It’s dark and clammy. The air is so steamy you can hardly breathe. There’s unknown stuff in your path and hanging in your face. Strange noises are coming at you from all directions. Welcome to the average laundry room!
In the last few years, remodelers and home builders have finally gotten serious about bathrooms and kitchens and have risen to the challenge of creating practical kitchens and baths that are comfortable to be in and are pleasing to the eye. Now for the final frontier: the laundry room.
In the past, there weren’t many calls from homeowners looking for a reliable contractor to remodel a laundry room. Today homeowners increasingly mention they consider this to be a key part of the home. Homeowners usually remodel their laundry room as part of a larger project, but on occasion they take it on as a stand-alone project.
7 Key Solutions to Great Laundry Room Design
1. Easy Access
Based on discussion with numerous contractors across the country, the overall trend seems to be moving away from hiding the washer and dryer in the distant, dark depths of the basement. Most people now want direct access from the main activity areas of the house – certainly not to have trudge down many stairs to the basement. In fact, prospective homeowners often look for a home where the laundry is on the main level. A favorite location is either in or right off of the kitchen.
2. A Laundry Room with a View
The factor people are most enthusiastic about is a laundry area with an outside window – preferably overlooking a backyard play area. Some people put in a full size bay or bow window. The view seems to take a lot of the traditional drudgery out of doing the laundry, and this makes sense, as recent scientific evidence increasingly shows that light has an enormous impact on people’s moods.
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3. Good Task Lighting
Good lighting is important. Ever try to match socks in poor light? Many people prefer incandescent lighting, to minimize glare, but the most important element is that the lighting be uniform throughout the work area.
4. Easy Sorting System
Another useful design feature is the installation of sorting bins. One Bethesda couple has a series of standard plastic laundry baskets on a long shelf over the washer and dryer. Each basket is labeled: “hand wash,” “permanent press,” “whites,” “cold wash,” “colors,” etc. They even have bins for dry cleaning, clothes that need mending, and clothes to give to the local shelter.
5. Plenty of Folding Space
A good laundry room will also provide a wide, flat area for folding. A countertop surface in front of a window is ideal. The larger this folding area the better, and it should be away from the inevitable loose lint on top of the dryer.
6. Room to Hang
Plenty of hanging space is a must. With so many of today’s clothes requiring drip-drying, make sure the hanging rods are near the floor drain. Use plastic hangers as they don’t rust and they are not as inclined as wire hangers to get tangled.
7. The Comeback of Ironing
Finally, don’t neglect the ironing board. Ironing is making a comeback as the era of wash-and-wear gives way to the era of specialized fabrics and finishes. Many people like the kind of board that folds up into a panel in the wall. These fold-up units often have a light, an electrical outlet, and a space to keep the iron and supplies out of the way.
You’ve considered the need for good lighting (and, if you can, a wonderful window view), the need for easy access, folding areas, sorting bins, hanging space and space for your ironing board. So if you’re looking for a modest investment that can really make a difference in your weekly laundry routine, have another look at that jungle in your basement!
David Hollies is a remodeling industry educator and consultant. He is also the founder of Washington D.C.-based Home Connections, Inc.