I originally wanted to call this post “My Souped Up Linen Closet” but Mr. Lively in a mix of sarcasm and reflection mentioned that it should be titled “Designing Behind Closed Doors” and the name stuck. Yes, I unabashedly went way far beyond the call of duty and created a beautiful linen closet for my toiletries next to my bathroom. You see, I live in a not-so-big one bedroom apartment and only have a meager medicine cabinet in the bathroom for storage. So this closet directly next to the bathroom is where I begin and end each day.

And the builder basic rod shelving was not a pretty to look at as I got ready, nor was it practical. It was virtually impossible to get the deodorant to stand upright on those bars and I am just simply too Type-A not to have my products standing correctly.

Given that I’m all about designing my home with intention, I decided that the frustration I felt each day using this rather important area of my home warranted a little makeover. Though I don’t have a before picture to share, just imagine all these products in the same places… with many things lying caddywhompus (never thought I’d use that word here on MML).

And here is what it looks like now.

Much, much, much better. I actually look forward to opening the closet door now.

To make this space seem less utilitarian I used a lot of unusual items for storage. To create a durable, solid surface on all four shelves I found glass cutting boards at Pier 1. They were on sale marked down to $7 each and had a cherry motif on the top. But by turning them upside down I instantly had durable, high quality shelves. In the future I may paint the top of the glass, but for now the white bottom is completely functional.

You can also note the super cute apothecary jar that holds aspirin on the main shelf (inspired by an off-hand comment made by Nate Berkus about his own organizing obsession). I love this so much, though it obviously may not be a good idea for those with children.

I’ll start the more detailed tour on the main, middle shelf. I used a green desk organizer from Target ($7) to hold my lotions and other daily toiletries. The front level is easy to grab from but keeps everything orderly when not in use. The back level is great for the large moisturizers which don’t need to come out of the closet to be used.

The cute white bird tray made to store soap, was found at World Market ($10). Here it’s a great little accent piece for a glass bowl of hair accessories (TJ Maxx $5) and a candy container…

… filled with my monthly pills. Much prettier than an obvious and disposable plastic container.

Nice candle boxes make excellent storage containers. I stored cotton pads in this one.

And nail polish and manicure items are stashed in the other two.

My extra recipe box became the cutest container for tampons I have ever seen.

For less frequently used items, my blow dryer, and duplicate toiletries I love these sturdy blue boxes. I used to have white plastic tubs where were nice but these ones provide a nice pop of color and make the whole place look a lot more unified since they hide the contents from view when not in use.

So there you have it! Though us small space dwellers can’t have souped up laundry rooms, we can still have the chance to splurge on our own little part of our homes.

I’ll be back in the weeks to come with more Designing Behind Closed Doors reveals.


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  • Hahaha really loving the monthly pills little hideout. I am horrible at closet organization, planning to overall my little walk in this summer, a task I am not looking forward to, the end results is what is keeping me motivated 🙂

  • Love the redesign! As a fellow type-A, I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as too organized and if it makes you happy, then make it cute!

  • I love this – I wish I had a nice closet like this for these things, but we’re working with mostly under-sink storage (blegh!). I totally just picked out that bird tray for a client’s bedroom as a catch-all. And I love that you just put up photos of your birth control and tampons – I’m way too shy to do that 😉

  • Beautiful!! I’m totally type-a too, so completely understand the need to make every possible space functional, organized, and lovely to look at. I’m loving that you made even the most mundane things (i.e. birth control and tampons) look so lovely too!

  • I love the idea of using the desktop organizer. I have to get one. This closet looks lovely. Congratulations.

  • Love your style!

    I really dig organization posts! No closet, cabinet, or under-sink area is safe from a clean sweep in my apartment.

    Last year, when Target came out with their Liberty of London line, I couldn’t resist a pretty overhaul!


  • @ Everyone: Thanks so much for the sweet thoughts on the re-do! I am grateful that you all enjoy the pretty like I do. And yes, it got “real real” when I posted those tampons and pills. I joke that I’m an over-share-er and post even made me re-think the pictures a bit. But since they seem to be appreciated, I’m happy I posted them!

    @ SEM: That is a great before and after. Those Liberty bins are adorable!

  • I totally need to get this done! Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post! I too wish I had a nice closet instead of shoving all my stuff under the sink. What are some of your must have items in that linen closet?

  • Love the idea of organizing with pretty boxes. 🙂

  • My little apartment dwelling world is officially rocked. I am usually very appreciative and admiring of your home org/design tours… but with a certain degree of detachment. I’m a messy person. I have tried organizing, I go through and get rid of things.. but I continue to be a mess. I am just not ABLE to not cover a flat surface… at least not now.
    BUT: the desk organizer, candle boxes, and blue containers for storage for toiletries… THAT I can do. And it will look so much nicer than my plastic, see through bins that yes, always look messy, even when contained.
    As for the rest… siiigh. I’ll keep trying. Thanks!

  • Love, love, LOVE the idea of using a desk organizer to hold toiletries! Currently my lotions, eye makeup remover, etc. are a jumbled mess in a small basket in my linen closet. I will have to steal–I mean, graciously borrow your idea and procure a lovely desk organizer of my own to sort out the mess. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • My bathroom/closet is set up like yours, and I’ve been meaning to organize my closet since I’m in it so often. I’ve just been stuck with it, so thanks for the inspiration! Love the way you put yours together!

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  • Beautifully organized. It’s definitely inspiration for when I have my own place in the future!

  • I need to organize my toiletries in my bathroom. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • @ Lauren L.: I actually don’t really think I have too many must have items for my beauty related needs! It’s funny, I could see asking someone else the same question.

    But… I do have a pension for Essie nail polish (I do myself manicures weekly and love it. Hot pink is my favorite for my toes.), Moroccan oil for my curly/frizzy hair, and Aveeno Positively Radiant Face Moisturizer.

    I hope this is helpful :).

    @ Emilie: That’s so great to hear! I know with Mr. Lively who is a bit messier than me, I like to have trays or baskets for his stuff so that he just needs to get it into the container and the surface itself stays clean at the same time that it’s not “organized.”

    @ Everyone: Thanks! Feel free to borrow my ideas for your own linen closets!

  • Question: Where do you keep your towels and sheets? That’s what I use that closet for.

  • @ Helena: They are all on the top shelf (somewhat shoved) above those three racks. No great solution other than that has come to mind so far since it’s hard to get them up there due to a low door.

  • Katy

    Jess, where to do keep your make up? And how do you organize it? I have mine compartmentalized in in the second drawer of a large, tacky, 3-drawer, plastic bin (think college style). I’m moving to a smaller place = smaller bathroom. That large bin is not coming with me, I’ve out grown, but now I’m lacking ideas for how/where to organize my make up. I’m not a dig-through-bottomless-pit-make-up-bad-type lady.

  • @ Katy: I actually have an old post that shows what I do (the second shelf, all the way to the left) has my makeup in it. Since I have a pedestal sink, this is how I can see and access my makeup easily when I need to take it into the bathroom. It rests perfectly on the corner of the sink. Then once I’m done, it goes right back in the closet. 🙂

    Here’s a picture of the organizer (found at TJ Maxx) – http://makeundermylife.com/small-space-solution-portable-vanity/ – different apartment, but the same makeup organizer.

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