Organizing Our Small Laundry Room
If I can be honest, I didn’t really plan on ever sharing our current laundry room with you all. Thanks to a mis-matched washer and dryer, a temporary patch on the drywall, and a less-than-appealing lemon yellow color on the walls (#renterwoes), it never really felt like a space worthy of showing off. But then the New Year’s organization bug bit me a few weeks back, and I found myself playing switchero with most of our upstairs storage spaces. After whipping our game closet into great shape, I couldn’t help but shift my focus to our small and awkward laundry room. Well…after just a few hours of sorting, purging, dispersing, and brainstorming, I was able to dramatically improve the organization and function of our small laundry space and you better bet it’s a project I wish I tacked months (or years) sooner! In addition to giving you a tour of this little room today, I thought I’d also share the tips and tricks I found useful when organizing a small laundry room!
Funny enough, this is one of the biggest houses we’ve ever lived in but it has the smallest laundry room of all. Not that you really need a lot of room to do laundry, but since we had grown so accustomed to spacious laundry rooms, I definitely floundered (a lot!) to make this one work for us.
This laundry room is on the second floor (which we love), but is pretty tight. The washer and dryer are mis-matched, making for an awkward work surface. And since the cabinets were hung very high to accommodate the original front-loading machines, they are very difficult to reach. As a result, this is a room where we pretty much just do laundry…all folding, ironing, sorting, line drying, etc takes place elsewhere in the house.
Until my recent organization frenzy, the laundry room cabinets held our game collection. We figured since the shelves were too high to reach anyway, we might as well store games and other random objects we didn’t need to access regularly. That approach unfortunately lead to a neglected, disordered mess. Once I moved the games down to where we (and more importantly, the kids!) can reach them, there was suddenly plenty of room to store all those other random things we need but don’t require ready access to: lightbulbs, extension cords, table cloths, etc. It took just an afternoon of sorting and purging (and of course, some new baskets from Target) to get this room functioning (and looking!) 1000 times better.
If you too are faced with trying to create some serious function in a seriously small laundry room, here are some tricks to try!
Install Wall-Mounted Storage
As much as I whine about these cabinets being too high and too shallow, we really are fortunate to have them. They provide us with 6 shelves of concealed storage and definitely go a long way in helping this little space look and feel more complete. Since there is no counter and the front-loading dryer is too high to store items on, the cabinets are our only options for keeping laundry supplies accessible, off the floor, and out of reach from little hands.
If you have no storage whatsoever in your laundry room and floor space is very limited, I highly suggest figuring out some sort of wall-mounted option. Cabinets like these can be purchased a la carte from most hardware stores, but a series of open shelves would also work great. When selecting the height and depth for your shelves or cabinets, be sure to take into account how far out and up your washer and dryer sit. If you have to hang them high like ours, keep a step stool handy so you can easily access the upper shelves without too much extra hassle! (Ours’ is tucked between the washer and dyer.)
When there isn’t a lot of extra space, you need to make what space you do have count. As such, really take time to consider the primary function of your laundry room (most likely: to do laundry) and secondary functions of your laundry room (most likely: storage) and then fill your space accordingly.
The bottom shelves (one on each side) are the only two we can comfortably reach without the stool, so I specifically placed the items we need to do the laundry there. By first placing detergent, dryer sheets and color catchers in an easy-to-reach spot, I could then fill up the remaining shelves with any items, knowing the primary function of the room was set and functional.
I think it’s pretty common for the laundry room to double or serve as a linen closet. As such, the laundry room can become a catch place for all sorts of random things. But if you’re tight on space, you really can’t afford to hold onto random/duplicate/unnecessary items just because. I declutter pretty regularly, but even I was surprised at how much could be tossed. Just by getting rid of lightbulbs that were already damaged, first aid supplies past their expiration dates, and other odds and ends, I was able to make room for the items that really needed to be kept.
Get the Most Out of Your Storage
Whether you have open shelving or close-able cabinets, you want to do whatever you can to not only maximize your storage space but also make the items you are storing accessible. You guys know I am a HUGE proponent of baskets on shelves. Not only do they corral smaller items, but they help you take better advantage of the vertical height between shelves and are much easier to pull down compared to stacks of loose items. That said, finding the right baskets that both hold what you need them to and fit your shelves just right can be a difficult task in and of itself. Here are some key things to keep in mind when looking for containers to fit your shelves:
- Take measurements of your shelf’s depth, width and height so you can be sure to find the exact combination of baskets/containers that work just right.
- Pay special attention to the depth of baskets to ensure your cabinets doors will close.
- Are your shelf heights adjustable? Play around with different heights until you can accommodate what you need to store. Notice how our top two shelves are hung to fit the baskets, leaving the lower shelves slightly shorter.
- Do the baskets that fit your shelves hold what you need them to hold? There’s no point in fitting in a bunch of baskets that are too small to hold anything!
- Stick to similar sizes, colors and finishes. Lots of different details can overwhelm a small space so try to stick to all the same basket or type of basket when possible.
- Opaque baskets/containers produce a cleaner, more streamlined display. Simple labels can help you distinguish what’s in each basket. (You can see how I made my basket labels here!)
Target’s Y-weave baskets are pretty much my go-to storage container for anywhere in our house (playroom, pantry). Once I determined the 11″ size was the right depth to fit these shallow laundry room cabinets, I scooped up 8 while they were on sale. While I do have some wasted space on either sides of the baskets, they were the best fit for these awkward shelves and work worlds better than piles of random items floating free!
Store What Fits
This one seems like a no brainer, but hear me out. As I’ve mentioned, these cabinet shelves are pretty shallow. Yet for years (years!) I kept storing big bulky towels and sheet sets that would barely fit and prevent the doors from closing properly. Once I acknowledged the size of our shelves and purchased baskets to fit them, I had to get real about what could feasibly be stored in the laundry room. I determined the big bulky items that were making a mess of my shelves could be stored elsewhere, and these smaller shelves could be used to hold smaller items. (Duh!).
So where did our bulky towels and sheets go? All of our extra bath towels are now stored in each of our three bathrooms under the sinks (which honestly, makes a lot more sense!); and all the sheets are stored in the bedrooms where those sheets fit. Simply by removing these larger nuisance items, everything else fit and functioned so much better!
Experiment With Folding & Rolling
If you are trying to fit fabric items into unique-sized or -shaped shelves or containers, experiment with how you fold/roll them. When I originally folded all my tablecloths up, they were too tall to fit into my baskets. Once I re-folded them with different proportions, I could easily get them all to fit into the space I had available.
When folding, try to place items on end (like books) so you can easily pull them out without disrupting all the others; and don’t hesitate to put collections of fabric items into baskets to keep them from toppling over. Finally, rolls can often save you more space than flat folds and are easier to maneuver in and out of shelves!
When we had a flood on our lower level last summer, we lost all of our big, bulky beach towels. When I went to replace them, I specifically chose absorbent yet lightweight towels that would be easier to store no matter how big or small a laundry space we had!
Ditch Bulky Packaging
From food to soap to toiletries, I tend to “decant” as much as a I can around our house, and laundry supplies are no exception. Eliminating bulky commercial packaging not only reduces visual clutter and allows you to better see the stock you have on hand, but it also ultimately gives you more control over your space. Instead of relying on the awkward box, bottle or container your favorite soaps or sheets come in, you can instead find just the right container for your shelf/space, which in turn helps you use the space you have to full capacity.
I found this lidded, compartmentalized acrylic box years ago in a thrift store. Over the years, it’s served a variety of purposes and is now the ideal way to keep our laundry supplies neat, tidy and fully stocked!
This mini laundry room update definitely falls into the “better late than never” category. While I certainly wish I had thought to implement some of these strategies sooner, I am incredibly thankful to have this functioning laundry space for the time we have remaining here. Who would have guessed this little laundry room that I had practically written off would wind up working out so well!
If you too have struggled to make sense out of your small laundry room, I hope these tips and tricks get you moving in the right direction. If you need even more ideas to try, I invite you to check out my other laundry room and linen closet posts below:
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! See you back here next week!