Small laundry room mistakes – take your space from dull to delightful by avoiding these 5 design flaws

The real workhorse of the home, a well-designed laundry room with help make light work of every task, but how do you avoid making mistakes when planning this diminutive space

Small laundry room mistakes
(Image credit: Whittney Parkinson / Sarah Shields / Alice Lane Interior Design / Nicole Hill Gerulat Photography)

Though small spaces, laundry rooms play a vital role within a household, taking the pressure off living spaces and keeping them clutter-free. When it comes to creating an efficient and functional small laundry room, thorough planning is key. Of course, there’s no reason why this practical space shouldn’t be beautiful, too. 

Serving so many different functions, it is important to get these hardworking service spaces right. Before embarking on a new design for a small laundry room, think about what tasks you will undertake in the space and do an inventory of what you need to store. Opting for bespoke cabinetry designed around your needs and built around the architecture of your home is often the best way to achieve optimum storage and functionality. But there are also a few laundry room design flaws and errors that experts want us to know, and rectify, immediately. 

Small laundry room mistakes to avoid 

The small laundry room has, however, evolved into a multifunctional space used to serve all sorts of additional functions. As well as being a space to store large items, such as appliances and ironing boards, and clothes airers, it is increasingly serving as a space to house bathroom toiletries, towels, and even for hobbies, such as floristry. Therefore, avoiding decorating and design mistakes becomes all the more essential. 

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1. Not maximizing every storage opportunity for appliances

Small utility and boot room by John Lewis of Hungerford

(Image credit: John Lewis of Hungerford)

It is easy to dismiss small spaces as redundant, but underutilized nooks and corners can be some of the most useful spaces if designed right. If you are keen to kit out a small laundry room to its full potential, clever laundry room storage ideas are essential. 

When space is at a premium, maximize storage by fitting bespoke cabinetry floor to ceiling. ‘Stacking appliances is another great way to save space and is also ergonomically more efficient,’ says Rebecca Nokes, head of design and brand creative at John Lewis of Hungerford. 

‘As long as you have your electricity and water supply in the correct place – which your fitter will help you with – and add in a vent above and below, your appliances will be perfectly safe. The washing machine should always be the lower appliance.’

2. Not thinking about organization first

small laundry room with monochrome color scheme

(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design / Nicole Hill Gerulat Photography)

One thing about organizing a laundry room is ensuring it's not only fit for purpose but takes the pressure off other spaces, especially when you're trying to avoid making any common laundry room organization mistakes. This means working enough cabinetry and laundry room shelving ideas into it, with a mind to exactly what you need, where you need it. 

Here, interior designer Jessica Bennett of Alice Lane Interiors uses a considered combination of hidden storage and a hanging rail. 'Bespoke is always better,' she says. 'Consider function first. Measure the space and understand what your priorities are. Laundry room cabinets to store detergent, dryer sheets, and washer/dryer supplies should be at the top of your list, after that, a place to store linens and towels would be a bonus.'

Jessica Bennett
Jessica Bennett

Jessica started her creative journey at Utah State University. Her studies there led to her work in an ad agency as an art director but building her home brought back her earliest passion: interior design and trends.

3. Creating a soulless space devoid of color or character

Monochrome home Indiana

(Image credit: Sarah Shields Photography)

Your small laundry room might not be the place where you spend the most time, but that doesn't mean the materials and color scheme shouldn't be considered in the same breath as the rest of your home. 

Wood is a great way to warm up an otherwise dull or dated laundry room. Timber is available in many varieties (with oak and walnut widely particularly favored for laundry, utility, and mudrooms) and in different cuts, some with consistent vertical grain, others with richly patterned results. The choice of finish, from lacquers and stains to oils and waxes, can also be used to enhance color and grain, as well as protect the timber. Alternatively, do as interior designer Whittney Parkinson has done and add contrast with a two-tone room color idea. 

'By using two shades, not only does it allow the opportunity to pose two colors from your preferred palette, but it also lets you change the pace of your scheme,' says Whittney Parkinson. 'By incorporating a more familiar, unexpected shade like white, you can be more adventurous with your cabinet accent color.' 

Whittney Parkinson Design
Whittney Parkinson

Whittney then began her career as co-owner of the architecture & interior design firm, MAWR Design, working with her father from 2008, until founding Whittney Parkinson Design in 2016. As a young designer in the field, Whittney designed projects varying from high-end residential to a vast array of multi-million dollar commercial projects around the Midwest.

4. Thinking your laundry room cannot be beautiful

beige laundry room with built in cabinetry and pedestal

(Image credit: Sarah Shields)

Laundry rooms were once a fairly limited design category. But these days, high-style, high-function laundry rooms are a must-have, and the design options have expanded to meet demand. Not only do today's laundry rooms provide a dedicated space for efficient laundering, but they also provide a unique set of design requirements that offer plenty of opportunity for creativity, just as much as anywhere else in the home.

If there are kitchen trends that you love, but are not prepared to commit to in such a large space, consider your laundry room the perfect test canvas. After all, given its inevitably smaller dimensions, you will find yourself spending significantly less money making changes as trends come and go.

While beauty is important, it is also vital to think about practicality, too. A pedestal washer and dryer is a convenience you won't want to live without once you try it. It essentially eliminates the need to bend over when you're changing the laundry or cleaning a washing machine, making the whole process easier. Try a custom-built pedestal that matches your laundry room cabinets, like designer Whittney Parkinson created for a client. 

5. Inadequate lighting

small laundry room with yellow painted cabinet, green wall and wall lights

(Image credit: Jon Day Photography / Original BTC)

Don't leave your small laundry room in the dark. Lighting ideas for small laundry and mudrooms have to deliver on a lot of fronts. They need to make the room safe and practical for use and, often, create the right atmosphere for hobbies, too. 

Having plenty of task and ceiling lighting is important in practical spaces, but sometimes it can leave a room feeling stark and cold. Supplement overhead LED spotlights with soft wall lights that can be operated independently for times when you want a more restful feel. 


How can I make my small laundry room more efficient?

Well-organized storage is key to making a small laundry room more efficient. As well as wall and base cabinets and pull-out drawers for stashing smaller items (mesh bags, towels, etc), don't forget a tall cabinet, or floor-to-ceiling storage, for keeping an iron, ironing board, mop and bucket, and vacuum cleaner

In this space, practicalities still take precedence, so when it comes to designing a small laundry room, thinking like the most organized version of yourself is always a great place to start. A combination of space-enhancing storage solutions and carefully considering how you will move within the space is vital to creating a room that’s efficient and ergonomic. 

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.