How I Changed My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room to Fit My Family (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)

Do you love before-and-after photos and wish you, too, could live in the organized, renovated homes they depict in magazines?

Full disclosure: This isn’t one of those reveals. My pictures are much more… rustic.

But I’m willing to share them with you today because this blog is all about hope, faith, and love.

And I have to say, I get much more hope out of seeing lived-in and imperfect houses than I do from staged magazine photos of luxuries I’ll likely never afford.

My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room “Big Reveal”

If you’ve been following along with the “Help for Frustrated House Cleaners” series, then you already know I’ve learned a lot about my house, my family, and me while reading Mindy Starns Clark’s book The House That Cleans Itself: 8 Steps to Keep Your Home Twice as Neat in Half the Time.

I’ve used much of Mindy’s wisdom from her book to make the changes needed in my entrance, bathroom, and laundry room.

These rooms have been some of the most frustrating in my house, and I’m excited to show you how I’ve changed them to fit my family.

How I changed my entrance, bathroom, and laundry room to fit my family.

How I Reined in My Messy Entrance

Am I the only one who struggles with an unruly entrance? Seems like no matter how often I remind the kids to pick up their things, messiness continues to reign supreme. (Okay, okay. It’s not just the kids. I plunk my junk on the dresser when I walk in the door, too.)

I want my entrance to be tidy and inviting because it’s the first room that both my family and my guests experience when entering the house.

Mindy’s book gave me the courage to finally overhaul my entrance and deal with its constant frustrations.

Entrance Makeover Step #1: Pinpoint Problem Areas

With pen and paper in hand, I surveyed my entrance to pinpoint the problem areas that cause the most mess (and stress) in my entrance.

Here are my notes from that day:


Entrance makeover before photo

1. The shoe shelves look disheveled.


2. Reusable grocery bags are spilling out of their container in the open closet.


3. The rug is full of crumbs and dirt and grass.


entrance makeover before photo

4. There are shoes everywhere.


5. The telephone cord, which is strung from the closet to the dresser, looks unkempt.


6. The hooks on the wall are overloaded with seasonal jackets, sweaters, helmets, backpacks, a stray life jacket, etc.


7. Fingerprints and shoe scuffs and smudges are all over the walls, especially the wall across from the door.


8. The decorative shelf near the ceiling contains items that feel like clutter to me because the room is already full.


9. The dresser top is covered with personal items, things to return to friends, keys, sunglasses, etc.


Entrance Makeover Step #2: Brainstorm Solutions

After recognizing the problem areas, I brainstormed their root causes and came up with solutions. Here are three of them:

PROBLEM(S)ROOT CAUSE(S)SOLUTION(S)
Wall hooks are overloaded with seasonal and random items.Hooks aren’t designated to certain family members.

I don’t have a reminder system to store out-of-season items elsewhere.
Designate and label three hooks for each child.

Diarize a spring and fall reminder in my agenda to swap out seasonal clothes.

Designate a large bin for off-season clothes to be stored in the basement.
Reusable grocery bags are spilling out all over the closet.I’m storing the bags in a container that’s awkward to put bags into and far too small.Throw away ripped/threadbare bags to reduce how many I have.

Swap the storage container for one that’s large enough!
The rug is often crumby/dirty.My shop vac is too bulky/inconvenient for frequent clean-ups.Place a dirt-catching welcome mat outside the door.

Keep an extra broom in the entrance for quick sweeps of the carpet.

Entrance Makeover Step #3: Paint the Scuffs Away

One of the biggest reasons I’ve disliked my entrance in the past is because I didn’t choose the paint color. The walls were brown and beige when we moved in. And after years of use, they’re also hopelessly scuffed.

So, before I implemented the strategies I’d come up with, I painted.

And painted.

And painted.

It was worth the effort:  


How I Cleared Away My Bathroom Chaos

Do you have a room in the house that needs renovating, but you know that project won’t be in the budget for quite some time? For me, that room is our basement bathroom.

At the time of reading Mindy’s book, not only did the bathroom need a facelift, but it was also constantly strewn with dirty laundry, wet towels, garbage, etc. – a constant source of frustration. It was time to at least solve the problems that could be solved without renovating.

These are the solutions I came up with:

PROBLEM(S)ROOT CAUSE(S)SOLUTION(S)
The small counter is cluttered with extra soap, shaving supplies, hair gel, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact lenses, etc.We don’t have drawers or shelves to store these small items in.Create hanging stations (up and away method) to store personal items.
There are wet towels on the floor in front of the shower door.We don’t have hooks in the bathroom to dry foot towels.

The hooks in the laundry room are around the corner (too far away!).
Put nails in the wall behind the bathroom door where the family can hang wet, used towels to dry.
Dirty laundry is all over the floor.There’s only one, small laundry basket in the room.Place two laundry baskets under the sink. One for adults and one for kids.
The bathroom is often… um… filthy.Cleaning the basement bathroom feels like a huge, inconvenient chore.Create a cleaning station that holds everything I need to quickly (and hopefully frequently) clean the bathroom

Here are a few pictures of the changes I made.


SOLUTION: Create hanging stations (up and away method) to store personal items.


SOLUTION: Put nails in the wall behind the bathroom door where the family can hang wet, used towels to dry.


SOLUTION: Place two laundry baskets under the sink. One for adults and one for kids.


SOLUTION: Create a cleaning station that holds everything I need to quickly (and hopefully frequently) clean the bathroom


And one bonus picture…

Remember how you learned four weeks ago about making handy stations around your house to reduce mess?

My favourite main floor station is still the nose-blowing station in the kitchen. It worked so well that I put in another one in the basement bathroom.

Tissue boxes used to travel all over the basement, with a trail of used tissues following behind.

No longer!

Because there’s only one tissue box in the basement, and it’s fixed to the wall directly above the bathroom garbage.

It’s now extremely rare for me to find used tissue anywhere in the basement other than the bathroom garbage. Success!


How I Problem Solved My Laundry Room

Dirty laundry used to pile up on at the bottom of our basement steps and on the laundry room floor – wet towels mixing with dry, dirty clothes, forming a musty rot that sat there until the next laundry day. Ew.

With Mindy’s book in hand, I came up with the following solutions:

PROBLEM(S)ROOT CAUSE(S)SOLUTION(S)
There are often wet, musty towels and cleaning rags on the floor (which I step on!).We have no system for hanging towels and rags until they’re washed.Insert screws in the wall to hang wet towels and cleaning rags to dry.

Hang labeled baskets on the wall to store (dried) dirty towels until laundry day.
The laundry shelf is messy and badly utilized.The items on the shelf are not organized in a logical way.

There are strange items kept here, like an oversized canning pot.
Remove strange items and find a new home for them that’s logical.

Label where each laundry item belongs so the family knows how to put things away.
There are laundry baskets all willy-nilly on the floor.We don’t have a designated spot for baskets.

The baskets are all different shapes and sizes, so they don’t stack inside each other.
Buy several matching laundry baskets that stack inside each other.

Keep empty baskets only on the floor in front of the dryer or on top of the dryer.
There is a mountain of empty softener-salt bags piling beside the dryer.There’s no container in the laundry room to hold these bags.

No one bothers to bring the empty bags outside to the recycling bin.
Place an old laundry basket between the dryer and the softener. Place an extra-large garbage bag inside the laundry basket. Empty softener salt bags can be placed inside this garbage bag. Once it’s full, take it out and replace it with a new garbage bag.
The floor is always dusty/crumby.There’s no broom nearby for quick sweeping.Buy another broom and dustpan to keep in the laundry room.
It’s ugly.We have an unfinished basement with too many utilities squished into this one room, and we’re not going to renovate anytime soon.Ask God to change my vision of my laundry room, that it wouldn’t be a source of discontent but that I would see its function and that it is an example of his provision, rather than as an “ugly” space.

In a previous home, I was blessed with a main floor laundry room. It was tiled and painted and had tidy wire shelving above the washing machine where I stored cute baskets and laundry supplies.

Before I read Mindy’s book, I used to pine for my old laundry room.

But now I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and to work with it. My current laundry room (slash utility room) isn’t pretty. But it’s functional, tidy, and organized – and now stays that way.


SOLUTION: Insert screws in the wall to hang wet towels and cleaning rags to dry.

Hang labeled baskets on the wall to store (dried) dirty towels until laundry day.


SOLUTION: Remove strange items and find a new home for them that’s logical.

Label where each laundry item belongs so the family knows how to put things away.


SOLUTION: Place an old laundry basket between the dryer and the softener.


The end results:

Pretty? Maybe not.

Tidy? YES!


Let’s Be Real About Messes

Although I’m excited about the changes I’ve made, I’m also a realist. Most of the solutions I implemented worked well. A few didn’t last. But I believe the key to reducing house cleaning frustrations is: Do not give up.

When one solution doesn’t work, re-evaluate and try again.

For every solution that does work, your home will be that much cleaner – and it’ll stay that way!


Help for Frustrated House Cleaners

God cares about the whole you and every part of your life, even your house cleaning frustrations.

You and I are each a work in progress, and so are our homes.

“Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me.”

Philippians 3:13 ERV

I hope that over the last several weeks, you’ve found freedom to accept your home and your family for the blessings they are and that you’ve discovered new ways to help them fit together.

Why don’t we quickly pray before you continue on with your day?


A Frustrated House Cleaner’s Prayer

Dear Jesus, You never give up on us, never quit teaching and shaping us, never stop loving us. Thank you! It’s a relief to know that you’ll keep helping us grow in every area of our lives, even in finding solutions to stress messes, until one day you return and perfect us completely. Praise the Lord! We can’t wait to be whole and fully free in you one day. In the meantime, grace us with the strength to face the challenges of today, fill our homes with peace by your Holy Spirit, and show us how to love the Father, for he loved us first. Amen.


Your Takeaway Challenge

Option 1: Scan the problems and solutions listed in this article one more time.

Could any of these solutions increase the function and tidiness of an area in your home? If yes, implement one of them this week and see whether it fits your family.

Option 2: Be intentional this week to be thankful for the home you live in.

Whenever you spot an area in your house that causes you stress or frustration, thank God again for your house, and ask him to bless it with function and peace. Ask him to help you figure out a solution to the cause of your frustration. Then leave it in his hands and go about your day. If you diligently bring your frustrations to God, I believe an answer will arrive when you least expect it.


Encouraging Resources

Today’s blog post is the seventh article in an 8-week series written to offer you hope and help for your house cleaning frustrations. It’s an honest account of my journey through Mindy’s book.

Other articles in the “Help for Frustrated House Cleaners” series that may interest you are:

  1. Sweep Away the Lies You Believe (About Your Home)
  2. Outsmart Your Messy Zones
  3. Create Handy Stations
  4. Convert Chores into Family Fun
  5. Take Your House on a Prayer Walk
  6. Embrace Your Cleaning Personality
  7. 21 Practical Home and Family Management Hacks


Stay tuned for our final article in the “Help for Frustrated Cleaners” series next week. It’ll be packed with more encouragement from Mindy Starns Clark’s book, cleaning tips from other family-life blogs, and even a few of my own favourite cleaning hacks.

I hope that as you read this series, you’ll find hope and freedom for your own messy frustrations.

With love,

www.saralivingfree.com signature

3 thoughts on “How I Changed My Entrance, Bathroom, and Laundry Room to Fit My Family (Help for Frustrated House Cleaners)

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  1. Great job, Sara. I’ve been frustrated by my unfinished laundry/utility room as well. (It’s also used as storage for all my husband’s hunting and reloading stuff.) And it’s tiny! Or at least it feels that way. I know I need to do something. Throw out the garbage, at least. Reorganize the things that are mine to deal with. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

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