I’ve been living in my apartment for a year and a half. It’s taken that entire length of time to get all of my rooms fully furnished and decorated. Two rooms — my office and my laundry room — were ongoing disaster zones. Last winter, I finally found the energy and ingenuity to get my office situated and beautified.
The laundry room, however, lingered in disarray. It’s hard for me to convey just how awful it was. Imagine a beautiful space — hardwood floors, full length mirror, plenty of natural light, with a washer/dryer stacked in a recessed corner — strewn with clothes, shoes and assorted crap. I had to pinch pennies last year, so furnishing this room was not an option. All I had in there was a lonely ironing board, a makeshift cabinet that I found in the attic and hampers of various shapes, colors and sizes. It was a hot mess.
Every time I entered that space, I felt a micro-moment of tension and stress. My chest tightened, my breath caught in my lungs. A little self loathing caught in my throat. Finally, a few weeks ago, my budget allowed a little room to get my shit together. So I set to work trying to figure out what to do with the space.
The room itself is kind of an odd space to wrap your head around. It’s pretty small – about 9 by 10 feet. On the upside, there’s a closet and the washer and dryer are flush with the wall, making them, in principle, unobtrusive. I knew I didn’t want the room to just be used for folding and ironing clothes. For a long time, I dreamed of turning it into a boudoir, complete with a fainting sofa, a shag rug and, oh I don’t know, something kitsch like a mannequin. But I also wanted a legitimate guest room. Could I possibly do both?
It occurred to me that I needed a guestroom more than a boudoir and a futon would get the job done. But I also needed this room to serve another functional purpose–storing my clothes. After a year of hardcore thrifting, my wardrobe had quadrupled. Both of my closets were filled to the brim with clothes, which is why I often had things piling up in the laundry room. It became clear to me that I needed a real chest of drawers. So I went to St. Vincent de Paul – my favorite thrift store for finding beautiful furniture. Not only did I find a fabulous futon — complete with wooden frame and a new, sealed mattress — but I also found a new, matching chest of drawers. Both items were being sold at about 50% the cost of retail. I was a little concerned about two things: 1) that the room would feel crowded with the futon open and 2) the fact that I didn’t have space for an end table. But it all worked out rather beautifully. With the futon open, the room feels cozy and the chest itself serves as a nice “side table” to place your belongings.
With the furnishing issue solved, I now turned my attention to the laundry facilities themselves. The washer and dryer were an eyesore. What to do? For a long time I’d envisioned covering them with a curtain, but not being very handy, I was unsure of how to make this happen. I knew I needed a rod that would curve on one end and connect directly into the wall on the other. So I took a trip to Home Dept and described what I had in mind to one of their awesome assistants. She suggested a getting a regular curtain rod and flatting out one of the ends so that it could go straight into the wall. That cost me all of about $1.50.
For the decor, I got just about everything from Kmart and the thrift shop. Found some cute curtains and pillows to match the futon and got a gorgeous, opaque, floor-to-ceiling curtain to cover the washer and dryer. For the chest, I found a neutral table runner, a little vanity mirror, a fountain and lamp. My absolute favorite addition is the “jewelry” box I contrived from stackable plastic containers I found at Kmart. Storing my (costume) jewelry was a big problem. I had a real jewelry box, but it was so tiny that it could only fit a fraction of my earrings. I also disliked the little jewelry box because you had to open up every compartment to see what was in there – and frankly, I ain’t got time for that. For a year and a half, I’d gotten by with piling up my earrings, necklaces and bracelets on the window sill of my bathroom. That worked for a while, but I started to run out of room and earrings would routinely fall on the floor, behind the sink and into oblivion. I needed a system for organizing the jewelry that would not only keep everything orderly and accessible, but would also allow me to easily see everything I had. The stackable, transparent box I have now perfectly fits my needs and is aesthetically quite pleasing to the eye.
I’m also obsessed with this pretty macramé plant hanger I found at Home Depot. Another sales assistant gave me this kickass idea when I told him I was looking for a pot. The lush green of the plant suspended by the window adds a touch of natural beauty that really sets the room off.
So yeah, I could not be more pleased with this space now. I smile every time I do the laundry, pulling back the curtain for the “big reveal”. The chest has solved my clutter problem – now all of my clothes have a home. The futon is comfy, the space is functional. The whole vibe is boho beautiful. And Zora has another room to layer with cat dander. Purrfect.
*And yes, I know I have to fix the curtain rod behind the futon, which has been warped due to outrageously disorderly conduct by the guilty-looking feline pictured above.