Before and After: 3 DIY Projects in 1 Afternoon Made My Disaster Area Laundry Room Actually Usable
As it is for many people who move into a new place, my first couple years at the house I share with my fiancé were focused on settling into the areas where we spend the most time. We bought a dining table and installed brighter lights in our kitchen; we added functional storage and workspace to our respective offices; we outfitted our living room with vintage chairs and a coffee table so we had a comfortable place to hang out.
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For all those months, though, there were some areas in dire need of a spruce-up that kept getting downgraded in priority. One of those? Our laundry room, a roughly 50-square-foot zone smack in the middle of our basement that had been lost in a heap of dirty and clean laundry, bottles of detergent and stain treatments, and other cleaning tools and supplies. Its only saving grace was that it was hidden behind a pair of handsome louvered wood doors, which could effectively hide the absolute disaster zone behind them. (Above, you can see what it looked like when we bought the house, before we started living life in it.)
Closing those doors made it pretty easy to ignore the problem — a cheap if not particularly effective way to overcome it. But in that mess, even the smallest loads of laundry became giant chores, and it was clear that an actual solution was needed to keep us from getting trapped in a quicksand of socks and dish rags.
I had a few major goals in transforming this space: First, I wanted to create an area where I could store tools like my iron and steamer, as well as detergent and stain lifters, that would keep them out of sight and off the top of the dryer so that we could use that space for folding clothes. I also wanted to make sure that all of that storage was high enough up that it would still allow easy access to the washer and dryer, and could remain in the same spot when we get around to replacing our 20- to 40-year-old appliances (yes, seriously) in the near future. Finally, I wanted to have a designated spot for our broom, mop, and vacuum, all of which had been stored in separate closets since there was not enough space for them in the laundry room.
We took on this project when my parents were in town, so my dad was able to lend us two extra hands for the day. After clearing everything out of the laundry room, we started with mounting a basic pre-fabricated cabinet from Home Depot on the wall above the dryer. The wall had previously been blank — a huge waste of waste of valuable storage real estate. Using a stud finder and a laser level, my dad and I mapped out where the studs were on the wall before marking those spots with a pencil. From there, we attached a 1×2 to the wall with long cabinet screws to serve as a support while we mounted the cabinet. (My fiancé, John, took over for me at that point since his reach is quite a bit higher and he was able to better hold the cabinet in place while my dad secured it with those same cabinet screws.)
Once the cabinet was in place, we turned our attention to the other side of the room. There had been two open shelves installed at about 36 inches and 24 inches high when we first moved in; my dad and I removed those — finding that the brackets on the lower one had been installed with no anchors, and perilously close to the outlet underneath — before installing a new shelf just 12 inches below the ceiling. That left enough room underneath for a wall-mount broom storage system, which effectively holds onto our broom and mop.
From there, the rest of the laundry room’s transformation was just about giving everything a defined place to live. A plastic bin from Target helped me corral wool dryer balls, stain sticks, and other small items; the rest of the cabinet’s shelf space holds detergent and other laundry tools. (Durable shelf liner from Duck helps protect the wood interior from wayward spills.)
I also screwed in a towel hook left over from my previous bathroom renovation, which is a perfect spot to hang my tabletop ironing board. In a pleasant surprise, I was also able to squeeze our stepladder in between the washer and the wall. Previously, it had been stowed in the back of a coat closet, where it was hard to reach, but this new organizational system made room for it here with the rest of our utility items.
The total cost for this project: about $250, which includes the cabinet, bin, shelf and brackets, hook, and shelf liner.
I can’t say that these three projects made this space my favorite room in the house — that honor goes to our living room — but I can say that I no longer procrastinate laundry day, since everything I need is now within easy reach and there’s actually room to fold and organize clean laundry before taking it upstairs. Someday I’ll get to the aesthetic pieces of it, like painting the walls a deep green or blue, but for now, I’m happy that we’ve managed to make a mundane chore just a little more efficient so we can spend those saved minutes binging Netflix, walking our dogs, or playing board games — really, anything but laundry! And isn’t that always the goal?
This piece is part of Transformation Month, where we’re showing off amazing home makeovers, brilliant tiny tweaks, inspiring before & afters, and so much more. Head on over here to see it all!