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A Beautiful Job
By Tracy Dickinson
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Rethinking the laundry room.

Rethinking the laundry room.

The laundry room has always been the workhorse of the home. The space is simply there to do a job. That it looks pretty isn’t a high priority.

But as lifestyles have grown more active, home designs have changed to reflect that, and builders and homeowners both have been rethinking the laundry room. More often, the laundry area is a part of the daily traffic pattern, and homeowners are looking for ways to make it efficient and attractive, too. We have some ideas for you.

Location, location, location

If you’re remodeling, you may have the opportunity to locate your laundry area in the most convenient space possible. That may not be by the back door, where so many new homes place it.

“As more homeowners remodel to stay in their homes longer, moving the laundry area closer to the main living space or master suite is popular,” says AIM Kitchen & Bath’s Corey Gersdorf. “We’ve done projects where we converted a large closet to include laundry facilities. And we did one where we turned an unused spare bedroom into a laundry and storage space.”

The key, say designers, is convenience.

“Placing the laundry area closer to bedrooms or master suites means we needn’t carry laundry as far to wash or put it away,” says Barb Hyde of Beisser.

Jill Lampe of Woodharbor says, “Having it close to where most activity in the house is happening means you don’t have to run down a hall or up or down stairs. You can also close the door on the room if it’s not tidy or you want to contain the noise of the machines while you’re in the nearby living area.”

“It’s great when you have a home design where you enter the mudroom/back entry, then have a door to the laundry, plus access to the master closet and bath,” says Moehl Millwork’s Tina Noel. “The flow is perfect for functionality and convenience for the homeowner.”

“As a designer, it’s important to do your due diligence and find out the homeowner’s needs and evaluate the space they have to work with,” says Gersdorf. “There’s no ideal location for the laundry area. It’s what is most functional for each family.”

A place for everything

No matter where it’s located, planning the laundry room well creates a more efficient space. The laundry area doesn’t have to be large to be functional. But even a spacious work area can feel too small if it’s poorly designed.

Gersdorf explains, “You don’t want too much cabinetry in a smaller space. That can make it feel closed off. But you need to plan functional storage for the way the homeowner will use the space.”

Stackable appliances, front-load units with countertops and cabinetry above, and vertical storage options all maximize the space without changing the footprint significantly.

“If there’s room, adding storage to hide laundry baskets and detergents out of sight not only organizes the room but makes it more attractive,” says Hyde. “Countertops for folding, sink cabinets, and space to hang or spread out wet clothes are all features that make a room more functional.”

Noel agrees. “It’s nice to add a hanging rod above the dryer so you can immediately hang up washed items and save wrinkles. A pull-down drying rack is also convenient for damp articles that can’t be placed in the dryer.”

“It’s important to have a place for everything,” says Lampe. “I can maximize your layout with cabinets. But I’ve had frank conversations about the best place to store pantry items, the cat box, or the athletic equipment. That might not be the laundry area.”

The right materials

Choose materials and finishes that suit the job. Durability, cleanability, and cost will all play into those decisions.

“Flooring, especially, should be resilient,” Gersdorf advises. “If your laundry room is also the back entry, you need something that offers easy cleanup and can handle the traffic as well as the wet and dirt and salt from shoes.”

Options such as vinyl tile, luxury vinyl plank (LVP), and even ceramic tile hold up well to daily activity and look beautiful, too. Wood and wood products, on the other hand, will scuff easily and damage sooner from water and salt.

“Durable, washable finishes, such as Thermofoil cabinets, are best-suited for laundry areas,” Hyde advises.

“We use everything from granite to Formica,” says Noel. “It just depends on the homeowner’s budget and preferences.”

“I like to use quartz countertops in laundry rooms because of the low maintenance and quality. And when it comes to cabinetry, it’s important to not just put in a basic cabinet. I like to make sure it functions the way a client needs it to and stores what a client needs stored. Things like drawers with lidded canisters or garbage drawers not only add functionality but help keep the space clean, too,” Lampe says.

True, the laundry room’s only real purpose is to provide a space to get the job done. But these days, that function could share space with any number of tasks—entryway storage, electronics charging station, master closet, pantry—so designing it is crucial.

Like your mom always said, the laundry won’t do itself. Making the laundry room functional, as well as attractive, will make the time you spend there more pleasant.


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