Organizing My Linen Collection

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It wasn’t until I wrote the title to this blog post that I realized I had a linen “collection”. Actually, that’s not true. I think I realize I had a linen collection (bordering on a hoarding problem) when I was taking all of my linens out of our butler’s pantry and I counted over 200 cloth cocktail napkins. That is pretty ridiculous. I think that these linens were secretly multiplying behind my back. I certainly couldn’t ever have bought this many …

My theme for my blog in February was Organization. So I started organizing our butler’s pantry which pretty much meant I had to remove every cloth napkin, placemat, and tablecloth first.

Don’t get me wrong. My linens were fairly organized. They were just packed in the drawers so full they barely opened. And there were so many napkins in the drawers I could never find matching ones.

So I laid out everything on my dining room table and started matching everything. Then my housekeeper helped me iron them. What an improvement!

I mean seriously, who has eight different sets of sage green cloth napkins? Anyone other than me, that is?

For a few years, I have been occasionally buying cocktail napkins. I always thought it would be way cooler to serve a glass of wine or a cocktail with a cloth napkin. Right?

Good thing I now own over 200 cloth cocktail napkins.

I think these vintage rooster cocktail napkins are my favorite.

After I organized everything I sorted by piles. First were the matching linen piles. Then there was the throwaway pile which consisted of old napkins, torn napkins, and random single napkins. Then I had a pile of stained napkins. Those were soaked in hot water and oxyclean for two days. They all look great now. If you don’t use oxyclean for your vintage linens, you need to get some because it’s the best stuff to get rid of old stains.

Next, I ordered some 1/4″ plain white cotton seam tape from Amazon and tied all of the matching napkins in bundles. This will help keep the napkins sorted and make it really easy for me to select napkins when needed.

The last step involved putting all of the linens back in the butler’s pantry drawers.

I had to lay them on their side because some of the piles were so tall. But I am really happy with my new organization. And I put all of my tablecloths in the second row of drawers.

I am pretty confident that I will now use these cloth napkins and tablecloths more often. They are so organized and easy to find. Plus, I would love to start using my cloth napkins and tablecloths for more casual dinners. Like even when I am serving tacos for dinner!

For more real-time updates, follow me on Instagram @My100YearOldHome

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  1. Wow! What a great collection! I love cloth napkins as well and thought I had a big collection, you win!! Haha. Thanks for the tip on cleaning.

  2. Look at you go! And inspiring the rest of us along the way 🙂
    I’ve organized my spices, my napkins/linens, gone through gallons of white paint and hours of painting and redecorating! Yesterday, hubby and I literally sat on a white slipcovered sofa in Pier One for 30 minutes, while I decided if I should buy it…I’m so scared!!! I have a 4 year old grandson, a Shih Tzu, and a “messy” husband( he owns a plumbing/ HVAC business–I would have sent him over to you if not for the 3000+ miles!). I did it! I hope it works out…

    Anyway, I wanted to say thank you! Good things have been happening around here since I discovered your IG and blog. Cabin fever hasn’t been so bad amidst all this snow because I’ve been pleasantly busy. Keep up the good work!

    PS. Maybe you could talk about real life living with a lot of white? Our housekeeper is me! So I would appreciate any tips since this style is new to me.

    –Jackie ( aka Paris Always Good Idea)

  3. I also always use cloth napkins. For every day, I have a dozen floral napkins that hubby and I reuse 🙂 I also have a few dozen “company” and holiday napkins. But I have a question, while you were organizing, did you consider “thinning” your collection. Organizing is great but when a collection grows beyond what you can reasonably use… Just asking.

  4. I will be trying out your cleaning tip. I have a couple of vintage linens with embroidery that are stained. I was planning on cutting them up and using them in a couple of small quilting projects. Now I will try your suggestion first. We use our cloth napkins everyday. Love that we are not adding to the recycling in our city. Although I do not have as many napkins as you do, I find that I am a vintage linen magnet! Vintage linens follow me home! (LOL)

  5. As always a gleam something from every post you write. (Thank you) I will be borrowing this way of organizing linens. So neat and tidy. I have a question… when you soak the linens in oxyclean do you drain and re-add hot water and oxyclean after the first day of soaking or do you put them in hot oxyclean water and let it soak as is for two days? I have some linens that were my grandmother’s that I’d like to refresh and hopefully remove the stains.

  6. love your sense of humor and your organizational skills. I am glad you are organizing your home I be that makes you feel better. I know it always does for me

  7. Thank you for sharing this idea.. This is exactly how I organize my
    sheet sets in my linen closet.. Top sheet, bottom sheet and pillow cases all tied up like a present. It’s organized and looks nice if someone opens your linen closet ????????????????????????

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