Renovation Solutions: Laundry made easier with redesign

Published: Friday, Sept. 13 2013 3:56 p.m. MDT

AFTER: If you don't want to dedicate an entire room to laundry, decorative hanging doors are a great way to multi-task the space allowing you to conceal the laundry portion of the "room" when you're using it for other functions.

Brent Murray

Does it seem like your laundry piles are more like mountains than molehills? Is getting family members to pitch in and do laundry harder than getting out grape juice stains?

If so, it doesn't necessarily mean that you or your family members are lazy. It might simply mean there's a problem with your laundry room design.

It's a fact that household facilities that cater to your family's lifestyle make it easier to keep your home clean and organized. A good laundry room design can help you get your laundry done more efficiently, saving time and energy for more pleasant and interesting things.

If you live in an older home, your laundry "room" probably consists of a washer, a dryer, and a small cabinet or two, possibly in the corner of an unfinished basement. In contrast, think of the convenience of a laundry room designed with a large utility sink, plenty of cabinets for storage, generous floor space for sorting dirty clothing, ample counter space for folding clothes, a built-in ironing board, cubbies or bins for each family member to organize their laundry, and even a TV or DVD player.

Your needs and lifestyle should drive your laundry room design. For example, do you do a "laundry marathon" once a week, or just one load a day? The more laundry you do at one time, the more floor space or clothes bins you'll need for sorting and the more counter space you'll need for folding and stacking.

If you typically do a lot of laundry at a time, you could cut your laundry time in half with a laundry room designed with two dryers to keep up with the shorter cycle of the washer. (If you're concerned about how all those appliances would fit in your laundry room, remember that today's front-loading washers make it possible to stack full-sized appliances.)

Another way to increase efficiency in doing the laundry is to ensure your laundry room design makes it easy for all household members to pitch in. We like a sign that hangs in the remodeled laundry room of one of our clients: "Equal opportunity laundry." Your laundry room can be designed so that family members can each be given a space for a cubby, basket, or bin in which their clothes are placed for them to fold and/or put away themselves.

A laundry room designed with a space for a small TV or DVD player will also make it easier to get family members to work in the room; no more excuses of wanting to watch a game or a favorite show — they can watch while they fold. A TV or DVD player will also keep family members entertained while they iron their own clothes. Speaking of ironing, a built-in ironing board that comes right out of the wall conserves storage space and saves the hassle of constantly setting up a board and taking it down.

Choose a location for your laundry room that will be the most convenient for your household. If you do the laundry yourself, you'll probably want the laundry room to be close to where you spend the most time in your home (usually the main floor). If you want the whole family to participate, it is best to have the laundry room situated near the majority of the family bedrooms.

In planning the laundry room redesign, remember the laundry room doesn’t have to be just for cleaning the clothes. That large folding area can also double as a gift-wrapping station, a school project zone or a craft area.

One of the most common functions paired with a laundry room is the mudroom. Of course, for the laundry room to work as a mudroom, it has to be located on the main level adjacent to an outside door. If the laundry room is in a central location on the main floor, it can multi-task as a family planning hub. Install white boards or chalkboards to write messages, grocery lists or the family schedule.

If you are fortunate to have a large laundry room, its practical finishes can comfortably accommodate other functions beyond a mudroom. With practical flooring, available counter space, lots of storage and possibly a sink, it can double as a craft room for the children. Adding a computer creates a designated space for a small home office. Such an arrangement changed one of our client’s lives for the better. She is a stay-at-home mom and said she now spends a lot of time in her laundry room working on her projects, paying bills and organizing her family.

People multi-task their laundry rooms as sewing rooms, craft rooms, scrapbooking rooms or reading rooms. Imagine sitting down with your book or working on your latest craft during the spin cycle. Make sure you include a comfortable chair or bench if you are using this space for other activities besides laundry.

We can't promise that your clothes will be cleaner, but we can say that a good laundry room design that is well-placed in your home will make doing the laundry much more efficient and yes, even enjoyable.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com

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