How I stopped swearing at my towels

I’ve never wanted to live in a huge house.

Tried that, once. My parents moved up from a tiny suburban ranch, their first home, to a massive 1920s three-story in-town stone house.

Even with five kids, it was a huge house. It had a music room, inexplicable wall-to-wall carpet in the kitchen, and two maids’ rooms on the third floor that became Janeray’s and my bedrooms. (We didn’t become the maids though.)

And when my mom realized that huge stone house had 40-plus windows, all of which she washed twice a year, I think the glamour must’ve worn off pretty fast.

I do, however, want a house that’s livable. For me that means rooms that are inviting, even if they’re small. Details like light fixtures and hardware that are high-quality. Utility spaces that are actually useful and don’t make me swear with frustration.

I was so pleased, then, when our architect squeezed in a shallow linen closet in our upstairs hallway, even though it meant stealing a few inches from a small bathroom.

This house’s original 1929 linen closet looked like this:


Yep, that space has made me swear with frustration.

That old closet is floor to ceiling, 22 inches deep, and has a full-size door. But . . . the shelves are so dark-colored and so deep and so far apart that it is difficult to use them efficiently. Small things get lost. Everything gets messy.

Swear, swear, swear.

Somewhere I read that Louisa May Alcott designed the pantry shelves in Orchard House, her family’s home, to be only a few inches deep, so that no box or jar could be hidden behind another.


I wanted a linen closet just like that!

Here is the new, second linen closet as it evolved over the past two weeks, from birch plywood, to priming & caulking, to cutting in the first topcoat of color.


Why blue? Because most of my sheets and towels are white, and a white closet interior would have been boring. I wanted a little surprise pop of color every time I opened the door.

I think I got it!


Mr. Darcy, my British builder, installed the shelf standards last week and I slid in the shelves. Movable shelves, rather than fixed, let me arrange them however I want. That was Mr. Darcy’s idea. He’s brilliant that way.

These shelves are only 10 inches deep, so nothing can get lost and nothing is hard to see, even though the blue is a deeper color.

I pared down my linen collection when I stocked up the new closet, too, so . . win!

Can’t tell you the official name of the paint color, because I kinda made it up from what was left over of the Benjamin Moore “Twilight Blue” from this project, plus a dollop of my woodwork color, Benjamin Moore “Cloud White,” plus another dollop of some other random blue I had.


But it turned out to match the Delphite blue of the one-cup measure that belonged to BluesRay’s grandmother, so . . . another win!

I’m going to add shelf labels so everybody in the house can find what they want quickly.


Like this, only with the pencil lines erased. Duh. The stamped-brass label holders came from a bag of them my dad had in his stash.

Now to tackle the remaining mess in the old linen closet! Stay tuned . . .

One Comment on “How I stopped swearing at my towels”

  1. janeray says:

    I never wanted to live in a huge house, but I sure wouldn’t mind having just one room big enough to have 25+ people here for a party.