Hide dirty laundry in style

Civilize your living space with functional, fashionable clothes hampers



When we were young, “laundry hamper” might have referred to the floor under the bed. A little later, it may have meant a mesh sack kept by the front door, with a pouch full of quarters for the laundromat.

But we are grown-ups now. An attractive receptacle for the day’s castoffs is one of the small civilized gifts we give ourselves. It’s generally a modest investment that banishes the chaos, and brings in the calm that is the hallmark of a well-kept home.

For contemporary bath or bedroom suites, consider Bed, Bath & Beyond’s sophisticated black faux leather hamper with removable basket, or West Elm’s sleek white lacquered cylindrical hamper. ($79.99 at www.bedbathandbeyond.com and $99 at www.westelm.com.)

If you’ve got a luxe bath, you may want to outfit with the Blomus Slice stainless steel hamper, with a sharp black lid; the Vipp receptacle in black or white enamel; or Zack Quadro’s Drumpolish, a shiny cylinder that could probably double as an end table. (Blomus, $193.04; Vipp, $599; Zack Quadro, $241.80 at www.everythingmodern.com)

Hampton Bay has a beautiful tilt-door double hamper that’s really a piece of furniture; it would work as a vanity as well, and comes in white or hazel wood finish. ($209 at www.homedecorators.com)

A nice willow hamper from Seville has a hinged lid, and comes in white or natural. ($39.99 at www.bedbathandbeyond.com)

Seville also makes a professional-looking three-bag rack on a sturdy metal frame, complete with telescoping hanging rack and locking wheels. ($59.99 at www.sevilleclassics.com)

Ikea has the Lillangen tall-boy cabinet with portholes for laundry, perfect for a tight narrow space. The Fyllen basket in fire-engine red turns laundry gathering into a colorful exercise. (Lillangen, $119-$134; Fyllen, $7.99 at www.ikea.com)

For the nursery, Southern California designer Nina Selby has a sweet aqua-and-lemon-striped hamper for her Cotton Tale label. ($54.95 at www.justforbabies.net)

Redmon’s Stars and Moon vinyl hamper in white, pink or blue is charming. ($29.99 at www.everythingmodern.com)

Trend Lab’s Chibi Zoo hamper has a cute, friendly, zoo-animal print in a trendy blue, green and brown color combo. ($40 at www.babybeddingzone.com)

Jo Jo Designs has several baby-friendly cotton prints for their nursery hamper, including a graphic circle motif, an animal print, a brown and pink damask, and a sweet blue-toned argyle. ($44.99 at www.bedbathstore.com) Or choose Jo Jo’s chic black and ivory French toile hamper, suitable for both the baby’s room and the boudoir. ($37.99 at www.babybeddingzone)

Organize the laundry room

Quick tips for organizing a laundry room:

o Corral all-weather gear: Hats, gloves, sunglasses and scarves usually end up all over the house or shoved in the coat closet. Use organizer Julie Morgenstern’s method to get organized:

First identify what’s important and group similar items, she says. Then purge any glove missing its partner. Assign by corralling all your cold- and warm-weather essentials and containerizing with labeled baskets for each member of the family. Store these where your family normally takes them off after coming indoors.

o Contain your cleaning supplies: Store cleaning supplies in a carry-all caddy. The caddy is ideal for wire shelves because it prevents bottles from tipping over.

o Create a pet zone: A pet zone can free up space and make you aware of how much you pamper your pet, which might mean you have to cut back. Things to put in the space: a bed or crate; a peg rack for leashes and collars; and food dishes on a nonskid carpet or in an elevated dish.

o Go vertical to dry clothes: Install a retractable clothesline or buy an inexpensive freestanding drying rack to reclaim some much-needed space in the laundry room. Imagine: Counter space that’s actually used to fold clothes.

o Presort dirty clothes in hampers: Cut down on laundry time with an organized method for pre-sorting clothes. If space is available, add three laundry hampers for whites, lights and darks. When a hamper gets full, it’s time to run the wash. To keep the system going, have each family member take responsibility for bringing their clothes to the laundry room.

o Create a laundry room lost and found: More than socks go missing in the laundry room each year. Add a mug or basket near the washer to contain items found in pockets. For those elusive socks, keep another basket handy for strays. Reunite all items with their owners each week.

–Home and Garden Television