What should I do with the space above my washer and dryer?
April 28, 2019 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing a small refresh (paint, flooring) of my laundry room, and have a big bunch of dead space above the washer and dryer. I trust I'm not the only person with this mild dilemma. What are some good uses for this space?

First, obligatory photo (this is a temporary mess.)

As you can see there's an existing shelf on the wall behind the W/D, but it's impossible for my family to actually reach without rolling in a stool or short ladder so we store very infrequently used items there. It's mostly useless. I'd love for it to be more useful and am open to ideas.

Of note, this is a tiny space – the width you see here is the width of the whole room and it's approximately 5 1/2' wide.
posted by hijinx to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My set-up is a little bit like yours. The front-loading machines mean the space above is available, yes? On the left, I would extend the shelf out (with extra supports) over the machine, and put a laundry basket there for towels/light laundry-related infrequently used objects. If it's a smaller container, you can push it toward the back and stow your frequently used items in front of it, within easy reach. On the right, I would hang a (retractable?) socktopus--one of those multi-armed drying hangers for delicates. I put a shower rod across a similar space so I have somewhere for hangers to live.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:46 AM on April 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is it possible to make that shelf deeper? It looks half-depth. I hate storing things right on top of the W/D because the vibration can sometimes cause things to shift or spill. The stuff on top of the machine could definitely go on a deeper shelf. Given the height/depth, I think your answer is a set of lazy susans. That way if the shelf comes out enough so as to be equally as deep as the W/D, a lazy susan will let you store items and just spin to reach what you need. For laundry, that would be the detergent, bleach, dryer sheets or balls, stain removers, a tiny lidded bin for lint, and possibly a nice cloth bin for orphan socks.
posted by juniperesque at 6:48 AM on April 28, 2019 [5 favorites]

Do you already have a shelf for detergent and other laundry supplies? If so, I would just take the shelf out. If not, make it deep enough to reach, with cardboard boxes covered with nice-looking paper against the wall so things don’t get pushed to the back.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:52 AM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you want closed storage, your local building thrift store might have spare / salvage cabinets you could mount there.
posted by nickggully at 7:05 AM on April 28, 2019

Yes, make the shelf deeper, get long, narrow baskets, and store whatever you want (I like laundry supplies personally; I also have a tiny trash can for dryer lint and used dryer sheets) in the baskets. You can slide them out to get at the stuff at the back; they become fully useful shelves.
posted by gideonfrog at 7:16 AM on April 28, 2019

Cabinets with slide-out drawers.
Mine are loaded with cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and softener, bug sprays, Sterilite shoe boxes of batteries, flashlights, Sterilite shoe boxes of light bulbs, convenience store coffee mugs, the tea maker, various tea maker pitchers.... I need a folding chair/ladder to get into the top sections, but it works for me.
posted by TrishaU at 7:22 AM on April 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is it purely the height or is it the stretch across the machines that makes it hard to reach the shelf without a stool? (As a tall person, I'm sometimes a bit oblivious to accessibility of high places for others.)

If it's the latter, you might consider adding slide-out shelves something like this--a strap on the front would make it easy to pull forward into reach range.

Also, I really like having a closet rod right near the machines, for hang-drying, hanger storage and quick hanging of just dried items. I'd definitely look for a telescoping rod or swing-arm rod to mount under that shelf.
posted by peakcomm at 7:32 AM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

Your shelf is simply not deep enough. Make it nearly the full depth of the washer dryer andthe use deep baskets. Alternatively, build two Lazy Susans the depth of the shelves and store all your laundry products on them so they can be rotated for easy access.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:57 AM on April 28, 2019

These are excellent ideas so far! KEEP THEM

To answer quick Qs: the shelves are indeed half-depth at best. Both the depth and the height make it tough to reach today. The W/D are front-loaders on pedestals.
posted by hijinx at 8:25 AM on April 28, 2019

In a similar situation, my solution was to mount shelves along the side walls and add a spring-loaded curtain rod across the area above the washer and dryer for hanger storage and air-drying delicate items. You can also add under-shelf baskets to make the items you're storing over the washer and dryer more accessible to mere mortals.
posted by DrGail at 9:28 AM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

I keep bins of rarely used items in hard to reach places. Boxes of old tax files and documents, the cards from our wedding, etc. Push labelled bins to the back of a deeper shelf, and then useful front stuff can’t migrate to the back.

Important: a list of box contents in a nearby easy to see location, so you don’t forget what’s there. I have some cabinets with plastic doors in an awkward spot, so I wrote in the contents with whiteboard markers.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:02 AM on April 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would put up a cabinet, ideally 1/2 the width of the space, and mount a closet rod for hanging stuff that needs to air dry, or stuff out of the dryer. Cabinets meant to be under-counter, not upon the wall, will be deeper.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 AM on April 28, 2019

I have a shelf right above my washer and dryer that sticks out as far as they do. It holds three laundry baskets, which is how I sort clothes when I pull them from the dryer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:58 AM on April 28, 2019

That shelf is in exactly the wrong place, it seems. If it were higher, you could push the detergent bottles back and have fuller use of the areas on top of the appliances. If it were lower, you could put the detergent _on_ the shelf.

First, I'd check to see if putting a shelf right on top of the washer and dryer would be a bad idea for mechanical/heat reasons. Maybe check the manuals for the appliances, and also use your own common sense -- does it get hot there? Is there enough air flow?

Then, if you decide to add/move shelves (which is really what I'm suggesting), make sure that won't make it impossible to move or repair the appliances.

Ideally, if it wouldn't hurt anything, I'd put a big shelf about 1" above the washer and dryer. Then, you could put things on it without worrying they'd fall into the space around the appliances. As it is, I bet you lose socks or lids or things down there. A solid shelf would prevent that.

Then, I'd put a second shelf up, almost as big, high enough that you could store detergent bottles below it. Put stuff up there that you rarely use, like, I don't know, candles or Christmas lights (in boxes!) or vases or your dog's Elizabethan collar. Flat, wide stuff. Light bulbs? Those dolls your Mom made you take? The things that raise your car up so you can change your own tires? You know what I mean.

Get a tiny folding stepstool and keep it nearby. You can use it for those top shelves in the kitchen mainly, but also for this area. If you prefer, and if you have a ladder, don't buy the stool and just get the ladder out once a year when you need to get to this shelf.
posted by amtho at 11:23 AM on April 28, 2019

Also: That stuff on the top shelf needs to be in boxes -- maybe shoe boxes -- that are _labeled_ on the front, so you can find it even when it's really high up.
posted by amtho at 11:24 AM on April 28, 2019

Fantastic stuff, folks, thank you. I'll provide an update when things are settled.

Of note, the under-shelf bins are something I've seen all the time and it never dawned on me to just use them here! But, yes, the shelf is quite short. A longer shelf that is more reachable will almost certainly do the trick.
posted by hijinx at 6:01 AM on April 29, 2019

« Older spreadsheet data rearranging from columns to row...   |   Help me get my work survey on diversity right Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments