Often a neglected room when it comes to home makeovers, the laundry room has come into its own as a hub for organization, clean-up, storage, and doing the laundry, of course. Whether your laundry room is located in your basement, next to the kitchen or squeezed into an upstairs closet, here are some thrifty and efficient tips to consider when updating your laundry area.
Location, Location, Location
You're likely to find the washer and dryer hook-ups in the basement of older homes. While downstairs laundry rooms work just fine, many homeowners who can spare the space and expense of moving their laundry area prefer a main level laundry room closer to bedrooms or their kitchen. Here are the pros and cons:
- Ease of access - less distance that you have to carry hampers full of dirty clothes.
- If you're placing your new laundry space near a bathroom, it's likely you can tap into existing plumbing lines.
- You'll be near other areas of your home that require the most housekeeping.
- The noise and vibration of a main floor washer and dryer can be a nuisance to some homeowners. You'll need extra insulation and a motion-arresting pad to minimize sounds.
- Potential leaks can also do lots of damage to first floors
- If you're placing your washer and dryer in a closet, you'll need to purchase a vented door and account for additional space around stacked machines to dissipate dryer heat.
- If you place your laundry area in a heavy foot traffic area, you'll need to stay organized if you want to keep dirty laundry out of sight.
Creating an Efficient Layout
While extra space is a nice commodity, it's not required to make your laundry room efficient. Try to keep these elements of your laundry room within a few steps of each other:
- Stack appliances or put them side by side to make transferring wet clothes from washer to dryer a breeze.
- Keep laundry detergent, stain fighters, clothing-care items, etc. in closed cabinets, open shelving or cubbies near your machines.
- Remember to leave enough room in front of your machines to place a basket when transferring loads. This Old House suggests leaving 48" of open space in front of machines to place baskets without blocking foot traffic, if possible.
- A counter over front-load machines or a freestanding table next to stacked or top-loading machines so you have a place to pre-treat, sort, and fold.
Picking the Best Machines for Your Space
If you're looking to upgrade your washer and dryer units, many professionals argue the case for a front-load machine. They'll cost you approximately $150-$300 more, but front-loading washers tend to clean clothes better and more efficiently, consume less energy, and give you more design and space flexibility. With front-load machines, you can stack them to conserve floor space, put a counter over them for folding, or raise them on pedestals for extra storage and easier access.
If you haven't noticed, the theme with creating an efficient laundry room is to correctly utilize space. Use these space-saving tips to create an optimal workspace:
- Consider a drop-down ironing board, which stows away in a recessed or wall-mount cabinet. Just make sure you configure its placement with electrical outlets.
- Place a hanging rod for hang-dry clothing above your machines, so you can do away with a fold-out drying rack.
- Consider open shelves and cubbies for storage so you don't have to configure closed cabinet door clearances.
- If you're opting out of built-in clothes bins, find a space underneath your countertop for a roll-away laundry hamper.
The Best Materials for Laundry Room Renovating
Plastic, standard-issue plastic laundry tubs lack under-sink storage, stain easily and can be a bit of an eyesore. If you're updating your sink area, opt for a 10-12 inch deep square or rectangular stainless steel sink with curved corners for easy cleaning. Pair it was a gooseneck faucet for an optimal setup when washing delicates and hands, pre-treating or filling mop buckets.
Your laundry room sees a lot of wear and tear from cleaning chemicals, detergents and water constantly being splashed and sprayed, so pick materials that are durable and affordable. Glue-down linoleum, cork, and vinyl floors are good moisture-resistant options with less upkeep than wood and ceramic tiling.
Just like your flooring, the material you choose to cover walls needs to be durable. If you're just planning to paint, use semi gloss paint so you can easily wipe away messes. Beadboard paneling and ceramic tiling are also durable choices that also give great character.
A non-porous solid surface is best for laundry room countertops. Your best economically-savvy bets will be Corian, engineered stone, or laminate.
Interested in financing home renovations? Download our free Rehab and Construction Guide for information about how you can combine your home loan or home purchase with the financing of home renovations.