizes vary and you can see what’s hanging. This would also make for a lovely arts and crafts organizer for small spaces.
6. Buy Beautiful and Sustainable Utility
From horse hair brooms to leather fly swatters to extra beeswax candles to dust pans: beautiful and sustainable utility makes a difference. When you choose to buy something that was hand-crafted with care made with quality, sustainable materials, you are making a conscious choice to live with intention and care for the earth. Considering the notion that cleaning tools don’t have to be made from toxic chemicals and plastic that will never decompose into the soil, is one way you can do your part to helping clean up the environment and heal our shared earth home.
*I do not recommend going through all your belongings after reading this and tossing out all the items that don’t fit the “beautiful, simple, and sustainable” criteria, but I do recommend giving the June Home Supply utility section a look over and adding goods from their mindful shop to your home as needed. One of the missteps I’ve seen here and there in the very important zero-waste movement is to get rid of everything and buy all new eco-conscious products at once. Talk about overwhelming! This is not only crazy expensive for the consumer, but it creates much more waste in return. I invite you to use what you have and use it well, and then consider beauty and sustainability when moving forward with your purchases, both inside your home and out.
7. Add Shelves
We were lucky when we moved in that this little upstairs closet of ours came with lots of shelving inside. Shelves offer more closet real estate, and therefore, more room to keep things in order. They don’t have to come all the way out either! As you can see, several of our shelves are not as deep as our closet, making use of space in a different but functional way. Play around with the space you have, and add shelving when possible to expand your storage options.
8. Keep It Light & Neutral
One little tip I have for making smaller spaces appear larger is to keep them white and neutral. This opens up the space visually and makes it look cleaner as well. If your closet is painted a dark color, consider giving it a fresh coat of cream or white. This will freshen everything up and create a calming closet.
9. Use the Walls
Just as the door is a prime location for additional storage, so are the walls! Use hooks or nails to hang various things that you use often, like dust pans and items with string handles. It’s easy to overlook this part of your closet, but it’s a great and efficient way to get more out of this small space.
10. Lock It Up
This tip is for those who have little ones in the home. Because we have dangerous things like medicine and tools in our linen closet due to a lack of storage space, it’s important to keep it locked up when not in use. Stella and Theodore were not very mischievous as I recall, but Alfie has made up for that two-fold. Make a trip to your local hardware store and get the old-school lock with a latch and keyhole. Now if your linen closet is only home to linens, this tip isn’t necessary, but I am always surprised how many homes keep things little ones shouldn’t have within reach! It gives me peace of mind knowing the kids cannot rummage around in here and get hurt.
Less is more. Repeat: Less. Is. More.
As always, if you enjoyed this read or have something to contribute, I’d love to hear from you. What are some tidy tips you can add when organizing and beautifying closet spaces? And what questions do you have about organizing closets and those hidden areas around your home? And a special thank you to June Home Supply for partnering with Homesong this season.