How much is enough crockery and linen for your household?

house 001A Guest post by Doodle

Some of things we tend to hang on to for long after they are no longer needed is an excess of crockery and towels and bed linen.

An older member of my extended family still has enough pots, pans and crockery to feed an army, yet hasn’t fed anyone other than her husband and herself at home for years. The excess means she can’t keep the things she uses regularly in the most easy to reach place for her with her increasing lack of agility and will make moving should they need to for health reasons a lot more work and bring a lot more decision making at a difficult time.

I see this in other households I visit too.

Hanging on to how things ‘used to be’ can happen very easily. It’s worth taking time to regularly review your life and how you really live it rather than aspire to live it.

Perhaps it is time for you to review the life you actually have now?

 A few years ago I did this with crockery and came to the following conclusions that were right for us:

1. We don’t entertain at home and it was time to acknowledge we don’t, and that is ok. I think I still felt entertaining was something that ‘normal’ people did and therefore I aspired to it without any heart for it. The reality is, I meet my girlfriends in town for lunch, family are too far away and we have defaulted to friends who don’t do dinner parties either. Offering tea and cake is enough, or soup and bread.

2. We default to being a bit lazy and the more dishes we have, the larger the pile of dirty dishes can become (we don’t own a dishwasher) because we just select the next clean plate.

3. Our lodger has their own supply of crockery and doesn’t need to be considered in our equation.

So I drastically downsized two years ago and we haven’t missed any of it and we are forced to keep on top of our washing up which pleases me very much 

This is our entire supply of crockery for me and my husband and can be seen in the photo:

2 large plates 2 small plates 2 pudding/soup bowls 2 pasta bowls 2 spare mugs for visitors 2 mugs each (when we break one each they won’t be replaced) I also use the smallest one as a rice measure) 2 beer glasses (when 1 breaks it won’t be replaced), 1 wine glass (I don’t drink alcohol) 2 medium glasses and 2 small 200ml glasses. 2 small wooden serving bowls made from local woodland by a friend as a wedding gift.

On the very rare occasions I may need to offer a visitor or two a small meal, they can use our dinner plates an we’ll use the pasta bowls (or if it is a pasta meal, the other way round)

This is our entire towel and bed linen collection:

Towels: Tiny travel towel (about the size of a face cloth that absorbs all the water when you wipe your self down after a shower) 2 bath towels each 2 hand towels 2 towel turbans for hair drying for me. (One of each above in use, one in the weekly wash. Spare set when dry kept folded on shelf in bathroom)

Bed linen: One spare set of duvets covers (we have a single duvet each rather than share a double duvet – this makes for a much better night’s sleep for our individual sleeping styles),

One spare super king fitted sheet and one set of spare pillow cases.

Kept in little wheeled storage unit under our bed with a spare double duvet for occasional extreme cold weather.

One spare set, for a visitor, kept in sealed bag in attic along with duvet, 2 pillows & single folding visitor’s bed. Last used 3 years ago. I am thinking of downsizing this to just the bed and borrowing linen in the extremely unlike event we have an overnight visitor.

I love this simplicity and our space saving choices. They suit us. They will not suit everyone.

Are there any changes you can make to how many spares you have? And if you are saving excess spares for ‘once a year’ events, is it possible to borrow for those occasions?

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a few magazines from you collection that you haven’t returned to in a long while.

Eco Tip for the Day

 Create a pocket in the day to witch off the technology devises and television for a while. Not just for the peace and quiet but also to cut down on your electricity usage.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Doodle, that photo is impressive! (In the sense that I think it is impressive to just stick to what you really need and not keep any “just in case”) We are nowhere near that amount, but then we do have guests over often (though we don’t “entertain” formally, but we host 8 eaters or more about once a month). We still have way more than we need though, mostly because we’re sentimental about our crockery – but I haven’t replaced or added any in two years, so slowly it will get less.
    Regarding towels and linens we are not quite as streamlined as you either: we use fitted sheets and are down to only two there, but still have spare pillow cases and duvet covers…
    By the way I like the wall colour! 🙂

    • Thanks Sanna :O) I do love the colour myself: it’s a north facing room (which in the UK means no direct sunlight) with no heating in it other than the oven so I need to make it as cheerful as possible.
      I do love our compact crockery supply and as I say , it works for us. I do think not replacing breakages is totally valid way of slowly downsizing, especially if you have a particular attachment. Our wooden bowls are a bit surplus to actual requirements but were a wedding present handmade for us so there is no way they are going and I enjoy using them, even if not every day.
      Not buying more crockery yourself to replace breakages is an excellent way to see the benefit of any method of decluttering.

  2. Doodle, this is a good post. I wish we were as streamlined as you. While we have decluttered a lot from the kitchen there is still way too much in my book. We have 8 each of the dinner plates, salad plates, dessert plates, bowls, cups and saucers. We seldom use the dinner plates. It’s been probably 2 years. Mom uses one cup in the mornings for water for her pills. We use the saucers and the dessert plates more than anything. I would like to at least cut down to 4 of each but Mom fights it. We no longer have people over that much and when we do it is usually only one or two. As to linens, I was able to get Mom to cut down quiet a bit but we still have way more than I think we need. I still have hope that one day she will be willing to declutter more.

    • Thanks Deb J. If it is any comfort – we may be streamline in crockery and linens, but boy, does my husbands extensive book collection make up for it, lol.
      Your mum has progressed so much over the last year or two. And your loving patience and respect towards the validity of her needs over yours is a real inspiration. I am sure you will get to see her downsize further in time. I think it must be hard for some of the older generation to let go of a time when they had a house full of people to feed, if indeed that was the case for your mother.

      • Doodle, you are right in that Mom used to entertain a lot. But we haven’t in years. I know that with time she will let go of more. It’s all neatly put away in the kitchen cupboards so I can live with it.

  3. I am interested in your single blanket idea. Is there a way to do that on a queen bed? All blankets end up on one side and I would like my own lol. Thanks

    • Hi Karen
      I’m not sure what size a queen bed is but I don’t see why not. (By the way, we don’t have blankets, just duvets.
      How it works is – we have a 6ft wide bed, which in the UK is called a ‘super king size’ (made up of 2x 3f single mattresses). The mattresses are held together purely by using a 6ft wide fitted mattress protector and sheet. That way, they don’t move apart and we can barely feel the join.
      We then just use 2 single duvets rather than one large double one. So we each get to control what happens to our own duvet. If one of us is hot and the other cold, we can throw off or keep on the duvet. without disturbing the other. And I can toss and turn, taking the duvet with me with out pulling any off my husband.

  4. Co incidental to this post coming out today, this morning I did get rid of the spare double duvet and 2 pillows and visitors sheet/duvet cover and pillow cases to a local charity was collecting them for the homeless. It felt really good to give them to such a good cause. Now they will be used by people who really need them instead of slowly disintegrating away in our attic.

    • Isn’t it funny when you talk yourself into something you wanted to do anyway by sharing your story with others? I really enjoyed your post. Linens and dishes (and books and toys for the children) are my areas that still need weeding out and sharing out to others. I like what you did, and that is a good motivator to me. If someone needs something I have, it is easier for me to give it up. We do feed and host our family quite a lot; so it all gets used. I have squashed the bedding into space bags, but I would rather let it all go, and I’m not sure how to deal with that. For dishes, we could use paper when we ran out, much as I don’t prefer it. I don’t feel comfortable asking to borrow bedding from friends. If I had family living locally, I might ask them.

      • Thanks Angela, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think sharing one’s story brings things to the forefront of one’s mind Angela, so then we actively mull it over a bit more. And the few weeks which have elapsed since writing this have given me time to consolidate the feeling I could let these things go. I to definitely find t easier to give things up if I am meeting a specific need. Sometimes I have needed to do that with things I find harder, and a general charity shop gift isn’t enough to help me let go.
        I don’t spend ages wondering why, I just accept this is how I feel and fin the right outlet that feels good.
        I did find with the bedding, the fact I could easily get more if required also helped -there is not a world shortage of duvets in our part of the world.
        Sometimes just hearing how someone else deals with stuff gives us food for thought and inspires us to find a new solution for ourselves, even if completely different to the original suggestion.

        • Now you’ve inspired me to really get creative with the bed situation. We host family and friends quite often, and they sleep on air beds; so there is a lot we store.

  5. We are another household that rarely has more than one or two guests at a time. This blog helped me see that I could give away half of our dishes with no problem, and that I could store a portion what I kept above the fridge for the rare times we have more than 1 guest over for a meal. When I floated these plans by my husband, he responded that he hated our “nice” dishes, and we agreed that our every day dishes are practical but neither of us love them. Eventually, the plan is to buy up to 4 plates and bowls that we love, get rid of the last of the dishes we don’t, and not worry about everything matching for company. It isn’t as if our hosting style is so formal that unmatched dishes would be out of place.

    We have an excess of towels, but half of them are pretty worn out, so my plan is to let natural attrition reduce their number.

    • I call that a result Rebecca! Excellent.
      There is that oft quoted quote of “Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” (William Morris): I do think even down to the dishes we eat from, it is lovely to chose pieces we love over the mundane. really enjoy handling and using the crockery we do have and the simplicity of having so few really seems to enhance my quality of life.

  6. Fabulous insight Doodle. I particularly enjoyed: “Hanging on to how things ‘used to be’ can happen very easily”

    Hanging on to the past, onto what is familiar, onto what is comfortable, is an understandable default, but generally not very useful. I love the practicality of your kitchen

    • Thanks very much Mark. It’s a real reminder that sharing how we individually deal with our stuff is always going to resonate positively with someone. I really wondered if people would be put off by me ‘going to far’ but clearly not.

      As I have travelled on the de-cluttering/’simplifying my life’ journey, I have got into regular habits of checking in to ‘what are my needs right now compared to 6 months ago’.

  7. Very impressive, Doodle. I clearly have way too much. Your post is timely. When I was restacking my Christmas bins here a couple weekends ago, on the very bottom of the stack is a 30 gal Rubbermaid bin with linens in it that I haven’t used in 12+ years. I opened the lid, pawed through the bin, and decided to tackle it another day. There are some very good comments on here as well as another blog I follow about doing with less. I don’t know what I’m waiting for, hanging on to all this unnecessary “stuff”. Thanks for your post. 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle, I love the idea that something written on a grey day in the UK can be timely for someone far far away 🙂

      When it comes to getting rid of excess stuff, there’s the slow steady approach of Colleen and the 365 method and one thing a day going, ‘by hook or crook’.(is that a universal expression?) and sometimes I find the right day comes when everything clicks into place, I can get so much done and loads goes.
      I think your waiting time for the linens is up…look forward to hearing your progress on this one :0)

      • Doodle – we use the saying by hook or crook too (New Zealand) and I love knowing the background of words so I looked it up, there were a couple of possibilities but this one sounded the most likely:
        Another is that it comes from the customs regulating which firewood local people could take from common land; they were allowed to take any branches that they could reach with a billhook or a shepherd’s crook.[3] More likely it simply means, “by any means necessary” or “using whatever means are available”. The word crook has a connotation of crookedness, perversity and wickedness, while hook might suggest subtlety, deceit, cunning or trickery.

        • As it turns out, I’m going to have some free time next week. I’ve contacted an estate sale lady to see if she may be interested in some of the things. I’ve tried a consignment store – that was not worth the hassle. And I’ve donated a ton of stuff. I think I still have too many possessions, but it’s hard to run around and pull things out just to do so. You’d think after all this time that it wouldn’t be so difficult, but sometimes it is.

          Yes, I have heard of “by hook or by crook” but never knew what it meant. LOL

          • well done for contacting the estate sale lady – hopefully that will be a good impetus to get some more things out of the house.
            And yes, I still find it can be difficult after all this time and other times easy.

  8. Good post, lm more impressed with the single doona (duvet) each due to individual sleeping preferences – that’s genius !! 🙂

    PS the name Doodle reminds me of the kids book Doodle Bites – l read it to my nieces a lot … lol

    • 🙂 thanks Felicity. It is a remarkably simple solution but fairly uncommon here in the UK. I’m a light sleeper and tosser and turner, wrapping the duvet all round me, where as my husband barely moves and the duvet is still just as it was when he got in to bed, all straight and square. Two single duvets is the perfect solution, so we do not disturb each other (Me ,him by not stealing his share of the duvet and him, me by my being kept awake by being unable to move in case I disturb him). But still very much feel in bed together.
      We also have separate mattresses – 2 singles in a superking size frame (6ft wide) I adapted myself from a standard double bed. The mattresses are kept together with a superking fitted mattress protector and fitted sheet. This is a cheaper way to minimise disturbance that buying an expensive good quality large mattress. It also means I can easily have a single memory foam mattress topper on my side for my aches and pains, that he find too hot to have on his.

  9. I love this topic!
    OK, I will have a lot more than the rest of you, I have a 12 set of dinner plates. We are a family of five and most of our dinner guests are a family of four or five. I also like to have the dishwasher full before I set it off, so it isn’t unusual for most or all of our plates to be coming out of the machine at the end of the day.

    We bought this set when we moved into our current house, and we bought everything white and generic from TWH where you can buy on a piece by piece basis rather than a boxed dinnerset. So as dishes got broken as they tend to do with kids, we could easily replace them. Not very exciting to look at least everything always matches.

    As our kids leave home, I’ll adjust what we keep. Of course, there is always the possibility one of them could snatch some or all of mine as they leave, in which case I’ll get myself something nice and new.

    Bed linen – I have a spare set for my bed, I could possibly survive on one set but it already exists, and handy if I don’t get the laundry turned around in one day.

    The kids each have a double bed. We started out with one but for various reasons, including several years of many guests, we ended up with three double beds. (In my son’s case, at 6 foot 1″ he got too big for his single). My kids like to sleep without a top sheet, so it means I have to wash duvet covers more often but I’m used to that. So they each have a fitted sheet. In the linen cupboard I have two spare double fitted sheets. I tried to make do with just one spare but that became a bit of a bother especially if we had more than one set of guests staying or another set arriving soon after another lot left. It also was a nuisance with laundry as our weather can be a bit unpredictable.

    This year I bought a spare duvet cover set. The kids had reached an age where they didn’t want guests using theirs, and I have to admit after the recent set of guests, it was very convenient to not wash and dry someone’s duvet plus set up fresh linens etc etc, and then as guests leave, to repeat the whole process to return the room to its rightful owner by nightfall. This was much more fuss free. Once one of the kids leaves home, we’ll re-evaluate what we want to do then.

    Towels. All my towels fit comfortably in my linen cupboard. Granted it is a decent size linen cupboard but it used to be a very over full linen cupboard, so I am very pleased with it. I could probably make do with less towels but as signs of wear and tear are starting to come thru, I’ll allow natural attrition to weed things out. As with everyone else mentioned here, I’ll re-evaluate as the kids leave home and we eventually down size our home, no doubt I’ll have a smaller size linen cupboard.

    I can remember about a year ago when I was having a bit of a sort out in the linen cupboard my son pointed out that I had a basket that held queen size sheets, but we didn’t actually own a queen size bed. It was a lol moment as I’d decluttered and organised the linens a number of times by then.

    • Thanks Moni – this sound like a subject you’ve really got a grip on for your household, and that’s a key thing, paring back to what are right levels for you and your home and being aware of downsizing issues at key life points.
      LOl, at the queensize bed moment.

  10. wow that is impressive streamlining!
    We are not anywhere near that yet…. this Christmas we will be having 16 for dinner… since we have the centrally located house we are always the ones hosting the big family dinners for all special occasions. Sometimes I get entertainment fatigue and wish somebody else would pick up the torch, but usually I like it well enough. We get around some of the stress by asking everyone to bring part of the meal – buns, dessert, side dish, salad etc… (not only does it help us out, it also makes it truly a family meal).
    Linens I pared down significantly when we moved. I don’t miss any of it specifically. But I have noticed the sheets are wearing out faster with the more frequent laundering.

    • Hi Creativeme, that’s a good point re the sheets wearing out quicker: though I guess that that that balances out – if a pair if sheets lasts ,say, 2 years worth of washing, then you are no worse of buying a new pair every 2 years than buying 5 pairs all at once and them lasting 10 years. In the latter scenario, you will have had to store a lot more and take up more space.

      With your lovely sounding family sharing meal at Christmas time, I wonder if there is any possibility of family also bringing crockery with the food. It would mean everyone having to pitch in to wash up before they leave, but that is no bad thing!

  11. I don’t yet have my own home (can’t even afford to rent where we live it’s so expensive) but reading everyone’s comments and experiences always makes me write mental notes to really think about what we will need when the time comes. I really hope we won’t fall into the trap of buying and having excess with the excitement of moving out. My plan at the moment will be to buy the bare minimum by considering what kitchen items of my parents we use right now, and make that my ‘to buy’ list, after all if it turns out we forget things or need more than we thought it won’t be the end of the earth – missing items can always be bought if necessary. Perhaps I will start some kind of folder/document on my pc to remind me of all these things.

    I guess for all the frustration of not being able to afford my own home, it does have some upsides. For example it is giving me the opportunity to think long and hard about what kind of space I want that to be and the items I would like in my home. It’s also great for decluttering motivation as I really want to be in the maintenance stage by then, and with around 18-20 months to go until we get our own place I have plenty of time to get it down to only the beautiful and the essential.

    So thank you for all sharing your experiences, I find them all very helpful 🙂

    • Hi Jane, I think it’s wonderful that you are aware of over buying issues before you move into your first home: such awareness will definitely make a difference. You are even thinking clearly about kitchen implements you actually use.
      Starting as you mean to go on is much easier than 20 years down the line having to face a huge excess and here to start.

      Mindful buying is a great life skill and a great use of your financial resources.

  12. This is a good post today. I have gotten rid of many things in the kitchen but I can think of a few more things to get rid of. I have too many serving bowls and do not entertain much, so I think some of those could go without a doubt. The same for a few more kitchen appliances. As life progresses for most people, they usually find that they need less and less. It is important to change rather than hang on to that old way of thinking.

    • Thanks Jen – it is a constant surprise to me that I can still find things in the kitchen to get rid of.
      I think it is like peeling onion layers and the more you do over time, the more our minds tunr to thinking about what we really need and don’t need and you adjust to new standards of ‘surplus to requirements’.

  13. Doodle, this is a fantastic post. It challenges and inspires me. And makes me slightly nervous, having to face my “need” to hang onto things. I am fine with linen. Well, sort of. And compared to my crockery, my linen collection is fine.

    But compared to my mother, I am doing really well. Recently my mother has accepted she doesn’t need 4 full sets of dinner service, and piles and piles of sandwich or cake plates. She is donating to a charity shop and giving to friends. She doesn’t want the clutter nor does she need so many plates. And she doesn’t want us to have to deal with the clutter when she is no longer with us.

    You have done really well. I love having the spare bed linen stored right under the bed. No wasting shelves or accumulating things because they are out of sight and out of mind.

    I won’t be decluttering to your level. We do entertain; this Christmas we will have 14 immediate family for dinner. But I can definitely let more stuff go. I will continue my slow and steady declutter over the next two years.

    • Thanks very much Lucinda. I definitely think the challenge is to declutter to the right level for ourselves and at the right pace and not feel pressure to match up to someone else. It’s also good to recognise this is a constant fluid state to be reviewed. What you need now might not be what you need in 6 months/6 years.
      I think it is wonderful that your mother is letting go so much: especially in consideration to her children. It is definitely very hard for the newly bereaved to have to deal with excessive belongings of their loved ones.

  14. I know this is off topic but I just have to say what a fabulous idea having two single duvets on a king bed is. I’d never have thought of that.

    • Thanks Samantha 🙂 It is great to not feel we have to follow the norm. And it does feel just as cosy and intimate.