Laundry room shelving, like anything in a laundry room, needs to work hard. It's one of those rooms where everything needs to earn its place and nothing can be purely decorative. However, what we love so much about shelving (and why we recommend them in every room) is it can be both decorative and practical. They can be a space to keep detergent and fabric condition to handy, but equally can be a space to display a few prints or add some greenery.
As Al Bruce, Founder of Olive & Barr says, 'Shelving is a practical choice in laundry rooms, it provides both form and function while opening up the space. The key is to keep it simple by not overcrowding; a minimalistic approach is the best way to keep open shelving organized. Not only will the addition of open shelving make your space feel lighter and brighter, but you’ll also have more opportunities to bring your personality to the forefront.'
So to show you how to get this balance of form and function just right, we've rounded up all our favorite laundry room ideas that use shelves to both store and add style...
1. Pick the right location for laundry room shelving
Before we get into aesthetics, lets talk practically. The location of your laundry room shelves is as important, if not more, than how they look. Consider how you use the space and move around it, plus what you want to store on your shelves and let that dictate where they are hung.
Jessica Davis, Principal Designer + Owner of JL Design (opens in new tab) created this space, and explains that 'shelves were chosen to best fit the available space. We could not accommodate the depth of a cabinet. It's best to mount shelves above or beside the washer and dryer. I find it easier to grab soap from a shelf above instead of a cabinet, personally. The minimum depth I shoot for is approximately 10".'
2. Blend shelving into the walls
Who ever said laundry room can't be chic? This laundry room is more stylish than our kitchen! This black cabinetry is practical of course, but it also brings the drama, and paired with those glossy zellige tiles and gold hardware, it's a space so far from the boring white, clinical laundry rooms we are used to seeing.
The space was designed by Conceptual Kitchens & Millwork Inc (opens in new tab), who rightly told us that, this is 'A laundry room that makes you feel like doing laundry, with organic textures of Cle tile, soft wood tones, and moody colors.' And note how the shelving just blends into the tiles, so you don't get the added visual bulky just the decor that appears almost to be floating.
Take home tip: along with the chic shelving inspiration, this is also an innovative small laundry room idea – turning an unused alcove into a practical space. 'If you are looking to create a utility room but are short on space, a small alcove is sometimes all you need.' explains interior designer Katie Thomas (opens in new tab). 'Make sure that there is access to plumbing in the area you choose and hide it away using built-in cupboards to create a clean and flush space.'
3. Hide built in shelving behind sliding doors
Barn doors are such a huge interior design trend right now, adding a modern farmhouse vibe to whatever room you choose to hang one. But their popularity isn't all down to rustic aesthetics, these sliding designs are really practical too, especially when space is tight. Plus they are perfect for hiding whole 'rooms' behind in an open-plan space, like a laundry room or a pantry.
As designer Caitlin Jones Ghajar (opens in new tab) explains, 'Laundry spaces are all about function but given how many hours we all spend working at them, they also need to be inviting, chic, fresh spots to hover. In this case, our clients desperately wanted laundry facilities on their main level, but the only location was an existing hall closet. We re-purposed the space to accommodate front load European washers (very water-efficient), which allowed for ample folding space. The geometric tile backsplash ensures that even if the doors are left open, it's an attractive place.'
4. Hide clutter in stylish baskets
Admittedly a downside about open shelving ideas is that everything is on show, and in a space where not everything you store is going to be aesthetically pleasing, having some way of hiding things can make a space look instantly cleaner. Enter storage baskets.
'Laundry rooms are the perfect combination of form and function. If you have built-ins, make sure you include a peg system that allows you to change the way the space functions over time. If you typically hang dry your clothes, think of incorporating drying drawers for a concealed, luxurious option. I always suggest that clients incorporate baskets into shelving, giving items, like folded laundry, a designated space.' advises designer Marie Flanigan (opens in new tab).
5. Add a shelf above a valet rail
If you have the space in your utility room design a valet rod is worth adding for hanging just ironed clothes that are ready to go straight into your closet. 'Another way to make use of vertical space is to add a simple hanging rail above your worktop. This can also act as a decorative piece when not in use by keeping good quality coat hangers in place, such as wooden hangers, which can help make the space feel ‘lived in’. explains Katie Thomas.
Double up storage by hanging a shelf above the rail so you make the most of the otherwise dead space, and slide on a couple of baskets so the less accessible shelf is still functional and doesn't become a dumping area.
6. Or keep things accessible above a sink
A laundry room sink is the workhorse of this space, and you want it to be as big and deep as you can afford. This often means you have to forgo a wall cabinet so you have the room to thoroughly wash clothes, shoes, pets so instead hanging a shelf nearer the ceiling gives you storage space while keeping the sink area free.
In this laundry room designed by reDesign home (opens in new tab), the multi-purpose sink is the focal point, and the shelf above is perfect for adding just a touch or decor and a basket for storing accessories.
7. Use open shelving to personality to a laundry room
It's important to get the balance between form and function right. Laundry rooms are spaces that can afford to be particularly decorative, but shelving provides the perfect opportunity to add a touch of character. Bring in prints, vases, plants, books and make the space feel more... lived in.
Interior designer Michelle Gage (opens in new tab) who created this space says, 'This laundry room features open shelving so that even a “chore-focused” space can have decorative items on display. The concrete countertops provide plenty of space for folding and the deep sink basic is a handwasher’s best friend! When considering how to add this sort of space into your home, think outside the box! We tore out 2 adjoining closets in order to make room for this upstairs laundry space.'
8. Hang open wall cabinetry for style and storage
Wall cabinets can be a great addition to a laundry room, but consider keeping them open so everything is really easily accessible and they can double up as decor too. It also gives the space more of a kitchen-like feel, a room in its own right rather than just somewhere laundry gets dumped.
We love the look of the classic Shaker laundry room cabinets used here, it really maximizes the relatively small space. As designer Katie Thomas explains, you can really 'maximize on space in a utility room by adding shelving above your machines to make use of the vertical wall space. This could be used to store laundry detergent, laundry or spare sheets and towels.'
9. Keep things accessible with narrow open shelves
When it comes to laundry room storage, we get that you'll be wanting to make the most of every inch of space, but sometimes less can be more. Deep shelves aren't always an asset and often shelves are more effective when they are narrow and easily accessible.
We'd recommend if you just plan to use your shelving for laundry accessories and cleaning products, keeping your shelving narrow so you can always see exactly what's where and you can instantly grab what you need without having to delve to the back of a dusty shelf.
10. Decant laundry products into glass jars
Are these not the laundry room shelves of dreams? Beautifully curated and color-coordinated with the rest of the room but still practical as the lower shelf stores all the laundry essentials. Now, we get it – who's laundry products look that pretty? And while we'd love to buy laundry detergent purely based on how aesthetically pleasing the bottles are, for most that is not realistic.
So instead, 'for a uniform look, decanter into mason jars and use jute or woven baskets to hide any possible clutter. Use the glass jars to create your own storage solution, you can fill them with anything you like and display them like art.' suggests Al Bruce.
How deep should shelves in a laundry room be?
The best depth of laundry room shelving will mostly come down to where you are hanging your shelves and what you intend to store on them. Interior Designer Sanel Konyar and Founder of Interior Kollection (opens in new tab) recommends to 'stack shelving from floor to ceiling to maximize space. If the room allows, ensure that at least two of the shelves are deep and tall enough to house your laundry baskets, one for dirty laundry and the other for freshly laundered clothing. This makes it quick, easy, and more importantly accessible.'
So use what you intend to store on them as a guide to how deep they should be. We'd actually recommend not going too deep if you want to just store things like detergent and fabric condition, as you want to be easily able to just grab those and not have to rummage around at the back of a shelf.
Where should you position laundry room shelves?
Again, this will depend on what you intend to store on the shelves, but it's likely to be the closer to the washer and drier the better – above them is potentially the best location. Just make sure you leave another room between the worksurfaces and the shelving so they don't get in the way, and if going directly above a toploading washer or dryer make sure you can open it fully.
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.