How can I maximise my laundry storage?
For most of us, laundry is an inescapable part of the weekly household chores, so you really owe it to yourself to make the most of what is unlikely to be a popular task. Just like your bathroom, making sure you have the correct utensils and equipment - as well as a well-organised, tidy and appealing laundry area - is the secret to transforming washing and drying into something you might even want to do.
But how do you get to laundry heaven? Here are some storage solutions that will help you achieve the seemingly impossible.
Everything has its place
It's tempting to throw things in the laundry willy-nilly but, if you do a stocktake of items beforehand and think carefully about where everything should go (as well as using suitable attractive, even quirky, containers), you'll find it will make a world of difference.
Prioritise your items according to how often you use them, just like your bathroom. Group similar items together in boxes or baskets so you can find what you need quickly and easily. Stackable storage boxes are particularly great if you don't have much cupboard space. Make use of all the space available by hanging things on the walls or over the back of a door.
The only way is up
Today's modern houses often have small or European-style laundries tucked away in a nook behind some doors. These laundries are harder to organise and require some smarts to really make them work to your advantage.
Given the footprint of European laundries is small, the walls will offer a multitude of opportunities when it come to storage. Hooks are very useful in this situation, as well as shelving that is secured to the walls and reaches up to the ceiling or, once again, stackable drawers that can grow with your requirements.
Prepare to air
Clothes airers and drying racks let you easily dry your clothes if you don't have sufficient outdoor space or if you don't want to (or can't) use your machine dryer - not to mention that using an airer is kinder on the environment. While your airer is designed to stow away neatly, you should consider where you'll do your airing each week and, therefore, the type of airer you need to purchase.
Traditional clothes airers sit on your floor but, when assembled, they can take up a bit of floorspace. Some are also extendable to accommodate larger loads of washing. A tripod-shaped airer looks similar to a hat stand, which might be a better choice if you're not drying lots of clothes or you need an airer with a smaller footprint to fit into a small laundry.
Just remember, for an airer to work properly, it needs 'air' around it, so small laundries are often too stuffy to dry your clothes sufficiently. You might have to bite the bullet and bring your airer out into a living area when drying clothes but you can always put it away later.
Tip: Avoid wrinkles by hanging damp items on an airing rack or put a towel over the airing rack and use it to dry items, such as jumpers, flat to avoid sagging.
Separation = Sanity
The best way to achieve sanity in your laundry is to separate the washing in advance. Consider introducing a system of laundry hampers - or a divided laundry hamper - and train family members to put dirty items in the appropriate laundry basket. Label, if necessary (e.g. 'whites', 'delicates' and 'colours').
Even better, encourage the family to keep their dirty clothes in their bedrooms, still separated in baskets or hampers. By only taking washing to the laundry area on washday, you'll free up precious space to make your laundry more useable. After the washing is done, your family can carry their own clean laundry back to their bedrooms again.
When buying laundry hampers, think about the size and shape of your room. Rectangular hampers look great in the corner, while round hampers can sit against a wall. Hampers also come in different materials with different advantages. Hampers made with natural fibres look stylish and tend to have a fabric lining, while plastic is durable and mould-resistant.
Ironing can be fun (it's true)
Ironing boards are not the most attractive items - that's why we tend to hide them in a cupboard or have them expand out from the back of a door or jazz them up with a decorative ironing board cover. But have you thought of turning a bench space in your laundry into a ready-made ironing board?
For instance, if you have a washing machine that sits on the ground or side-by-side with a dryer, you can put a butcher-block slab across the top for ironing. When not ironing, this area can double as a workspace. Create a rubber-footed ironing board covered in muslin to fit the top of the washing machine or whatever space you have available.
Tip: Shorten ironing time by using an ironing board with a larger surface or putting a cover over the ironing board with a reflective heat pad.
Make things pretty
While the laundry is a utility space, that doesn't mean it should look ugly. Most of us assume a laundry room or nook is going to be drab but, with just a few adjustments, your laundry can be as good-looking as the rest of your home.
There are many ways you can spruce up a laundry. Here are a few of them:
- Make curtains in a fabric you love that can be pulled across the front of washing machine and dryer when you're not using them.
- Look for a blend of open and closed storage options. For example, you could have a decorative cabinet as centre stage to hold unsightly items flanked by open shelves with colour-coded supplies in baskets and other containers.
- Patterned wallpaper applied behind the cabinet in your laundry area will give it a lift. Or, if you'd prefer something more industrial, go for a stainless steel splashback.
- A stylish mix of new and vintage containers makes it easy to find essential kits for each step of the laundry process.
- Label your containers in a uniform way to create symmetry to your laundry's look.
- Rub-on transfer letters can spell out anything you want them to, and will turn a sliver of unused wall space into something chic.
- Put your soaps on show and help amplify the scent by putting fresh flowers in the laundry next time you buy a bunch.