For years designer Sarah Stacey’s clients dried their clothes in the Panama sun. So when their jobs brought them back to the U.S., to Austin (he’s a professor at the University of Texas; she works for the CDC), they weren’t totally willing to give up their tried-and-true system for machine-only laundering. “They air-dry almost everything,” says Stacey. The couple tasked the pro with designing a space for them off their garage that met their specific needs. Cue the most clever laundry room drawers we’ve ever seen.

Stacey custom-designed an open cabinet that has a series of plastic-mesh panels inside for delicate items that shouldn’t hang vertically and definitely shouldn’t end up tumbling around in a hot metal box. You’re probably wondering: Isn’t this a recipe for mildew?  They thought of that, too. “The homeowners spent many sleepless nights worrying about mold accumulation,” says Stacey. Her solution: put a pan at the bottom of the cabinet that drains all the excess water to the exterior of the house. She also installed an exhaust fan along the back of the cupboard to get rid of any lingering moisture. This way the items can really breathe without getting damaged.  

Stacey practiced folding cashmere sweaters and other items that may lay on these panels to figure out how big they needed to be. She discovered that 24-by-24 inches hit the sweet spot—then she spaced each one 6 inches apart. The decision to make them plastic was easy: Metal would snag anything knitted and fabric wouldn’t last. As for cost, “It’s a little bit of an upgrade from a normal custom door or drawer design,” she explains. 

white mounted hanging racks
hampers in a cabinet

The space-saving ideas don’t stop there. Rather than a freestanding hanging rack, she mounted five floating ones from Leifheit ($27 each) on the wall. “You can use them all at once or, if you’re drying longer things like dresses, you can just pull out the highest ones,” says Stacey. 

With little room for a standard ironing board, the designer integrated Hafele’s Ironfix product into a drawer and, just below, added slide-out hampers using Rev-a-Shelf’s 20-inch-deep rack. “It’s just one less thing to look at,” she says. “Everything has a home.”

Photography by Avery Nicole

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