We have some friends who recently moved to a different part of the city here in Phoenix. It is an older house, originally built in the 1950’s. But, as the real estate market would have it, some savvy house-flippers got a hold of it and breathed some marketable new life into the walls. They remodeled and upgraded kitchen, knocked down a couple walls for an open floor plan, and added an eye-catching coat of fresh paint. It’s an eclectic blend of cozy and modern than any HGTV fan would fawn over. Throw in a huge yard with some older trees, and a short commute to down-town, and my friends were completely sold.
But after the boxes and furniture were moved in, some of the quirks of their vintage home with modern flare started to come to the surface. What they began to discover was, that like many older houses, the original design suited the lifestyle from then, but sometimes didn’t play nice with modern appliances and rhythms without some tweaks and workarounds.
Specifically, in the case of my friends, the washer and dryer weren’t housed in a designated laundry space or mudroom. The units were pushed to a small dimly-lit corner of the garage. All the plugs and vents were there, but it was very clear that the laundry area was strictly for switching loads.
Now, this obviously wasn’t a deal-breaker when they bought the house, but gradually they had to make some changes to the cramped, dark, corner, to make it more functional and inviting.
I know that other homeowners have had similar journeys with retrofitting their laundry space to suit their modern needs. So, I did some research into some of the creative ways that people have worked with the corner of a garage and compiled some of the best ideas here.
Laundry is a necessary chore that can bog down your week, especially if your laundry space is treated as an afterthought. Garage laundry areas in particular can succumb to the clutter of the garage itself, which can greatly hinder your weekly washing and folding. With some creative changes and fresh ideas, you can transform your area to be more user-friendly and efficient. Here are some of the best functional and attractive garage laundry makeover ideas we discovered.
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip #1 – Choose a Theme You Love
Laundry areas are kind of great in that you can redecorate a smallish space to try out a theme. It costs less to outfit a nook than it would an entire bedroom. And if you decided that the look isn’t your style, you aren’t out an exceptional amount of time or money.
Now, you may decide that just a clean mesh of white and gray is where you want to go. But exploring the farmhouse theme, or boho-chic, or bright and bold in your corner may spark some untapped creativity. You may also simply google a color pallet you love and see what other designers have put together for accents, pieces of wall art, or baskets and bins.
One garage laundry makeover I looked at chose to put in open white shelving above their washer and dryer. They then used glass iced tea jars to dispense their detergent and fabric softener and placed wire baskets with linen liners to store dryer balls and other odds and ends. They then added a few galvanized buckets with sprigs of eucalyptus, and a cute laundry sign in scrawled lettering to the other shelves. Amazingly cute farmhouse theme that wove its way through the functional needs of the room!
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip #2 – Add an Accent Wall
After you’ve picked a theme for your garage laundry nook, you may want to consider adding an accent wall behind your washer and dryer. This can help visually separate the laundry space from the rest of the garage, without taking the additional steps of framing or installing a pony wall.
Paint is nearly always a cost-effective DIY that can instantly make a big impact. A happy splash of yellow or the serenity of calming blue can take the “utility room feel” out of your laundry area. One garage laundry nook I looked at had chalkboard paint above the units. This creative addition made room for family notes, inspirational quotes, and any number of laundry jokes. (“What did the first sock say to the second sock in the dryer? I’ll see you next time around!”)
Some people have also gone as far as installing a tile backsplash on the wall behind their machines. White subway tile is classic, and can not only save your wall from a careless splash of bleach or detergent, but it can also look exceptionally striking next to a countertop over your front-loading machines. If you don’t want to commit to something as permanent as grout and mortar, there are peel and stick backsplash kits you can purchase and install.
To add some texture, reclaimed pallet wood is also a fun option to explore. Wainscoting wall panels will also give some definition beyond just a flat white wall.
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip # 3 – Put in Attractive Shelving or Cabinets
After you have chosen colors for your wall nook, adding shelving will be your next step. If you don’t have cabinets or shelves near your units already, I probably don’t have to tell you that this one thing will take your chore efficiency up a notch. Having all of the laundry essentials within reach makes starting and switching loads MUCH easier. And while you’re at it, why not make your shelving more attractive than a standard wire grate screwed into the wall?
Cabinets are nice because you can hide the bulky detergent bottles and brightly colored boxes of dryer sheets. But if cabinets just won’t work for your garage corner or your budget, there are plenty of other options. Floating shelves, square cubbies, or even utility shelves with a fresh coat of paint can give your wall a new look, with easy access to your fabric softener and bleach. You can also line your shelves with matching bins and baskets or glass jars to stow things you want in reach, but don’t need to show off (like garment bags or lint rollers.)
For units that are stacked on top of each other, shelving that goes floor to ceiling may be an option for you, with extra room for cleaning supplies that need an organized place to land (like vacuum cleaners, or mops).
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip # 4 – Utilize That Extra Wall Space!
So maybe for you, the shelving was merely decorative, and you have some other garage items that your nook needs to share space with. In this case, slat wall or pegboard might be the option for you! Both of these wall-board options come with removable hooks that you can re-arrange depending on what you need. You can also hang small buckets from these hooks that can be handy storage for dryer sheets, paper towels, PODS, or even stray socks.
In our laundry room, we also store all of the brooms and mops near the washer and dryer. We have a wall rack with about six hooks and knobs on it that also work to hang-dry mop pads and cleaning towels.
Another way to use the wall above your units is to install a clothes bar. These are especially handy if you have delicate clothes that need to hang dry, or if you have some nice shirts and slacks that need to be ironed and hung up promptly from the dryer. I have also seen people utilize their countertop over your washer and dryer for folding before they move their clothes into the house. A clothes bar preloaded with hangers makes quick work of a hanging a load of shirts than can then be transferred directly to the closet.
Lastly, think about a fold-away ironing board, or an ironing board rack. These can be directly installed on the wall if you have the space for it (and may save you some closet space elsewhere!) In truth, ironing isn’t a chore that is as prevalent as it was a generation or two ago. But there are occasions when my husband needs a dress shirt ironed, or we are entertaining for the holidays and I need to press a tablecloth. The laundry nook is a logical space to store the iron and ironing board if you have some extra room.
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip # 5 – Install Countertops
As mentioned before, counters are useful for a number of laundry-related activities. Folding and sorting clothes are default options. But you can also use it to display some accent pieces or store small things. A countertop can also serve as laundry basket storage, or simply a clean surface to hide the top of the washer and dryer. I have also seen people use this surface as a place to wrap presents or complete crafts. Neat ideas all around!
As a side note (albeit an obvious one) countertops over your washer and dryer will only be an option for you if you have front-loading machines. However, depending on how much wall space you have at your disposal, you may be able to add a short counter or table next to the dryer.
An idea I stumbled across for top-loaders was to make a narrow wood shelf that would rest over the back edge of units near the wall. The shelf went the length of the unit to the floor and covered the exposed gap between the wall and the machines where the chords and vent hoses ran. This narrow shelf was then decorated with a tray and vase with silk flowers. I loved it!
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip # 6 – Make Some Laundry Basket Storage
A countertop next to the units can create some space for something else I like to see stowed when not in use – laundry baskets. We have three kids and often enjoy hosting out-of-town visitors in our home. All these lovely people can generate an exceptional amount of laundry, so we have three laundry baskets we use for transporting clean clothes. (And, truth be told, we could probably use more).
If your laundry baskets are all the same size and shape, there are some creative things you can do with shelving storage for these. Smaller baskets can simply be placed on shelves to store them, or stacked under the extended countertop so they aren’t underfoot. Some shelving I’ve seen is specifically designed so that the lip of the basket slides onto rails on either side so that the basket hangs off the floor. There are also units you can buy that look like cabinets but are actually pull-out drawers where laundry baskets fit neatly inside.
I have also seen people utilize the pegboard idea for cloth laundry bags, which I could see being useful for collecting things like cleaning towels, gym clothes, or other messy items that you may not want to throw inside to sit with the rest of your laundry.
Garage Laundry Makeover Tip # 7 – Don’t Neglect Your Floors!
Another way to separate your laundry nook from the rest of the garage is to find a woven floor rug or medium to large-sized mat to place at the edge of your washer and dryer. Not only will this add a pop of color, or help tie your theme together, but it will give you a little bit of clean space to move your clothes from one machine to the other. I know for my friends this was one of the frustrations of garage laundry. If a wet shirt fell onto the dirty concrete, chances are it would need to run through the wash again. The mat provides a clean barrier between your clothes and the floor and can be vacuumed or thrown into the last load with the towels.
Good Clean Fun
Any kind of home DIY can be an adventure – especially in older homes! But a garage laundry makeover can be done in a weekend or two with some good planning and creative execution. Image searches and Pinterest can be amazing for theme inspiration and other people who have made good on their “before” and “after.” (And for those of you fortunate to have a designated laundry room, these makeover ideas can certainly apply to you too!) Happy creating from us at The Garage Junkie!