Before and After: A $500 Redo Revives This Crowded “Dungeon” of a Laundry Room

published Dec 4, 2021
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Laundry Room
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
laundry room before renovation messy
Credit: MaCenna Lee

Whether you rent or own, if you’re fortunate enough to have your own washer and dryer, you know that the laundry area can get messy — and fast. Not only can clothing pile up, but the area frequently becomes a storage area for other cleaning materials, too, which — if you don’t have an already organized setup — can lead to lots of clutter.

Clutter was one of the things MaCenna Lee (XO MaCenna) was dealing with in her laundry room. Not only did the space lack storage for supplies, but it wasn’t exactly packed with style, either.

Credit: MaCenna Lee

While MaCenna and her boyfriend Romeo have been doing budget-friendly makeovers throughout their LA rental home for the last four years, the laundry room was sitting untouched. “To be honest, I’ve neglected our laundry room because it was a room that became a sort of catch-all storage space,” MaCenna says. 

She assumed early on that the laundry room was a lost cause because couldn’t see any rental-friendly solutions. The biggest issue was that the space didn’t have proper storage — that tall cabinet actually hid the water heater, not shelves. Plus, the stacked washer and dryer kept all the sunlight out of the room, making it feel “like a dungeon,” MaCenna says.

“Once I realized it was only one cabinet standing in the way of the perfect laundry room layout, I reached out to my landlord to see if he would be open to me making some changes,” MaCenna writes on her blog.

Credit: MaCenna Lee

After getting the OK from her landlord, MaCenna’s plans fell into place. She wanted to unblock the window by moving the washer and dryer from their stacked spot to sit side-by-side; create usable storage; and install a countertop for folding clothes.

MaCenna’s first order of business was removing the small cabinet from between the washer and taller cabinets in order to un-stack the washer and dryer. “With us removing the smaller cabinet to make way for the new layout, we had to bring in a new storage solution,” MaCenna says. 

MaCenna decided to mount cabinets on the wall, adding in a rod on one side for hanging clothes. She painted these and the water heater cabinet with creamy white paint (Benjamin Moore’s Natural Cream) to give the room a “felt fresh and calming” touch.  Now that the front-opening washer and dryer are side-by-side, MaCenna was about to install a countertop above them to create a folding station. The setup also lets in lots more natural light through the room’s only window.

Credit: MaCenna Lee

The whole transformation took just $500, plus a weekend of work (with help from her boyfriend). Of all the DIY projects she’s completed, MaCenna feels most proud of being able to create such a beautiful and functional space so quickly, not to mention “successfully hanging upper cabinets for the first time,” she says. “Surprisingly, hanging the upper cabinets was not as hard as it looks.”

After years of neglect, the laundry room now ties in with the rest of MaCenna and Romeo’s thoughtfully designed home, and the couple couldn’t be happier. “It’s also much more functional with upper cabinets for storage and a folding counter,” MaCenna says. “And it gets beautiful sunlight to make washing clothes a bit more enjoyable.”