Laundry Room Redo–Making the Most of a Small Space

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laundry room redo

Here is the preview of the “After”, instant gratification!

Too exciting:  this laundry room redo was featured in the January 2012 issue of Cottages & Bungalows Magazine!  Read on for all the details…

I’ve been struggling with what to do with our laundry room since we moved into our new house in Nashville this summer.  It’s located off the kitchen, and to be honest, it’s pretty small compared to the overall square footage of the house.  The laundry room was definitely an area where I compromised–I wanted lots of room, cabinets, and a laundry sink.  I got none of those things, but obviously I liked the rest of the house enough to make it work.

There’s a quirky area to the right that’s under the steps to the second floor, but it’s hard to access when the washer and dryer are unstacked.  The previous owners had their machines stacked and put white wire shelving off to the right.

Here's what the previous owners had done.

Here’s what the previous owners had done.

We had a stackable (not full-size) washer and dryer in our previous house, and a laundry closet, so I was still moving up in the world to get an actual laundry room this time!  However, I really didn’t want to stack the washer and dryer, if I could avoid it.  It’s harder for me to load and unload (I know others will say the exact opposite, but it’s just personal preference), and I hate it when I see visible dryer vent.  I also despise, with a passion, white wire shelving, which is a terrible shame since all newer homes are *full* of it!  My stuff is always falling over crooked and I can’t stand it!  So, I knew the shelving would go for sure.

Here’s what the laundry room looked like while I was just making it work, and getting the other (and more visible) parts of the house done:

Laundry room before

Laundry room before

Note that there’s laundry in the washer and dryer (because there ALWAYS is!) and stuff hanging on my awesome Ballard Designs drying rack.  Also note how sad my shelving looks now that washer and dryer are unstacked–it’s almost impossible to reach anything.  That stuff’s got to go!

My crazy under-the-stairs wasted space!

My crazy under-the-stairs wasted space!

Notice that I can’t even get to the space under the stairs right now…I’ve got maybe four inches between the dryer and the wall.  I have to vault over the dryer to get back there!  The problem is the aluminum dryer venting–it’s the round coiling kind, but I need something made for small spaces that lets you push the dryer almost flush against the wall.  Fortunately, they make exactly what I needed–periscope-style rigid ducting that allow me to use every inch of my space.  That was the first thing I fixed, and it made a huge difference!

I liked the blue color on the walls, and the previous owners had left the can of paint for me in the garage, so I patched the walls (especially the huge holes when I took the white wire shelving down) and painted the ceiling.  I like to paint the ceiling in a small space, especially when it’s a lighter color.  I also decided to get crazy and do Jones Design Company’s painted wallpaper treatment on the walls, figuring that it wouldn’t take too long in such a small space.  I was wrong–it seems like it took forever, but I love it so much that it was well worth it!!

This is my only shot of "during" the wallpaper painting, taken on my phone, so it's probably not the best quality. Notice the patterns on the washing machine--I traced those a thousand times!

This is my only shot of “during” the wallpaper painting, taken on my phone, so it’s probably not the best quality. Notice the patterns on the washing machine–I traced those a thousand times!

Once I had the walls painted, I turned my attention to the hideous fluorescent lighting on the ceiling.  Really?  I pulled that sucker off and stuck it on Craigslist.  No one’s bought it yet, and I am not surprised!

Obviously, when I pulled the light down, I was expecting to have to paint the rest of the ceiling–no problem–but I was bit surprised when there was no electrical box in the ceiling, just a 4″ x 4″ hole cut in the drywall with the wires hanging out.  I can hang lighting fixtures no problem, but I’ve never had to install a box.  Off to Home Depot (which was so annoying–I was ready to hang my chandelier that night!!).

My nasty surprise in the ceiling!

The Home Depot guy hooked me up with a joist bar mount (you can see it in the picture after I’d already put it in) that you screw into two ceiling joists, and then you mount the box on the bar.  Nothing’s ever easy for me, though, and I had to make the hole a little bigger.  Drywall dust EVERYWHERE!  Finally, though, I got the chandelier installed and swagged over so that it hangs between the washer and dryer.  I had it sitting in my bedroom for a couple of months; originally I intended to put it in my closet, but this seemed like a better idea.  I bought it on clearance at Home Depot.

Chandelier installed--check. Ceiling painted--check. Cord cover sewed--check.

Chandelier installed–check. Ceiling painted–check. Cord cover sewed–check.

I did a quick and dirty cord cover (who looks that closely at the ceiling, right?) for the chandy and the little lamp I put on the shelves with fabric that I already had that matches my ironing board cover.  That fabric has been everywhere over the years–Amy had it in her kitchen until she moved and then she returned it to me to use in my kitchen and laundry room!

Next, it was time to make cafe-style shelving.  I bought wood brackets and white MDF shelves at Home Depot and simply glued trim around the sides so that they looked more substantial.  I could have skipped the trim but now that I’m done, I’m glad that I did it.  Take a close look at the top shelf and see if you can see where I messed up (measure twice, cut once, measure twice, cut once!).  I made the top shelf a little smaller than the bottom one, but they’re the same depth (12″).

Top shelf--I made it a little smaller than the bottom one, but they're the same depth (12")

Top shelf–I made it a little smaller than the bottom one, but they’re the same depth (12″)

I screwed the brackets into the studs and then screwed the shelves onto the brackets–those babies aren’t going anywhere!

Now, the fun part–accessorizing!  I had everything already, with the exception of the rug, so it was just a question of deciding where to put it.  This is my absolute favorite part of redoing a room, and the reason that I tend to rush through the more important construction-type work (a major character flaw, I  know).

I borrowed the concept of Shelley’s ironing board hanger at House of Smiths and tweaked it a little to use what I already had–a shabby chic hook rack from HomeGOods.  I unscrewed the middle hook (still need to fill that hole somehow) and hung the ironing board from it.  I also gave the legs of my ironing board a coat of Pewter spray paint–they were cobalt blue and I hated that look.  The ironing board cover is the same fabric as my cord covers, as I mentioned earlier.

My iron is crooked--never noticed that before!

 My ironing board is crooked–I never noticed that before!

Gotta have my Martha Stewart Homekeeping manual within reach!

Gotta have my Martha Stewart Homekeeping manual within reach!

Grandma's mason jars hold Oxy Clean, baking soda, and borax--I use them all in my laundry.

 Grandma’s mason jars hold OxyClean, baking soda, and borax–I use them all in my laundry.

The Ballard drying rack was my Mother's Day present this year (because I am a dork and love stuff like that for Mother's Day!)

The Ballard drying rack was my Mother’s Day present this year (because I am a dork and love stuff like that for Mother’s Day!).

The fan was $2 at a yard sale (it still works) and the enamel bucket holds my cleaning rags.

 The vintage fan was $2 at a yard sale (it works) and the enamel bucket holds my cleaning rags.

Grabbed the rug at Hobby Lobby with my coupon--I think it ties it all together!

I grabbed the rug at Hobby Lobby with my coupon–I think it ties it all together!

TJ Maxx topiaries and flea market window and washboard.

 HomeGoods topiaries and flea market window and washboard.

A couple of spare boxes of borax (hey, they're decorative!) and a basket of clothespins

A couple of spare boxes of borax (hey, they’re decorative!) and a basket of clothespins.

Vinegar (for the rinse cycle), ironing spray, change jar, and dryer softener sheets in a napkin holder.

 Vinegar (for the rinse cycle), ironing spray (HomeGoods), change jar, and dryer softener sheets in a napkin holder.

Hi, there! I'm going to be 40 next week--see my crow's feet?!


Kitty's dining room

 Kitty’s dining room.

Aaahh, much better!

A couple more things need to happen before this room is totally done.  First, I may pop the door off and hang a curtain so that I can see my beautiful laundry room all day long.  Second, I need to figure out what to do with the yucky area where the hoses plug in.  I’m hiding them behind my wicker laundry baskets, but they might need a little curtain sewed at some point.  Third, I need to find a metal cabinet that will fit in the area under the steps to hold (and hide) all my cleaning supplies and other uglies that are currently hanging out on wire shelving.  The good news is that I now have about 8 inches to get back there, so I can hold my breath and squeeze through.  When I can’t make it anymore, it’ll be time for a diet!

Remaining problem area!


**A quick update:  I found a great metal cabinet at the Nashville flea market, painted it white, and now it’s disguising all the cleaning supplies in my former “problem area.”  Here it is:

I can’t end on that note, so here’s one more of the after.  Thanks for bearing with me through all those photos!!

*Love* my new laundry room!

Update:  We’ve moved (yes, again) and our new laundry room is {here}, although I will confess that I don’t like it quite as much as this one.  Amy’s pretty laundry room is {here}.

(Don’t miss a thing!  Follow us on social media using the black buttons underneath my photo, or sign up to receive email updates whenever we post something new {here}).

And as always, thanks for stopping by.

Christy new headshot

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  1. Christy, I’m not even sure where to start with my praise for your laundry room. I love it! It’s perfect. Even your “problem” area is organized. Love the stencil, love the shelves, love the chandy… Great job!

  2. everything you have created in here is just fantastic! fabulous reveal! xxoo

  3. Christy, your laundry room looks amazing!! Love the wall color, the shelving, and all your cute accessories!! I am working on mine right now and I love seeing how you made this into a pretty little room. I used that Jones Design Co stencil in my foyer and love it too (even though I only did one wall and it took forever!) Thanks for sharing all your great ideas in this space. I’m inspired to get my done!

    • Thanks, Lisa! When you’re done with yours, if you think of it, post me a link to your pictures so I can see how it turns out. We have to love our laundry rooms–we spend so much time in them, right?!

  4. Love your laundry room redo…makes me actually WANT to do laundry and I especially love how you’ve hung up your ironing board. What a great idea! Glad I found your blog : ) ~Destiny

    • Thanks, Destiny! I was so frustrated when I went to look at ironing board holders because I have a big fat iron and it won’t fit on any of the board/iron racks. In a way, I’m glad it didn’t, because it forced me to think outside of the box. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. What a sweet laundry room! It looks great – love it! ~Rachel

  6. It looks great, Christy! We have some similarities – I am moving out of state and currently have a small laundry room with side by side washer and dryer and two cabinets above. I’m moving to a little bit bigger laundry room with a sink and a base and top cabinet. It has wire shelves also, which as soon as I saw them, I knew they were coming down. Love the idea of cafe shelves. I know I’m going to need shelving of some kind and they really give a nice look. The garage entrance into the house opens right into the laundry room, so I want to be able to see something nice when we come in that way.

    • Kathy–I took a peek at your blog and saw the pics of your new place. I confess that I’m a bit jealous that you have a laundry sink! Cafe shelving should look great in your laundry room! Are you going to put it in your craft room, too?
      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Love what you did with such a small space. Nice updated feel

  8. Very pretty! I too have a small laundry room, it’s a pass through to the garage, and I have monster sized machines. You’ve inspired me to jazz it up a bit and get rid of that darn florescent light fixture!

  9. Great job! I did the same painted wallpaper in my bathroom, just with a high gloss finish of my wall color, and the hubby and I are in the process of building our laundry room! I’m so ready for it to be done!

  10. This is great! I wish I had a laundry room to make all perty 🙂 Great job.

    New follower from the Show Me What you Got linky party. Stop by and visit us @

  11. I LOVE it! So much eye candy and inspiration! I plan to work on our laundry room in phases! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. The laundry room looks great! What’s the name of the blue paint on the walls? I love it!

    • Thanks, Sarah! The paint is Blue Porcelain by Benjamin Moore (#1641) and it’s exactly the color of Wedgwood porcelain–guess that’s where they got the name. 🙂

  13. Hi! I just saw your post over at Savvy Southern Style. I think your laundry room is just adorable!! I see so many great ideas that I want to borrow from you…LOL!! This is awesome! I am a newbie to blogging and your latest follower. I hope you will follow back! Be blessed!

  14. Packed up my dirty laundry…be there soon! Your laundry room will make doing this chore so much enjoyable. Great job!

  15. This is lovely. Good for you! I just re-did my laundry room, too, but it isn’t as gorgeous as this. Beautiful. Where did you get those fabulous enamel pans? Do you know what they were used for, originally?

    • Alana–
      There’s a ton of enamelware in this laundry room…I’m guessing you mean the ones that are on top of my dryer and on the top shelf in my “messy corner.” If so, I bought those for $5 apiece from my friend Andrea’s store in Clarksville, TN. She said they were refrigerator/icebox trays, although they’re definitely shallower and bigger than the other ones that I have in the house. Hope that helps!

  16. I love your laundry room transformation. Maybe this will give me the kick start to do mine. You are way more patient than me to draw each one of those on the wall. Thanks for sharing at Wow.

  17. Oh my word! I love your laundry room. I am not thinking I must get on doing something with mine…it isn’t huge but I could do something fun in there and liven it up. Thank you for the inspiration. BTW, I am popping over from Amanda’s Weekend Bloggy Reading party.

  18. I love the cord cover! THis is looks sooooo good! I wish I had a room like this 🙂 I might actually want to do laundry then! Then again, probably not….I HATE laundry 🙂 Good job visiting from serenity now!

  19. oh, that looks a bazillion times better! Just found your blog and have started following… good job! The stenciling is stunning too!
    We are looking at buying our first home which may have a laundry that’s so small it’s barely existant…thanks for sharing! – Amy @ kiwi chic

  20. Gorgeous! I love this! My laundry room is tiny too. Actually, it’s tinier, but yours is so pretty it’s given me hope!

    I just popped in from Delightful Order to say hi!


  21. Your laundry room is gorgeous!!! I love the stenciled wall and the way everything coordinates. 🙂 Great work! Thank you so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. 🙂

  22. WOW oh WOW! I was stopping by from A La Mode to see your nursery and saw this! Great job! And the stencil is amazing.

  23. Smiths Hallow says

    The laundry room is just cute. Even the kitty gets to share in the fun of the makeover. I don’t know if anyone else had made the suggestion as of yet. Have you thought of using shutters or thin bi fold doors to cover your problem area? I so enjoy your blog. Have the best day.
    Mrs Smith

  24. I sooo love your laundry room! It is adorable! I saw this pinned on Pinterest and think I’ll copy this design:)

  25. Wowee! such a gorgeous transformation! it looks truly amazing! honestly, the loveliest laundry ive ever seen! x

  26. Hi Chrisy,
    Your Laundry room transformation is amazing!!! Love, love, looove the stenciling! I thought it was wallpaper!! Really good ideas I can incorporate into my own Laundry room!

  27. Where did you purchase the name tags?

    • Carie–if you’re referring to the tags on the mason jars, those are just key tags that I bought at Staples or Office Depot. Let me know if that’s not what you were talking about and I will get you a better answer.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  28. This is a GORGEOUS transformation! Simply beautiful 🙂

  29. I LOVE this entire idea…we’re remodeling a home and I do believe I now know how I’m going to do my laundry room! Even all the way down to the curtain to enter the room – I needed inspiration, I got that here and then some!

  30. I just happened on this post and your blog. Fabulous!!! You’re a real can-do gal!! You’re encouraging me to finish up the details on my recent laundry room redo. (Making a curtain to hide those hook-ups.)

  31. My laundry room is even smaller but this along with the larger laundry room makeover have given me a few ideas from both …. I love the sudo counter top over the machines in the large laundry room, and the shelves of the smaller laundry room I currently have cabinets on a side wall but they are very small shelves and nothing fits…. Thanks for the inspiration !!!!!!!

  32. Jennifer Chatmon says

    I love what you’ve done- it is so refreshing and beautiful. Well done. I have the same issue with the stairs taking up so much space in my laudry room. I don’t even know if stackables will fit…I need more space for my kitty’s litter box. By the way, where did you get the beautiful white shelving?

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Our kitty’s food and litter box are crammed in there, too. Amazingly, it all fits. I built the cafe-style shelving myself using wood, trim, and corbels I bought at Home Depot.

  33. Dear Christie

    Brussels Calling. Loved your photo’s. Although I am not going to do something similar to what you did (not my style), I will take some inspiration: I love your wall color and it is perfect for my tiny laundry room. When I say tiny, I mean supertiny: I think mine is half or even third the size of yours and is has pretty much the same awkward corner, where there is the warmwaterheater. This thing must stay accessible for the maintenance, which must be done by a firm (law here). You understand that is a BIG challenge. Anyway loved your blog.

  34. That looks amazing! Where did you get your blue mason jars? I’m redoing my laundry room and am using yours as my inspiration!!!

    • Hi, Missy–
      The mason jars were my grandmother’s, so they’re the real deal. I’ve seen lots of the pint-sized ones at flea markets (about $5-$10 apiece), but very few of the quart and half gallon sized ones. Ball has just re-released the blue jars so you can probably buy them new in stores right now. Good luck with your laundry room!

  35. PanStand was designed for installing laundry in tight spaces. Today it is only available for 24″ product as people living in small spaces need it the most. Love how you have made it a plesant work space.

  36. Hi Christy,
    I live in your old neighborhood in Nashville and I have almost the exact version of your “before” laundry room, yuck! I am tackling the makeover this weekend and I wondered what product you used to get the dryer so close to the wall? Thanks for the inspiration!

  37. Hi! I love your laundry room – I’m redoing mine now – almost done! (I’m participating in the ORC – next week is the big reveal.)
    I can relate to your comment about taking down the door – I keep finding excuses to go in mine – I can’t stop looking at it! I have the same Martha Stewart Homekeeping book! Don’t you love it?

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  39. Savvy snowbird says

    This post has inspired me to get moving on my own laundry room. my room is large (basically a full kitchen space in the basement)…but it is so boring! I love the wall stencil but also love your honesty in that it was more than you bargained for!! LOL…i think I will take an easier route and maybe wallpaper.
    great space

    • Thanks for writing!

      Wallpaper would be great, or even some of the larger stencils that are available now would save you TONS of time. Amy just posted a few days ago on a peel and stick faux shiplap wallpaper; you might want to check it out here.

      Good luck with your project! Christy

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