Lessons Learned from the Laundry Room: How Organization Pays Dividends

One of the odd things about our house is that it didn’t have a hall coat closet. This has to do with the layout and orientation of the home, which was designed to take advantage of the view. To remedy this shortcoming, we had purchased an antique coat rack and placed it in a spot where a coat closet would likely have resided.

We do, however, have a laundry room. It’s one of those closet-style areas with swinging doors and it runs along the hallway out to the back deck. Instead of bi-fold doors, it has nice whitewashed barn doors. It’s very attractive and not an eyesore for us or our guests when we head outside.

A Scheme is Born

During the winter months we spend a fair number of late evening hours watching television. Specifically, and I hate to admit this, we’re HGTV junkies.

Last winter we began discussing the desire to create a coat closet somewhere in the house to replace the coat rack. The solution we decided on was to remodel the laundry room, as the washer and dryer, though full-sized, can be stacked. Much discussion ensued about exactly what we’d like to do with the laundry room, which tells you just how long the nights can be in the Pacific Northwest!

The main problem was that, over the years, the laundry room had become a repository for all things homeless. If we didn’t have a preordained place to put something, it went into the laundry room. Not only did the washer and dryer reside there, but so did all the cleaning implements and supplies. Joining them was all the home repair and maintenance items and tools, along with spare towels and sundry other items. Fortunately (?), there was a cabinet mounted above the washer/dryer so we could store away some of these things, but many were stacked up on top of the washer/dryer or stood up on either side of them along the wall. Needless to say, the laundry room became a disaster area!

A Scheme is Affected

When summer was again upon us, we contracted with a remodeling expert to affect our dream and, with some excellent suggestions from our contractor, we converted the laundry room into a combination laundry facility and coat closet!

I know, “Wow, Paul! Breaking news!” However, there’s more to this story, as I’m sure you suspected.

The Epiphany Occurs

Just the other day I was tasked with a minor home repair. I toddled off to the new and improved laundry room, retrieved the tools I needed and went to complete my assigned duty. As I returned to the closet to store my tools, I was struck with two powerful observations:

  • Gone was the dread of opening the closet doors to retrieve/return things.
  • A well organized space was a pleasure to experience.

Again, this is not rocket science. In fact, that’s the point – small organizational changes can have large impacts on how we experience our lives. Let’s look a little closer at these two points in particular to see what I mean.

The Dreaded Closet

Prior to the remodel, the laundry room was a large closet with two big appliances ensconced in the middle of the space and a cabinet mounted above them. There was no “organization” to the space and, as a result, things were stored willy-nilly wherever they wouldn’t (probably) tumble to the floor. Over time, things heaped up higher and higher on top of other things making a trip to the closet a precarious proposition. If you could even find what you were looking for, you stood a strong chance of starting an avalanche when you extracted it from the pile. The laundry room was just not a place you went into unless absolutely necessary!

The new closet is well organized. The washer and dryer are stacked to the left side with just enough room to hang a iron/ironing board storage unit on the wall next to them. There is a custom-built, five-shelf shelving unit running vertically to the right of the washer/dryer that splits the space. The size of each shelf is adequate for the things we store and having five of them provides for good separation. The right side of the closet has a dowel stretched across it for hanging coats, etc. There is also adequate space to stand the vacuum, brooms, mops, etc. in that same area without interfering with the hanging items.

Because everything rests on a stable surface, instead of on something else, I feel entirely confident that I will not only be able to quickly find what I need, but that I will also safely extract it. I no longer dread going there.

Experiencing Good Organization

After conducting my household repair and returning everything to the closet, I stood looking at the newly remodeled space and felt a distinct sense of satisfaction that we had (1) fixed an irritating problem and (2) accomplished a terrific result through a little thoughtful analysis and action.

Many who know me will want to ascribe the sense the well-being I derived from this remodel to my latent OCD tendencies. However, I believe that we all experience satisfaction from accomplishment. And, more importantly, feeling satisfied (or good) is the measure of success by which we should gauge our lives. Therefore, whether I have OCD or not is irrelevant. The point is that I experienced well-being from a simple act of organization which also made my day both more effective and more efficient. To wit, I completed a task without undue delay in the preparatory or clean-up stages.

The Challenge

I hope you are able to translate this simple example into an opportunity in your own life to make a minor organizational improvement that positively affects your sense of accomplishment and well-being. Whether it’s in your personal life – like the example above – or your professional life, look for something that would be relatively easy to change, but could confer significant benefit to you upon its completion.

May all your laundry rooms be well organized!

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