Organize Your Laundry Room

Remodel, organize, and decorate your laundry room to create a smart space for work, play, and washing clothes. Use these tips from designer John Loecke.

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Work Space and Play Space


To make this basement laundry area feel more like a real room, Loecke added crown molding, painted the walls sky blue, and chose a heavy-duty paint for the concrete floors. A cubby, made by modifying a standard kitchen cabinet, gives the washer and dryer a built-in look while a pegboard with hooks keeps craft and gift wrapping items close at hand. The board can also be used to display accents like a wall clock as well as inspirational photos and pages from favorite magazines.

Green tip: If your washer and dryer are more than 10 years old, consider replacing them with energy-efficient front-loading models or redesigned top-loading ones. Those with the Energy Star label use about half as much water as older machines, saving up to $145 a year on utility bills.

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Double-Duty Sinks


Like many laundry rooms, this one already had a sink. But Loecke felt dual basins would be more versatile for tasks like hand-washing clothes, potting plants, and flower arranging. He had a plumber install new faucets and retrofit a vintage metal washstand with drains to hold two large galvanized tubs.

DIY option: If you can't find a stand, use a low table and cut holes in the top for pipes. Install a shelf or cabinet overhead for vases and gardening supplies. You can still set up a potting area even if your room doesn't have plumbing—just keep an extra-large watering can handy.

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The Laundry Room, Before


Before Loecke redecorated the laundry room, the messy basement had makeshift shelves and an outmoded washer/dryer and sink.

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Smart Storage


There's a place for everything in the redecorated laundry room. Hooks on the pegboard are used for tools. Cubbies house items like fabric and snapshots stored in opaque containers to keep things neat. Glass jars make it easier to find items like beads and buttons. The decoupaged metal bins on the top shelf hide clutter. Rolls of wrapping paper fit perfectly in a wine rack.

Kitchen cabinets, installed along one wall, give the workspace a finished look. "It's better to have some things hidden away," says Loecke. The Corian countertop, a durable surface made from acrylic and natural stone, is ideal because you can buff out scratches with a nylon scouring pad. Loecke furnished the room with rehabbed pieces, like this flea market library table. He cut a couple of inches off the legs, attached casters, and stained the bottom a blue-gray. Secondhand chairs got a fresh coat of paint and splashy new cushions.

DIY option: Choose inexpensive, off-the-rack cabinets in standard sizes to fit your room's dimensions.

Green tip: Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs), which use 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer. The new generation CFLs come in a wide array of shapes (not just spirals), including the recessed spotlights installed in this room. For more information on how to get the best bulb for the job, visit

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Loecke transformed a paper towel holder into a ribbon dispenser. A screwdriver rack holds paintbrushes.

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Pretty Personalization


Basic canvas storage boxes can be personalized with ribbon, cloth, and adhesive scrapbooking letters.

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On a Roll


A pullout spice cabinet is great for small supplies like paints, glitter, and glue.

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Crafty Carryall


A pair of built-in garbage and recycling bins hold bulky items like yarn and rolls of fabric.

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Create a Custom Desk


Loecke used cabinet shelving and legs designed for an island to create this custom desk.

DIY option: Get a similar look by mounting a countertop on basic base cabinets or table legs, which are available unfinished at hardware and home stores. A bulletin board cut from Homasote (a building material also available at home stores), placed above the desk and painted to match the walls, blends right in. Pull up a painted flea market seat and play around with unexpected containers, such as vases, to corral supplies. Loecke decorates binders with scraps of different ribbon as an organizing trick: Put seed catalogs in a polka-dot holder, owner's manuals in a striped one, and so on.

Green tip: Choose cabinets, countertops, and paint made by companies that pledge to use adhesives and finishes containing low levels of pollutants, known as VOCs, and, if applicable, follow sustainable forestry practices. Check for a certification from the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association's Environmental Stewardship Program, the Greenguard Environmental Institute, or the Forest Stewardship Council—or, in the case of paint, a label that reads "zero VOCs."

Originally published in the March 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.