{organizing with style} Tips to Make the Most of a Small Laundry Closet

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Whether you have a tiny laundry closet or a spacious laundry room - its job requirements are the same. This means that the smaller the space, the harder it needs to work for you! Last week I showed you my newly made over laundry closet, and shared all the stylish details, like the temporary wallpaper, the pendant light, and the abstract art. Let's be honest, though... a pretty laundry room might make the chore more bearable, but if the space isn't organized and functional, the bloom will soon be off the rose! 


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When designing my new laundry space, I spent a great deal of time focusing on the organizational and functional details. I followed the same 10 steps that I always do when tackling an organizing project, including completely emptying the space, measuring twice and making a plan, using every available space, and selecting appropriate containers. 

You can read all about my organizing process here, but today I want to talk about the specific organizational systems and products that help our laundry closet function like a room. 

MAXIMIZING STORAGE SPACE

Despite the small square footage of our laundry closet, we've managed to pack in plenty of function by finding creative uses for the available space, including the walls, the doors, and even the floor.

Laundry Closet Organization

THE CABINETS.  I am a proponent of using every available space for storage, so you might wonder why I chose to install only two cabinets above the washer and dryer, when there was room for three? It's all about striking the right balance between all of your needs - and in this case, the need for better light in the formerly dark and shadowy closet won out. Leaving a space between the cabinets allowed me to add much needed light. The fact that the light fixture is also very stylish is just a bonus!

From the start, I liked the idea of glass front cabinets doors for added style, and because they would allow me add green to the cabinet doors without it being too much of a good thing. I knew, however, that glass door wouldn't be the best decision in I planned to use the cabinets to store detergents and cleaning supplies - as seeing all of this inside the cabinets would make the space feel visually overwhelming. 

This is where the planning process comes in. Before purchasing the cabinets, I had already made a list of everything that I wanted/needed to store in the laundry closet, and in looking at that list I realized that the cabinets would provide just the right amount of storage to allow me to purchase paper towels and toilet paper in bulk. I always keep an extra couple of rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom, but it saves so much money to buy in large quantities (at places like Costco), that I needed a dedicated space for all of the extras. Previously my bulk paper products were taking up too much space in the linen closet, so this was a better solution for my needs. I can now store 12 extra rolls of paper towels, and two large packs of toilet paper.

Store toilet paper and paper towels

Once I had determined that I would use the cabinets to store white paper products, the decision to select glass front doors was an easy one. I reached out to IKEA Centennial, and they agreed to collaborate with me as a sponsor of my laundry closet makeover by providing these SEKTION white wall cabinets with Björket birch and glass doors, which I painted in Sherwin Williams Kilkenny Green (SW 6740).

THE BACK OF THE DOOR.  Using the cabinets for my paper supplies meant, of course, that I needed to find somewhere else to store all of my detergents, stain removers, and other laundry supplies. To address this, we installed a platinum colored Elfa mounting rail from The Container Store to the back of the door on the left side of the laundry closet. From that rail, I hung three Elfa Utility Large/Deep Baskets

laundry closet organization

You'll notice that all of the baskets are on the top portion of the door. This is because my washer and dryer sit to close to the door {when closed} for me to use baskets on the bottom half of the door. In the picture below, you can see that a basket any lower than the third one down would bump into the washer. If you have a deeper laundry closet, or a full laundry room, you could certainly take advantage of more of the door space by adding baskets all the way down.

Back of Door Laundry Closet Storage

The Elfa utility baskets also come in a variety of other sizes, including narrower and shallower. I chose the widest and deepest baskets available to maximize my storage space. 

CONTAINING SMALL ITEMS

When it comes to finding containers to fit in the Elfa baskets, I recommend taking one with you to test various container options. Relying on the measurements alone is deceiving, because they are based on the outside dimensions of the basket, rather than the inside. Additionally, the very center of each basket has an inset where it fits on to the Elfa rail.

I took one of my Elfa large/deep baskets with me to IKEA when I was in search of jars, and I discovered that four of the BURKEN Jar with lids fit perfect in each basket. I purchased eight of these jars, and filled them of my small laundry items. The first four jars contain sewing and mending related supplies, including a measuring tape and small scissors, thread {including those little packets of mending thread that sometimes come with your clothes}, extra buttons, and needles and pins.

Laundry room sewing and mending

The remaining four jars hold a variety of miscellaneous items, including my favorite tool for removing pills from sweaters, my mesh bags for washing delicate items, stain remover wipes and pens, and packets of HE washing machine cleaner.


I am normally a huge fan of labeling everything, but by choosing clear jars for all of these small items, I am able to easily see what is inside without the need for labels. To make the jars more stylish, and to fit with the design of the rest of the laundry closet, I added a black and white washi tape trim around the edge of each jar lid. {This matches the washi tape detail that I added to the shelves in the linen closet}.

Washi tape on jar lids

I use the top basket on the door for my bottles of stain remover spray and other laundry supplies.

Laundry closet back of door storage

I had to get creative in order to fit my dryer sheets in this space. The box of dryer sheets was too big to fit in the basket, and the individual dyer sheets were to too large to fit in one of my glass jars. I searched around for a smaller, refillable container that I could transfer some dryer sheets to for easy access {so that I could store the larger box in the linen closet} and I came up with a travel sized Huggies baby wipes case for the nursery!

Laundry dryer sheet storage

I can fit quite a few dryer sheets in here, and this case fits nicely in the Elfa door basket. Best of all, I can just pop the lid and pull them out one by one. I love finding ways to repurpose items for new storage uses!

Storage tip for laundry dryer sheets

After transferring most of my laundry items to the back of door baskets, I was still left with two containers that were too large - my laundry detergent pods, and my OxiClean. For these, I opted to buy two larger canisters from Target {again, adding washi tape detail to each}. I made sure to place these canisters in the far back corner of the counter top, far out of reach of little hands! {Similarly, I put the other laundry cleaners in the top basket of the door system to keep them out of my boys' reach as well}.

Laundry detergent in canisters

COUNTER SPACE FOR SORTING & FOLDING

You'll notice that other than the three small containers on the back corner of the laundry countertop, I have left this space wide open. Although I could have maximized my storage space by utilizing more of the counter, I specifically chose not to. In my prior laundry closet design, the counter was cluttered with two many storage containers which made it hard to use for its intended purpose of sorting and folding. This time around, I was very conscious of keeping this space wide open so that I could actually use it for doing laundry rather than having to drag my laundry to another room to find space to sort and fold.

Laundry Closet Organization

In addition to this counter being very functional, I'm proud of how it looks! We had wanted a laminate counter, but the price was way out of our budget, so we managed to DIY the style we wanted using a cheap melamine board and some vinyl flooring planks for a fraction of the cost! The DIY tutorial on that will be coming soon!

GARBAGE CAN OR LINT BIN

Since our laundry closet doesn't allow space for a garbage can on the floor, I used to create a pile of lint on the counter before finally carrying it all to a trash can elsewhere in the house every few days. When planning the laundry room makeover, I wanted to find a more function {and more stylish} solution.

My friend Melissa, at Polished Habitat, had created the most fabulous lint bin for her laundry closet wall, so I initially thought of using her solution. But then I spotted a black and white striped, lidded jute basket at The Container Store that I was totally smitten with, and I realized it would be a perfectly as a lint collector. Now I just empty the lint to the bathroom trash down the hall when it fills up.

Laundry lint bin container

A PLACE FOR HANGING & LINE DRYING

In the prior version of our laundry closet, I had a clothing rod for hanging clothes out of the dryer, but I'm short and I couldn't easy reach the rod, so it rarely got used. I wanted to find a better solution {one that my short self could reach}, so I once again opted to use the back of a door. I purchased four bar KALKRUND towel holder from IKEA.

Laundry Closet Organization

The outermost bar is just the right distance from the door to be used with standard hangers. Now I can hang clothes as I take them out of the dryer! And the four bars also provide an ideal space for draping multiple items that need to hang to dry!

Laundry Closet Hanging Space

Best of all, even with clothes hanging from the towel rack, I can still fully close the door if I need to hide the laundry away.

Hang clothes in laundry closet

I should also mention that I my hanger stacker {here's a similar one} also makes doing laundry much easier. I fill it up with the empty hangers out of our closet so that I always have plenty of hangers on hand for clothes coming out of the dryer.

KEEP THE WHOLE FAMILY IN THE LOOP

Laundry is a family affair, so to keep your clothes looking their best, it's convenient to have a place to leave notes to keep everyone on the same page. I often put a load of laundry in the washer, and then later my husband will move it to the dryer, or vice versa. It was always a challenge to remember to remind each other to check for stains on certain shirts, or not to dry certain items. To solve this problem, I've added a memo board to the door below the hanging rack.


To make the most of the space, I also designed a printed a cheat sheet of laundry symbols, and placed the paper behind a KLUDD glass noticeboard from IKEA. The noticeboard works well with either dry erase markers or chalk markers. Dry erase markers are convenient because they wipe away with a Kleenex or paper towel, where as a chalk marker requires water to wipe away. I have chosen to use a chalk marker so that it won't rub of on clean clothes that may end up hanging in front of the board as I take clothes out of the dryer.

STORE LAUNDRY BASKETS BETWEEN LOADS

Laundry baskets can take up so much room between use. A few years ago I got rid of all of my bulky plastic laundry baskets, and replaced them all with the collapsible variety {these are my favorite}.

Laundry Closet Organization

I like to keep a couple of these baskets in our master bedroom closet all the time {tucked behind our hamper} to make it quick and easy to carry clothes down to the laundry room. And I tuck another couple in the space between the washer and the wall in the laundry closet, ready for use to carry clean clothes to the appropriate rooms. Collapsible laundry baskets pack a whole lot of function into very little storage space!

collapsible laundry baskets

I love that our new laundry space is much more organized and functional than it used to be, but it's also more prettier and looks less cluttered. It just goes to show that you don't have to sacrifice style for function! It's all about finding the right balance and using the available space in a creative way!

Laundry Room Laundry Closet Organization

A few more things to consider when planning updates to your laundry space...

TO STACK OR NOT TO STACK

We are fortunate that our laundry closet is wide enough to accommodate a side by side washer and dryer, but even so, at the outset of the makeover I strongly considered whether to stack the washer and dryer. Ultimately I decided against stacking for several reasons: (1) the linen closet adjacent to our laundry closet already provides ample floor to ceiling shelving; (2) my boys love helping with the laundry by putting clothes in the washer, or by transferring from the washer to the dryer; and (3) I wanted to maximize my sorting and folding space with a large counter space.

However, there are just as many good reasons that you might want to stack your washer and dryer, even if you have the space for a side by side. Stacking can add more space for easily accessible shelves and cabinets; can free up floor space if your house lacks a broom/vacuum closet. If you are thinking of stacking your washer and dryer, you might want to check out this room, and this closet for inspiration!

DRAWER & PEDESTAL OPTIONS

Another important consideration for your laundry room is whether to put the washer and dryer right down on the floor, or whether to boost them up onto laundry pedestal drawers, or onto a custom built pedestal with space for laundry baskets {like this one from Addicted 2 DIY}. I quickly determined that pedestals weren't the right choice for me because my priority was to have a usable counter space for sorting and folding, and placing the washer and dryer on pedestals would have made the top too high for me to use. But, depending on how you use your space, and what your needs are, this can be a very efficient use of space!


Linked up at Remodelaholic

6 comments :

  1. Where are the tall striped baskets from? Love them!

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    1. Oh, I'm sorry I didn't mention those! I was going to talk about them my linen closet organizing post next week, but they do fit this post too! I searched high and low to find some black and white striped baskets, and finally ordered these from AliExpress (http://www.aliexpress.com/snapshot/7011446024.html?orderId=70173377962342) and they shipped from China! It took a couple of weeks, but they were worth the wait!

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  2. I have a weird "hole" in my laundry room, created by my washer and a freezer, and the "hole" has a window above it. Really hard to clean the floor because I really can't reach it and really accumulates the yuck! My "room" has two normal doors - one to the staircase for upstairs and one to the hall to the bathroom and bedroom. It also has an archway from my kitchen. It is so dysfunctional I think it needs therapy!!! A lovely square space that can't be hidden. I keep drooling over your space!

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    Replies
    1. That sounds like a really challenging space!!

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  3. do you have the diy for the laundry room counter? I love it!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm actually working on writing that tutorial this week, and will be posting it next week. I'll post the link here as soon as the tutorial is live.

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