The Laundry Room: A Love-Hate Relationship

By: Janice Clements

Many of the homes I go through have an eerily similar problem – messy, disorganized, over-crowded laundry rooms. During walk-throughs, the door to this room is unceremoniously closed and apologies are leveled in an effort to have me forget what I've just seen. 


Not possible. But don't worry and don't be embarrassed. We've ALL been there – laundry rooms that become a catchall for hockey equipment, pet paraphernalia, dirty underwear...art homework from when the twenty-year-old kids were in grade four. 


Been there. Done that.


Feeling overwhelmed by a messy space, it’s easy to resign yourself to your surroundings. But if you don't take control, your laundry room might! Be assured there's great joy and calm found in a home where organization is handled like a pro. 


A laundry room properly designed means everything is in its place, things are easily found and there's always a spot to return an item to. So, how do you get your laundry room shipshape?


Purge. I know, I know, it’s a crapload of work. But it’s an important part of any reorganization or redesign process. The one-in-one-out theory of organizing will help ensure you only keep things that are functional and useful. If you’re like me, you may have more than one of each item, so combine half empty bottles, throw out old (likely expired) cleaning products and dispose of items that no longer work. 


Determine what really needs to be there and what doesn’t. Does the space also function as a mudroom? Does it store out of season clothing? Make a list of all the items that absolutely must be kept there and try to determine if there are alternate homes for everything else. Have reasonable expectations of your space. Pack away out of season clothing and cycle it in and out of the laundry room as needed. 


If you’re doing a redesign, measure items that need to fit behind cabinet doors and make sure your cabinet and shelving plan accommodate them. For me, a critical item is the ironing board, so having a dedicated spot for this large, cumbersome item equals organizational bliss! If you don't think you have room for it to be permanently stored, consider purchasing one that folds into or up against a wall. Make room for at least one laundry hamper to keep dirty clothes contained and tolerable.


Where possible, build UP. Make sure new cabinetry goes all the way to the ceiling even if it means needing a stepladder in order to get access. I assure you, it'll be worth it.   


Consider a stackable washer and dryer to minimize the footprint used by these space-hogging items. The depth of appliances often means surrounding cabinets can be extra deep, allowing for storage that can accommodate large laundry baskets and a plethora of cleaning supplies.   


Being a pragmatist, I can't help but suggest that counter and flooring are maintenance friendly. If your laundry room gets a workout, don’t invest in materials that could be damaged by bleaches or strong, astringent or high PH cleaning solutions.  


Similarly, consider cabinets made from Thermofoil or MDF for easy maintenance and maximum durability. Purchase cabinets that have fully adjustable shelves so you can move them around to accommodate all items requiring storage. Remove or adjust a shelf in order to store a large bag of pet food inside cabinetry... One extra item that's now not on the floor!


Use as much wall space as possible and include more flexible storage like hooks for hats and jackets if the space is also a mudroom. Insist on counter space for folding laundry and opt for a large sink installed in a cabinet instead of a freestanding laundry tub - you will gain valuable, tidy storage below the sink regardless of how much plumbing there is.


Make sure you have ample room for hanging clothes to dry. Consider a small investment in a retractable clothesline if you don't have enough space for permanent hanging rods.


Consider hiring a professional appliance installer to ensure hoses and venting is kept efficient and to a minimum behind appliances and inside cabinets where possible.






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