When it comes to decorating, the laundry room is the most neglected space in many houses. Even my friends and family who can’t resist dressing up the rest of their homes have laundry rooms that are purely functional — depressingly so. Take my sister, for example. Cute is her middle name. She is the type of person who commemorates the Fourth of July by hanging special fireworks-themed dishtowels in her kitchen.
But her laundry room? Well, there’s a washer, a dryer, and a few shelves above the machines for detergent, dryer sheets, stain sticks, and the like. Oh and an old “Bless This Mess” sign that’s dusty, crooked, and, I’m pretty sure, left behind by the previous owners of her house.
I have theories about why laundry rooms tend to be so pitifully ignored. I think it’s a combination of not wanting to beautify a room in which you hope to spend as little time as possible (almost like you superstitiously believe this will cause you to spend more time there) and not seeing the point of decorating a room guest will probably never see.
For some people, it may be a matter of budget. They don’t want to cut into their budget for decorating the rest of the house in order to buy accouterments for such a utilitarian and private space.
I understand. These are valid points. But I also disagree. Whether we want to or not, we spend a lot of time in our laundry rooms. In addition to washing and drying, we may separate, pre-treat, hang dry, fold, and even iron in there. And, even if we don’t hang out in our laundry rooms, we probably enter them several times a week, if not more. So what if our guests rarely see them? Do we really decorate for our guests?
I don’t think so. When we decide to buy a new couch, rug or piece of art, do we survey our friends about what they would prefer before making the purchase? No! Decorating is about self-expression and creating a space that feels good — to you — to be in. In my opinion, laundry rooms most definitely should be decorated, and, if you’re concerned about budget, there are many ways to do it on the cheap.
Laundry Room Looks
There are as many different ways to decorate your laundry room as there are ways to decorate any room in your home. The sky’s the limit. If you’re the main laundry-doer, this is your room more than anyone else’s, so why not make it whatever style appeals most to you? Here are a few ideas to get you imagining.
Laundry-themed laundry room decor is popular. I’m talking pretty signage featuring cute laundry puns, vintage-looking placards with laundry-themed jokes painted on them, and old-fashioned laundromat-style signs (think “Laundry 5 cents”). Functional pieces helpfully labeled may also be part of this type of decor: detergent canisters, lint bins, and actual laundry receptacles, for example.
The style of laundry-themed decor is often old-fashioned — maybe in an attempt to wring charm from the hated chore by hearkening back to a time when it was even more unpleasant — so it coordinates well with farmhouse and other rustic furniture and accessories. As for color schemes, there are absolutely no limits. Whatever colors you choose for your walls, curtains, floors, and/or appliances themselves, there are cute laundry-themed accouterments that will look great with them.
One major plus of this style is the sheer abundance of decor items available, including at discount stores. There are even kits at your local craft store, and free project ideas and instructions online, that make DIY decorations easy and affordable.
Bold and Unexpected
Another way to approach decorating your laundry room is to de-emphasize the fact that it’s a laundry room and focus purely on aesthetics. This is not to say that the room can’t be functional. It must be. But when you decorate your laundry room in a bold and unexpected way, the look of the space evokes something other than the fact that this is where clothes are washed.
Cabinetry is a huge help, as it can be used to hide laundry supplies, laundry itself, and even your appliances if you like. If your cabinetry is limited, you can achieve the same effect by hanging curtains or pieces of fabric you love in front of storage areas.
Bright or deep colors, sharp contrasts, bold patterned wallpaper, gold hardware, and dark stone floors, counters, and sinks all work well to create a space that’s beautiful and refreshing in its “anti-laundryness.” Art can play an important part in this type of room too. Abstract paintings, lush landscapes, small sculptures, and exotic plants can all serve as welcome distractions from the task at hand.
Decorating with finished or unfinished wood, stone, sisal, hemp, jute, bamboo, cotton rope, banana leaf, seagrass, leather, wicker, rattan, and other natural materials helps bring a clean, breezy feeling to any space — including the laundry room.
Pair baskets, rugs, hampers, and other accessories made of these earthy materials with lots of white, light, and plants for a laundry room that’s fresh, clean, and relaxing to be in. And there’s no reason nature-inspired needs to be neutral. While white goes well with natural accents, so do aquas, greens, and pinks.
Who knew a laundry room could be cool? Understated colors, monochromatic palettes, sleek lines, metal, and exposed or painted brick can all be used to give your space an up-to-date, minimalistic look. If you have plenty of cabinets, try painting them all one color and adding metal handles for a clean, pulled-together look.
Add even one modern accessory — like an interesting vase, piece of artwork, clock, mirror, or sculpture — to instantly transform the space into something much cooler than any laundry room you’ve seen before.
The luxe laundry room is probably my favorite. Decorated with a chandelier, beautiful curtains, and wallpaper, a vase full of roses and art in gilded frames, this room dares all who enter not to feel pampered. It’s ironic and fun, yes, but it’s also genuinely pretty and pleasant to be in.
A folding screen fits right into this scheme and provides an elegant way to hide laundry room essentials that don’t add to the luxurious vibe. A small sculpture or pottery piece (something featuring cherubs, perhaps?) completes the look.
Pick a Theme, Any Theme
One thing that makes decorating laundry rooms so much fun is that they’re usually fairly small. Though you can paint, wallpaper, and install new floors, cabinets and overhead lighting, you don’t have to. You can actually transform your laundry room in an afternoon, with just a few items.
A fun way to go is to pick your favorite thing — whether it’s cats, dogs, donuts, surfing, or Lady Gaga (it’s probably none of these things, but you get my drift) — and go crazy with it. Get a themed hamper, pictures for the wall, a rug with a motif based on your favorite thing, and fun little knicknacks that tie into the overall theme. Because it is a small space, it won’t be too much.
One of the easiest ways to jazz up your laundry room is to add a rug. A runner in front of your machines, in whatever color and material you fancy, is both inexpensive and impactful. There are many laundry-themed rugs to choose from, but there’s no reason to limit yourself to floor coverings designated for laundry rooms. Any rug in the right shape and size can be a laundry room rug.
Put the Fun in Function
In addition to there being a million ways to change the look of your laundry room, there are also tons of little touches you can add to make the space more functional and cute at the same time.
There are magnetic lint bins that stick to the front of your dryer, industrial-looking clothes hanging racks that screw into the wall in minutes, vintage canisters to hold laundry supplies attractively, and my personal favorite: the charming lost socks holder.
And these are just a few of the many genius and decorative doo-dads available. Now get to shopping!