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California Closets To the Rescue...

How Our New Laundry Room Came Together

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Brian and I are the same person – we are both “artists” or “creatives”, with the biproduct meaning that we are disastrously unorganized. We are those people who need systems or our house and lives fall apart. Hilariously enough we react differently to our clutter – he steps over it and I shove it into the nearest drawer or cabinet (despite my being unorganized I hate visual chaos or mess) – both of which are extremely annoying. This means that none of our nine pairs of scissors can ever be located, I can’t find a pen to save my life and trying to find a safety pin becomes a mass excavation for a buried/sunken treasure. We have our strengths, but putting things away properly isn’t one of them. We needed help. Often I say that I just need a babysitter for me.

As you read yesterday our laundry room got a big makeover by California Closets, but what you didn’t get was all the details and you know I LOVE giving details and process. We worked with them on all of our closets and storage so far (yes, they gave us a good discount for press, linkage and photos) and honestly the experience was TOP KNOTCH. You’ll see why, below.

Here is where we started. The former laundry hall got reconfigured to be a larger and more square like room, less narrow. It is still a smaller space (like 50 square feet) but it now functions so much better.

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First we put down this amazing cement tile from Cle. I chose this plaid tile because it felt really English, but in a playful modern way.

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I love the pattern, and now that the laundry room is clean and organized I love seeing it from the rest of the rooms (we can shut it off if we need to and we have yet to change out the vent covers, by the way).

We brought the washer and dryer from our former house (because they were new and great – remember our former laundry closet?) and we removed the sidekick unit and the storage drawer so that the machines could be lower and clear the window to make the room feel as big as possible.

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We painted it ‘Sharkskin’ by Portola, which we LOVE. In the above photos it feels dark but it’s not at all – this room has so much natural light (two windows and a glass door) so it could handle this color.) It’s the perfect gray/blue (we painted Charlie’s room the same color).

We started the process when our designer, Chloe O’Keefe from California Closets, came over for an in-person consultation. We went through each closet and discussed first function, then look/style and then she took one million measurements to ensure the perfect fit. I told her that our first priority was the most closed storage possible while making it easy to navigate. I was also dying to get our litter box off the floor and in some sort of enclosure, mostly so that their litter would stop getting tracked everywhere in the room/house, making it basically the cat litter room instead of the laundry room. Here is what she drew up:

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I know that many of you will cruise over these renderings because if you aren’t in the market for closets, they seem so technical, but if you looking to do something like this then you might want to pay attention. Obviously if you are in a rental you don’t want to invest in this kind of storage, and most newer houses have cabinets and storage in the laundry room, but I will say that this is such a great way to invest in your house and make your life so much better if it’s within your budget (more on budget later).

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They took in consideration the windows, conduits, chords, outlets, the angles of the walls, and any inconsistencies or nuances of the space, and of course a place for the kitties to do their thing.

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This is the Cat Commode of my dreams. We wanted this to be kinda ‘mud room’ as well as laundry room, which is why there isn’t more shelving/cabinets and instead hooks for coats/bags and hats. The cat commode will look like a cabinet but with an opening to the side for them to come in and out to do their business.

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One of the things I was most excited about (the fold out ironing board) had to be cancelled once we made space for the laundry exhaust on the right. Things had to shift over, so our drawer had to decrease but if you have more space I highly recommend this fun feature. We put a rod above the washer/dryer for hanging clothes straight out of the dryer or for hang-drying clothes, as well as dry cleaning before it gets put away in closets. Here is a little guide to show you where everything goes.

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We have a place for everything with labels that keep us in line. The drawers are deep and organized now, and once things are dictated I actually am good about keeping things organized. I just need a system. My favorite thing to do on the weekends is make the house beautiful and pulled together, but without a system that means just stuff goes hidden anywhere. Not anymore.

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The cabinets are in a linen covered finish which is super pretty – in the photos it looks beige but in person it has a lovely light gray linen look, which you can see below. Let’s get into the function of everything, and how we are actually using the space:

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Each cabinet and drawer has to house something very specific. The tall cabinet is for brooms, mops and our vacuum.

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All cleaning supplies are organized by ‘everyday’ versus more specialized (brass faucet wax, tile cleaner, etc). We have a jar of rags (so that we don’t feel the need to fold them and instead can just shove them in the jar). I’m no organizing expert so I’m not going to give any revolutionary tips, but for me I need to be able to see everything so lucite boxes, or clear zippy bags are key.

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We put our every day tools in one drawer – the tape measures, hammers, hanging supplies, blue tape, command strips, etc.

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I also LOVE labels and get immense satisfaction from placing an object in the drawers in which it is “supposed” to go. I’m a person who needs systems. When we labeled my dresser and closet a couple years ago I kept everything SO much neater (we have yet to do it in the new house, but I’m so excited).

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This drawer is going to save my sanity. I thought about going all ‘Martha’ on this shoot and buying perfect scissors, perfect pens, perfect everything, but I decided that spending $1000 on ‘every day office’ supplies when I have all those things already (just maybe not the most beautiful versions of them) would be crazy.

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TAPE! I know where to find tape! And checkbooks! I still write an insane amount of checks and as you can see there are 9 used checkbooks up there because every time I needed one I couldn’t find it, so I opened a new one. I’ve also been looking for a crazy organized, experienced personal/executive assistant for 15 hours a week for a while, if you know anyone.

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The step ladder and ironing board are snuck in by the washer and dryer which is super convenient. We iron something maybe once every two months so a little tabletop board works for us.

Now for the other side of the room – The ‘Cat Commode’:

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See Bear, just waltzing up to the commode, a little confused but interested.

Inside the cabinet is the litter box.

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The little box actually needs to be closer to the flap (sorry, I was undoubtedly putting a child down for a nap when that was shot).

Then on the outside is this entrance.

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It’s extremely exciting, folks. It’s only been a couple of days but so far, SO much less mess. There is still sand in the cabinet, and that will need to get cleaned often, but so much less on the floor.

All in all, I truly think it’s going to be a daily life changer. It’s clean, so functional, so organized and it lends itself to making sure that we keep our lives in order.

California Closets installed all of our closets and the laundry room in two days. They worked with any irregularities and really solved so many problems. Their guys were so neat, clean and respectful (they even removed everything during the kids naps so they didn’t have to try to sleep in chaos). There are a million different finishes to choose from, although I LOVE this linen finish. I chose simple classic handles on the more traditional side to work with the rest of the house. This room cost $7373, with the cat commode/hooks being $880 of that (so just the laundry unit is $6500). That includes all meetings, renderings, materials, off-site cutting and on-site installation. Now, I know that it’s not nothing but there really isn’t an alternative for that. A cabinet company would charge $12k for this, and doing something yourself (Ikea or Container Store) would still cost money, be way less efficient, way more janky and take so much of your time. Right now in my life I’m willing to sacrifice more money than time – that may change, but with two toddlers and this business, trying to figure out the right ‘system’ for our laundry room and executing it on my own wasn’t a realistic situation so having California Closets on board made everything so much better.

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Birdie and I are obviously very excited about having a proper Laundry Room and a place to keep things organized. A big thank you to Chloe O’Keefe and the team from California Closets for making all of our requests a functioning reality. They all could not have been easier or more wonderful to work with. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I go grab a command hook from my “hooks pouch” in my “everyday hardware” drawer. In the meantime let me know if you have any questions on anything below in the comments.

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***Photography by Tessa Neustadt

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  1. I looove anything functional and closet layouts make super excited. That genius hidden kitty litter is also the best! I hope there’s also a vent in that cabinet to the outside, so there’s some fresh air and the smell doesn’t get into the laundry?

    Characters & Carry-ons

    1. No vent 🙂 We still have to make sure that we clean it often, but at least there is WAY less sand on the ground (virtually none) and we don’t have to look at it. I’m sure there is a DIY version of this that can be done, too!

      1. You probably don’t need the cover on the litter box if it is in the cabinet. You could just put the charcoal filter in the cabinet (Command Strips to door or top of cabinet?). And when I had one, I taped a little calendar next to it so I would remember to change the filter too. Helps the smell like crazy.

        This is a great solution. I also love the “planters” that are litter boxes or the mod box but yeah, I don’t think that would work for large cats.

        P.S. I love seeing you get organized and how real your posts are.

      2. I did this myself with an ikea cabinet, a cat door from amazon, and a jigsaw and it has been a life changer!

  2. I love the cat commode! I need to do something similar for our cat in the laundry room, but I’m worried his litter box is too big (cat is pretty big too, 16 lb)! How big is Bear? Were you worried at all that the cabinet would be too small for him?

    1. The litter box in there is huge, so I think you’d be fine! Our cats are medium sized … but yah, they fit great.

  3. As someone who (a) lives in an old house with little storage, (b) has two young children, and (c) has a touch of ADD and is chronically disorganized, this post gives me hope. I have SO MUCH GUILT about my lack of organization, and it makes me feel less alone to hear you admit to the same thing, and to know that investing in organizational systems really can make a difference. I’ve been reluctant to spend the money to get help with organization, out of fear that I may not have the wherewithal to maintain it. But maybe it really will help.

    1. It does. I have such pride in keeping these ‘systems’ working. Sure, every six months I’ll revamp it, but having things dedicated and labeled really, really works even for people like us who feel hopeless sometimes. You can do it!!

  4. so where did the water heater get moved to?

    1. Tankless outside when we renovated. 🙂

      1. oh snap…nice feature for sure.

  5. top “notch”

    : )

    1. also: by-product, not bi-product…

  6. This is the cutest most perfect laundry space! That tile! *Swoon*

    This might not be possible, but I know some dryers have a door that can be flipped to open the other way so that you don’t have to go around one door to get into the other unit when transferring clothes. Just a thought. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing the nitty gritty details. I love your blog!

  7. It looks like there’s only one outlet now, with the washer/dryer plugged into it – is there another outlet somewhere that you can plug the iron into when you need it? Just wondering…

  8. I spray painted my vents white as a “temporary” fix when we moved in to our place, and 4 years later they are still there! Also, this room is amazing!

  9. Nice! I love an organized system. I have a blank slate Mud Room and office nook in my family room that I am thinking I will have to do IKEA, for cost reasons. This is inspiring me to at least get an estimate from Cal. Closets.

  10. I love posts about organization! I too get very excited about my label maker and getting a mess organized in a neat and thoughtful way. This is great (and inspiring) — so thanks to the follow-up to yesterday’s post!

  11. Absolutely gorgeous! Hiding the kitty litter box is the best. You are so right that systems are everything. When anyone asks me how my house is so clean and company-ready all the time, my answer is simple: we put things away when we’re through with them. Even my 3 yo granddaughter can navigate the house and find her scissors or washi tape or a flashlight b/c she knows where everything is kept!

  12. Love it Emily , so functional and pretty. 😍. Im an interior designer from chile, if you like more inspiration for your projects just follow my instagram decor_vibes✌🏻. Greetings from
    Chile 🇨🇱

    1. I just checked out your Insta – I like you decor style. It’s got a bit of whimsy, which I love! 🙂

  13. Ha! Two of those nine pairs of scissors are in your beautifully organized “office supplies” drawer…and…that stapler is super-uber-speccy! 🙂

  14. Beautiful room, I am a laundry geek so this space is wonderful. I too had cat commode made within the bathroom cabinets and its a game changer. CAT has a little space to shake off his paws before exiting and no more mess.

    Enjoy your new space!

  15. Love the laundry room! Curious to know where the adorable mouse kids backpack on one of the hooks is from?

    1. It’s from Petunia Pickle Bottom, we all secretly wish it was made in an adult size as well. xx
      https://www.petunia.com/bags-for-littles/mini-critter-pack

  16. I definitely want to hide my litter boxes, but I’m afraid my cat will react negatively to the change. Anyone with a cat know how terrible a “negative” reaction can be. I think I’ll try adding a lid back on to the box and see how it goes before building out a built-in litter box cabinet. Anyone have suggestions for this process?

    1. Veeerrryy slowly, with at least 4 days of success at each level before you advance to the next. If I were trying it I would 1) put on the cover. 2)put the box in the cabinet. 3)put the doors on, but leave them open. 4) close the doors. 5)add the cat door. 6)remove the cover. If your cat objects at any stage take one step back & double the time.
      I’m a dog trainer (not a cat trainer, although mine is sitting on my shoulder as I type) but training anything with a nervous system works the same way: small increments with at LEAST an 80% success rate before you up the criteria, & with something as critical as litter-box behavior I’d make it 100%.
      Hope that helps.

  17. One of the first things we invested in when we moved to our new home this past summer was a custom closet for our master, and it is literally the best money I have ever spent ever in my life EVER. Did I say ever enough?! Totally worth the investment for such amazing organization!

    This looks great, I love the cat commode! I have mine hidden in a hollowed out end table. 🙂

  18. so pretty! and thanks for not going all martha on the drawers and confirming that IT IS OKAY for us normal people to have regular ol’ sharpie pens and black plastic-handled scissors 🙂

  19. Do you miss the little sidekick washer? How much use did it get before?

    1. I wonder about that too. I kinda want one, but adding it would mean my washer would go higher than the window… and not be the same height with the dryer. Unless I added a storage thingie under the dryer to balance it out. The Sidekick is like $800+, so basically an extra washer…

    2. I was wondering about that too. It seems like it would be great for washing delicate things or exercise clothes

  20. Would it make sense to use California Closets for a kitchen cabinet renovation?

  21. Woo hoo, this was such a satisfying post to read (the process, the overhead view, the elevations, the inside look at where you’ve stored everything). After yesterday’s post I was definitely wanting more, and this post was it!

    – love that tile! I’m surprised you didn’t tile above the machines as well, to add some more interest?
    – sad that you had to lose the washing sidekick, but better to keep the window clear

  22. Happy organizing and happy nesting!

  23. All the pieces are so thought out and gorgeous! I love it!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  24. My mom was gifted California closets for our entire home (after I moved out of course). Is that not the stuff dreams are made of?!? I have one California closet that I splurged on with Christmas money and money from any and every odd jobs I did on the side as a young SAHM. It cost me $565 when we had barely any extra income and it was worth every penny and all the time it took to save for it!! It’s 10 years old and still like new!

    I love your tile and the windows the most!

  25. The $7373 for the laundry room, was that the retail cost or the discounted cost you received (that you mentioned early on?). If it’s discounted, what would the retail be NOT including the floor tiles?

  26. Would the blue paint color work in a laundry room with no windows? We are renovating our house and the new laundry room will have no windows but we may add a skylight. I love the floor tiles. Thanks!

  27. Well done! I am always saying how convenient it is to have a organised and functional laundry room! It makes doing the laundry not that terrible. Yet, people always seem to forget decorating and especially forget to think about the layout for their laundry room. It is usually an after thought, so this is a really great piece with great tips! The amount of storage space and the floor pattern are my favorite parts of this room!

  28. That is the best laundry room ever. I love the look and the organization and it truly will make your life easier.

  29. It looked like there was a water heater in before pics. Where did it get moved to? I am thinking about going to a tankless to save space. Thoughts?

  30. Where did you get the cute art photo above the washer and dryer.

  31. I love this so much! I will definitely come back to it when I revamp our laundry/mud room in a few months. I hadn’t thought of putting the litter box in there, but inside a cabinet might work great.

    Do you miss the side kick washer? I’ve been wanting one ever since I read about it in your old house. Though I’m not sure I have the space.

  32. We recently switched to the BREEZE litter system and it’s absolutely amazing. Hardly any smell or tracking, and super easy to clean up. Just a recommendation for anyone tired of the cat litter going everywhere! https://www.amazon.com/Purina-Tidy-Cats-Starter-Litter/dp/B001411SK0

  33. I cannot express how much I love that you label your drawers and storage things! I’m a naturally neat-ish person, but everything is so much easier if you know where everything goes. Actually I asked my friends to give me one of those labelmaking machines for christmas. Didn’t get it, because no-one wanted to be responsible for me labelling the cat. :'(

  34. Can you provide a BM, SW or Behr equivalent to the Sharkskin paint color? I’m looking to paint my son’s room and those brands are convenient to me to test a swatch and select. Thank you!

    PS: the acrylic storage is inspiring

  35. I am a long-time reader of your blog but I just have to say that I think disparaging Ikea cabinets as “janky” to justify an expenditure of $3000 (which you did not even pay, I assume it was gifted by California Closets) for cabinets in a laundry room is just kind of inconsiderate. I get that these types of sponsorships pay the bills but are you really suggesting that we consider spending $1000 on a cat toilet?!?!? I would rather you show us how to make Ikea cabinets look amazing and show us great design on an average person budget than suggest that our laundry room is janky because it has Ikea cabinetry. I’ll still read but I was pretty bummed about this whole post.

    1. Well said!

      1. Yep, I was floored at the price. Most of us can’t, just can’t!!

  36. This is right on point for me! Just beginning to think about the design of the laundry room in our new home 🙂 thanks for the inspiration and the organisation tips (definitively need them!)

  37. IKEA and the Container Store are “janky” — ouch!

  38. You don’t have the LG SideKick anymore (that you wrote about in the Laundry Closet Makeover). Did you end up not using it or did it end up not working particularly well? We are moving and have to buy a new washer & dryer and I have been fondly thinking of your original laundry closet makeover post with plans to buy the LG system including the sidekick.

  39. Emily this is lovely!! Can I ask where you got that pink abstract painting above the washer and dryer?

  40. just asking about the office supply drawer…do you have a desk or work space in another part of the house? and if so, wouldn’t it make sense to put it all together? and if not, maybe you have an office type space set up in the laundry area and that’s why this is located there? I’m just confused…If you do have an office or desk elsewhere, now you’ve got two locations where this stuff lives….It didn’t look like a drawer that would hold copious amounts of supplies that would be considered “back stock” for another desk/location…

  41. You could totally get a handheld vacuum for the litter box cabinet! Just zip, zip and bam. You could clean up that sand lickety-split!

    1. I have a dedicated dust buster next to my litter box cabinet (nowhere near as nice as this!) and its a LIFE SAVER. The $50 black and decker one is amazing, although if I were to do it over id try to find a smaller one that mounted in cabinet. Also the litter grabbing mats are a big help. I actually put them on the inside of the cabinet to both protect the cabinet and so less litter makes it out of the cabinet. Helps alot.

  42. A cat commode IS what I need. Although my cat thinks she’s human and only opens doors with her hands (front paws), which usually means she can’t get through doors, so I’m sure she couldn’t get in the cat commode… 🙁
    I’ve recently discovered that you can use wood pellets in a litter box. It smells so much better, is so much cheaper (at least in France) and way less messy. You should try it!

  43. Its slightly embarrassing how much a perfectly organized space excites me, love everything you did!

    http://www.shopthecoconutroom.com

  44. That cat flap is what cat owner’s dreams are made of……

    Oh yeah and the rest is so gorg!! Thanks for the breakdown post, I was hoping for it! Super helpful! (And Beautiful!)

  45. Emily, where those plaid pants and peplum shirt are from?

  46. Having a green plant in there makes a world of difference! It’s not just a functional room anymore, it’s a well-designed and calming area of the house. Brilliant!

  47. Cinemabox HD s the one app I would refer to even my parents. The app is simple to use, is comfortable to navigate thogh and is also very efficient at what it does. What it does is very well known.
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  48. Em, thank you for sharing your experience with us! We are THRILLED that you love your new laundry room and enjoyed reading the details on how it all came together. <3

  49. Here is where we started. The former laundry hall got reconfigured to be a larger and more square like room, less narrow. It is still a smaller space (like 50 square feet) but it now functions so much better.

  50. TAPE! I know where to find tape! And checkbooks! I still write an insane amount of checks and as you can see there are 9 used checkbooks up there because every time I needed one I couldn’t find it, so I opened a new one.

  51. This means that none of our nine pairs of scissors can ever be located, I can’t find a pen to save my life and trying to find a safety pin becomes a mass excavation for a buried/sunken treasure. We have our strengths, but putting things away properly isn’t one of them. We needed help