Our Farmhouse Laundry Room Makeover (on the Cheap)

Our Farmhouse Laundry Room Makeover (on the Cheap)

Never Ending Love, Laughter, and Laundry

I’d like to think, we all have those not-so-pretty places in our homes.  Those spaces that are purely functional.  Otherwise known as ‘the areas that home décor forgot’.  However, in some unfortunate cases, functionality and décor seem to join the cat and the spoon and run away together.  When that happens, we’re left with an ugly disaster, that can’t even get its job done.

Enter my laundry room.  Actually, for the last couple of years, I would have said, “Don’t enter it!  Or, at least enter at your own peril!”  It was a little scary.  I think it served its purpose; I mean, laundry got done.  However, it was done inefficiently and totally without grace.  Doing laundry in that room was the equivalent of me trying to run a race.  I get where I’m going, but with a lot of stress, sweat, grumbled words, and things bouncing around where they don’t belong!

Before: Dark, dank, wire shelf bedecked…and strewn with my drying rack.

Our last home had a laundry/pantry combo.  For someone who keeps a large heavily stocked pantry, this was a pain.  I was thrilled to discover this house has a separate laundry area upstairs.  I wasn’t thrilled with the wire shelving, funky layout, or total lack of counter space.  However, as often seems to happen, we moved in hurriedly and life didn’t pause.  A laundry room redo fell low on our to-do list.  The room became a cleaning supply catchall.  I was lugging fresh laundry downstairs to fold it; then, we were all schlepping the folded laundry back upstairs to our bedrooms.


The one lone off center can light.


Believe it or not, the walls were cream. The lighting was just prison pallor bad!

One day, I had a complete Popeye moment.  “I’ve stood all I can stand’z; I can’t stand’z no more”!  So, in true Chip Gaines fashion, it was Demo-Day!  I gleefully ripped out the wire shelves.  All the junk found proper homes.  The room was scrubbed within an inch of its life.  We patched and re-textured the screw and nail holes.  The ceiling was repainted white, and the rest of the room got a coat of Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams.  (The paint was left over from our den/kitchen/dining room.)

I went Chipster all over those shelves (and I enjoyed it!).

It was clean.  It was fresh.  It was much less dusty.  However, it was even less functional than before, since there was no storage.  But, I had big plans to overhaul the space.  Then, I had unexpected surgery, and it was stuck.  Without the wire shelves, all the laundry stuff ended up on the dryer.  Four empty “clean” trashcans ended up being the laundry sorting system.  For some bizarre reason, my shredder took up residence in there.

I think this pic earns me the worst homemaker of the year award. Shredder, “trashy” laundry sorting, bag of mail to shred, OH! and note the really classy bucket of lint!

A few months later, I built a drying rack, bought a light fixture, and kicked the shredder out.  Just when I was picking up momentum, I had another unexpected surgery (same issue, second repair).  The cool new drying rack sulked in the corner, with the long-forgotten ironing board.  My new light fixture sat shrouded in cardboard and neglect.  Worst of all, that stupid shredder sneaked back in and smirked at me each time I passed.  The only upside was that I was on such significant restrictions, that I wasn’t allowed to touch the laundry!  That’s right folks, I had several months of full-time full-service teenage laundry fairies!

When I could finally fasten my own bra again, the laundry room and I had a high-noon showdown!  Popeye and I decided to eat our spinach and wage war.  We re-cleaned the room and relocated the trespassing shredder to the shop.  Liam hung my light fixture and my super-cool drying rack.  We semi-quasi built a cabinet/folding table to make the space functional.  I traded the hideous garbage cans for something a little less ‘trashy’.

The brackets under the tubs are made of 150-year-old barn wood. The walls are actually a soft pretty gray here. The light coming in the window just makes it impossible to really show it.
Ok, I’m cheating. The room is this color.  It was annoying me, that it still looks dingy in the photos.

My grandfather gave me a load of old barn wood.  Shhh…don’t tell.  He thinks I’m building chicken tractors with it.  (I do plan to build a couple.)  However, we built shelving brackets first.  I hung a little cafe curtain, and some shelves with Ikea brackets we already had and scrap lumber.  I scavenged odds and ends to decorate the room from other areas of the house.  Finally, this black hole of décor has “wormhholed” its way into being a pretty and useful space.

Our plan for this room has been a little peculiar.  We live in a farmhouse, but it is a newer home.  Most of it is decorated in farmhouse style, but we wanted this room to be much more rustic.  We decided to pretend the house was built without a laundry room, and the owners cobbled one together from stuff they found in the barn.

Working with that theory, I wanted a light fixture that might have been swiped from the milking shed.  (Not that we have a milking shed, but work with me here.)  I chose this one.  They carry it in a larger size, but our room is quite small.  Also, I needed enough empty ceiling space to hang the dryer I built.  The only fixture previously in the room was a can light, so we also ordered this converter kit.  We love the light fixture.  It kicked off the re-purposed and recycled vibe we were shooting for.

The drying rack I built, is basically a ladder suspended from the ceiling.  I ran hemp rope through it and suspended it on pulleys.  The sides are made from the cheapest 1×3 lumber I could get and the rungs are 3/4” dowels.  There are tons of great detailed plans on Pinterest to build these ladders.  I bought a cleat for the rope that raises and lowers the rack, but the rope I liked was too thick.  So, I returned the cleat, brainstormed, and threw out a couple of ideas. The next thing I knew, Liam was returning from the shop with a cleat made of 150-year-old barn wood and scrap dowels from other projects.  I love the primitive look!

The galvanized tubs on the brackets are my sorting tubs for laundry.  They’re smaller, which limits how behind I can get on laundry.  I actually kind of like that, because, the nurse in me has issues with dirty damp laundry sitting around.  There’s a larger tub, which rests on pieces of barn wood on the floor, for whites.  Whites are by far our largest loads, so I wanted a little more space and less weight on the wall.

This was a 1/2 price resale shop find, but I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart.

I have a few old blue mason jars that I’ll dig out of storage soon.  They’ll hold borax, baking soda, and Oxiclean.  (Hey, I’m a nurse with kids and animals. Proteinaceous stains happen.)  The galvanized drink dispenser holds laundry soap.  I set it on some of the barn wood as well, so it’s easily accessible and doesn’t have to overhang the cabinet edge.  Oh, and about that cabinet!  It was an extra lower cabinet that we found in the shop when we moved in.  We modified it and made it convenient for storing cleaning supplies.  There are staggered shelves to hold bottles, brushes, and powders.  We also put in a spring/tension rod for hanging spray bottles.  We made the ‘counter top’ quite wide, and it’s the perfect folding table.  I just pull the laundry from the dryer, set it on the top, and fold it onto the table.  (Now, if only I could get the kids to put it away as easily!)

The window is stupidly off center. This left me with no option, but having the cabinet off center from the window. The uptight, slightly OCD side of me is really irritated by it. However, the table is still super functional!

Most of what we used to redo the room was free.  We scrounged, recycled, adapted, shopped the house, and were serial resale shoppers.  I bought about $20 worth of lumber for the countertop, cabinet doors, and shelves.  The drink dispenser came from my local resale shop on half price day.  The galvanized tubs came from the feed store at the end of season clearance last year.  As I said, we already had the Ikea brackets and the cabinet.  We also already had the paint, stain, and poly.  I got a couple of yards of red gingham at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coupon.  The light was $99 and the converter was $15.   That wasn’t the cheapest lighting option, but there are can lights EVERYWHERE in this house!  We’ve been weeding out the really silly looking ones.  Believe me, a can light looks really silly ‘sort of centered’ as the only light in the room!  Apart from the light, I think the rest of the room probably cost about $60 to redo. 


So, the total cost was right at $175.  When you’re off work for a long time, money gets tight.  However, it was really fun to see if I could make a pretty functional room without spending much.  I still don’t want to do laundry recreationally, but I don’t grumble and growl about it either.  At least, I don’t double bolt the laundry room when people come over.  It’s also much more functional now!  I’m working on a couple of pieces of art for this room. One says, “ This house is filled with never ending love, laughter, and laundry.”  The other is the wise old saying from the Great Depression, “Use it up.  Wear it out.  Make it do, or do without.” I think this little room redo is a pretty good testimony to our attempts at living that “make it do” kind of life. And… we’re loving it!

I was focused on getting a shot of the drying rack and pullies. I didn’t notice that the angle makes the tubs/brackets look wonky. They aren’t in real life, I promise. Tiny rooms are just awkward to photograph!

(I have pictures of some of the projects. I would be happy to do a post on the barn wood brackets, the drying rack, or the cabinet/folding table if there is any interest.)

Do you shut the laundry room door to protect your guests from being traumatized? Does your laundry room run smoothly or does it huff and puff along?  Please, leave a comment below, if you have a moment.  I love to hear from y’all!

I recently figured out how to make it easier to comment.  If you tried before and it was a pain, try again and it should be simpler!  Thanks, to Dash at Bloom Where You’re Planted for the heads up regarding the comment issue!

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About Anne in the Kitchen

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    1. Thanks! I’m tall, so all my jeans and scrub pants have to be hung. That rack has already come in pretty handy. Have a great week and thanks, for stopping by!

    1. Figuring out how to hang the thing, so the weight would be distributed to the corners was the most complicated part of the build. First, I tied a rope across each end in the same direction as the rungs. Then, I tied a longer piece to the centers of those two short ropes in the same direction as the side bars. Finally, I attached the remainder of the rope to the center of that longer piece. This last rope was quite long and is used to raise and lower the drying rack.

      The hardware I found was bright and shiny, so I gave it a quick coat with Rustolium in flat black. I wanted it to look like old cast iron. I ran the control rope through a pulley hung in the exact center of where the rack would hang. The rope then goes through a second pulley at the edge of the ceiling, above where I placed the cleat to control the whole thing. I feel like trying to describe the set up is a little like trying to herd house cats! It makes a great place to dry a pair of scrubs pants, though! #tallgirlproblems 😉
      It is good to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  1. Anne you have done a lovely job. Our laundry room is long and narrow. It has a cupboard that the electric hot water service sits in and at the end is the toilet. We also have a door outside to the veranda and a door inside to the hallway. Where we can place the washing machine is limited to the one space. We don’t own a dryer as we live in a climate where hanging the clothes outside to line dry is a year round option. Right now hubby is working on getting some steel from the recycle shop at the refuse tip. so that he can relocate the washing line from the back of the house to further up the fence line. Our laundry is not a pretty room but it is a functional room. Maybe one day.

    1. Thank you, Jane! Annabel says our weather in Texas is pretty similar to yours. We have a clothesline too, but the dryer still gets used when I work several shifts in a row or when weather is wet. I’m tall, so line drying my jeans and trousers is the only option. It keeps me from looking like a flood is coming! 😉 I like a pretty space, but function is non-negotiable. Our laundry before was just a hot mess! Thanks, for stopping by. I always love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from y'all!

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