Privilege Blog

Some Small And Manageable Changes To A Small But Multi-Use Laundry Room

Although we began our ongoing interior fix-up with the master bedroom, that’s paused because, no kidding, our new bed arrived and we’re keeping the old one until my daughter is ready to take possession. It’s bedtastic round here, with not even room enough to roll out the new rug. I’m oddly untroubled.

We moved on to painting walls. That took absototalutely forever, even though for the most part I just had everything re-whited. But it’s finished.

So now, as we wait for bed removal and other acts of decluttering, I’m focused on quick hits. The table and pouf, for example. And, surprisingly, the laundry room. You can find a lot of design for sudsy spaces out there.

From modern with spark,


to the traditional – if your traditions include a country house in Provence.

Country house laundry room

to the, well, not my style. I don’t much want straightforward signs, a chandelier, Tiffany blue walls, or curtained appliances. (That’s High WASP communication restraint, right there.)


So I hung a Mark Rothko poster instead. What? I can’t decide if the artist would have liked keeping company with a place of labor, or resisted my  bourgeois love of his work for its beauty.


Let’s back up. My laundry room is and always has been very small. But it exists. When the kids were little I always thought I’d like to bash out a wall to extend into the garage, and set up a table for folding, bins for clean clothes, a domestic desk for bills and such. But in retirement, and with thoughts of a future move, I wanted to work with what I have.


Painted new white, of course. That faux ceramic flooring is actually vinyl, and 30 years old. Feels quite vintage. I liked it when I installed it, and I like it now, faded. Why am I showing you pictures of a decidedly unglamorous space? Because it has added, measurably, to my sense of wellbeing.


The new seagrass basket, and this below, are from Cost Plus World Market. They smell good. I use the one on the floor for dirty laundry that escapes the master bathroom, and the one atop the washer for clean rags. Dirty rags go in the white plastic thingie.

I used to keep rags of all sorts in random plastic buckets; attractive baskets are infinitely more calming.


This little laundry room gets almost beautiful in the morning. Light is recipient-agnostic, it’ll beautify even the most daily of objects. And I’m switching out all cleaning products for non-harmful sorts. That distilled water, for example, does more than refract.


It fuels the new blue-handled Bissell steam cleaner you see below. Why is it wearing a dirty shower cap? Nah, it’s the washable cleaner head. Wonderful gadget to replace a mop, which I found on Rachel’s blog, here, and purchased immediately.

Can I say, all in sincerity, that I love hanging stuff on hooks behind the door? Gravity provides its own order.


And finally, a small quirky detail as suggested by an artist. With a little black sticky shelf paper, and a couple of white pens, I doodled.


and eventually wrote completely silly labels on all the laundry room shelves. Which serve, of course, as our pantry. (Apparently written words are a trend in fashion too.)



I scribbled, impatiently. Nothing like Mrs. Blandings and her glorious wall paintings. Could be wholly improved upon with downloaded calligraphy fonts, or a real artist at the helm. But it’s oddly right for me, one of little patience and great love for language.


I did not doodle on Mr. Rothko. He apparently found Pop Art frivolous. So he presides over the shelf where I keep gardening substances; neem oil, epsom salts, organic fertilizer, and diatomaceous earth.


I have one other recommendation for laundry zen. I bought an over-the-door drying rack, kind of like this, and I love it.


Labeling the shelves concept by Kathy Leeds
Silver-tiled laundry room
Country house laundry room
Tiffany blue with chandelier
Curtained appliances

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47 Responses

  1. That looks like a wonderful space — beautiful light, and why not elevate the mundane tasks that are so much a part of our daily lives. (Many similarities with my own laundry room which is also tiny, windowed, white — but not nearly as beautifully organized! (mine also hosts the fusebox and the hotwater tank)

  2. rothko’s feelings about frivolity aside, i do appreciate that you chose a piece for a laundry room with a nod to separating light and dark loads.

  3. I immediately noticed that your cabinet doors, and handles, are identical to mine! My house was built in 1950, so it is now on medicare, along with its owner. I, too, have been thinking about freshening up my white walls, but haven’t yet pulled the trigger. I had the entire place painted when I downsized from a larger house 15 years ago, following my divorce. I love living in a little house but sometimes I think a condo would be a nice alternative…..

    1. @diane, I tried to find replacement handles, but modern ones are all bigger, and I wasn’t going to bother with drilling new holes!

  4. Thanks for the post. My laundry space needs reorganizing…not sure how to achieve it tho’.

    The Bissell steam mop is a glorious thing, though I like their Symphony best (vacuums and mops). Such a time saver. Full disclosure: my husband is an employee. Can’t argue with using only water to clean!

    1. @Susie, I hate to veer off topic, but I am interested in the steam mops/cleaners. I’ve thought of getting one, but I see a lot of bad reviews. Are Shark and Bissell models reliable? Do they really clean well in cracks?

    2. @Susie, I use the Bissell on hardwood floors, so I don’t know about deep cleaning. But so far it hasn’t broken. Fingers crossed.

  5. Have owned a Shark steam vac for some time now. Terrific way to clean. I don’t thimk a chandelier would work in our laundry room either! Nice ideas, Lisa.

  6. consider more substantial door pulls. Restoration Hardware, Rocky Mountain, etc. It’s a little thing, almost subliminal, but you touch it every day

  7. I have a Where the Wild Things Are poster from The Junior Museum at The Art Institute of Chicago in my laundry “room”. My sister gave it to me and it makes me happy.

  8. Lovely bright room! Wish mine had natural light.

    How’s the “non-harmful” laundry detergent usage going? I’ve been thinking about changing over but haven’t yet done the research. Are you getting the same level of clean? Million dollar question…Do these detergents work on teenage boy clothes?

    1. @Thea, My son is out of the teen years, so I can’t offer definitive proof. That said, I think the clothes are just as clean as ever. I do reserve the right to use a chlorine bleach, on rare occasions, but I will never go back to the commercial brands.

  9. see, much as I adore fashion, ordering your household is the kind of post which really excites me:) I am totally obsessed with Method cleaning products – the surface spray, almond polish for wooden furniture and ginger and yuzu floor cleaner makes cleaning pleasurable. Almost. Love my steam cleaner, too. That black paper is a fantastic find.

    1. @amanda, :). I got some Williams Sonoma fancy counter spray and dish soap for Christmas, in lemongrass. I haven’t let myself indulge again yet, but I sense it’s coming.

  10. It looks wonderful and I love the baskets – everything should be beautiful. I even care about more mundane things like the look of a can opener. Thanks for the shout out about the shelves – looks really fun!

  11. Hi: I just wandered over here from A Femme… A laundry room is a laundry room is a laundry room: that is, until you go to Houzz and see all the glorious, up to date, enormous laundry rooms there! We do need to keep this all in perspective, which you have done beautifully. Have to add, I have done posts on our laundry room/pantry room makeover (having lived for 25 years with a basement, very basic laundry room) in our new house here. I found the most perfect drying rack, imported from England. This post will tell you more: Anyway, I will go off and click to follow you now!

    1. @Libby Wilkie, Hi, so nice to meet you by way of my friend Une Femme! You really did fix up your laundry room, a far more stellar effort than my little scratchings here:).

  12. Oh I love your laundry room, and I do envy that natural light. My laundry room is small, and also doubles as a storage space, but without the window, and with a white floor and gray walls. That is because I assumed the builder would not do a great painting job (I assumed correctly) and therefore only paid for a single color throughout the house. That will change one of these days,

    I do agree that every space should be beautiful (even closets) and you have inspired me to finally tackle my laundry room, which has languished since it was set up for, and stocked with many caregiving supplies that are no longer needed. I shall thank you in advance.

    1. @Mardel, Ah,I had to do the big cleanout when I moved back in after the divorce was settled. Looking through all the kids’ craft supplies, the most wrenching. Those cupboards where we store caretaking goods, and then those goods are no longer needed. xoxoxox.

  13. Mr. Rothko would have loved to be doodled upon. He admired children’s art. Knowing you have Texas friendships, surely you’ve spent time at our Rothko Chapel. Lovely spaces, both that one and this. I like every bit of your laundry room, even the vintage door pulls. Change nothing.
    Our laundry is soon to be torn apart and refurbished. When I saw that top photo with the silver appliances and back-splash !?!?! … a big omg moment. Thanks so much for posting. Planning completed!

    1. @Rosie, I have never made it to the Rothko Chapel and I really regret it. Thank you for appreciating my dorky door pulls;). And I LOVE that silver tile, it’s so subversive and pretty all in one.

  14. You’ve made me realize how much I like looking at people’s laundry rooms! And yours is a fine one.

    1. @Duchesse, Looking for some images to accompany this post, I found the exact same thing. And I have no delusions about mine, but enjoy it almost as much as I would something gorgeous with slate floor in a Napa house;).

  15. i love the quality of light in your laundry room. It makes the room and the day sparkle/ I agree about the hardware. If you could find the right size it would make all the diference in the world. Thanks for the idea about clean and dirty rag baskets.

    1. @Sandra Sallin, If I could find the right size. On the other hand, if I sit tight and do nothing maybe this hardware will enter the “midcentury modern” domain;).

  16. The familiarity of clean is always comforting, isn’t it? When I came across my report card in an envelope years back, for Home Economics from 8th grade which was an “A”, I was going to have it framed to hang in my laundry room. Didn’t seem right with the cabinet doors removed to paint as they still haven’t been painted and rehung. “Incomplete”. :)

  17. Your newly painted laundry room looks very fresh and must be a pleasure to have in your house. Are you able to share the color of white paint you have used in your rooms? I like white, but they can be surprisingly different in hue.

  18. Laundry rooms are the most glorious invention since sliced bread. Yours is beautifully utilitarian.

  19. I’ve enjoyed finding your blog this year. I love Mark Rothko’s work. So calm and orderly. What a great choice for your space. I don’t have a laundry room, just a washer and dryer sitting side by side in a room at my entry. Without a designated room and door to close, it’s right there for anyone who enters to see. That can be good, and bad.

  20. Oh, how I LOVE organization! Now I need to add a couple of baskets and a folding shelf. Love Rothko!!!

  21. Oh diatomaceous earth! I became an evangelist for that stuff after we housed a brief but intense ant infestation in our condo last spring and I needed to find something that would kill them without hurting my cat.

  22. Really nice laundry room! The project for our laundry room is similar to what you have! I find the natural light really nice! :) Thanks for sharing!

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