Laundry Room Refresh: Magic (and Paint) Turns Sad Laundry Room Inside Out

Daniel Kanter
Written by Daniel Kanter
Updated January 13, 2017

DIY Expert Daniel Kanter turns a sad side laundry room inside out with a little white paint, a plant and some magic.

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Welcome to this laundry room. Feast your eyes. Take it all in. It is one of the saddest rooms ever, very possibly.

DIY pro Daniel Kanter's Laundry Room Remodel Before

Though my boyfriend bought this house nearly a year ago, until this makeover, it looked like this. In fairness to this nice man who usually cooks my food, has the approval of my parents and loves my poorly trained dogs, this room looks like it does because it’s old and the house has endured decades of mistreatment. 

The room was neglected by us because… it had a working washer and dryer. It wasn’t pleasant but it was certainly getting the job done.

This back wall was covered in cheap 1970's wood paneling, which looks like it received one badly executed coat of primer many years ago before the whole project was abandoned.

Related: Remodeling Guide

Somewhere down the line, somebody decided that building shoddy walls and putting in these doors would improve the situation. It didn't work out particularly well. The extra walls just served to further divide an already compact space and block a lot of light from the laundry area. 

The accordion doors were made of a wood-grain-printed plastic and keeping them closed didn't really help matters. You can't cover Ugly with more Ugly and expect Pretty. That's just math.

The goal was to make some quick, minor and inexpensive changes to create a more functional and presentable space.

Some Light Renovation

The very first order of business was clearing out the clutter and ripping down those plastic accordion doors! This laundry space is actually situated in the corner of a larger room, and will hopefully all get torn out and relocated elsewhere someday, allowing this room to become a den or something. 

Realistically, though, that day is years away and demolition at the moment is impractical. 

I tore out the accordion doors and the surrounding wall without any hassle, which really improved the space. The laundry area itself felt much bigger and brighter and it made the rest of the room feel so much better, too. 

That's not usually a feeling you get when renovating in the dead of night, so I was pleasantly surprised!

A Fresh Coat of Paint

In a perfect world, I would have ripped up the carpeting, refinished the hardwood flooring, removed that awkward chase in the corner, taken out the drop ceiling and restored the plaster one, re-routed all the plumbing for the upstairs bathroom that the drop ceiling is hiding, removed the wood paneling, re-plastered the walls, and restored the window sashes. But that would have taken weeks, maybe months. 

Related: Hiring a Contractor

Quick and easy was the whole point so I reigned in my crazy and got my act together. And because I'm not an animal, I patched up the walls, caulked and painted.

The wall color is Dusty Miller and the trim is Simply White, both by Benjamin Moore. Never underestimate the power of a fresh paint job! It really is the easiest and most effective way to refresh any space.


With the walls and trim freshly painted, I put the machines back in place and began adding in some much-needed storage! I'm so excited that using the top of the dryer as the storage space for everything is now a thing of the past! 

I bought this generously sized wall-mounted cabinet from IKEA (discontinued now, unfortunately) secondhand, and it fits perfectly above the machines. It’s more than large enough for all the laundry supplies and more.

I found this simple and inexpensive fold-down drying/hook rack at Target, which seemed perfect for this small space. There isn't really room for a standing drying rack, but there's always a garment or two that needs to be air dried. 

This rack is designed to hang over the back of a door. Only this room doesn’t have a door. Drilling through metal might sound like one of those things that's really hard, but because products like this are made of hollow metal pieces, a regular drill bit works just fine. 

I made a few ⅛-inch pilot holes around the perimeter, which allowed me to screw it directly into the wall. 


I'm more likely to use a space if I enjoy being in it, and a laundry room is nowhere to skimp! Adding in a plant, a window treatment, a small rug, a mirror or some art, and soft lighting makes any space feel more special and complete. 

Check it out! Fresh, clean and ready for action!

Aside from the large hanging cabinet and the drying rack, I put up a simple wood blind from Lowe's and picked up a new trash can. A small rug from IKEA helps define the space while also covering the carpeting. Sometimes a space really doesn't need that much to be totally transformed!

I love this little drying rack, and its $14.99 price tag! Here I have a random (intentional) set of dirty (perfectly clean) tea towels that happened to be drying. You could also put hangers on it and dry larger button-downs or pants. The hooks are great for those towels that sometimes need a little more time than the dryer gave them.

On top of the cabinet, I put an antique mirror and a small FADO light. The mirror is great for bouncing some natural light around the room during the day, and the lamp provides nicer lighting than turning on the ceiling light. 

Whenever you can, add a plant! I bought this ZZ plant at Lowe's, and it even came in a cute enough pot that I didn't have to do anything but put it on my shelf! 

ZZ plants are wonderfully hearty and do well in low-light conditions, so I expect it to be quite happy here. 

Lastly, that floating cabinet changes the whole laundry game! This thing is about four times as big as it needs to be to fit the detergent, bleach, stain-remover and dryer sheets! There's plenty of room to store additional cleaning supplies and stuff. 

Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in everything you might eventually want to do to a space that you forget how impactful smaller improvements can be in the meantime. It's so nice to use this space now—I wish I had done this sooner! I spent about $330.

Daniel Kanter writes the blog Manhattan Nest. You can find him on Instagram @danielkanter. Daniel's remarkable 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 Daniel's Laundry Room Refresh here!

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