My Laundry Room Plans: How I'm Updating The Space
I’ve never had a decent sized utility room before. In our house in Caversham, we had what could only be described as a store cupboard coming off the kitchen, comprising of precariously stacked washer and tumble dryers alongside a fridge, whose bottom drawer was inoperable due to the fact that the door only opened 60% of the way thanks to the wall being flush alongside. Due to the restricted usage, it was impossible to put anything larger than a ready meal for one into its chilly innards - pizzas and casserole dishes had literally no chance of making it through the opening. Luckily, the entire area was stone built with no heating whatsoever (it originally would have housed logs or similar) which meant that even mid August, it pretty much matched the inner temperature of the fridge so the food fared just as well without. Alongside this icy cavern was the toilet which originally would have been accessed from outside, a room so cold that if you sat for more than three minutes on the loo you’d be fearful of being stuck to it indefinitely. As a duo, the rooms could easily be mistaken for the House Of Horror basement in Silence Of The Lambs, the only difference being that the carcasses were a six pack of chicken fillets. You get the gist.
Anyway, frostiness aside, when we moved into our home here at The Elms, the utility room was a revelation. Firstly, it has no windows whatsoever - the back of our house was rearranged to incorporate a back door and the original space has been lost in the process. However, it still has a built in wall cupboard dating back to 1759, an attractive feature which we immediately stuffed full of everything that had been in the kitchen drawers of our previous house and didn't know where to put. With both base cupboards and wall cupboards, there’s plenty of space for storage but over the last four years since our arrival, the old adage of ‘the more space you have, the more you need’ has applied ten fold. The room has become a place of what can only be described as hell.
As a family of five, our propensity to expel socks is extreme. With a full time job, a husband who can barely work the dishwasher and three non domesticated children, the chances of them coming out of the washing machine and being paired neatly are close to zero. As a result, we have a two plastic baskets full of lone souls with more chance of being matched on Tinder than ever reaching the heady heights of a sock drawer. We also have enough football kits to clothe the majority of the Premier League, most of which either don’t fit anymore or have been washed so many times that the transfers have curled off (a downside to buying them from the Costa Del Sol markets) - these have their own plastic basket, regularly emptied upside down at the weekend when my sons rampage into the room looking for the correct team kit of the day.
The worst aspect of my utility room, however, is the shoe rack. Anyone who has a shoe rack will know what a completely useless piece of shit these contraptions can be. Only designed to hold a maximum of about five pairs, it takes only a day or two for shoes to be placed on top of shoes, for shoes to be stuffed in between shoes, until the entire rack is overloaded and falls off on to your head when you’re emptying the tumble dryer. Not only that, together with the football kits, most of the shoes displayed don’t even fit my children anymore and are surplus to any requirements whatsoever. Dry, clean washing is stacked on the floor ready for putting away in drawers (we don’t iron in our house unless we are going to a wedding or a funeral), an activity that is undertaken at most once a month and only when family members are reduced to getting fully dressed downstairs due to lack of clothes upstairs. An IKEA shelving unit is laden down with herbs and spices that I didn't leave room for in my kitchen update, alongside towels and bedding that should be upstairs in the laundry cupboard. Quite frankly, it’s chaos. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the cat and dog are fed in this room amongst the detritus.
As I said at the beginning, a living hell. Here’s a glimpse. My eyes, my eyes.
So things need to change. I’ve renamed this room of doom The Laundry Room in an attempt to shake off its horrible history and start again. As the first room that you see when you enter the house, it needs a complete and total revamp, to be transformed into a calm, efficient oasis without an empty sachet of Pedigree Chum or discarded shin pad in sight. This is what I’m going to do.
Clear It Out
An appropriate start, I think. I’m going to empty the cupboards, redistribute, chuck and recycle what’s not needed and send everything that’s suitable for rehoming to the charity shop. Old football kits will be allocated to friends with smaller children, socks will be paired and put into drawers and shoes will be sorted and taken to bedrooms for storage. I’m going to be ruthless. If it hasn’t been used since we moved in (or actually, the last year), then it’s not coming back in. Hardcore.
Whip The Cupboards Off
So my first redecorating move will be to remove the cupboards from the walls. I’m leaving the base units but the room has really high ceilings so it seems a total waste not to make the most of this feature. I’m hoping that they’ve simply been attached to what would have been a fairly newly plastered wall so it will be easy for me to make good. I’ll Freecycle them so that someone else can make use of them (they’re not very pretty tbh so not suitable for selling). This will, I hope, immediately make the room feel much bigger.
Shelf It Out
There’s room on this main wall for three runs of shelves, one above the other, taking my storage opportunities right up to the top. I’m going to extend this storage to the right hand wall so that the shelving is in an L shape. Again, there’s space to do so once all the shoes and animal food has been removed for relocation. As a result, I’ll more than triple my storage space. I know that open shelving isn’t for everyone, but I really like the look of it and as long as you team it with basket and container storage, it will stay fairly neat. I’ve asked Kennet, who fitted my kitchen, to source scaffold shelves for this purpose and put them up for me on heavy brackets.
Paint The Base Units
I’m going to paint the base units almost black and then replace the handles with something in the same colour to blend in. There’s only two and half cupboards so it’s not a massive job. I think this will be a good contrast to the walls.
Bring In the Pink
I’m going to paint the walls in an earthy pink colour and possibly take it up over the ceiling too. I’ll also paint the shelving the same pink rather than staining it. It’s a small room so I’m looking forward to adding some impact. I’m also going to do the wall behind the shelving in a cool pink patterned wallpaper to add interest.
Paint The Tiles
There’s cream metro tiles above the sink to the top of where the shelves will be - I’m going to tile paint them in white. These go around the whole of the worktop so will be a good contrast to the pink and black.
Pimp Up The Cupboard
I’m looking forward to doing this. It’s a double built in cupboard with shallow shelves so I’m going to paint the outside in the same black as the base units, then inside I am going to use the same wallpaper as the back wall. Currently used as a dumping ground for all random rubbish, It’s going to be reborn as a store cupboard for herbs, spices and baking equipment. So organised. Who even am I?
Add Value To The Worktop
There’s currently a black marble effect laminate in place that has seen better days and I’m replacing this with a solid beech worktop that I’ve found on eBay. It’s a clearance store and I’ve managed to get two 3m lengths for £200 so I’m super pleased with this purchase. I’m going to extend the worktop to the wall on the right hand side, meaning that I can put a small fridge underneath in the gap for drinks and extra food storage.
Update The Tap & Sink
I’m planning to investigate tap and sink options - I’ll stick to chrome and after having a quick look, I’ve discovered some economical options. The sink won’t be in use full time, but it will need a basic sink and drainer. The washing machine and tumble dryer are either side of the sink and all plumbing is in place, so it shouldn’t be a difficult job to update these items.
Currently, the lighting situation in this room is appalling. With no windows, Joe decided to install a low voltage bulb (too high for me to change, even on a chair) which means that you’re basically emptying the washing machine in a yellow tinged Twilight Zone. It also takes about three minutes to reach maximum wattage which means I spend most of my time in this room swearing that I’m unable to see anything. I’m going to add a full beam light to the ceiling (most probably a flush pendant with daylight bulbs for maximum light) and then two directional task lights straight ahead above the shelving. Perfect.
Invest In a Hanging Rail
To the left hand side as you go into the room, there’s currently a coat rack. I’m going to remove this and replace it with a shop fit styled chrome hanging rail (approximately £30) where I can hang things neatly if they’re not suitable for tumble drying. I basically tumble dry everything, tbh, with the exception of some of Joe’s clothes. Several times, I’ve ‘accidentally’ tumble dried his clothes into a size small enough to fit Leo, so a hanging rail for drying unsuitable things will help this situation. It will also be heavy duty enough to hold excess coats, so a good multi tasking addition, I think. There’ll be space there to fit the ironing board as well and I’ll store two large wicker laundry baskets beneath.
Add The Extras
On the wall to the left as you go in (currently occupied by a huge IKEA shelving unit) I’m going to add round wall hooks as extra storage for bags and other miscellaneous items. I’ll also source a plastic rug for the centre of the floor to add interest.
So that’s the plan. Currently, the most excitement this room ever sees when Buddy is thrown inside and shut in if someone knocks on the door - any person daring to do so has their groin immediately accosted upon entry - so it’s going to be a big change. If it all comes together as I hope, it really will transform the space and hopefully also encourage my extremely messy family to get their act in gear. At the very least, it will diminish the sock and shoe mountains that currently reside in the smallest room of the house. I’ll keep you updated! Wish me luck.