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Everything You Need to Crush Laundry in a Small Space

May 21, 2020

When we moved into our house several years ago, Will’s family back in England were recovering from an epic bout of flu.   Sparing you the worst of the details, they went down one by one (first the children, then parents, then grandparents) and we distinctly remember the horror they faced when they ran out of towels!

The following day, by coincidence, we were appliance shopping and though we were several thousand miles away were still haunted by their horror and sought out the largest and most efficient laundry machines we could afford!!  We needed machines that could support the entire (growing) family under the most extreme stresses.  Sadly, I can’t find the large ones online but this is a similar model.

We squeezed these mighty machines into our small space and had never looked back… until this Spring.

The laundry room certainly needed brightening but perhaps more importantly, it needed to function better. Our family has grown since we moved into the house (9 pets, one toddler, one baby on the way), but the space has not expanded and was causing a traffic jam of lost socks and relentless ironing piles.    

If this sounds at all familiar to you, here is a little guide to everything you need to CRUSH laundry in a small space! 

  1. Vertical Storage

With square footage at a premium, it makes sense to stack things vertically.  Before we added these shelves we had one low shelf that was constantly covered in confusing piles of mixed laundry — is that clean and awaiting ironing or is this for a special load?

Adding in these three shelves on the right has vastly expanded capacity and organization.  The spacious baskets can hold your “to-do” tasks from ironing to special laundry, and also tuck away the less sightly cleaning supplies you might need to have on hand.  We also added shelves to the cabinets above the machines which now hold our tabletop favorites, from vases and votives to tablecloths and napkins. The hurricanes fit perfectly on the top shelf. Below you can see before the glass cabinets were installed:

  1. Folding Drying Rack

Some things can’t go in the dryer.   Actually most of my things and sadly we have learned this the hard way.   I don’t do any dry cleaning (or at least it’s very rare) and I “handwash” all of my delicates, cashmere, wool, etc. in these fabulous machines and then lay or hang to dry.

Before we installed a drying rack, I would lay out my specialty items on the backs of chairs in the dining room as they dried.  Invariably, our toddler would rip them down and hide or stomp on them, resulting in more laundry!   

This drying rack from Ballard Designs is great.   Not only can you tuck it away, it holds a lot and isn’t a nuisance, it does not get in the way and it has the beadboard to match the rest of the upgraded details.

We painted it to match the trim of the rest of the room, you can see a before on the left here:

  1. Hanging Rail

In our home, ironing is performed in spread out bursts of enthusiasm. This rail can not only help with hanging to dry but is also the perfect place to hang once ironing is complete, or while the shirts wait their turn. We installed it a while ago out of sheer necessity so just shortened it to make way for the shelves and painted it to match.

  1. Steam Iron

We love, love, love our iron! Easily in our top ten house investments , this iron is a steam beast that allows for really fast efficient pressing and can handle sheets/linens, etc.  There is also no need to invest in a steamer because it can do that too!   Dare I say it makes ironing fun?

  1. No gap back-splash & smooth folding station

Game-changer!!  By closing off the sock-and-dust collecting blackhole behind the machines, we can fold with reckless abandon!  The varnished folding top is slick and makes sure that laundry doesn’t snag, it’s also on a hinge so we can lift to clean the top of the machines if need be. Details at the bottom of the post!

  1. Attractive Detergent

Similar to Primp Your Sink, we are waging a barely noticeable war against the ugly yet functional things that we have to look at everyday. We toyed with decanters for our laundry detergent, and there are many great options available but, instead we opted to invest in a brand that we have heard such wonderful things about: The Laundress !! The Laundress comes HIGHLY recommended and has a loyal band of disciples (you might be one of them!). They seem to have thought of a solution for everything, from de-bobbling your sweaters to brushes for specific stains, not to mention a bleach alternative. They have everything you need to get the most out of your clothes, and as an avid collector of sweaters, I’ll take any advice going on wringing additional life out of them (more on this to follow).  Not to mention, their line is ECO-FRIENDLY! Super cool!

  1. Smart Ironing Board Cover

Without anywhere to tuck the ironing board away, we decided to pick a cover that brought us joy.   Finding that such a thing was not possible, we found one that chimed with the color scheme and didn’t break the bank.  It is no longer available but this one is cute!

As for the aesthetic renovations:

Will put in the shelves, backsplash, hanging rail, folding top, bead board ceiling, moulding and punched out the cabinets to make way for the glass (which was important to me and a nice flex of his DIY muscles!).   We painted the walls Farrow and Ball Daylight and the trim/bead board Farrow and Ball Lulworth blue.    We also swapped out the ugly light for this one which fits perfectly.  

The biggest challenge was getting the bead board ceiling up.  In retrospect, I think Will would recommend painting it before you put it up, painting upside down was the least fun bit of the transformation. 

The Renovation Details: 

Walls: Farrow & Ball (eggshell) Borrowed Light

Trim: Farrow & Ball (Satin) Lulworth Blue

Folding Surface:  ¾ inch mdf – painted with 4 coats of polyurethane

Glass Cabinets: Router, Router Bits, Cabinet Glass (custom from Charleston Glass & Mirror)

Ceiling:  Beadboard from Lowes, Crown Moulding

Light: Shades Of Light 

Decorative touches: Yellow Bowls, Green Bowl

Please send us your tips for getting the most out of this forgotten space!   It’s a pleasure to walk into a room that has been loved up. 

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