Simple Stuff: A new series devoted to talking about the stuff that might prove useful or helpful or otherwise necessary while making a home in a small apartment or anywhere. Its aim is to provide a bit of inspiration for simplifying your space sustainably and stylishly. Its contention is that what’s useful can be beautiful, and that you might already have everything you need.
For me, one of the most interesting revelations of living in small spaces deals with precisely the conundrum that something as mundane as a laundry hamper presents. When you head off to sleep and eat your dinner and entertain your guests all within spitting distance (and plain view) of your laundry hamper, suddenly you find yourself invested in what it looks like. Apply this same scenario to most everything in your small home and you’ve got yourself a lot of thinking to do before buying anything new.
Lately, James and I have been spending inordinate amounts of time thinking about laundry, which is admittedly something of a bore. Does everyone have clean underwear? Are we out of burp cloths again? (Silas!) How many napkins can one family dirty in the span of a week? Where’s my only well-fittting bra? At the very bottom of the hamper, no doubt.
For the last five years or so, we’ve been using a lidded cloth hamper, but with the addition of a fourth extremely spit-up prone member of our family, the hamper started to literally burst at the seams. So began our search for something larger but still sufficiently svelte for a small space.
The good news is that while there’s an abundance of collapsible mesh hampers out there, there are simple, not-so-ugly options that work well in small spaces, too. In case you’re also spending too much time pondering the perfect laundry solution, here’s what we found to work for us:
As with everything, specifics of laundry sorting and storing come down to preferences and facilities. In our family, a large hamper keeps our dirties contained until we bag them up to get hauled to the laundromat. Space constraints mean we need something narrow enough to fit in the space next to James’s dresser. It’s a spot that’s only half-hidden by a sheer curtain and so I wanted our hamper to be something that I don’t mind seeing first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I also wanted our solution to be one that felt like it would be workable in another space whenever the time comes for us to leave our current apartment behind. Unable to find a satisfactorily simple lidded option, I eschewed that criteria, and focused instead on finding a hamper that was slim, washable, and in my humble opinion, pleasant to look at.
Ultimately we opted for the Steele Canvas Small Bag Caddie made in Massachusetts. Designed for use on a factory floor, the sturdy caddy comes with a large canvas bag that stays in place with the help of tension and comes off easily for sorting and hauling. (Since we’re hauling laundry up and down four flights, for now we’ve decided to keep our canvas bag in place on the caddy and continue to use the cloth laundry bags we already own for the actual journey to the laundromat. We might eventually opt to buy a second bag from Steele Canvas if that proves more useful.) To cut down on laundry-day sorting, we keep a smaller canvas bag looped around the top and hanging into the main bag. Anything that needs to be hung dry goes directly in there, everything else goes into the main bag.
+ For folks hoping to streamline their sorting even more, I love the idea of these Uashmama Laundry Bags (made from washable paper!). They’re sturdy enough to stand up on their own and can be purchased separately or as a set and attached one to the next to create a tidy package.
+ For folks who are even shorter on space (and hopefully also shorter on laundry), I’m also a proponent of simply using a large heavy-duty canvas tote for laundry wrangling. I’ve been using this Tall Natural Canvas Tote from Steele Canvas to house the various RMTL-related stuff that comes in and out of our apartment, but it’s large enough that it could work as a terrific hamper in its own right. (If you want to go the full custom route, classic L.L.Bean totes are still made in Maine and you can pick all of your own colors (or lack thereof).)
+ For folks who already have a hamper, thankyouverymuch, but who might be looking for an alternative to the laundromat-issued nylon bag and an upgrade from the inexpensive cotton bags that we use (I’ve repaired small holes in them twice, for what it’s worth), these linen laundry bags from RMTL sponsor Son de Flor look lovely.
What about you? Favorite simple hamper solutions? (Insert pun about airing dirty laundry here.)