This laundry closet was nothing special when we moved in. Very builder-grade basic, a perfect blank slate. But it was barely functional let alone inefficient. Let me tell you how I did a quick, budget-friendly small laundry closet refresh for under $150.
- A Builder-Grade Box with One Wire Shelf
- Main Goals When Planning My Laundry Closet Makeover
- Watch this Small Laundry Closet Refresh
- Tools & Supplies to Update a Laundry Nook
- Step One - Fresh New Look with Vinyl Floor Tiles
- Step Two - Installing the Shiplap Wall Treatment
- Step Three - Fresh Paint to Brighten the Space
- Step Four - Building & Installing Solid Wood Open Shelving
- Step Five - A Peg Rail Solves Hanging Bar Problems
- Step Six - Add Vintage Laundry Decor and Other Elements
A Builder-Grade Box with One Wire Shelf
I wish that I had photos to show you exactly how plain it was, but after scouring my photo archives I realize I never thought to take any!
But if you can, just imagine three completely blank walls. And one small 3-foot-long wire shelf in the center of the back wall. That was the extent of function that this room had to offer me.
When your small laundry area is a literal closet you need a lot more bang for your buck. I needed an efficient laundry closet for my family of 7. The issues most of these laundry closets present are:
- Zero Storage Space
- Wasted Space with Zero Efficiency
- Small Footprint (Very Little Space)
- Awkward Positions in Hallways
- No Natural Light
- Bi-fold Door Malfunctions
Main Goals When Planning My Laundry Closet Makeover
There were a few key components I had to consider when planning out this small laundry room makeover. Basically, every flat surface and square inch needed small updates. So, my goals for this space were clear.
- Remove the bi-fold doors and replace them (another problem for another day).
- Replace the wire shelf with a full wall of solid wood open shelves.
- Update the vinyl flooring.
- Cover up the water access closet with something more aesthetically pleasing.
- Add more storage solutions. (Baskets, Glass Jars, Vintage Containers, etc.)
- Create a hanging solution for the mop, broom, ironing board, etc.
- Replace the plain light fixture with a bit of vintage flair.
Watch this Small Laundry Closet Refresh
Tools & Supplies to Update a Laundry Nook
You may not need everything on this list to give your small laundry space a refresh, but I will list the items I used in case you find them helpful. Note: Everything I chose to use I picked for quality first and affordable price second.
- Floor Pops Tile - Sienna
- Multi-Purpose Floor Adhesive
- Chip Brush for application
- Utility Knife to cut the tiles
- Measuring Tape
- 11/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. Rtd Southern Yellow Pine Plywood Sheathing
- Table Saw to rip it into 6" sections
- Miter Saw
- Brad Nailer
- 2 ½" Brad Nails
Paint the Walls
Open Shelving & Brackets
- 2x6x12 Common Lumber
- 2x3x8 Common Lumber
- Early American Stain by Minwax or Varathane
- Lint Free Rags
- Polycrylic by Minwax
- Kreg Jig Pocket Hole Jr & Clamp
- Wood Glue
- 2 ½" Wood Screws
- Impact Driver
- Orbital Sander
- 80 & 120 Grit Sandpaper or Sponge
Step One - Fresh New Look with Vinyl Floor Tiles
For this step, you'll need vinyl flooring tiles, a utility knife, measuring tape, a pencil, and multi-purpose flooring adhesive.
Laundry Room Design Ideas - Make a Big Statement with Floor Tile
There was no need to add any backsplash tile since the whole back wall would be covered in shiplap. However, the vinyl flooring tile was the first thing I addressed.
What was here originally was a very stained single sheet of vinyl. I recognized my lack of skills or desire to spend the money on installing real tile so I went with the next best thing.
These thick textured and bright vinyl tiles were the same ones I used in my small bathroom makeover (more on that later). They are inexpensive, easy to clean, and easy to install.
The Steps To Install Vinyl Floor Tiles
I'm not a floor tiling expert, but this is how I did it. Note: I ripped out the old vinyl and trim before I even started this process.
- Vacuum and mop the base flooring, and allow to dry thoroughly before you begin.
- Measure out your space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate your square footage.
- Calculate how many tiles you will need for the square footage of the room. (Buy extra in case of bad cuts).
- I started my tile line in the front of my laundry closet because honestly that's the only place you're really going to see it and I wanted to make sure those lines were straight and beautiful.
- Typically you would find the center of your room and start there.
- So, I started in the center of the front so that my pieces were on the sides. And the entire front was symmetrical.
- I used industrial-strength glue to adhere the tiles to the floor. These floor tiles are notorious for moving around and becoming displaced upon use. So, the glue was a perfect solution. This can be tricky because it will cause your tiles to move if you lean on them during the process.
A Few Tips: I used an inexpensive chip brush to apply the glue to the back. You do not need a lot for it to do its job. Do not apply it near the edge or it will squeeze out and you will get a very sticky mess on your hands (literally).
Step Two - Installing the Shiplap Wall Treatment
There are about a million great ideas for wall treatments and if you'd love to read more about them here are 30 Ways to Add Charm to a Builder-Grade Home. My choice was to add a half-wall (left below the washer and dryer blank) of shiplap faux tongue and groove.
Stylish Ideas - Incorporating the Modern Farmhouse Look with Shiplap
I'm not a fan of builder-grade because it is as plain as you can get and has zero charm and not much warmth. I wanted this closet laundry room to reflect the aesthetic of the rest of the house. So, I chose to add a wall treatment to the back wall.
This was extremely inexpensive since it was only going to be half of one wall, but it added so much charm and character to this tiny laundry room. And honestly, it was one of the biggest changes.
The Steps to Cutting & Installing Faux Shiplap
- Measure your space (square footage) to calculate how many pieces of plywood you need.
- Ask the store (I purchase from Home Depot) to cut it lengthwise as small as they'll allow (Home Depot's policy is 12" - the last board will be slightly less than 12").
- Bring them home and rip the boards that are smaller than 12" first, straight in half.
- Adjust the table saw to that width and rip all the rest of the boards to that exact width so all your boards are the same.
- Start at the ceiling in the left-hand corner.
- My laundry closet was 68" wide, so my first board was 68".
- With the leftover piece, start at the next level in the left-hand corner.
- Use a nickel as a spacer between the boards.
- Then cut a piece to fit the remainder of the wall.
- Use the remainder from that piece to start the next level of shiplap below.
- Continue like that until you've reached below your washer and drier.
A Few Tips: It is a good idea to sand each piece individually before you install them on the wall. Even though they come pre-sanded. Always, always, always, measure each piece specifically for the specific space because walls are wonky.
Step Three - Fresh Paint to Brighten the Space
For this step, you'll need a gallon of your favorite color of paint, I used White Dove by Benjamin Moore (Behr Paint and Primer), a paintbrush, and a roller & pad.
A Fresh Coat of Paint - White Dove by Benjamin Moore
For my wall color, I chose to stick with the old reliable White Dove and keep the laundry closet consistent with the rest of the house. It also helped that I had leftover paint from previous projects, so this part didn't actually cost me anything. Also, I might mention the fact that white walls brighten up even the darkest of spaces.
It didn't make a huge transformation in the laundry room look because it was already white. But the fresh coat definitely helped the entire laundry room feel like a new house.
The Steps to Painting Walls Quickly
- Dust, vacuum, and wipe down the walls with a damp rag thoroughly.
- First, use a 2" angled brush to get in all your corners and cut the line on the ceiling.
- Then use a 9" roller to quickly coat the bulk of the walls.
- Wait until it dries and repeat 1-2 more times.
It's really that simple. When you're painting a small room like this it takes less than an hour to prep and paint, especially when it's all the same color. For more painting tips check out 7+ Tips to Prep for Paint Like a Pro and How to Paint Shiplap Cracks.
Step Four - Building & Installing Solid Wood Open Shelving
The Importance of an Efficient Tiny Laundry Room
This tiny laundry room had one small wire shelf and at least five feet of blank wall unused. Naturally, my storage space solution was to install some much-needed extra shelves.
I went back and forth on the options between installing cabinets (using some existing cabinets I tore out of my kitchen) or building my own open shelving.
The problem with cabinetry was the placement of the water valves on the wall. We needed to keep access and it was right in the center of the adjoining left wall. Cabinets would block full use to that therefore my choice was to design open shelving around that.
The Steps To Build Open Shelves Using Common Lumber
I chose to make it easy on myself and install the shelves from wall to wall. This made the brackets super simple as the studs are always in the corners.
In the end, I built 4 brackets out of the 2x3x8s. To learn how I build shelf brackets check out How to Build the Best Wooden Shelf Brackets.
- Measure the total length of your wall. My top shelf went the entire length across at 68".
- I doubled the boards to make a deeper shelf. So, for each shelf, I cut a 2x6x12 in half, and then to 68".
- The middle shelf had to be smaller at 59" to allow access to my water line access closet.
- The bottom shelf could only be one board thick, installed just above the washer and dryer.
- After all your shelves are cut, sand them with 80 & 120 grit sandpaper.
- Then wipe clean from any excess dust.
- Use a lint-free rag to apply Early American Stain. Let it dry.
- Use your 2" angled brush to apply 1-2 coats of Polycrylic satin sheen. Sand lightly between coats.
- At this point decide on shelf spacing.
- Predrill holes in the shelf brackets for 2 screws on whichever side of the wall that bracket will be installed on. And also the front of the bracket for connecting to the back wall as well.
- Install one shelf bracket on the left-hand side. Then used one self-board sitting on top of it with a level to ensure the right-hand shelf bracket is plumb. Use 2 ½" screws to secure into the wall.
- Do that for all remaining shelves.
- The bottom shelf was a single board therefore I just cut my 2x3x8 to 5" and gave it a 45° angle at the end like the other shelf brackets. Then installed it the same way.
A Few Notes:
You could simply do a straight 2x3 board as a shelf support, but I chose to do a fancier version to add more character to the space. These shelves are extremely strong and can hold quite a lot of weight, but I prefer the chunky appearance to a thinner wood.
Making A Big Difference with Storage Space Solutions
Installing shelves all the way up the wall made the entire space feel bigger. Not only that, but I now had a place to store my cleaning supplies.
The Top Shelf
I was able to add a wicker basket for separate categories of cleaners and other various supplies like:
- Extra lightbulbs
- A Cleaning Caddy & Supplies for the Kids
- Iron & Steamer
- Carpet Cleaning Products
The Lower Shelves
On the two lower shelves, I had enough space for a basket for things like:
- Laundry Detergent
- Fabric Softener (White Vinegar in a drink dispenser)
- Wool Dryer Balls (vs Dryer Sheets)
- Stain Removers (in the Better Homes & Gardens containers)
- A Bin for Socks
- I also added a few select vintage laundry decor items
Step Five - A Peg Rail Solves Hanging Bar Problems
For this step, you'll need either hooks or a peg rail, screws, and a drill (or impact driver).
One of the biggest issues with having such a small space was that I had nowhere to hang any of my cleaning tools like a broom and my various mops.
I have only one other storage closet in the house which holds literally everything else. Therefore it was overfull, especially housing our vacuum and carpet cleaner.
I had gone thrifting and found this little peg rail for $1, but it was missing a peg. I figured I could replace it if I needed to. But then I realized it was the answer to my problem!
In the missing peg rail position, I stuck a conduit hanger which acted as the perfect place to hang my Norwex Mop! I love it when things come together.
Step Six - Add Vintage Laundry Decor and Other Elements
Great Ideas for Vintage Decor Elements Fit For A Laundry Room
Laundry Room Decor
One of my favorite parts of this entire project was getting to put a few homeless thrift finds into their final home. A few favorite vintage elements included: Vintage clothespins, a vintage metal washboard, a cute little vintage spice drawer, and a set of vintage nesting wooden canisters.
Address the Door Issues - Sliding Barn Door or Something Else?
I ended up just taking the bi-fold doors because they were impeding the ability to open the dryer. This particular laundry closet placement offers unique problems to be solved. There isn't enough space for sliding barn doors and if I get doors on a track I couldn't switch my laundry easily.
I plan on building my own doors for this space, so stay tuned for that problem solved!
Improving the Aesthetics of the Water Access Panel
This was a fun one to solve and it was actually quite simple. I trimmed out the perimeter and then built a small cabinet door to fit using my Kreg jig pocket hole tool. Then I spray painted some small hinges and a very tiny door latch, added a vintage knob I had already, and voila!
It's small things like this that make me happy. Now I have access to it should I need it, but instead of taking away from the aesthetics of the laundry closet, it adds charm.
Replacing a Builder-Grade Light Fixture
Another small element that makes a huge difference in any space is the light fixture. What was here originally was just a plain simple light fixture and it was boring.
I purchased this hanging light for $2 from a thrift store. It reminded me of the old vintage school house lights and I knew it would come in handy somewhere. This is the perfect place for it.
Laundry Dry Rack & Counter Space for a Folding Area
This was such a fun project and I recently did a post all about this beautiful repurposing project DIY Wall-Mounted Laundry Drying Rack. In that post, I also talk about my fold-down folding area that was installed beneath it.
Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you feel inspired to tackle your small unassuming laundry closet and give it a small update. Or feel empowered to give it an entirely new laundry room look! One small piece at a time, you can do it.