Projects & Improvements

Before and After: A $5,000 DIY-Driven Redo Turns This Bare Basement into a Functional Laundry Room

published Feb 1, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Laundry Room
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Donna Malenchini's laundry room before renovations with laundry drying rack and metal bin in corner.

In 2021, Apartment Therapy interviewed laundry experts — representatives from NEAT Method, The Laundress, and more — about the best ways to improve a basement laundry setup, and here’s what they had to say: Stylish organizers will look a lot better than basic plastic baskets in a space that may already be an eyesore; a washable rug is a great coverup for a cold basement floor; and adding more lighting (or enhancing the existing lighting) can make a dark basement feel a lot less creepy.

But if you’re looking for even more basement laundry room guidance, take some inspiration from this makeover by homeowner Donna Malenchini. She and her husband, Steve, recently relocated their laundry from a small closet in their kitchen to their unfinished basement to take advantage of the ample space down there. Because their new laundry room setup “had no walls and was very dark and cold,” Donna and Steve decided to give the area a makeover that would help them achieve a more finished look.

One of the most important steps in making this area feel more like a room and less like a storage space was giving it some real walls. Donna and Steve installed drywall themselves, then added shiplap-style paneling on the back wall behind the washer and dryer. A neutral greige paint (Benjamin Moore’s Bone Black) on the walls, floors, and ceiling brightens the space up and makes it feel more polished, too. “It was a lot of hard work, and having never installed walls or completed a drywall project, I’m so proud of the end result,” Donna says.

As for the new cabinetry, Donna and Steve designed it themselves to include the elements that would make their laundry room most practical for them: drawers, a long counter and a space for baskets. A woodworker created pieces to fit the specs, then Donna and Steve assembled and installed everything (including the new quartz counters). For a special touch, they fitted the drawers with pulls from Restoration Hardware.

Doing lots of DIYing helped Donna and Steve keep to a budget of $5,000 for this laundry area, which they practically created out of thin air. Unlike what was there before, the new space is filled with details that give it a homey touch.

Two of Donna’s favorites: the black-and-white family photos framed in large white IKEA frames above the new built-in, as well as the built-in itself. Not only does it offer ample counter space for laundry folding and Donna’s flower arranging, but the setup also features lots of storage underneath in the form an antique grain barrel and Steele rolling hampers.

As Donna wrote on Instagram, “Laundry is not fun, but it’s more manageable when you have a place for everything.”