Need ideas for laundry/dressing area--photos!

ericasjMarch 9, 2006

Hi, all. Haven't been here for awhile; just got involved in other things. But the house is starting to bug me, and it's spring cleaning season...

Our laundry room is about 8x9 feet, broken up by two doors, two windows, and some shallow built-in shelves that can only hold small things like cans. It also serves as a dressing area, and for some other things we'd keep in a linen closet, if we had one.

The reason we get dressed there is because our bedroom is upstairs, but there's only a small powder room up there. This room is between the full bathroom and the kitchen, which makes it very convenient in the mornings. We don't have to run down for coffee, back up for clothing, back down to shower, etc. DH and I have also gotten into the habit of getting changed there when we come home tired from work, rather than trudging upstairs.

I guess the main problem is too many clothes in too small a space. We've got piles of clean clothes with no easy place to put them away, mixed with piles of dirty clothes that won't fit in the hamper, mixed with clothes worn once and could be worn again. I don't know whether to try and make better use of the space downstairs, or just get used to storing more upstairs and making lots of inconvenient trips.

Any suggestions welcome. :)

This is the first time I'm trying to put up a virtual photo album, so I hope it works!

Here is a link that might be useful: Laundry Room Before Pictures

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Wow. What I would give for laundry near dressing areas.
Get 3 estimates/sketches from closet companies and make that small room into an official huge closet/dressing room. If you don't fall for too many bells and whistles, the cost is comparable to a few new, reasonably priced dressers or shelves. Tap all that unused potential space in there! That's what I would do.
Can't wait to see after pictures. JC

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 1:04PM
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shelves over the dryer, definitely--you could put a hanging rod over it, I suppose, if your DH is tall--shirts and pants don't need much vertical height--that might be better, actually, as you can grab the front edgeof the hanger; reaching all the way in to the wall could be hard.

Find a way to put doors over all the clean-clothes storage, even the hanging stuff.

Then, you need good hampers, one for each type of load (dark, lights, whites, maybe?)--maybe w/ a fold-out (hinged on the front edge) or slide-out clothes-folding surface. Or just fold on top of the washer, under the window.

And you need, very much so, to have a "wash those clothes" policy--you are IN the room; put a load in the washer every night.

Also, declutter the clothes. Don't have more clothes than you can wear. Maybe fancy, not-for-everyday clothes, like formal wear, can go upstairs. But downstairs, you should have only enough clothes for 2 weeks, no more. If you OWN more, then put the extra upstairs, and tap into it when the downstairs clothes start to wear out.

**ESPECIALLY** do not own more than 10 pairs of underwear.

The idea is, you'll HAVE to stay caught up w/ the laundry, or you won't have clothes.

I agree about the closet-type places; you need some drawers for undies and socks--though actually, you could use bins for that. But the idea is, if it's not actually *laundry*, you want it behind doors, clearly "put away." That'll increase the visual calm tremendously. And help with the organization.

Shoe cubbies inthe skinny spaces by the door.

Another thing: that room cannot become a storage space for ANYTHING else. If there's anything in that room that's not related to clothes or dressing, think really hard about where ELSE it can go.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 1:58PM
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Gee, I totally forgot something important. Our dryer is 15 years old, has already had two repairs in the past year and is making another noise. I'm thinking it might be time to replace it, and I was wondering about stacking the washer and dryer where the dryer is now.

That would leave room under that window between the w/d and the clothes rack, for some kind of bench or shelf. The laundry supplies could go on top, with room for shoe storage underneath. I'm wondering if that would be more useful than having the same kind of wall cabinet we used to have over the dryer.

Anyone have experience with stacking the w/d? Especially any issues with having so much weight in one spot?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 2:00PM
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I was going to say "stacking". For full size stackables the footprint would be the size of one appliance, leaving more room for closet or cabinet.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 3:12PM
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the one thing about stackables, in your space: they'd rob you of WALL space--which you have very little of, given all the doors and windows. And wall space means space for dressers to sit against the wall, space for clothes to hang on a rod.

And that sort of storage is what you need, actually--isn't it?

I'll have to look at the pics again, and see what the space looks like. --and now that I have, maybe they'd work after all. There's a little more wall space than I expected.

I guess you'd free up SHORT wall space under the window--so you could put a dresser there, or a cabinet w/ doors. Or a bench so you have somewhere you can sit. But I would NOT suggest a bench for stor ing laundry supplies there.

I don't think laundry supplies on a bench is very useful. If you end up w/ a bench, you want to be able to sit on it, and I guarantee that the supplies will fill it completely up. I want you to have the supplies in a cabinet of some sort, and not out and visible. Maybe a drawer *UNDER* the stackables? One nice thing about front loaders--you can raise them up a bit.

And oddly enough, I'm not a fan of shoes stored on or near the floor--too much bending over, and they end up flopping around and getting underfoot. Just 'cause you WEAR them there, doesn't mean they are best STORED there. But if you don't have any other choice, there's this sort of thing

I think you should get some wardrobes or closet-system stuff to make that whole wall where the clothes are hanging into the main clothes-hanging space. I'd prefer wardrobes, or a custom-sized wardrobe from an unfinished-furniture place, bcs I want you to have DOORS over your clothes.

Either way, it's my believe that you won't want a bench or dresser that goes the full width of the window; you'd want a bench for sitting (and putting on socks, etc.) that FACES the hanging rod. So you can stand in front of the hanging rod all the way over by the window.

I would suggest a bench or cabinet or dresser that has its back to the washingmachine, and faces the clothes.

You *could* just get smaller machines--the stackable front-loaders are much smaller physically, even if they DON'T stack, but their capacity is pretty good, bcs they're front loaders--and that would leave you more space around them.

Get some graph paper, and sketch out the room. The Container Store has a great closet-planning service; give it a try!

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Store closet-planning service

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 3:34PM
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And another thought--There are only 2 things you need to do before you are really quite functional.

1. You NEED to get rid of some clothes--even if it's just getting them out of that room instead of out of that house--banishing the seldom-worn ones to upstairs. Bcs you should have places to put them away. You're not THAT short on storage. Maybe you need one more dresser, but really you've got plenty of hanging space for 2 people.

You ought to be able to take clothes out of the dryer, fold them, and put them right in the drawer. If you can't, you've got too many.

Basically the clothes that are clean but not put away are the ones to KEEP downstairs. They're the hard-workers--the ones you're actually WEARING. The ones in the drawer are squatters--they move in when the hardworkers are away, and then you can't get them out. They don't leave the drawers, bcs you don't wear them. In which case, why are they in prime-real-estate territory?

If it's in a drawer right now, it's probably extra. Move it out.

You'll want to be pretty restrictive about what's allowed to LIVE in the dressing room. Grubby clothes for painting duty, upstairs; clothes fancier than what you wear to work, upstairs; out-of-season clothes, upstairs.

2. And you NEED a decent hamper set-up. You need, I believe, a hamper that has at least two compartments.

I was going to suggest you be sure to get one w/ a lid, so you can fold on top of that surface--if you get serious about stackables, then definitely consider the lidded version, esp. the kind w/ a little gap under the lid (so's you can just stuff a shirt into it w/o having to lift the lid).

Like this one, which has an ironing-board lid or this one.

But even if it's just a short-term solution and you get one of those Rubbermaid hampers to be a second hamper, it'll be better than what you've got now.

Tackle those things before Monday, and you'll have made a huge improvement.

Then look into one more dresser (or a larger dresser to replace the one you have). And you ought to be quite functional.

Here is a link that might be useful: Easy Closets design program

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 3:56PM
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My friend has full sized stackables. She's not crazy about them and from what I've seen, when helping her, they are much smaller than my large load machines. She is needing a new dryer and says she has to replace both. They are 10 years old, so maybe the new ones are better.

First, I would have to have some type of door put up to the kitchen. I don't like to look at laundry rooms, closets, etc. You really need more permanent ways to hang things. And of course, be ruthless with how many clothing you are willing to deal with.

I would remove the shelves. Build a small wall from ceiling to floor rith next to the bathroom woodwork. It can just be good quality plywood which would would paint to match the wall. Then do double hanging rods there. My DH is tall so we put our top rod almost to the ceiling, then we measured his dress shirts so they could don't get crunched by the stuff of the next pole and hung the second pole at that level. I know your light switch is there, but a good electrician could move it out of there to the outside of the plywood with conduit, which again you can paint.

Next to the washer, I would build another section to hang the long items. You will have room at the bottom of that for shoe racks. Where you currently have the belts hanging, I would just put in a bit of a more complete hanging system to belts, ties, etc.

I would put a cabinet over the dryer (with doors) to romove some of the visual clutter of those cleaning items. Again, the decent quality chip board stuff paints well and holds up well, but the cheap stuff falls apart.

Instead of a dresser, you could use an taller dresser or armore (I know I didn't spell that right) next to the window. That way you would have somewhere for folded sweaters. My DH keeps all of his jeans, etc. folded on the shelves instead stuffed in drawers.

With just the two of you I would think you could load right into the washer for whites/lights and put the darks in just a laundry basket, getting rid of the hamper. Washing a load of something every day would keep all of those dirty clothes basically gone and put away.

To finish it off, I get a really pretty area rug and some valances so the place seems more like a room and enjoy!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 4:45PM
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Talley Sue said: "Tackle those things before Monday, and you'll have made a huge improvement."

Well, I got psyched to see some kind of difference by Monday. Here's the progress I made.

I have 4 plastic grocery bags' worth of clothes ready to leave the house. After completely emptying a drawer of acrylic sweaters DH never, ever wears, I now have room to put the flannel sheets away for the summer.

I've decided to move my area of operations for dressing partly upstairs. Getting into nightclothes, and also dressing for housework and yard work can happen upstairs. I've already put a new hamper up there, but moving more of the clothes will have to wait til I have somewhere to put them. I've ordered another little chest of drawers for upstairs, which will be arriving on Tuesday.

Downstairs, some lower drawer space will be cleared which I'm going to use for shoes. I also bought the cabinet for over the dryer, but after looking at the situation, we need to get DH some help putting it up. I really hope it doesn't turn into another one of those half-done projects, with money tied up in supplies, and the supplies just creating clutter.

You've given me a lot to think about for long-term solutions, and I've made a few sketches of where walls and closets could go. I've also discovered some closet systems that attach to back walls, rather than side walls, that might accomplish the same thing. The clothes could be hidden by curtains rather than walls and doors. But I'm going to wait on any of that stuff for now, because I know it's going to be hard enough to get that one cabinet put up!

Thanks for all the ideas; I'll check back when I've made more progress.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 4:57PM
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I now have room to put the flannel sheets away for the summer.
can't those go in the bedroom? Bcs though they get *washed* in the laundry room, they get used upstairs, right? And you could put other, more dressing-room type stuff, downstairs. (I'll confess, I'm really captivated by the dressing-room ideas)

Getting into nightclothes, and also dressing for housework and yard work can happen upstairs. I've already put a new hamper up there,
This makes sense to me--bcs you'd already be dressed in regular clothes, after yourshower, and then decide to put on your grubbies to go work in the yard. See how it works, and let us know.

I really hope it doesn't turn into another one of those half-done projects, with money tied up in supplies, and the supplies just creating clutter.
Oh, are you me? This used to happen in my house all the time (though I am the one who didn't do stuff, even though I bought myself all the stuff). The best solution: I found a handyman, and now I just pay him $15 an hour to do it for me.

So, do you feel like you made a big difference by Monday?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 1:26PM
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It's been a while since the OP started this thread, I wonder about your progress. My suggestion would be to invite 3-4 "closet companies" to bid for designing a completely built-in laundry/dressing room for you. Just from your photos I can see you could double or triple your storage space by building cabinets, shelves, etc. everywhere.

My laundry room is a mix of racks, open shelves, and cabinets, with every foot used. I have closed cabinets over the washer and dryer to get all the products out of sight. My hangers are on a rack above the washer where they are very easy to access.

I keep cheap old-fashioned rectangular laundry baskets in my upstairs closet and sort the laundry as I drop it in, half the basket with darks and half with brights for example. Four loads in two baskets.

Over the years I've built closets and laundry rooms in several houses. You will find quite a difference in pricing among the "closet builders." Costco now does custom closets but I haven't priced them.

Good luck with your project. With the right design you could have a really functional and attractive room.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 1:21PM
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