Cleaning Up

Wash day is challenging enough without working in a laundry room that is too cramped for easy maneuvering. Transform a narrow, ill-conceived space into an efficient cleaning center.

Moses and the children of Israel escaped Egypt, clomped across a dry seabed and tramped through the Desert of Sin. Each day, they gathered manna for breakfast and captured quail for dinner.

When these dirty, grimy, disheveled people arrived at Mount Sinai, where they would receive the 10 Commandments, God spoke. “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes… ’” Exodus 19:10 NIV.

Cleaning clothes is still a chore, but don’t murmur about your cramped, inconvenient laundry room. Give it a makeover, as we did, to improve the efficiency and flexibility of this functional space.

The layout

Originally about 9 feet long, see “before” image, bottom right, this room accommodated a washer, dryer, sink and small cabinets. It was tight—only 6 feet wide—leaving little more than a 3-foot width of floor space, with appliances in place. An ironing board in the room was awkward; the only spot for hanging just-dried shirts was over the sink; folding space was the washer top and storage was limited.

The Work Wall

Improving the room arrangement included a new washer and dryer. The front-loading replacements are larger than the original equipment, allowing installation of a 31-inch deep solid-surface countertop, raised to the convenient height of 41 inches. It runs the room’s full length.

To save costs, the homeowners kept their original white porcelain work sink, but moved it closer to the window wall and added a new high-arch, pull-out faucet. Repositioning the sink resulted in the project’s biggest improvement—installation of a pullout ironing board.

Increasing storage was accomplished by installing three home-center cabinets. These were customized with molding at the top and bottom so they would match cabinets in the adjacent kitchen. A 47-inch shelf was added above the sink and a trio of dark gray hampers fit conveniently under the sink.

Hang ups

At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s much to be done with the long wall opposite the appliances. But adding hooks provides a place for hanging coats and large items. For a clean look and strong footing for hooks, wood trim was painted and attached along the full length of the wall. Hooks were fastened to the wood using screws.

the look

Updating this laundry room began by removing flooring, lighting and appliances. For new flooring, dark limestone tiles were chosen for durability, easy maintenance and style. A mix of contrasting horizontal marble and glass backsplash tiles was installed for a contemporary feel. The room was painted in cool colors with an uplifting blue near the ceiling. New lighting was added, including a decorative ceiling lamp and strips of under-cabinet lights. Including energy-efficient task lighting makes it a pleasant place to do laundry, day or night.

Budget savers

Here are tactics for saving on home-improvement costs:

Make a precise plan and stick to it. Changing a plan midway through a project drives up cost.

Allow time for shopping. The same washing machine may be $1,000 or $600 less, depending on sales, coupons, close-out specials and other opportunities.

Be realistic about your skills. Can you, family or friends remove tile, pull up old flooring, paint? If so, every hour you and your crew invest is an hour you don’t have to pay for professional help.

Shop online. Deals can be found, but make certain you know exactly what you are getting—down to measurements and features.

Tuck-Away ironing board

Before the makeover, there was no convenient spot for ironing. The board was stored against the window wall and had to be moved for use. Fitting an ironing board into the design was the makeover’s biggest challenge, though it proved to be surprisingly simple. The problem was solved with the purchase of a Häfele Ironfix Ironing Board. It folds up so it can slide in and out of the cabinetry just like a drawer.

Although the 14×38-inch board is made to work with side-mount drawer slides, there wasn’t enough space for this type of installation. Instead, the board was easily adapted for use with bottom-mount, drop-front drawer slides. The epoxy-coated steel ironing board is made from two pieces hinged together, which allows the front half of the board to be flipped over so it lies flat on the back half of the board, center right. Folded, it is short enough to fit under the counter. It also swivels, bottom right, from 90 degrees to the left or 90 degrees to the right. There are seven preset lock positions.

After attaching the drawer slides, the ironing board assembly was attached to the cabinet in the same way as a drawer and its slides. A drop-front drawer face was screwed onto the assembly front. Fitted with a board cover, the project was complete. To use it, the homeowners pull down the drawer front which draws out the folded ironing board a few inches. The board is then pulled out completely, the front half is flipped into position and the board can be swiveled to the right or left as needed.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
Colossians 3:23 NIV

Laundry Room

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