Laundry Room Refresh: Cramped Laundry Corridor Transforms to Calm and Spacious

Annie Thompson
Written by Annie Thompson
Updated January 13, 2017

DIY pro Annie Thompson takes this narrow laundry corridor from drab and cramped to calm and spacious.

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As a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers, a very large dog and endless loads of cloth diapers, our laundry room gets a lot of use. Before this refresh, the room was incredibly dysfunctional. The door wouldn’t open all the way without banging into laundry baskets and even switching laundry from the washer to the dryer was difficult.

The room was designed for a top-load washer. Our family has a front loader, so we weren’t using the space like it was designed to be used.

This room was always a mess. Dirty laundry piled up on the floor in front of the utility sink and on top of the washing machine in two small buckets, which — refer to above reference about to two toddlers and large dog — were always full. Here’s what I started with:

And here’s what I did with it:

Paint

Painting packs the biggest punch for the smallest dollar, so this is where I focused the majority of my time and energy. Before painting, I removed all the cabinet hardware and the doors, and removed the quarter-round from the baseboard. 

I wiped down all the cabinets, trim and door fronts with a damp washcloth, followed by mineral spirits to remove any grease or oil (you could use a TSP solution instead) and then sanded everything lightly with 220-grit sandpaper (and of course, wiped the sawdust off).

One coat of primer (I used latex primer from Sherwin-Williams) was sufficient on the trim and cabinets. For oak cabinets (or any other dark-stained wood) I would recommend using two coats of primer to reduce stain bleed through.

For the cabinets, I used Sherwin-Williams low-VOC acrylic water-based cabinet paint matched to Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. Two coats; semi-gloss sheen. I like Sherwin-Williams' cabinet paint best because it hardens up nicely and more quickly than some other paints I’ve used in the past. 

For the walls, I used two coats of Benjamin Moore's Natura line in Hale Navy (eggshell sheen). 

Reconfigure the Washer & Dryer

Like I mentioned before, the room was designed to accommodate a top-load washer. And the hookups were reverse what they needed to be. I knew that reversing the washer and dryer so the doors opened up away from each other was going to be a key change to improve the laundry room workflow.

For the washer, I needed longer water supply lines and a longer discharge hose to reach all the way from the far end of the room to the utility sink.

For the dryer I found a clever product called a “periscope dryer vent” which allowed me to route the dryer vent along the wall behind the washer. The dryer is electric (not gas) and the cord reached from the old position so that was one hookup I fortunately didn’t need to modify.

Related: Hiring a Contractor

Build Countertop & Shelves

Creating a countertop above the washer and dryer would dramatically improve the usability of the laundry room. I would finally have a designated place other than the kitchen table to fold laundry! 

To build the countertop and shelves, I used pre-finished birch-veneer plywood, which is smooth, waterproof and surprisingly durable. 

To keep it cohesive with the rest of the room, I also opted to create four floating shelves out of the same material, each big enough to house a laundry basket. 

These floating "industrial-chic" shelves proved to be a nice visual against the contrasting navy blue walls. Using two sheets on top of one another for the countertop and the edge of the shelves, gave it a more substantial, “chunkier” look than a single sheet, which emphasizes the unfinished edges.

By using vertical space instead of horizontal space, I was able to maximize the usability of the limited space available. As a plus, I retrofitted our existing folding drying rack by mounting it to the wall. It now pulls out overhead! 

Related: Remodeling Center

Add the Finishing Touches

I replaced the ugly, beige outlet covers and light switches with crisp, white ones that match the white trim. I also replaced the old energy hog of a light with a brand-new LED fixture in the same size. It gives off about 10 times more light but uses a fraction of the energy! The light’s nickel finish matches the new cabinet hardware. 

I relocated the laundry detergent powder, laundry booster and stain powder to the new countertop. Now, I no longer need to open and close the cabinet every time I need a single scoop of laundry detergent!

I grabbed some decorative boats I had in another room of our house, and relocated them to the new countertop as well. And to fill up the empty walls, I hung some inexpensive art I made before! The DIY Nautical maps represent two of the places most dear to our family. I strategically placed two inexpensive sisal rugs to camouflage the 1980's vinyl tile that still remains. 

I spent about $500 on this refresh. In one weekend, I completely reorganized our laundry space and drastically improved the usability of the room. 

Annie Thompson blogs at All Things Big and Small. You can also find her on Instagram @allthingsbigandsmallblog. Annie's brilliant laundry room remodel is part of The Angie's List Laundry Room Refresh Contest - 10 FIY Bloggers remodel a laundry room with $500. The Laundry Room Refresh with the most votes by January 27, 2017 wins $2,000! Vote for Annie's Laundry Room Refresh here!

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