Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Organizing the Laundry Room

Originally written the weekend before we all got sick!

I have a belief that sometimes what we want to call "clutter" isn't really clutter but rather a lack of organization. I know there are some people who would shoot that theory down and say that organization is nothing more than stuff to hold all our stuff. To an extent, they might be right. Do I believe that everything I possess right now is an item I am in need of having? No. There are most certainly some things that a savvy clutter specialist could find in my house that would not even come close to meeting the requirement of "do I need it, do I use it, do I love it" and Husband and I have been trying our best to eliminate those things from our life.

But since my vocation was determined by our perfect Heavenly Organizer, I have to bend to His wisdom and humbly accept that I was not made to live in a monastery. And as much as I would like to think of my home as a domestic church, it is in reality...a home. Filled with little people and not so little people who require things; things to care about, things to use, things we hope to use again and stuff to clean those things.

So, for those items that I need to have in order to fulfill my vocation as wife and mother, I choose to try and organize them in such a way that they don't appear cluttered because in these close quarters where I spend most of my days, appearances are everything; how a room feels can make or break my mood, my sanity. I think, in some cases, that's what clutter really is... an appearance. More adjective than noun if you know what I mean.

So this weekend (actually two weekends ago), we tackled our laundry room. Partly because it needed to be done and partly because we were cleaning up the aftermath of a close encounter of the rodent kind in our pantry which can also be found (if you look really hard!) in the same room. (The minuscule pantry, that is... the rodent is long gone!)

I forgot to take a "before" picture, but I did take this one about half way through:

We put those wire shelves up ourselves several years ago to create a bit more storage especially for cleaning products. I am too scared to keep them under the sink! Don't know why. Maybe it was all those baby proofing articles I read during my New Mommy Cram Session. I also needed a little more space to store some entertaining items that don't get used every day but enough to warrant keeping them. Our kitchen is galley style which means it's shaped like a hallway; kind of long and skinny. There isn't much room for what doesn't get used daily or weekly, but some things do actually have value even if they have to be dusted off to use. The dolly cake mold that turns a rainbow sprinkle cake into a perfect princess ballgown just right for a little girl's birthday; or the square cake plate that displays an All Hallow's Eve pumpkin roll without squishing it unlike a round plate. And let's not forget the sombrero shaped chips and dip plate that no fiesta could do without. Actually, mine is all white... but I wish it was sombrero shaped!

OK, back to the laundry room. Here is the "after":
That would be after I spent way too much money time at the Container Store. Don't worry... Husband said I could. He understands how a well organized home benefits my psychological well being and we had a little left over from our tax return. Actually the canvas bins were pretty reasonably priced considering they offer three different sizes, two labeled sides, and are completely washable! I am totally a form meets function kind of gal. Now, the ones up top are not canvas, but rather woven nylon. Not as functional, but pretty very capable of serving their purpose. I was concerned about the lack of labels because labels are the key to closed/non-transparent storage in my mind but a few pieces of cardstock and a ball of twine solved that problem nicely.
In all honestly, I could have done this without the help of the Container Store, in fact, I contemplated just covering boxes in pretty wrapping paper but I spend a lot of time in this room and I am hoping that by making it a pleasing place to be, my attitude towards laundry will improve. Sometimes, we need those little touches to encourage us to celebrate the monotonous and enjoy the mundane. I know I do.

All in all, I didn't actually purge a lot from this room. Mostly it was the old, mismatched bins and buckets that I replaced with canvas ones. I did get rid of my laundry baskets which is fodder for another post. Are you intrigued? I guess the moral to this post is that in some cases, it doesn't matter what you decide to keep, it's how you decide to contain it.


  1. You did a WONDERFUL job!!! It looks terrific!

    I loved your post too. A lack of organization, or trying to stay organized is my weakness. I am finding that even when I ask myself the question "do I need it, do I use it, do I love it" I am still left with quite a but of stuff that I do need and use, if only on occasion, that I really need to organize.

    I just love how you found room to store the things you use and make it look beautiful at the same time! I am totally inspired.. Now maybe I should go and try to tackle my closet! :)

  2. I absolutely love it! Looks great!!! I emailed the link to my husband. ;)

  3. Looks wonderful!!

    I would love to know what all your labels are!

  4. You are a woman after my own heart.

    "Lonely socks club"...must remember this one...

  5. K,
    Some of my labels are still only penciled in because they might change, but here are the labels I have right now:

    Canvas Bins:
    bathroom cleaning
    living area cleaning
    batteries and flashlights
    lonely socks club
    miracle cloths
    laundry supplies
    bubbles and bug sprays
    swiffer supplies and vac bags (my vacuum is not bagless, yet!)
    schmop supplies
    trash bags
    party supplies (paper napkins, bowls, spoons, cups)
    (one empty) it's good to leave a little room to grow
    Large sized baskets:
    paper towels
    ice cream maker, misc. tins
    unusual cake pans

  6. How gorgeous! I'd be willing to stay in the laundry room a bit longer with a few nifty canvas bins ;-D

  7. I love it.

    I recently invested in canvas bins for my changing table. I found some lovely ones with flowers at target. it does make you feel great to conquer the clutter.

  8. Looks awesome! Organized and pretty. You make me want to do laundry ;)

  9. I like that you can't see all the cleaning products, the only thing is, how can you distinguish between them? Very pretty color and organization.

  10. You have been such a busy girl, M. Lovely laundry room. I do my laundry in the dungeon, so your sunny, clean room looks divine! I would love to launder there!

  11. I LOVE this! I am so inspired right now!

  12. Wow! What a difference! It looks great. I really like your labels too.

  13. You inspire me! aaand I appreciate your sense of humor...lonely socks club...gotta love it!

  14. I love your laundry room, Matilda! I'm glad you linked back to this post, I never had a chance to read it when you first posted it.

    Our washing machine and dryer are out in our very dark, very messy, very unorganized garage, which just depresses me. I dream of some day having a laundry room as pretty as yours!

    And I never realized it before reading your beautiful articulation of the matter, but I whole heartedly agree with your thoughts on clutter and organization. Our house is small, and being able to SEE the "clutter" of necessary (if seldom used) items really begins to bug me after a while. No wonder I'm constantly trying to purge and re-organize! Your post has given me a lot to think about. Maybe some of the things I consider "clutter" are not so bad, after all.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!