Katie’s House: Plans for the Laundry Room

Our laundry room is one hardworking space; it serves as our primary entryway, mudroom and utility closet. We store our cleaning products in here and it’s a dumping ground for shoes, coats, hats, mittens, bike gear, skate gear, and – more often than I’d like to admit in this public forum – cat vomit.

Looking at this picture you might say that just giving this room a good cleaning would make for a compelling before/after comparison, and you’d be right.

Looking at this picture you might say that just giving this room a good cleaning would make for a compelling before/after comparison, and you’d be right.

If you can look beyond the flotsam of our daily lives and beneath the dirt-scuffed yellow walls and torn and stained linoleum, this room is pretty. The multi-paned windows are charming and make the room feels like a greenhouse in the summer (which would be lovely if it smelled of flowers, but instead it’s redolent of stewed kitty kibbles) and a frigid ice box in the winter.

We've been hunting for a new-to-us utility sink, but no luck yet.

We’ve been hunting for a new-to-us utility sink, but no luck yet. In the meantime, we might just make a new set of legs for the one we have.

The addition of some closed storage will go a long way toward making this room better. Our plan is to replace the open shelves that are currently over the washing machine with a cupboard. Open shelves may look nice when they’re displaying pottery, but I can’t think of a less attractive and display-worthy collection of items than laundry detergent, cat brushes and cleaning rags. I’m looking forward to prying the linoleum-masquerading-as-a-backsplash from the wall and replacing it with something prettier, maybe tiles. They’re not in the budget right now, but down the road I’d love to use encaustic cement tiles like these.

Laundry Room Before south view with text

Cameron built this bench and the hook shelf above it right after we first moved in. The bench is great, and my plan is to move it over to the east wall (which you’ll see in the next picture). The shelf is just a little narrow to fit baskets, and I think we’d be best served by some closed storage over on this wall too. I recently found a file cabinet on Craigslist that has drawers on one side and shelves on the other and my hope is that with some spray paint and new hardware I can make it work as a place to keep shopping bags, hats, gloves and some shoes. It would be nice to have a bowl or basket here too, to put keys, wallets and sunglasses in when we come home. This area – a repository for keys and such near your home’s entrance – is widely referred to as a ‘landing strip’ on decorating blogs, but I suggest you never do a Google image search for it.

We're planning to relocate this table and put the shoe bench in its place

We’re planning to relocate this table to another part of the house and put the shoe bench in its place

Function is primary in this room, but I’d also like for it to be prettier. To that end, I’d like this room to have white walls, dark blue floors and hits of turquoise and bright yellow (in my imagination this cheerful color palette is not augmented by the copious and self-cloning dun-colored fur balls that Dean graciously contributes).

So here’s the plan:

  • Tear up the yellow linoleum and replace it with VCT tiles in a deep blue
  • Replace the open shelving over the washing machine with a cupboard
  • Make a backsplash for behind the washing machine (I’m fine-tuning a way to DIY something similar to the encaustic tiles. Failure or not, I’ll let you know here).
  • Paint the walls white
  • Create some kind of closed storage for shoes, grocery bags, hats, mittens, etc.
  • Relocate table to somewhere else and move the bench under the windows
Clockwise from top left: White pendant light; IKEA cupboard; green and gold knobs; VCT tiles in Gentian Blue

Clockwise from top left: White pendant light; IKEA cupboard; green and gold knobs; VCT tiles in Gentian Blue

We aren’t going to use that actual IKEA cabinet – it only comes in black and we want white, and we think we can make one for less money that fits our space better – but I love the slatted doors and so I included it here. We definitely need some kind of shade on the light, but I’m not sure that the door will be able to clear a pendant like this. We may resort to a flush fixture, but I’m hoping we can make this one work.

We used VCT tiles in both of the bathrooms at our old house. They are easy to install, inexpensive, and I think they look good. If you’re having trouble picturing them out of the context of a public institution, here’s an example of them used in a terrific – and affordable – kitchen remodel on one of my very favorite blogs:

So that’s the plan! I’m looking forward to making this a room I’m happy to come home to every day, that is bright and clean and functional. I’ll post progress updates soon, along with a budget breakdown. Thanks for joining us! Mera will be back on Wednesday with the result of this weekend’s quest for a Panton S chair in Seattle. Cliffhanger…

14 responses on “Katie’s House: Plans for the Laundry Room

  1. Marlene Miller

    Now I know for sure that I need you at our house; we have a laundry room crying for help! Can’t wait to see your project as it progresses, and smile and giggle as I follow your narrative. 🙂 Love your plan to add bright yellow and turquoise to your palette of dark blue and white. Do I see a little turquoise in your Marian Beck painting?

  2. michellet2013

    I look forward to seeing this transformation Katie—I’m definitely of the opinion that laundry rooms should be cheerful, inviting spaces. And laundry room combined with entry way is definitely a challenge. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

  3. Carol Crump Bryner

    I really love that corner window in the utility room. Great light. I think this room has real possibilities. Have fun with it! Looking forward to cheerful “afters.”

  4. Susan Glassow

    My mother’s laundry room was created when she pulled a wringer washer from the back porch into the kitchen, hooked its hose to a faucet and begin the tedious, day long process of washing, color and dirt quantified loads, then rinsing them light to dark before putting each piece through the wringers. Winter meant clothes lines where fabrics were literally freeze dried. By the mid-1950s, we’d left the country for suburbia and she had a washer and a dryer and a dedicated laundry room where the ironing board never had to be taken down. Its style was a lot like yours, lovely windows looking out into a deep garden. I learned to iron there. I like your brightening ideas, new light fixture and knobs and wonderful tiles, but wonder if you and/or the cats will miss the table?

    1. k80bennett

      Lovely story and good question about the table! Because of the lack of climate control (sweltering in summer, freezing in winter) we have never once stood out there to fold clothes. We always bring them into the house and that works just fine. As for the kitties, fear not! There’s something special in the works for them, and in the meantime they show a strong preference for napping on either the washer or dryer.

    2. Carol Crump Bryner

      Hello Susan, I remember that wash day ritual. It took place every Monday in my grandmother’s kitchen. That washer would be hooked up to the sink, but it shook and trembled and inched itself across the floor while it did its business. It was a fascinating process, and I begged to stay home from school to watch. In he winter the clothes were hung on the line and sometimes brought in frozen stiff.

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