linen closet makeover

This is not your standard closet makeover, that starts with a trip to the Container Store, or at least a dollar store.  My budget for this project was $0.00, and I stuck to it.  My linen closet was always an issue for me, because it has a hanger bar and no shelves.  How to organize linens in such a setup without spending money?  The other thing holding me back was that I hate our linens.  They are awful.  I have one set of sheets that I love, which are either on the bed or in the washing machine; and I have a set of ugly but very warm flannel sheets that I put on the bed when we can’t stand to freeze anymore.  But the rest of our sheets?  Hideous.  They are all handmedowns from my mother in law, who judges a sheet’s attractiveness on the number of contrasting colors and its ability to stand out in a crowd.  They are also all king size, and our bed is a queen.

Our towel situation is no better.  All our towels are handmedowns as well, mostly shades of beige, except for one garish set of bright turquoise towels that don’t play well with our white-gray-purple decor.   And of course they don’t match each other.  Whenever I think about redoing my linen closet, I think about those hideous sheets and towels, and I lose heart.   At some point, I had the brilliant idea to buy a hanging sweater organizer (purple and gray!) to provide a little shelf space in there, and I’m thrilled with that idea, but clearly it wasn’t enough, and I wasn’t really using it very much.

This week, I realized that I was running out of storage space in the pantry, and the linen closet was the most underutilized storage we have.  So my ugly sheets and ratty old towels had to be faced.   If we didn’t have frequent overnight guests, almost all of those sheets would be designated “project fabric.”

So, first step is to face reality.  Here’s the Before… keeping it real for you…

Got to have a plan!  The plan:  store linens, towels, toiletries stockpile, and paper goods stockpile.  Getting the bathroomy stuff in here would clear out space in the pantry for food storage, something I really need.

First step was to get the clothes out of the linen closet.  I had been storing our out of season clothes on the bottom shelf.  I moved those to the upper level of the bedroom closet.  The clothes that were hanging on the hanger bar went either to the coat closet or the bedroom closet.  That cleared out a great deal of space.

Having no budget means making do with what I have on hand.  I collected a bunch of white plastic baskets and lavendar edged bamboo baskets that I already had.

The large blue box doesn’t match the color scheme and I am painfully aware of this – can you tell it’s in hiding back there? Anyway, it has toilet paper and extra tampons in it.  In front, tissues, swiffer cloths, paper towels, and disposable gloves.  On top of the box, left to right:  dental care, skin care, and hair care.

On the bottom, I have a row of white plastic baskets in the back row:  soaps; shampoo; shower gels; tampons; and baby wipes.  In the bamboo baskets in the front:  cosmetics; shaving supplies; bath sponges; deodorant; and cotton swabs.

(You have to do a special course to fold towels and neatly ironed sheets like that, I’m telling you, it’s a talent… 😉 Oh, whom am I kidding… I don’t waste too much energy on the hateful things!)  Hanging sheets on hangers is the only solution I could come up with since there’s a hanger bar but no shelves, but I’m okay with it for now.  I think that for $0.00, this is a solution that I can live with.  It freed up one whole pantry shelf, two craft-closet drawers, and bits of other storage here and there.  It’s also so organized that my husband can find things without having to ask.  (He is always asking me where things are, because I’m always moving them around.  When I showed him the finished result, he gave me the raised eyebrow.  He knows that it’s quite likely I’ll redo the whole thing in a few days weeks months.)

As for labels… I wanted to stick to the linen closet theme, and I had an old orphan lavendar pillowcase, so I took it apart and used the border to make mini pillows, with the label written on them.  Then I attached them to the baskets with a bright purple bow.  I only used about a tenth of the pillowcase fabric, so that leaves more fabric for other projects, and it didn’t cost anything.  And, to make them even more fun, there is actual lavendar inside the pillows, to keep everything smelling nice!

That’s my no-money linen closet organization makeover!

I’ll do an update on this if I ever get new towels and sheets! 😀

You might also like:
DIY Ziploc bag organizer
Before & after: craft closet

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Organize and Decorate EverythingA Delightsome LifeChic on a Shoestring DecoratingThe Shabby Nest


tulle rose bouquet

I love handrolled roses, ever since the Valentine’s Day of my engagement to my now-husband.  He was living on the tiny Greek island where we later were married and lived together for a year.  I came down from Athens for the Valentine’s weekend, bringing with me a bouquet of my favorite roses:  ivory tinged with red.  (Why should guys have all the fun of giving roses?)  But a Greek island with a population of 200 souls in the depths of winter doesn’t have roses for sale, or any kind of flower for that matter.  With absolutely no craft supplies or know-how, my then-fiance made me a huge bouquet of paper roses out of … paper towels.  I still have this bouquet, and I expect I always will.

To continue in the tradition of handrolled roses that cost absolutely nothing, I decided to make a little centerpiece for our Valentine’s dinner.  I was inspired by this beautiful kissing ball made by the very talented Kristin of My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia.  It wasn’t just the finished product that drew me to this project – it was the fact that she used a wiffle ball for the base.

As much as I love reading about creative diy projects on blogs, most of the time I end up sighing and saying, “well, if we had Michael’s in Greece, maybe I could do that.”  Or, “well, if I had extra money to buy ____, maybe I could do that.”  When Kristin wrote:

I really wasn’t in the mood to leave the house for a styrofoam ball, this wiffle ball worked just fine.

it hit me:  I never have the stuff you’re supposed to have.  And yet, I actually have a styrofoam ball.  (I definitely don’t have a wiffle ball – although ping pong balls are another story!)

So I decided to give it a try.  However, the project calls for fabric.  Unlike every other female blogger on the planet, I don’t have a fabric stash.  Things are far too tight financially for me to go running off to the fabric store.  However I never throw anything away if I think it will come in handy.  We had attended a wedding in August, and I still had the little circles of tulle that wrapped the Jordan almonds handed out at the wedding.  Two circles of pink tulle and two circles of white.

I followed Kristin’s tutorial on making handrolled roses, but had to make a few changes because of my materials.

First, I cut around and around the circle from the outside in, ending up with a very long strip.

I rolled the strip until the flower was big enough,

then secured it with a pin and kept going until I ran out of fabric.

Kristin uses a glue gun, but the tulle was so fragile that I decided to sew it instead.  I sewed across the bottom of each flower, one third of the way up, and wrapped the stitches around the side to flare the top (blossom end).

Then I put a pin through the center of each blossom,

and pulled it as far down as I could inside the blossom,

and stuck it into the styrofoam ball.

At this point it became obvious that I didn’t have anywhere near enough tulle to make a kissing ball like Kristin’s.  Instead, I decided to turn it into a bouquet of roses.  I used the white tulle to wrap the bouquet, pinning the white fabric to the bottom of the styrofoam ball.

I liked Kristin’s idea of setting it on a candlestick.  I tied a pink bow on a candlestick and set the bouquet on top.  I may not ultimately keep it in the candlestick as I work out the rest of the centerpiece.

A nice thing about this project is that in addition to being free, I can easily take it apart and reuse the white tulle, the pins, and the styrofoam ball in other projects.  The pink tulle flowers, even without the ball and pins, will not lose their shape, since they’ve been stitched, and the whole thing can be easily reassembled next year if I want to.  I think free and reuseable in other projects is even more frugal than free!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This post is linking up to:

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating  

vintage copper goodies

The Greek city where we live is full of antique shops, many of which have been here for close to a hundred years.  This city is unique in Greece in that it has a split population, 50% Greek and 50% Turkish.  The Turkish population has lived here for generations but retains its very separate identity.  Although the children go to school here and are surrounded by Greek media and people, their command of the Greek language is mediocre (my schoolteacher husband can attest to this), they have a very strong community where they speak Turkish and socialize quite apart from the Greek population.  The Turkish population is Muslim and the city is well stocked with mosques and Turkish cultural buildings.  One of the most interesting aspects of the Turkish population here is their contribution to the material culture of the town.

Copper-working has a long tradition here in town, as well as embroidery and other crafts.  Copper wasn’t really on my radar until a few months before we moved here last summer.  When I started researching to decorate our new home, I discovered this fascinating tradition and was blown away when I visited the copper shops here in town – of which there are many.

Although I’ve just started collecting, the pieces that I have are wonderful.  I hope you enjoy these pieces, each of which has a secret history.  I don’t know how many homes have hosted these pieces, or how many tables they’ve graced.  But I’m happy to have them in my home.

This copper tray is huge.  Its original purpose was actually to cook phyllo-dough pies, which are very popular here in Greece.  I use it as these trays are usually used now:  as a table top.  I love it because it goes just as well on a side table as on an ottoman or couch (as here) to hold drinks without worrying about spilling.  It’s a much more exciting alternative to a standard rectangular tray.  I love the incredible patina.

This is probably my favorite piece.  This beautiful vessel has an elegantly attached handle and lovely curves.  I use this in the kitchen to hold cooking utensils by the stove, and once in a while, to hold a beautiful bouquet of wildflowers.

I use this wonderful pitcher for baking utensils in the kitchen.  These first three pieces are from the antique copper shops here in town.

This is a coffee grinder for making Greek (or Turkish) coffee.  My husband brought it back from Bosnia.  It’s beautiful, but it’s a pain to use, so it’s primarily decorative.  Since I have a fantastic grain grinder, I don’t really need another one.  This one has probably ground a lot of coffee in its day, though.

This little copper pot is from the Greek city of Xanthi.  It’s used exclusively for making Greek coffee.

It came with a wonderful brass stirrer to mix the coffee into the water.

This little guy was actually the first piece in my collection, and is bronze, not copper.  It’s from Amman, Jordan.

I just love the lines!

I hope you enjoyed these lovely copper goodies as much as I do!

You might also like:

A walk through the shops…
Give me a sign
Weird things in my kitchen

This post is linking up to:

A Delightsome Life                                   The Shabby Nest  Chic on a Shoestring Decorating     

before & after: craft closet


Closet interior, before

When we first saw the apartment, we were impressed.  There were a lot of kitchen cabinets.  There was a pantry.  Yes, in a Greek city apartment, an actual pantry.  And then, in the living room, there was a linen closet.  An unexpected bonus, so nice that I was almost able to get over the state of the linen closet’s drawers.

Inside the drawers, before.

Until I actually opened one of them, that is.  This contact paper clearly was some 1980s Greek housewife’s proud find.  She probably spent several minutes looking at various floral print contact papers before settling on this one, preferring it for its bold use of lavendar, scarlet, and yellow against a white background.  Combined with the fake wood contact paper on the exterior, it’s just like walking into a forest in springtime.

But, it wouldn’t do.  This isn’t the 1980s.  The contact paper had to go.  It fought me every inch of the way.  They really knew what they were doing, those contact paper manufacturers of the 1980s.  The glue was still as sticky as the day Kyria Maria lovingly pressed this paper into her closet drawers.

After a fairly prolonged struggle against stickiness, the result:

Closet drawers, after.

I used the same silver contact paper on the outside of the drawers in the bedroom closet.

And those beautiful spring flowers?

Closet drawer, interior, after.

Cost of this mini-makeover:

€5.95 for the silver contact paper

€2.95 for the white contact paper.  Note:  after this photo was taken, I lined the sides, back, and inside front of the interiors as well.

Total cost: €8.90

Ta da!

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