A (Teeny, Tiny) Laundry Room Makeover

by Yellow Brick HomeJuly 24, 2017

For the last couple of months, all of our focus – every day, evening and weekend! – has been on the renovation of our home’s garden apartment. Let me explain. We live in a typical Chicago two-flat, meaning, our home is divided into two apartments. While we live on the main floors, there is a nicely sized two-bedroom apartment on the lowest level, otherwise known as the garden unit! When we moved into our home 4 years ago, little was done to the garden unit aside from a good scrubbing and fresh paint. It was rented to a quiet couple, and after several years, they have decided to move on.

We took their move as an opportunity to completely renovate the garden unit from head to toe (quite literally; everything from the floors were replaced to the ceiling paint above), but today, I want to talk about the apartment’s teeny, tiny laundry room! It was one of the first rooms we tackled in its entirety, and we couldn’t be more smitten with the results. We like to think we squeezed every last ounce of functionality into this barely 4′ x 6′ room.

Let’s take a look at where we started:
The room served its purpose, but the oversized machines were a tight fit, and we never liked that the water lines were installed above the machines (rather than tucked nicely behind them). In addition, there was a foundation crack we had injected with epoxy years ago, and while it was safe, it wasn’t very nice to see day in and out. Here’s how the room looked after we emptied it out and installed wood-look tile throughout the apartment:
We had our contractor move the plumbing once and for all, shifting it much lower and closer to the window wall. His team also added an outlet and wall sconce (and capped the ceiling junction box; more on that in a second), and that’s where we took over! The first thing we did was install bead board, not only for its charm, but also to help conceal the corrected foundation issue. The walls were painted Sherwin Williams’ Sea Salt in an eggshell finish, and the bead board is Valspar’s Ultra White in semi-gloss.

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Much better already!

With the base layer of the room complete, we could begin moving in the important items! We decided on an all-in-one stacked washer and dryer unit, and we based this decision 100% on its shallow depth and profile. The ceilings in this apartment are lower than a typical home (coming in at under 8′), and this stacked washer and dryer was a perfect, slim fit. It’s nice and snug to the wall, and the design allows for the plumbing to sit right up against the machine – a huge perk in this teeny room! That said, the original placement of the ceiling light wouldn’t allow for the dryer door to open, which is why we had that box capped, and why we added a sweet and fun wall sconce instead:

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We debated adding a custom side panel, going so far as to buy a thick sheet of MDF to fabricate one ourselves. That plan was quickly derailed when we realized that the installation of a side panel would make it an extreme challenge should we need to pull the machine away from the wall. We admitted defeat, but we knew that adding storage would, at the very least, help to conceal the plumbing. We chose upper cabinets from IKEA for their 15″ profile, allowing us to maximize space while still offering a substantial amount of storage for cleaning supplies, blankets, and towels (or whatever may float our future tenant’s boat).


To cap off the cabinet storage, we used a leftover piece of butcher block from, ironically enough, our personal laundry room renovation! Scott ripped it down to size using a circular saw, and I sealed it with one coat of Minwax Special Walnut stain and four coats of Waterlox.


That was more or less the extent of our renovation, but what a world of difference it made! We finished off the room by installing a wide shelf above the cabinet, and for fun, we styled the room with a few of the items we keep in our own laundry room.


There are few things more satisfying than a side-by-side before and after, right?


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We floated the storage cabinet off the floor by about 6″, which is a trick we implement in our home to not only make objects appear lighter, but to allow for easier cleaning, too. These brass finger pulls are pretty and understated, and we love how it plays off of the butcher block counter.

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We imagine that the additional outlet added to the room will come in handy, whether it’s to warm an iron or charge a phone, but really, you can never have too many!


Originally, we considered using butcher block to DIY our own shelf, but once we saw this galvanized version at Pottery Barn (and for such a great price!), we knew it was the one. At the same time, the cool metal finish is a welcome contrasting touch in a room already filled with warm wood tones.

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Last but not least, this adorable sconce was picked up for a steal at our local West Elm! For a room of this size, it provides ample lighting, and the soft brass finish is the icing on the cake, don’t you think?

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We hope you enjoyed the tour of our garden’s laundry room, but more importantly, we also hope you saw how seemingly simple changes add up for major impact!

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About The Author
Yellow Brick Home
Kim and Scott Vargo are the muscle behind the blog Yellow Brick Home. Together with their two rescue pitties and a silly, cranky feline, the team is DIY-ing their way through their 130-year-old house, taking down walls, building them back up and nurturing back the character that was so rudely taken away over time. They share their story with an honest rapport, encouraging friendly feedback and discussion from readers around the world. Follow their adventures at YellowBrickHome.com, or on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.