Sometimes, laundry seems to go on forever. No sooner have you folded the last T-shirt from one load then you’re faced with a hamper full of more dreary duds…and the cycle begins again. To help you plan and outfit an effective utility space that looks just as finished as any other room in your house, we spoke to Toronto-based design build contractor Ramsin Khachi. “It takes a lot of planning to make necessary spaces like the laundry room work well and look good,” he says. “Start the process by thinking carefully about how you’ll actually use the room.” Once you have a basic idea of your wants and needs, take Khachi’s tips for creating the perfect laundry room.
01/ Get organized
The design of the room will depend on the nature and size of the space and the activities that will take place there. If you have a dedicated laundry room, you may be able to include storage, surfaces for folding, even an ironing board. But if you’ll be retrofitting a closet or co-opting a corner of the kitchen, you’ll have to think more carefully about every inch of limited space. Don’t forget doors—swing-out or pocket allow easiest access—so you can shield the area from view when convenient. And, remember to choose design elements based on both durabiity and beauty. Cambria counters, for example, will give your laundry room a classic, finished look—as well as easy upkeep for years to come.
02/ Set priorities
Make a wish list, with each item ranked by importance—and be flexible. “For example,” says Khachi, “an open ironing board takes up a lot of space that could be better employed by a cabinet to store your supplies. If space is tight, think about moving the ironing board into an adjacent space, like a hallway, when you need to use it.”
03/ Establish zones
Think in terms of task zones, allowing for a “staging” area, where baskets of dirty laundry will wait to be washed, or clean laundry to be put away; a washing area; and a folding area. “Thinking about zones is especially important when the laundry will be inside another space, like a mudroom,” says Khachi. “You don’t want boot storage to overlap with clean clothes.”
04/ Think vertical
If your washer and dryer will be installed side by side, not stacked, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of the vertical wall space above the units. Traditional wall cabinets are one good option—they provide neat-looking closed storage—or, hang open shelves, a less-expensive choice that also makes it easy to grab supplies when you need to.
05/ Go horizontal
If you have room for a small storage unit beside the washer and dryer, the extra drawers are ideal for utility items, like flashlights and batteries. A finished countertop for folding and storing baskets of clothes makes the most of your space, even if you’re working with a tight area, like a closet.
06/ Choose the right sink
“Don’t limit yourself to the typical plastic laundry tub,” says Khachi. “If it’s in your budget, splurge on a really attractive, but durable sink.” Stainless steel or enameled cast iron in an undermount with a natural stone countertop, like Cambria, will give you a space that’s beautiful and easy to wipe down. And consider choosing a pull-out faucet with a sprayer hose, so you can wash suds out of the basin.
07/ Leak Guard
“No matter where your washer is, consider installing an automatic shut-off valve like the IntelliFlow,” says Khachi. “The device senses leaks whether the machine is on or unattended, cutting in-flow—helping you avoid an expensive mess.” Visit watts.com for more information.
08/ Add a closet
“It’s a great feature if you like to shop in bulk—you can store all those paper towels in the closet—and of course it’s a good place to keep your laundry supplies,” says Khachi. Can’t build a closet? Consider installing a pantry cabinet.
09/ Be surface-smart
In the laundry room, you have to consider the effects both of moisture and harsh chemicals. “You don’t want to use any material that can’t stand up to heavy use,” says Khachi. “Cambria is ideal for countertops because it’s non-porous and durable. I like to run it partway up the wall for a seamless backsplash, too.”
10/ Pick durable flooring
Tile might seem like an obvious choice for laundry room floors, but Khachi isn’t a fan. “This room gets wet and dirty, and grout is notoriously easy to stain. Instead of tile, I prefer to use a seamless, water-resistant material, like linoleum. It’s much easier to keep clean.”
11/ Remember the walls
For vertical surfaces that are likely to get bumped and splashed, think about durability and easy maintenance. Ceramic tile is a good option, or sealed bead-board paneling—or a coat of scrubbable semi-gloss paint.
12/ Keep connected
Be sure to include plenty of outlets for charging devices and plugging in small appliances, especially if the laundry is part of a larger space such as the kitchen or mudroom.
13/ Choosing Appliances
Washers and dryers have come a long way since the ones your grandmother used. Today’s washing machines are so smart they not only sense how much laundry you’ve just piled in, but how dirty it is, and how much detergent to self-dispense. Dryers can handle everything from sneakers to cashmere sweaters, and even help prevent wrinkles. To figure out which high-tech machine to buy, first decide whether you need a side-by-side pair or a stacking unit. If you have room for a side-by-side combo, consider a front-loading washer. “Front loaders are great because they’re really gentle on the clothes inside and they save water,” says Khachi. “Polish off the look with a Cambria countertop—like BRENTWOOD™ (shown at left)—a great-looking addition that’s also convenient for folding.” And, have your electrician recess the outlets for the machines, which usually have bulky plugs. “That way, they can sit flush against the wall, taking up less floor space,” he says.
14/ Light it right
“You can’t treat stains if you can’t see them,” says Khachi. “So good lighting is essential.” For the best effect, install both ambient lighting, like recessed ceiling fixtures, and task lighting—either under-cabinet strips or directed illumination from a lamp or focused wall or ceiling fixture.
15/ Hang it up
A drying rod that drips into a sink or a floor drain can be a handy addition if you like to wash delicates by hand. A wall-mounted ironing board cabinet will keep this essential accessible but out of the way.