New cabinets and updated appliances made this typical utility closet stylish and out of sight.

By Amy Bickers Mercer
A Laundry Surprise
New cabinets and updated appliances made this typical utility closet stylish and out of sight.
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling: Lisa Powell Bailey

Louvered doors in the kitchen might as well be painted with a big red arrow and a sign reading: Ugly washer and dryer covered with mounds of laundry inside! Visitors, beware of falling underwear!

Or is that just my house?

There's something about the laundry closet that attracts embarrassing mess. That's why I love what Brad and Shannon Smith did in their Marietta, Georgia, home. They turned their utility closet into a built-in piece of furniture that looks good and works hard. Local cabinetmaker Mike Welborn sketched a drawing based on the couple's wants and the measurements of the existing space.

The end result does a masterful job of hiding large appliances. Upper cabinets hold detergent and supplies. On the bottom, bifold doors access the machines. Molding between the units and on the bottom of the cabinet is separate and can be easily removed in case the machines need repair.

Domestic Dreams
I know I'm getting old because my fantasies regularly consist of owning a front-loading washing machine and dryer. These appliances use 67% less electricity and 68% less water than typical washers and dryers. That saves about 17,000 gallons of water a year in one household or, in financial terms, between $120-$150.

The machines also hold larger loads, and it takes less time to dry each load, meaning you might not have to spend the entire weekend doing laundry.

Now, who doesn't think that's the stuff of household daydreams?

Cabinetmaker was Mike Welborn, Welborn Construction, Marietta, Georgia, (770) 587-3874; for washer/dryer information visit

This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.