Even interior designer and Clare Collective ambassador Hema Persad has had to troubleshoot tough-to-design spots and spaces. Take her sister’s hallway and her own laundry room, for example. They were both relatively low-functioning, builder-grade spaces that, while they didn’t need a complete overhaul, just needed a little bit of love and color. Below, we’ve gathered five of Hema’s best small-space laundry ideas and more tips for maximizing square footage.
First, Focus on the Function
“Hallways and laundry rooms are often overlooked,” Hema points out. “But you can be adventurous because they’re not always glaring you in the face. They’re a unique design opportunity that frequently gets missed,” she says.
But before you start moodboarding the design project, you’ll want to ask yourself what functionally you need out of the space. Is your bookshelf overflowing with titles that need a second landing space? Do you need small-space laundry ideas that make your weekly chores easier and more pleasant? Do you want to hide often-used kids’ toys in plain sight?
In the hallway project at her sister’s home, Hema wanted to add function to a space that would otherwise be pretty useless. Her sister and family drink lots of tea and coffee, and since this nook is located on the second floor of the home—a staircase away from the kitchen—Hema conceptualized the idea of a handy beverage station.
Prioritize Smart Storage
Originally, Hema says that the hallway nook was “very white and builder-grade” and likely made to be a linen closet of sorts—although its layout didn’t feel very useful. Instead of storing linens, which they made space for in another area of the home, the family’s clear preference was to create a space to make coffee and tea. The station can also function as a bar cabinet, thanks to closed storage on the bottom for bottles and plenty of counter space for making cocktails.
As for her own laundry room, Hema pointed out that she needed a surface space for a drop zone. So she added a wood countertop above the machines, plus additional storage by way of baskets and built-in cabinetry and hooks on the wall to take advantage of the vertical space.
Lean Into the Light
One of the principles that guides Hema’s color decisions is designing according to the light in a space. Light, bright spaces with plenty of natural sun shine with whites, pastels, and pale neutrals. But Hema would encourage you not to fake the presence of light in spaces that don’t get much to begin with. Instead, she says, “if there’s no light, lean into it. I tend to like moody spaces, and a hallway with a photo wall and a tea station is a nice transitional area for a bold, moody color.” Hema also advocates for our peel-and-stick paint samples, which she suggests sitting with for a bit before making a color decision and taking note of how the color looks throughout different times of day and with different light sources.
The moody color in her sister’s hallway is Blackish, a hue that’s less intense than a true black but a bold statement nonetheless. “It’s about a feeling you want to create,” says Hema. So if you want a space to feel more intimate and cozy, go for a dark and moody color. Blackish has a neutral undertone to coordinate with basically everything, so patterns, bold colors and neutrals alike play well with this hue.
If you’re not yet ready to take the plunge into black, though, you can take inspo from her laundry room, where Hema went with light brown Dirty Chai. “It’s such a nice warm color with a tiny bit of pink and purple undertones,” she says. “If you’re scared to go dark, it’s a good one to start with since it’s a more feminine, warm color.”
Pick the Right FinishOnce you’ve identified what color best suits your little nook or room, you’ll need to decide what kind of finish to go with. We make it easy with the only two options you need: eggshell and semi-gloss.
“People tend to get hung up on paint finish,” says Hema, but she points out that it’s actually quite simple. “Flat paint is great but it’s not easy to clean and wipe,” she says. So for walls in high-traffic areas like hallways and laundry rooms, she recommends something with a bit of sheen, like eggshell. She acknowledges that “there is a trend toward high-gloss lacquer, but it shows every single flaw in the wall.” Moral of the story? Eggshell for the win.
Play Up the Drama With Pattern and Decor
No project is finished without the final touches of pattern, decor and plants, not even a tiny hallway nook or a utilitarian space, like a laundry room. Hema further accentuated the beverage station by cladding the back of the existing built-in shelves with a whimsical wallpaper, which also makes the space feel more custom and intentional. If you’re stuck on how to mix color and pattern, Hema says emphatically: “Samples, samples, samples!” Start by choosing one thing you really love first, whether it be a paint color or wallpaper. Then, Hema says you can pull hues from a wallpaper to choose a paint color, or vice versa.
“It’s always nice to have something unexpected that adds life like a plant, art or textiles—anything that makes a room feel less cold,” she says. Low-light plants like pothos or ZZ plants can still thrive in dim spaces, especially in spaces with appliances that feel more utilitarian. Lighting is also key. “This is an opportunity to add a fun light fixture instead of recessed lights,” Hema says, so “think about what makes you happy,” and go with that.