Often I feel like I’m up to my ears in drying racks. Guess that’s what happens when you have a side business right? Between that and regular life, I often feel like the side of me that likes projects and doing something TRULY creative gets pushed aside. I love a good room remodel or a party to plan and I have felt this craving the last few weeks to really dig into something like that. However, here I sit with the oldest off at her first day of school, just returning from assessments and meeting the teacher with the youngest and all set to pop some cinnamon rolls in the oven in about 10 minutes so my daughter can have a special End of First Day treat before I rush her off to piano lessons and I’m thinking – do I really have the energy/time to tackle a nice big project?! Maybe not. So let me do some reminiscing here about when we moved into the new house and I had the time and energy to update it room by room. Why don’t we start with the laundry room/mud room. After all, that laundry room redo is what got me started with the Etsy shop (as an “experiment”), which has now become such a big part of my daily life.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of thinking about functionality and ease of use, while also trying to make my home pretty too. This becomes even more important in areas with more than one use and when more than one person uses the space. And honestly? I think it all takes a little bit of trial and error. You have to live in the space for a while and see what does and doesn’t work for you. I have a much better idea of what I want in a laundry room now that I’ve lived in a couple of different houses and have figured out the routines and habits of our family.
One of the things I had on my Must Have list when we were looking for houses (almost 5 years ago!) was a mud room. I wanted a space just off the garage (which is typically the door we use the most often) where we could put the shoes and coats and backpacks – all the stuff that gets dumped as soon as you walk in the door. A lot of the newer houses here in the West seem to automatically incorporate those into the floor plans now, often in tandem with the laundry room but in North Carolina, all the houses had formal dining rooms (something not on my Must Have List – and consequently got turned into my craft room! 😉 ) but few had mud rooms. So we were pretty happy to find a house that not only had the mud room, but also walk-in closets, a bonus room we could use as the playroom, and much more! The biggest problem was that it had pretty much no personality (which isn’t actually a problem if you’re creative, right?) and didn’t function all that well. Seriously. Check it out.
Pretty sad. Now take a look at the final product.
Soooo much better, doncha’ think?
How did we do it? Well, I think it comes down to the top Five Steps to a Well Organized Laundry Room (and Mud Room).
1. Evaluate: What needs a home here? In my case, I knew I wanted a landing space for shoes and boots, a place for coats and jackets, purses and backpacks, hats and gloves. Then on the laundry side of things I needed a place for the necessities like soap and cleaning supplies, a place for drying delicate garments, somewhere for random items from pockets or things that are always in your hands when you walk in the door. And when we got a new puppy we then needed space for leashes, balls and dog treats.
I also knew that things need to be easy and quick to access. People are inherently lazy beings, aren’t we? Why take the extra minute to put a coat on a hanger when we can just drop it on the floor? Why tramp all the way upstairs to put my shoes in my closet when I can just kick them off right here by the door? Kids are particularly prone to that kind of thing, but I find myself doing it too especially when I’m tired or in a hurry. That’s why I’m a big fan of hooks. Hooks for jackets. Hooks for towels. Hooks for hats.
2. Get it off the floor. The absolute best use of space, especially in small rooms, is to use that wall space. The hooks on the walls were a given, though we did dress them up with a board and batten wall treatment as well. We had a coat closet just off the laundry room so I did utilize that space too. We put in a hanger for the iron and ironing board that kept them tucked nicely out of the way but in easy reach.
And best of all, the project I had come up with in our old house and had been waiting almost two years for my husband to bring to life – a drying rack that mounted on the wall!
I love this thing and was so happy to do away with our ugly awkward collapsible laundry drying rack that seemed to have permanently taken up residence in the master bedroom (and let’s face it – that is really NOT romantic). Everyone that saw it loved it too and wanted one for themselves. After hearing “you should sell these!” over and over eventually I listed them for sale online and we have since built hundreds in all sizes and colors.
(and if you want one for yourself please check out my Etsy shop!)
But I digress…
3. Build it in. This goes hand in hand with putting things on the wall – it’s a great way to utilize all the space you have available. I could have purchased a freestanding bench and simply stacked the shoes under it, but it probably would have been only 36″ or 48″ wide leaving some extra space on either side (that probably would have been filled with random objects in no time). With the built-in bench we were able to use the entire wall. Plus built-ins just look good, don’t they? Classy and custom and permanent.
That wire shelf above the washer and dryer had to go. Not only was it mounted too high to be easy accessible, but things kept falling through the cracks. We found an unfinished cupboard at a home improvement store (for under $50 I believe) that I painted white, clear coated, and mounted on the wall.
4. Containerize! Every organization lover’s favorite thing, right? Decorative baskets, plastic tubs, buckets and bins – when in doubt put it in a container! I quickly found that the top of the dryer was one of the biggest clutter catching areas in the house so I found a low wide bucket to put everything in – gloves, spare change, sunglasses and sunscreen, and other random things all went in the bucket. I also purchased a few baskets and put them on the shelf in the coat closet to contain spare hats and gloves, dog toys, and my exercise bands/weights. The cupboard above the washer got a basket too for smaller laundry and cleaning items.
5. Give it some personality. This is easily done with paint and with a few accessories and some decoration on the wall. I created some fun laundry themed signs, one for above the cupboard and one on top of the drying rack. My favorite addition to the laundry room were these photos I took of our feet – our little guy in his favorite cowboy boots, our daughter in her flip flops, and our whole family barefoot – which I had printed on canvas in sepia tones to go with the darker brown on the walls. It’s the little details that really make the difference between something generic and a room that is truly yours.
Of course this didn’t happen overnight, but it wasn’t an intimidating project either. And if you take anything away from this post today, I want it to be this. Home improvement projects don’t have to be (extraordinarily) hard or expensive to be worthwhile. You just need to know a few tricks to the process, be a little bit handy (or know someone who is!), and be willing to put in a little extra time.
Do you have any favorite things you have done for your laundry room or mud room? I’d love to hear about it. After all, we do have new house plans in the works and I collecting ideas and seeing what other have created.
Linking to: Pretty Pintastic Party, Your Turn to Shine, Saturday Sharefest, BFF Open House, Party Bunch, Link Party Palooza, Merry Monday, Sundays Down Under, Made By You Monday, Frugal Friday, Snickerdoodle Sunday, Wow Me Wednesday, Idea Box, A Little R&R Wednesday,