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A Clean Start
By Tracy Dickinson
KITCHENS & BATHS October/November 2017
home :: home & garden :: kitchen & bath

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Today’s laundry room is as individual as its owner.

Today’s laundry room is as individual as its owner.

When it comes to laundry, no one ever longs for the good old days. The era of hand- washing everything, of hanging clothes to dry, of ironing for hours—those days are gone.

But, alas, the laundry never ends.

Fortunately, today’s laundry area is nothing like the dimly lit basement room with its concrete floors and rickety drying rack. These days the laundry room is as individual as the homeowner it serves.

Setting

“Location has changed through the years,” says Beisser Lumber’s Nancy Ruzicka. “Fifty years ago it was the basement. Then it moved up to the main floor. Lately laundry rooms are often seen incorporated with the master suite. There is no typical.”

Sarah Young of Sunderland Brothers adds, “Older couples often prefer master-suite laundry areas. But young families like laundries central to the bedrooms, sometimes even one upstairs and one downstairs.”

New home designs vary, allowing homeowners to choose the best layout for their needs. AIM Kitchen and Bath’s Corey Gersdorf says, “In a lot of new home design you will see the laundry room off the mudroom.”

Many homeowners prefer the convenience of the combination back-entry mudroom/laundry room because it allows most of the messiness of life to stay contained in one room.

“Many laundry areas are combined with the back entry and mudroom because you can come home dirty, walk into the mudroom, and take off the dirty clothes before tracking through the rest of the house,” Tina Noel of Moehl Millwork says.

Beisser’s Rob Walker explains, “Some people like the laundry room on the main floor near the kitchen, where they will be working all day, so it’s easier to move loads. But others like it near the bedrooms because most laundry is from the bedroom and needs to return there.”

Design

Whether it’s in a new home or a remodel, the ideal laundry room benefits from a good design. The expertise of a design professional can be the difference between a usable space and a truly functional room.

Young explains, “People don’t want to feel like laundry is so much of a task we all hate to do. They want it to be an extension of their home, to have products that match the kitchen and woods in the house, and to create a space for everything.”

For example, Ruzicka says, in a laundry room laminate cabinetry can be a good choice because of its easy maintenance and lower cost. “Laminate is nice in a laundry area,” she says. “And any smoother door style is a good choice because it doesn’t have grooves for collecting lint and dust.”

Gersdorf says designing around the homeowner’s particular needs is important, but including basic necessities matters, too. “Having some functional storage for things like laundry soap and dryer sheets is a must,” he explains. “And basic features such as closet rods and countertops make it easier to hang and fold clothes as they come out of the washer or dryer.”

Walker agrees. “Every laundry room should have a hanging rack for wet clothes.”

Ruzicka says, “Folding space and some hanging racks are necessities. And making sure the dryer doors are hinged correctly for loading wet clothes from the washer to the dryer can dramatically improve the functionality of the space.”

Young says, “Folding space, hanging space, and a sink are absolute necessities. Also nice is hard-surface flooring in case the washer floods or to make it easier to clean up drippy clothes and dust bunnies.”

“Storage for laundry hampers, a folding counter, a sink to soak stained clothes, even a drop zone for charging phones and storing purses, wallets, and keys can be included in a well-designed laundry area,” says Noel.

Bonus Features

A well-designed laundry area can certainly be a more pleasant space to complete a less than pleasant chore. But it’s possible to create a room that’s actually a joy to use.

Walker explains it this way: “Don’t think of it as a space for a washer and dryer. Think of it as ‘what do I need to store inside or utilize this space for.’”

This perspective opens up the design to more than just laundry.

“I’ve done a few laundry rooms that also included an area for crafting,” says Ruzicka. “In a few cases, there have also been a toilet and other appliances, such as a freezer.”

Young also adds, “It’s always nice to include lots of cabinet and organization space. Backsplash and decorative tile and hardware can really dress up the area.”

Features such as dog showers, wall-mounted ironing boards, televisions, even a desk area are appropriate for the laundry area as well.

Ruzicka says, “I’ve worked on homes that have more than one laundry room, one for the kids and one for the adults. Also, sometimes the husband will have a separate laundry room off the garage.”

“If it’s part of the mudroom, things like lockers and benches for seating can be fun additions,” Noel says.

As with any other area of the home, designing the right laundry room has as much to do with asking the right questions as it does with finding the right products (see “Questions to Ask”).

The best equipment in the world has not eliminated the need for doing laundry on a regular basis. It still has to be done. If you have an unpleasant task to complete, the best way to get it done is to start. And the best way to start is with a well-designed room.


Questions to Ask

If you’re designing the perfect laundry room, here are a few questions to ask as you plan:

  • Will the noise of running appliances be a concern?
  • Will locating the laundry area close to the kitchen interfere with entertaining?
  • Will locating the laundry near bedrooms make it difficult for people to sleep?
  • Will the laundry facilities need to share space with a mudroom, craft area, or butler’s pantry?
  • Will you need room for a sink or a counter to fold your clothes?
  • Is there room for separate appliances or will you need to design for stacking units?
  • Which will you find more convenient—having the laundry facilities close to living space or having the laundry facilities close to the bedrooms?
  • Will carrying laundry up and down stairs be a concern?
  • Will guests be using the mudroom entry?
  • Will the laundry room need to include space for sorting and storing dirty laundry until laundry day?
  • Are there other tasks that can be accomplished in this same space—bill paying, crafting, storage, pet care?

 

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