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Simple DIY Laundry Refresh makes BIG Impact

Painted walls, a handmade countertop (that's simple to make!), and cut-to-size wood shelves completely transforms this tiny laundry room. Keep reading to see how to recreate the look yourself!

Before we ever saw our NC home in person, our (absolutely incredible) realtor pointed out in her video tour of the house to us that the laundry room doors had extensive moisture damage and would need to be addressed. We weren't fazed because 1. uhhh, have you seen the housing market? and 2. when we were living in Hawai'i we were lucky enough to have laundry on-site but the washer and dryer were the half-size stack kind and even though they were only a few years old, still took 2 and a half hours to dry a small load of clothes. To say we were excited about the idea of having a laundry room that would hold a full-size washer and dryer is an understatement.

When we first moved in we hit the ground running painting every. single. wall. Including the laundry room, in this rich blue (Nocturne Blue by Behr) that is also highlighted in the kitchen base cabinets and dining room ceiling. Our brand-spanking-new washer and dryer were delivered and while the (moisture-damaged) doors closed just fine, it was clear that wasn't the right choice. New doors would have the same issue - there's no fan in the laundry room and since there's only a few inches of space between the appliances and the doors the moisture and heat gets trapped and warps the doors. Besides, the full-size doors completely block the hallway when open so no one can pass by. We could have replaced them with louvered bi-fold doors but decided the best option would be to just take the doors off (we're planning to repurpose them into an upholstered bench!) since our new laundry room will be visually pleasing.

Break out the sketchpad...uh...iPad. We decided on warm stained wood, wanted a worksurface to fold clothes, shelves to hold laundry supplies and towels, and some kind of drying rack. Too easy. No really, it was too easy.

NOTE: all the measurements are based off our specific laundry room dimensions (approximately 4' deep x 6' wide). Make adjustments based on the size of your laundry room!

Here's what we used:


  • (6) 1 x 10 x 8 (2 for the shelves, 4 for the worksurface - you could also use plywood for the worksurface)

  • (2) 1 x 2 x8 (cleats - the supports the worksurface sits on)

Tools Needed:

  • Miter saw

  • Orbital sander

  • Drill (with bits)

  • Nail gun

  • Tape measurer

  • Bar clamps

  • Speed square

  • Stud finder

  • Level (long and short)


  • Pencil

  • Wood glue

  • Sandpaper - 80, 120, 220

  • Brackets (with screws)

  • Paint roller, lint free cloth, & paint brush

  • Wall paint (we used Behr Nocturne Blue)

  • Stain/Topcoat (we used Minwax Red Mahogany and Polycrylic)

  • 2 1/2" wood screws

  • 5/8" brad nails

  • Wood filler

  • OPTIONAL: retractable clothesline (this is amazing for items that need to air dry! It's installed on the wall and tucked away when not in use and holds significantly more clothes than a drying rack. And at less than $20, it's very affordable!)

Paint walls.

Easier to do if you haven't had your appliances delivered but you can always move them out of the way for this quick paint job. Wallpaper or a stencil would also look nice - it just depends on your vision.

Cut wood.

Again, your measurements depend on your specific laundry room size. We measured and cut our shelves to go from wall to wall with no gap. Measure. And then measure again because there is a very real chance your walls are NOT straight. Ours was almost a full inch smaller at the back of the room than the front. Keep that in mind when cutting your shelves and worksurface. Dry fit your cut pieces to make sure they fit.

Dark stained 1x10 lumber cut to the correct length.
1x10 pieces cut to width - this stain is too dark but once it's sanded down, you'll never know.
Cut piece of wood laying on top of washer and dryer to make sure it fits.
Dry fit your pieces! Make sure they fit all the way from the front of the space to the back.

Make the worksurface.

We knew our worksurface would take up the entire 6' wide and 4' deep laundry room (mostly because there's only room in the space for the appliances). We had several 1x10x8 boards in the garage and while they were stained darker than what we wanted, they could be sanded down and re-stained. We cut the 4 full-size 1x10 boards to length and then ripped the last 1x10 down a few inches so the overall depth fit in the laundry room. NOTE: you could also use a piece of plywood if you're so inclined.

Find a level(ish) surface (it was in this moment, as we propped our wood on top of our (unplugged) table saw and the wood container that holds our paddleboard during the winter, that we realized we needed a workbench. Like...right now.) and line up your wood. Working with one piece at a time, add wood glue to the edge, and add another board, lining up the ends and thicknesses as best as you can. Once you have all your pieces glued together, add bar clamps to keep them nice and tight. Don't overtighten or your pieces will buckle and pop out - you can add a scrap piece of wood on top and bottom to act as a brace and keep this from happening. Let it sit at least overnight. The next day, our piece was rock solid - we added in stainable wood filler to cover up any little cracks, let it cure and were ready to sand.

Sand, sand, and sand some more.

We pre-sanded our pieces because they were already stained a dark color and we wanted something warmer so if you're working with new wood, you don't need to do this. Once your wood has cured and is solid, you can sand it down. You want it to be as smooth as possible and feel like one piece. Start with a lower grit and then work your way up til it feels smooth when you run your hand across it.

Add the front apron piece.

This piece will hide the cleats that the worksurface will sit on and will make it look thicker. We used the small piece that we ripped off from the last 1x10 to make the 2" apron since it was exactly the correct length. Attach with wood glue and brad nails, use your bar clamps to hold it tight until the glue dries. Fill the nail holes with wood filler and sand once dried.

Pre-condition wood, stain, and topcoat.

This is the easy part but also time consuming because you have to wait for each coat to dry. We used Minwax's Wood Stain Pre-conditioner to help our stain take evenly and prevent splotchiness. The pre-conditioner only has to sit for 20ish min and then you can apply your stain. Let the stain sit for at least 24 hours so it has time to absorb before applying any topcoat. After 24 hours, we added the first of three coats of polycrylic - don't worry if it doesn't look too different after the first coat, it will get there! Let the polycrylic sit for at least two hours, then sand lightly, remove the dust, and apply the next coat. Three coats gave us a nice glossy finish and really brought out the stain.

Install the worksurface cleats.

While the stain is absorbing, you can install your cleats. Determine how high your worksurface is going to sit - this might be limited by existing conditions; for us, this was the water supply for the washer and the light switch. We decided to have the worksurface sit directly above the water supply and used that as the starting point. Using a stud finder, mark the locations of studs you can screw directly into. Draw a level line and mark where your cleats will be attached, if there aren't studs available you'll need to use drywall anchors. Attach the 1x2 cleats to the wall (we used 2 1/2" wood screws).

Install shelves.

NOTE: Because our laundry room (closet) is TINY space is at a premium. We wanted to install the shelves first because we did not want to stand on the worksurface. That said, once we installed both shelves (and the retractable clothesline) and were about to install the worksurface, we realized it wouldn't fit because both the bottom shelf AND the clothesline were in the way. So we ended up removing the bottom shelf and the clothesline, installing the worksurface, and then reinstalling the bottom shelf and clothesline. If you have more room to work with, this might not be a problem, but keep it in mind - you might need to install your shelf brackets, then install the worksurface, THEN finish installing your shelves and accessories.

Mark the desired height of your shelves, mark the studs (if available), and attach your shelf brackets to the wall. Add your wood shelves and attach to the bracket.

Install worksurface.

Our worksurface sits directly on top of the cleats without being secured to it for ease of removal - you want this to be easy to take in and out in case you need to have your appliances serviced. Because it's such a snug fit, there's no real left/right or front/back movement.

Install clothesline.

If you're using the retractable clothesline (and we highly recommend it), now is the time to install that. Determine the height - you (and the shortest adult in your household who does laundry) should be able to reach it easily. Attach to either side of your wall and test. There you have it, air drying at it's very best that can be moved out of the way when you aren't using it.

Retractable clothesline in use with gym clothes air drying in a laundry room.
Clothesline in action - this thing is AMAZING. Pull it out and secure to the opposite wall when needed, store it away when you aren't using it.

Style and finally enjoy doing laundry!

Now for the fun part - style your shelves. Add clothes hampers, baskets, towels, whatever else you plan on storing there. The addition of the worksurface gives you a huge increase in space (and no more lost socks behind the dryer!) so be sure to use it.

Laundry room with blue walls, wood worksurface for folding clothes and dark gray washer and dryer.
Finished laundry room ready for the never-ending supply of clothes to be cleaned.

We'd love to see what you come up with! ITag us @reddesignedinteriors and #reddesignedfurniture #reddesignedtutorials. Happy updating!

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