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.
Nary a day goes by when I don’t see someone or another photographing their aesthetically pleasing drying rack and uploading it to Instagram. It’s a thing, I promise. And while I won’t delve into the semi-problematic nature of too much romanticizing of domestic labor, I will say that I get it. (E.B. White got it, too.) There is something nice about seeing clean laundry hanging to dry. And Instagrammers hardly invented the subject. Search any great museum’s art collection and you’ll find laundry—painted, photographed, and otherwise recorded for posterity.
In our tiny apartment, I can tell you that the lived-in reality is less romantic than the photos. Between drying diaper covers and drying spit-up covered bibs and drying tiny rash guards post romp through the splash pad, there’s a lot of wet laundry to be dealt with. Without an outdoor spot to string a line, our little laundry rack gets an awful lot of use.
Our rack is perfectly serviceable but it’s not anything special. In fact, it’s probably the definition of not special: It’s thin and stapled together in places and the plastic-coated rods have started to bend and warp under the weight of drying clothes. I can’t tell you where it was made, or by whom. I’m hazarding the guess that I bought it at a local hardware store, but I can’t even recall the moment of purchase. What matters is that it’s skinny enough to slide into the closet when it’s not in use and it hasn’t broken yet.
But if you you’re on the hunt for a laundry drying solution, there’s no shortage of options for small apartments or otherwise. There are many-armed hanging contraptions for keeping above bath tubs, there are accordion racks, and pulley racks, and wall-mounted racks. Particulars of space will dictate what works best where, but some of them are really quite lovely. Dare I say, you might even want to photograph them.
Here are a few ideas for folks not looking to invest in a rack, and a few ideas for folks who are:
Non-rack drying racks:
In a small space, or anywhere, not hauling out the whole drying rack can be a laudable goal. When we only have a small diaper cover or two to dry, we rely on a hanger to stand in for the whole rack. We keep a single hanger on the closet rod above our hamper, but a hanger on a shower rod never hurt anyone either. (Just a friendly reminder that shower rods are notoriously a little grimy, so double check yours before you swing your favorite white dress atop the rod itself.) If you need to hang multiple small things to dry, a few clothespins suspended from the bottom of a hanger will work wonders without you needing to invest in a dedicated contraption of questionable aesthetic merit.
For moments when you have more to dry than a simple washcloth or rag, more options:
+ If you cannot abide by the thought of crafting your own hanger contraption but you have only limited drying needs, a streamlined alternative could be a wall-mounted towel rack. One like this Iris Hantverk three-prong rack could, for instance, hang discreetly on a small wall (or above a tub as a reader recently mentioned doing in her space). (Also available in a five-prong size.) If you’re willing to do a little hunting, vintage ones, like this beauty, also abound. Scour the internet and yard sales and ye shall receive.
+ These racks are all little more hefty than would fit easily into most truly tiny spaces, but if you have a little more space, Amish-made, solid-wood drying racks from Lehman’s are some of the best folding drying racks out there and they come in a variety of sizes. My parents have a big one that we always manage to fill up when we’re visiting.
+ If you have a bare wall for it, a larger wall-mounted dryer might also come in handy. This steel and wood one has a surprisingly slim profile and manages to look both rustic and modern. Alternately, this Dryp Clothes Drying Rack from Skagerak isn’t wall mounted, but it can be folded in half or leaned against a wall to gain a bit of height (and to take up a little less floor space).
+ Where wall and floor space is limited, but vertical space is abundant, a ceiling-mounted rack on a pulley is still another option. The Sheila Maid is a classic British drying rack that’s been in production for more than a hundred years. Colors and size options abound. Alternately, there’s this all-wooden hanging clothes dryer with a similar shape that comes in a range of sizes and ships worldwide from England. For a rack with a more modern edge, this George and Willy hanging drying rack comes in white and black.
+ Finally, the accordion style wooden drying racks are some of my personal favorites, but for some reason they’re nearly impossible to find stateside. If you’re across the pond, I really love this leather-hinged wooden clothes horse from Aerende Shop. The larger Wooden Clothes Horse from DeVol is another beauty (and their hanging laundry maid is worth at least a gander, too).
What about you guys? A favorite drying rack or drying solution you’re itching to share?