Why The Laundry Room Matters: Organization Drives Well-Being

One of the odd things about our summer place is that it doesn’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 of the lake and mountains.  To remedy this shortcoming, we purchased an antique coat rack and placed it strategically in a spot where a coat closet would likely reside.

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 out to the back deck.  That is, of course, until you open those doors and peer in!

The Problem

Over the years, the laundry room became 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 live in 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 the washer/dryer or stood-up on either side of them along the wall.  Needless to say, the laundry room became a hazardous place to visit!

The Resolution

We spend the winter months in Central Oregon, where the sun shines more often than it does here in our summer locale in NW Montana.  Central Oregon still suffers from short days during the winter, so we allow ourselves cable TV in the winter to “entertain” us during those long nights.  As a result, we are complete HGTV junkies, especially the shows on remodeling.

Last winter we began discussing the desire to create a coat closet in the summer house.  The logical place to look was 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 this part of the country!

Upon our return to Montana, we compared our ideas with the physical reality of the laundry room.  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

Just yesterday I was tasked with a minor home repair.  I toddled off to the new and improved laundry room, retrieved the tools I needed and toddled off to complete my assigned duty.  As I returned to the closet to return my tools after completing my repair, I was struck with two really powerful thoughts:

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

Again, this is not rocket science.  In fact, that’s the point – that small organizational changes can have large impacts on how we experience our lives.  Let’s look a little closer at these two bullet 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 its 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 to their side.  There is a customer-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 of 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 won’t start an avalanche each time I extract something from the closet.  I no longer dread going in there.

Experiencing Good Design/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 small 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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