Does your linen closet look like it was last organized by a sleepwalking bandicoot wearing mittens? Well, read on for the tools you need to skin that bandicoot and neatly fold his hide!
(The author’s grandmother, a few years ago, just before she turned 90.)
I love linens. I love truly fine linens. I love vintage linens. I love unique linens. I love drying off after a shower with thick, plush, white towels. I love that moment of slipping into crisp, cool, freshly laundered sheets. I love a newly made bed.
I also love a beautiful, well-organized linen closet. My former linen closet and I, however, have been torn asunder.
I used to own quite a collection of linens. I acquired vintage chenille bedspreads galore. I amassed dozens of sets of vintage embroidered pillowcases. I folded and stacked antique quilts aplenty. My collection has since been pared down rather substantially and the reason is twofold. The first being that I simply decided it was time for much of it to move on to a new home, but before I tell you the second reason, let me tell you a story.
When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandma Beck. I love my grandma. She is sweet, generous, hilariously funny, industrious, self-reliant, and she’s just contrary enough to let you know that all of that sweet is genuine (and to keep you on your toes.)
(Who rocks comedic eyewear? Beck does!)
My grandma loves to feed people. If you want to make my grandma happy, mention that you’re starving, she’ll be thrilled. If you’re not ravenous, she’ll settle for a tad bit peckish, and if you can’t manage either of those, for heaven’s sake at LEAST say you might have room for a sliver of pie (FYI: your “sliver” will be 1/6 of an entire pie.) As you might imagine, I’ve spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s kitchen, most of it sitting at the kitchen table, watching her prepare food.
At this point you may be wondering what ANY of this has to do with linens. Well, be PATIENT!
Growing up, I loved watching my grandmother cook. Of course I enjoyed the end result because she’s really good at it, but I liked the process too. Her cabinets used to make a SNAP sound when they closed that I can still remember. Snap! Snap! Snap! During the cooking process she would sometimes swear (her rated G version) when something like bacon grease popped on her hand, she would often set off the smoke alarm with the heat from what she was cooking, but she would always, at some point in the process, while attempting to retrieve a necessary implement or ingredient from the deep dark recesses of a poorly designed corner cabinet, while wielding a flashlight she kept in the cabinet for these occasions mutter: “I’d like to get my hands on that old man that designed this kitchen.”
Anything in construction that is poorly thought through, in the estimation of my grandmother, is CLEARLY the work of “Some Old Man.” Bathroom stall doors that open IN, rather than out? “Some Old Man.” Basement steps that are too steep? “Some Old Man.” Cabinets with three feet of nearly unusable space? Everybody together now: “SOME OLD MAN!”
It gradually came to my understanding over time that when my grandmother uses the word old in this or a similar context, she doesn’t necessarily mean advanced in age. She is using old as an ersatz swear word. I think what she meant was: “Some D#*% Man.”
After moving into the townhouse where my daughter and I live now, I realized that the house had NO linen closet. None. The building was constructed in 2005. No linen closet? REALLY? I uttered these words before I even realized what was coming out of my mouth: “Well, it’s pretty obvious that SOME MAN designed this house without even bothering to consult with a woman.” Sigh. Yep. I skipped turning into my mother and went straight to becoming my grandmother. You know what though? SHE’S RIGHT! The things in my current home with which I take issue are all things that I have to believe could have been easily remedied with a quick conversation between the builder and a woman with even the tiniest bit of savvy. They built a pantry, but did not see fit to include electrical outlets in said pantry, forgot to leave room anywhere in the kitchen for a trash can, brooms, etc. The only additional closet in the house is a coat closet (which should only be said with accompanying air quotes) the size of a priority mail envelope. There is not a place in the entire house in which to store your vacuum and the bathrooms are a wanton waste of space devoid of storage and with no medicine cabinets.
Please understand that I’m not complaining. I am merely observing. Everyday. Every day I observe what “Some Man” has wrought.
DAMN YOU “SOME MAN!”
And there it is. The linen closet – Grandma Beck connection.
As you may have guessed, the lack of a linen closet was the second reason for the thinning of my linen collection. It’s not nonexistent; it’s just been carefully pruned to only the most necessary, most beautiful or best-loved pieces.
And now, after all of that, we get to the point of this post:
THE VERY BEST WAY (In my humble opinion), BAR NONE TO STORE SHEETS!
I call it the “sheet packet.” The sheet packet makes it unnecessary to go scrounging through your linen cabinet for pillowcases. The sheet packet makes it a quick grab and go exercise when it’s time to change the bed. The sheet packet (and this is my favorite part) looks neat and tidy when you open the linen closet door and gaze upon your home’s necessaries.
Here’s how I do it:
First, fold your fitted sheet. Everyone seems to have trouble with this step. It’s easier than you think. There are lots of tutorials out there on how to fold a fitted sheet, so I’ll keep this quick: grab a corner; we’ll call it bottom right. Turn it inside out with your hand inside. Take the top right corner and fold it over your hand, right side out. Move on to the top left corner (inside out), lastly, add bottom left (right side out.) Shake out the edges and lay it on the bed. At this point you should have a square with ONE curved corner. Neaten it up (easily done when it’s laying down rather than trying to do it while you’re holding it.) Put the curved corner on the upper left, so that these instructions will make sense. Fold the left edge inward about a third. This means that now your curved edge is gone, you’re left with a rectangle. Now fold the right side in by about a third. Now, fold up from the bottom, in thirds or fourths, depending on the size of the sheets.
Fold the pillowcases next. I fold mine once in the middle, with the open edge left on the top, flip them over, fold them by thirds, then in half again…so that when they’re flipped over the decorative open edge is on top and no raw edges are showing on the sides or the front. Place the pillowcases on top of the folded fitted sheet. You should have something like this:
Fold the top sheet in half, bringing the bottom to meet the top edge. Now fold in half side to side. Lay flat on the bed and smooth out any wrinkles. Set your fitted sheet in the center; with the pillowcases still side by side on top of the fitted sheet.
Bring the “raw” edged side of the sheets in first (meaning the side that doesn’t show a fold, but does show the open edges of the sheets.)
and then bring in the other side.
Next fold up from the bottom, covering the fitted sheet,
fold the entire packet over once more and VOILA! Sheet packet!
From the front you’ll see only the round folded edge. From the sides you’ll see only clean edges and when you’re ready to change your sheets you can grab the whole thing with one hand and you’ll know that you have everything you need!
By the way, my grandmother did eventually get a new kitchen. She was in her eighties when it finally came to fruition. New range, new dishwasher, new countertops and yes, new cabinets…including a corner cabinet with rotating shelves designed by someone other than “Some Old Man.” Her new corner cabinet is Beck approved. She deserves it. I’ll miss the snap the old cabinets made, and I suppose part of me will miss her snapping at That Old Man…but it makes me happy to think that she is content.
p.s. Now you know from whence my contrary comes. 😉