Taking things up a level in the Laundry Room

The paint job went a long way in giving me a sense of big improvement in the laundry room. It also spurred some other ideas of what could be done in that space to make it even better without sinking a ton of time, energy, or money into it. Take, for example, the wall where the washing machine and dryer live:

Improvement, most definitely. But as I stood there looking at it – and, let’s be honest: when I’m in this room, the bulk of my time is spent looking at this spot – it struck me that a lot of stuff was going on from the faux mantle (it’s the best word I can think of to describe that structure) down, but not a lot going on above. It kind of cut off the wall and was just…there.

Someday, when a new laundry set moves in, I’d like to do something with cabinetry around the new set to create a really smart storage system. But today is not that day. Today, I’ll work with what I’ve got. Languishing in the guest room closet were components for some wall shelving the former owners had put up in what is now our son’s bedroom. I took the shelving down when we got the room ready for baby, but as all the pieces were stained the same tones as pretty much the rest of the wood in the house, thought it could be useful for something else someday.


But before considering shelving, we had to weigh a certain risk in this whole endeavor. Cats. Our cats tend to gravitate to the highest point in a room they can reach, and have some pretty impressive mental slide rules to get what they want and where they want. As is evidenced by this old New Yorker cartoon that hung on our kitchen fridge from the time we saw it in the magazine until we got a fridge that can’t hold magnets anymore:

By deciding to install another shelf, I had to accept the risk that it would become a new feline perch in there. The perfect staging for one of our fur babies to do their best vulture impression while I sort laundry or scrape the lint trap. It also got me thinking hard about what would live on that shelf that could either a) not cause too much damage should they be knocked off “accidentally by one of the cats; b) intimidate the cats from ever jumping up there; c) cause the right kind of damage if knocked off, necessitating either a new floor or new laundry machines. This shelving scheme started looking better to me.

I grabbed the components, a tape measure, level, and power drill and got to work. The results:

Much, much better.

Now, if you’re wondering why it seems like the shelf isn’t that centered in between the lower shelf and the ceiling, consider this: I’m not that tall, folks. And I want this to be accessible to a person of my height without requiring a stepladder.

Besides, once I started putting a mix of decorative and useful things on the shelf, the perspective balanced out a bit:

A couple things that were hiding in that hot mess of a closet – the iron and my sewing basket – are now more visible and accessible. And, while this is a room of utility, that doesn’t mean I can’t connect to its function in a decorative way. Like taking some old kitchen canisters and filling them with clothespins. Or finding an old washboard at an antique store.

Actually, the washboard is a reminder both of how far we’ve come in the world of washing and a hilarious story of when my parents were newlyweds living in an apartment and my dad’s grandparents invited them to come over and do laundry at their house instead of wasting money at a laundromat. Only instead of using the washing machines, my great-grandmother still used her hold manual-style wringer washer. Not the same as any laundromat, to be sure!

Now when I’m in the laundry room, this is what I get to stare at:

Definitely more interesting, visually, and more useful. And at no cost, it’s probably one of the best improvements in the room yet. And since this shelving has been in place, there have been no documented cat sightings on that shelf. We’ll give it time, but for now it’s a non-issue for the cats. It’s got me thinking about what else I could do in the room for low- to no-cost.

Do you have your own favorite low- or no-cost improvement you’ve done recently?


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