Laundry rooms are an integral part of every home. People spend hours in them every week as they wash, dry, iron and fold.
Yet this room often tends to be cramped and uninviting — a place of work and drudgery. Here are some tips to make your laundry work space both functional and inviting.
If you have a large laundry room, side-by-side washer and dryers are the cheapest and most convenient way to go. Dana Fish, co-owner of Appliance Depot, is an advocate of side-by-side washers and dryers. "When you are buying a quality appliance, you want them to last you for a number of years. One thing to think about is that there may be changes in your physical capabilities. Some of the stackable models put the controls out of reach, which makes it difficult for older people"¦," she says.
However, if your laundry room is the size of a shoebox, over-under (stackable) washers and dryers can be just the space-saving appliance you need. Jana Tepper, part of the residential design team at Brian J. Hawkins architectural firm, says, "Using an over-under allows you to have extra counter space for folding clothes. Also, with most stackable models, you can still have room for an upper cabinet," she adds.
Cabinets are a must for storing all your laundering necessities: laundry soap, dryer sheets, starch, and stain-remover. "Cabinets are also good for tucking away laundry — so you can fold it at a later date," says Fish. The best place to put cabinets is directly above your washer and dryer. "Putting cabinets above your washer and dryer frees up space for other things you might need," says Tepper.
Every laundry room needs a space for folding clothes. Dragging clean clothes to the kitchen table or bedroom to fold can make the rest of your house appear unkempt. Built-in tables or open counter space with above sorting bins are the easiest way to achieve the necessary space. For smaller areas, Tepper suggests doubling your utility sink as counter space, "If you have a utility sink you can get a cover for it. The covers, which fold over the sink, are hard and sturdy. So if you don't have a lot of counter space, you can cover the sink and use it as a folding area." (Check with your manufacturer for sink covers that fit appropriately.)
Utility sinks are a nice addition to any laundry room. "A utility sink is a good thing to have if your clothes contain a lot of sand or other debris that you don't want to put through the dryer," Fish says. Utility sinks are also useful for hand-washing your delicate items.
Not all clothes can go through the dryer. Hanging racks, small enough to adorn any laundry room, are a crucial addition for hanging wet clothes that must be air-dried. They can be attached behind doors, above counter space, or inside the door of a floor-to-ceiling cabinet.
Ironing boards can also be stowed away from view. Many designers are now putting in built-in ironing boards that either fold down from the wall, or pull out in a drawer. Tepper prefers the ironing boards that roll out in drawers. "When you pull them out they are counter height," she says. "And you can add a wire rack to hold your hot iron," she adds.
For two-story homes, laundry chutes are a convenient way to get dirty laundry to the right room. Fish also suggests adding a dumbwaiter, if possible. "Some people find dumbwaiters very helpful for pulling up folded clothes so they don't have to climb stairs."
Whether your laundry room is large or small, whether it has all of the bells and whistles or just the bare necessities, be sure to make the space your own. Add a window so that you can watch your children play in the backyard while you work. Put a piece of your favorite artwork above your folding space. Make a small corner your craft haven. With these personal touches, a little organization, and a few space-saving techniques, you can enjoy your laundry work space.