My 1930s Inspired Vintage Laundry Closet

Type “vintage laundry room” into any search engine and you’ll get a sea of white/muted pastel farmhouse inspired laundry spaces. Which made finding inspiration for the moody, masculine leaning, 1930s, art deco laundry nook I had floating around in my head a bit of a challenge.

The Before

If you’ve been following along with our home renovation, you’ll know that when we bought our 1928 craftsman bungalow in 2019, there were two rooms I just couldn’t stand and immediately tore apart the moment we moved in: the kitchen and the downstairs guest bathroom/laundry closet. All of which had been renovated in the early 2000s and just no longer matched the feeling or look of a home that was built in 1928.

The kitchen we tackled right way in early 2020, and you can check that renovation here. The guest bathroom we completed in 2021, you can see that process here. But the laundry nook sat forgotten until the summer of 2022 when we finally decided to give her the upgrade she deserved.

Here’s a couple of before shots to give you an idea what we were working with in here when we bought the house.

Phase One: Demo & Construction

This was a big project that required a lot of work, so we decided to tackle it in two phases. Phase One we completed during our renovation of the guest bathroom.

Here’s a summary of the work we did in the space during that initial phase:

  • Removed the existing cracked and broken floor tile.
  • Laid down new black mini-hex floor penny tiles.
  • Grouted floor with a black grout.
  • Replaced the existing bi-fold closet doors with a set of antique pocket doors I found for an incredible deal on Facebook marketplace. ($75 FOR THE PAIR!!! What?)
  • Had Joe move the electrical and ductwork hook ups for the dryer. (We wanted to put a stacked unit on one side of the space, rather than having them bookend the closet).
  • Patched & painted the walls with a quick coat of white paint to freshen up the space.
  • Built custom open shelving and storage space on the side of the closet opposite the stacked units.
  • Installed a remnant piece of butcher block countertop we had left over from our kitchen renovation.

By the end of Phase One, this is what the new design/layout for the laundry nook looked like, minus the antique pocket doors and the old washer dryer unit which were removed before I snapped these pictures with my cell phone.

Phase Two: Design, Decorate & Reassess The Space

After living with the space as it was at the completion of phase one for over a year, we knew there were a few pain points we wanted to address moving into phase two. The big three being: a more functional laundry tower (the one that had come with the house was too tall as a stacked unit), closing off the storage areas to keep any mess hidden away, and updating the wall so it would better withstand the food and water constantly splashed onto it by the dog bowls that now lived in this space.

Of course there was the decor and design to consider as well. Because when you create a guest bathroom as glamorous as the one this laundry nook lived in, you have some big design shoes to live up to, not to mention a very specific time period you need to keep in mind.

Choosing A 1930s Inspired Paint Color

While my home isn’t known for its colorful spaces, (What can I say, I like neutral walls ok?) I knew I wanted to go bold in this laundry nook. (The white just felt too clinical in here.) My goal being to use historically accurate color to help enhance the feeling of this space being more original to a home built in 1928.

Since the guest bathroom already featured tiny pops of a mossy green hue, I set off to look at some historic paint samples for inspiration and happened to stumble upon this vintage paint color chart from the 1930s.

My eye was instantly drawn to #1, #8 and #36, (Light Green, Sea Green, and Bronze Green). Initially I had my heart set on Sea Green, but quickly came to realize the hue didn’t work how I wanted it to in the space and that I was going to need something a bit more yellow leaning for this project.

After going around in circles for weeks sampling every green paint color under the sun and creating my own custom blends, I finally found the perfect custom green at Benjamin Moore based off their shade “Timson Green” that gave me the exact shade I had been searching for.

548 4x QT
S1 10.78
W1 8
Y2 2×15

*Note: Due to the amount of yellow in this formula you will need AT LEAST 3-4 coats of paint.

Creating A 1930s Inspired Art Deco Tiled Wall

Next we needed to tackle updating this wall so it could better hold up to being constantly splashed with food and water from the dog bowls that had found their home in this space.

We had already used white subway tile in our kitchen, I so I loved the idea of echoing that tile again in this space. However, I wanted to have a bit of fun with it in here. That’s when I had the idea of trying to echo the design from the ceiling of the guest bathroom onto the tiled wall of the laundry nook.

To do so I wrapped black tiles up onto the wall for three rows, then added a row of white subway tile, then a thin line of black “jolly” tiles, then white subway tile up about a third of the wall, capped off on top with a row of white “jolly” tiles, and a row of black “jolly” tiles on the bottom as quarter round.

For a cleaner look, I opted to place black grout between the black tiles and then use a light grey grout between the white tiles.

Sewing A DIY Inverted Pinch Pleat Skirt For Under The Counter

The next phase of this project was hiding all the junk we stored in this closet better since the doors to this space are left open more than they are ever closed off.

While we had decided to add custom cabinet doors to the the wall shelving, I wanted to again inject a bit of 1930s charm into this space with a classic skirted cabinet. Something that was very popular at the time.

These are incredibly easy to do using simple curtain clips, a length of cloth and an inside mount curtain rod.

You can also get fancy with it like I did and sew your own inverse pinch pleated curtain. For this project I followed my friend Erin’s tutorial, switching out the normal pinch pleats she shows you for what are called “inverted pinch pleats”. A style I thought reminded me of suiting darts, which I played up by utilizing a classic grey pinstripe fabric in upholstery velvet I found on clearance at my local JoAnns Fabrics. Since this fabric was so bulky I also chose to use bias tape to finish off the raw edges.

Crafting Custom Inset Cabinet Doors

After crafting the pleated skirt for under the counter, it was time to tackle the custom cabinet doors. Which, to be honest, we were putting off because we’d never done any woodworking like this before and had no idea what we were doing. I wanted to take the easy route but Joe decided we were going to do things properly building the shaker doors with traditional panels, stiles and rails using no nails or screws.

And while we had no idea how to do that, YouTube is amazing and we found the best tutorial here that uses just a table saw and no other fancy tools except a little wood glue, a rubber mallet and a strap clamp.

After the doors were assembled I sanded, primed, sanded, and painted them to match the walls!

Final Decor Touches

The Art: If you follow me on Instagram you may recognize this giant art sketch because I made it! After discovering this GIANT vintage frame at a thrift store for $25 I was inspired to create my own oversized artwork to go in it. After playing with several different ideas I finally landed on this multimedia design inspired by caricature of jazz musician Benny Goodman.

I used a projector to cast the original artwork onto a wall and trace the main elements to the size I wanted them on my paper. Then I painted my design using a black gouache paint and created seperate painted/sewn/fabric applique elements for the bow-tie and clarient.

The Storage Jars: While these may look vintage, they are in fact an extremely simple IKEA hack that I’ll be sharing the process for in an upcoming blog post!

The After

This beautiful new laundry nook couldn’t have been completed at a better time either, since it looks like we’ll be doing a lot more laundry come May of 2023 as we welcome a new little member to our home. SURPRISE!

I am IN LOVE with how this space turned out in the end! It has exactly the vintage charm I wanted and truly feels like it could be a space that was original to our 1928 bungalow!

Have questions about anything we did? Leave a comment below and I’ll try and answer them!

The Sources

While most of the decor in this room is thrifted or purchased from local antique shops, I’ll link what I can for you!

ItemBrand / DetailsLink
Floor TileFestival: Black Small Hex Polished PorcelainLINK
Floor Tile GroutMapei: FlexColor CQ Grout (Black)LINK
White Subway TileDaltile: Restore 3 in. x 6 in. Ceramic Bright White Subway TileLINK
White Jolly TileDaltile: Restore Bright White 1/2 in. x 12 in. Glazed Ceramic Wall Jolly Trim TileLINK
Black Subway TileCanvas: Raven II Polished Ceramic TileLINK
Black Jolly TileDaltile: Restore Black 1/2 in. x 12 in. Glazed Ceramic Wall Jolly Trim TileLINK
Black Wall Tile GroutMapei: Keracolor Unsanded – BLACKLINK
White Wall Tile GroutMapei: Keracolor Unsanded – FROSTLINK
Butcher BlockLumber Liquidators: American WalnutLINK
Paint ColorBenjamin Moore Custom Color (See Above)
Laundry Wash/Dry TowerLG Electronics: WashTower – Black SteelLINK
Inside Mount Curtain RodRejuvenation: Custom Inside-Mount Cafe SetLINK
Cafe Curtain Squeeze ClipsI thrifted my set of curtain clips, but here is a link to the same style on AmazonLINK
Pleated Skirt FabricJoann: Suite Grey White PinstripeLINK
Pleated Skirt Bias TapeWrights: Single Fold Bias TapeLINK
Glass Storage JarsIkea: 112 oz sizeLINK
Clear Laundry PodsDropps: Sensitive Skin & Baby Detergent Unscented
I’m obsessed with this brand and this link will get you 30% off your 1st order!
Wool Laundry Dryer BallsSmart Sheep: WhiteLINK
CandleRanger Station: Tobac + Musk Candle
This is my favorite candle. I love the warm musky scent!
LampMine is thrifted but etsy usually has some similar ones!LINK
Small Brass CalendarMine is again thrifted but Ebay is a great source for similar ones!LINK

This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase any of the items above using the links I provided I, as the author of this list, will receive a very very small commission from the sale. This commission will in no way change the price you pay for an item, but is a great way to help support me and this site.

3 thoughts on “My 1930s Inspired Vintage Laundry Closet

  1. Love love love every detail! The curtain and brass rings steal the show. Love how the backside is as pretty as the side you see. The mark of a thoughtful seamstress!

  2. The room turned out lovely. Congrats on your new arrival, as you welcome poopy diapers, sleepless nights, and more love than you ever thought was possible. — Wyetha

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