(Photo credit: Shutterstock)Laundry rooms can be a challenge even you’re uber-organized. This very small and yet highly functional space is typically dominated by two very large appliances that are frequently used. But just as often, laundry rooms have other uses.
Making your laundry room as user-friendly as possible is difficult, but not impossible. Getting it right will make you feel as though you’ve added even more space to your home. Here are four ways to create a more useful laundry room:
1. Start with a clean sweep.
Oftentimes laundry rooms function as more than just a place to do laundry, so de-cluttering is the first step to getting organized. People tend to store extra household items such as paper towels and light bulbs in their laundry rooms, as well as cleaning supplies and extra towels or sheets. After going through all these laundry room residents, decide which should stay and which need to be moved to an alternate location.
2. To maximize the space in your laundry room, consider cabinets or shelving.
“If your washer and dryer do not have overhead storage of any kind, that’s the first place to start,” said Barry Izsak, owner of Arranging it All in Austin, Texas who has been a professional organizer for 16 years. “Keep in mind that if you have the older style of washers that you’re going to have to leave enough room overhead to open them.”
If you install shelving or cabinets above your washer and dryer, put the laundry room products you use the most - detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener - on the lowest shelf so they are easily accessible and put items you don’t use - the extra toilet paper - higher up.
3. Organize cleaning supplies for an “easy reach.”
Consider using smaller baskets, bins or even milk crates You could also install a custom-made shelf that glides out of your cabinets, making items in the back easier to reach - and easier to remember. The gliding shelf can actually save you money over time because you’re not buying anything you already have, Izsak said.
Also think about finding a wheeled container unit that can store your laundry items and easily be tucked away. Some of these even come with drying racks attached to put a few items out to dry.
4. Create extra space that can be stored when not in use.
If you need some serious space for drying items you don’t like to put in the dryer, there are plenty of other solutions for this problem. A number of retailers offer accordion-style or flip-down racks that can hold many garments that need to drip-dry. These hangers can be pulled out when necessary and stuffed back toward the wall when not in use.
Even hooks that hang on the back of a door can provide you with some drying space - just remember to use a hanger so they do not dry with a little hump in the back from hanging. A tension rod set between two walls in the room, the kind you might hang curtains on, can also provide a quick and easy solution for hanging clothes.
Finding room for folding clothes presents another problem in a cramped space. Consider a table-board that is spring-loaded and folds up into the wall. It can be pulled down in the middle of your room and latched into place, providing space for folding and stacking, and then be put away when you need to move around again.
But Izsak warns not to let the products guide your organizations.
“We always tell our clients, ‘Let’s do the organizing first and then determine what, if any, products you need,’” he said. “At the end of the organizing, people say, ‘Oh my, the end result is way different than what I originally thought.’ Getting organized is not always about buying products, it’s about creating the solution that’s right for you.”