There are many things to consider when planning your ideal laundry area, from choosing the right materials and storage to creating a practical layout. So where do you start? And how can you be sure the layout and design will meet your needs? Here are some tips for designing a laundry that delivers.
Make Your Countertops Deep Enough
The biggest mistake people make with their laundries is specifying countertops that are too narrow. As a result, their undercounter washing machine and dryer stick out, which makes the laundry look messy and unsightly.
A minimum countertop depth of 26 inches, ensures that most appliances can fit neatly underneath.
Opt for Closed Overhead Cupboards Not Open Shelves
Most of the items you store in a laundry room, such as cleaning products, are ones that you’d want to conceal rather than leave out on display. As such, it makes sense to have more closed cupboards than open shelves in a laundry.
Include plenty of overhead cupboards, as this is generally where you’ll store most items, plus a decent-size tall cabinet to accommodate awkward items such as mops, brooms and the ironing board.
To add interest to a laundry design, you may wish to include some open shelving for display — but it’s best to keep it small so it doesn’t compromise your overall laundry storage requirements.
Choose Tough Materials
With the potential for chemicals and hot irons in a laundry, you’ll want to choose a countertop material that’s resilient and durable. Engineered stone is one such material.
You’ll want to choose hardy materials for the cabinets — they should be extremely hard-wearing and able to withstand moisture and steam.
It’s always a good idea to tile the base of your cabinets, as tiles cope better with steam and moisture when you’re mopping or steam cleaning the floor.
Opt for Compact Fixtures
Plenty of counter space and storage are musts in a laundry — and particularly if the room is small. To maximize counter space and storage in a tiny laundry, choose a compact laundry sink, which will be smaller in length and width than a standard-size sink but deeper than average, so you have a decent sink capacity.
Measure Exactly What You Need to Store
When specifying cabinetry, think about your specific storage requirements. For example, do you need to store cleaning and washing detergents, or long and awkward items such as mops and brooms? Do you want somewhere to keep pet items, space for hampers or laundry baskets?
Having a clear idea about what you need to store will ensure that your specific needs are catered to in the design.
Consider the Location of Your Laundry Carefully
When thinking about your laundry layout and positioning, don’t forget to factor in any access requirements. For example, do you want access via an external door so you can easily get to an outdoor clothesline? Will you be storing kitchen appliances in the laundry and need direct access to the kitchen?
You should also consider any additional storage requirements. Will the laundry double as a mudroom, for example, and if so, do you need somewhere to store soiled shoes and clothing?
Do You Need Space for Folded or Hanging Items?
Will you do the ironing in the laundry room and need space for an ironing board? Do you want somewhere flat to place ironed and folded garments, or a rail to hang them on?
If space is tight and you iron regularly, consider a fold-up ironing board that you can pack away when not in use.
Choose the Right Door Style
A hinged door is generally the most cost-effective style. However, it’s not always suitable, especially in a small laundry where it can take up considerable space.
In a compact laundry area, consider a sliding door or a bifold style that takes up minimal space when open.
Don’t Forget Power Outlets
When planning your laundry area, consider which appliances you’ll use, make sure you have enough power outlets and ensure they’re positioned in the right spots. In addition to power outlets for the washer and dryer, consider ones you might need for countertop appliances or an ironing station.
Choose the Most Practical Washer-Dryer Setup
Stacked front-loading washer-dryers are a good space-saving option for smaller laundry areas. But be aware that not all washers and dryers can be stacked — some are too heavy and will need to be installed under a counter. This is something to consider if you’re in the market for new appliances.
A side-by-side washer and dryer setup that fits under a countertop has the advantage of giving you more counter space. However, this arrangement might take up too much room in a small laundry or apartment.
If you prefer top-loading machines, bear in mind that you’ll need sufficient overhead space so the lids can be opened.
Wall-hung appliances can only be wall hung if they’re designed for this purpose, and they may also require additional brackets to attach them to the wall. You’ll also need to check that the wall behind your washer or dryer is strong enough to accommodate the appliances.
Consider Future Needs
Since a washing machine isn’t something you buy often, it’s important to consider your future needs when selecting the capacity. Will your family grow in the coming years and will you require a bigger machine down the road? A larger-capacity machine also has the advantage of allowing you to run bigger and fewer loads, which can save time.
If you’re buying a washing machine with a capacity that’s larger than your current needs, it’s a good idea to seek out a model with auto-sensing, which will automatically adjust the amount of water and cycle length to suit the load size to conserve energy.
Energy efficiency isn’t the only important consideration when choosing a new dryer — you’ll also want to know if it requires ventilation.
Heat-pump dryers are the most efficient style and don’t need venting, making them suitable for apartments or laundry areas in the middle of the home.
Condenser dryers are fairly energy-efficient and likewise don’t require venting. However, they do produce a small amount of moisture when running, so they can’t be installed inside a cupboard to create a hidden laundry.
Traditional vented dryers are less energy-efficient. They also need to be installed in a well-ventilated laundry or ducted outside. If they aren’t, mold can develop on your laundry room walls.