“What’s funny about laundry rooms is that we’re in them a lot, yet we approach these spaces as an afterthought,” designer AJ Margulis says.
It’s true. There’s no standard laundry room size, shape or layout. Often these utility spaces are created in awkward leftover areas after every other room in the home has been planned out. Or they’re banished to dark corners of basements and garages. And yet you’ve probably noticed you’re spending a lot of time in that confined area. Shouldn’t that space warrant extra attention?
This step-by-step workbook will help you think through your options and plan some ways to make your laundry room function better and look nicer.
Step 1: What Are You Hoping to Achieve?
Why have you decided to remodel your laundry room? And what’s important to you? The answers to these questions will inevitably affect your decisions and, above all, your budget. Are you simply after more function? Or are you hoping to make the space look nice too?
Do you plan on working with the space you have? Or are you relocating your laundry room to another part of your house? Buying new appliances and adding some paint or wallpaper is one thing; knocking down walls, rerouting plumbing and building an entirely new room is another.
Another question you should ask is, “Why now?” It’s good to think about why this is the right time to remodel or redecorate your laundry room. Is this a one-off project or part of a larger remodel? If you plan on eventually tackling a larger project, such as a kitchen or master bathroom, it could be more cost-effective to wait and do everything at once, when you’ll probably already have a contractor, tile installer and other professionals on site doing work.
“If you already have a painter coming in or a tiler for your kitchen, get a quote for other spaces too, like your laundry room,” says designer Kirsten Krason of House of Jade Interiors. “You can get a better deal if they are doing more work instead of coming back a year later and doing a separate room.”
How Do You Want the Space to Function?
Laundry rooms aren’t always just about washing and drying clothes. “People tend to store all kinds of things in their laundry rooms, from batteries to flashlights to dog food,” says designer Margaret Donaldson.
So while you’re planning, think about the other functions you want your laundry room to serve and make sure you create room for those things. Many people also make their laundry room function as mudrooms; storage rooms for vacuum cleaners, brooms and sports gear; butler pantries; command centers for organizing family calendars and mail; home offices; craft rooms; pet rooms; and more.
How Do You Do Laundry?
The way you wash, dry and fold clothes will dictate how your new space functions.
How often do you do laundry? Once a week or every day? If you have a large family with multiple hampers, maybe you want to set up a system of individual baskets that better organizes laundry for each member of your family.
Where do you fold clothes? Do you prefer to fold everything in the laundry room and then carry it to the bedrooms? If so, adequate counter space will be important. Maybe you want to consider a large island if your budget permits.
Or maybe you like folding clothes on the sofa so you can watch TV while you work. If that’s the case, maybe counters aren’t vital for you and you’d rather use the space for something else, such as more storage cabinets.
Also, if you like to hang up clothes right away, maybe you’ll want to make sure you get a hanging rod in your space. Have lots of delicates? Perhaps drying racks are in order. Do you iron often or prefer to use a steam setting on your appliances?
When do you do laundry? If it’s during the day, does your space have natural light? If not, could you consider adding a window? If you prefer to do laundry at night, maybe adequate artificial lighting is more important to you.
If you’re worried that your laundry habits might not be the most efficient way of doing things and you’re unsure of how you can make them better, it’s probably a good idea to bring a professional onboard for help. He or she can help you think through the way your space should function and even offer up solutions you might not have considered.
What Kind of Appliances Do You Want?
The selection of your appliances, or your existing appliances, will greatly affect other decisions for your space. For example, do you have or want side-by-side or stacked appliances? Stacked appliances can save space, but shorter people might need a step stool to reach the top controls.
Do you want or have front-loading or top-loading appliances? Front loaders give you the option of adding a countertop for folding and sorting, but some people say front loaders often don’t drain sufficiently, leading to mildew inside the machine. Designer Donaldson says that may be the case with older models but that many manufacturers have sorted out the issue with newer models.
If you go with top loaders and want folding space, you’ll need to figure out where you can install counters elsewhere in the room.
As for boldly colored appliances, make sure you’re absolutely in love with the hue and that you’ll be able to coordinate it with the rest of your decor. Bright-colored, hulking appliances may not be the thing you want to draw attention to. Designer Ryan Williams of Artisan Design Studio advises against colored appliances, in fact. “Neutral colors that sort of recede allow more eye-catching decor to draw the eye,” she says.
Once you have the basic function of your laundry room pinned down, it’s time to look at your budget again to see how you can make your space more comfortable and stylish. Use Houzz to create an ideabook of photos of laundry rooms you like.
Counter space for folding is perhaps the most popular special feature. If you’ve got front-loading machines, consider adding a countertop above them. Or if you’ve got the space and budget, consider a large island on which you can spread out all your laundry.
As for countertop material, stick with something durable, such as quartz. You want a material that can stand up to spilled detergents and bleach.
The second-most requested special feature is probably a deep sink for soaking or hand-washing delicates and a spray attachment for the faucet for doing spot treatments.
Here are a few additional features to consider:
Rod for hanging clothes
TV or radio
Rolling laundry carts
Fold-down ironing board
Drying rack for delicates
Additional storage closets