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December 16, 2019

Can We Make Laundry Less Dreadful?

It’s hard to get excited over a laundry room. We can pretend all we want, but at the end of the day, they are just not as sexy as a sleek kitchen or spa-like master bath. Often, they are dark, hot and noisy. For many of us, it’s our most dreaded chore. When guests come over, do you say, “Hey, check out my sweet, stylish laundry room.” I sure don’t!

But how many times a week do your buyers go into their laundry rooms? Once a week on laundry day? If your household is capable of pulling that off, I envy you. Twice a week and only on the weekends? The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that men and women spend, on average, 17 minutes per day doing laundry – coming only behind food and drink preparation (37 minutes) and interior cleaning (29 minutes) for household activities.

Should we be putting more thought into our laundry rooms? Unlike the master bath, the laundry room will likely never be described as “spa-like”. But perhaps we can make it a better functioning, more cheerful space. Let’s go over the essentials in these high-use spaces.

Fabric Care

In addition to the washer and dryer, there are other key functions that a laundry room should serve:

  • Laundry tub or sink
  • Wrinkle Reduction
  • Laundry basket
  • Folding zone

Laundry Tub/sink

My previous house had a laundry tub, ideally for pre-soaking or hand washing dirty clothes. In reality, it was my family’s original “drop zone”, and since it was always full of junk, we opted not to have one in my current house. That’s just me – many buyers actually have it together and use their tubs effectively. In many cases, a sink is a more elegant solution.

Wrinkle Reduction

Since I don’t iron (seriously – I don’t own an ironing board), I rely heavily on wet hanging. At minimum, there should be 6′ of hanging. Ideally, you would have one lower 3′ rod and a 6′ upper rod. The more the merrier, both short and long hanging complete with a fan to speed drying. Too bad I didn’t think about a ceiling fan in that room. Next time!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m an anomaly when it comes to ironing. Ironing boards take up a lot of room when you consider the room needed around it. Fold down ones are nice because they get out of the way, but it limits ironing to just one place. Perhaps this is best though – my best friend’s mom used to iron in the family room while watching soap operas.

Laundry Basket

How about a laundry basket to hold items waiting to be washed? Sure, each occupant has their own laundry basket – but what about sheets, dish towels, bath towels, etc. Shouldn’t there be an “on-deck-circle” for the load that’s up next – other than the floor?

Folding Zone

An area for folding clothes is often a luxury in many laundry rooms, which are often squeezed to hit a certain square footage target. This was the case in my previous house, which created the habit of clothes being folded in the family room which watching sports. Ideally, you want at least 5′ of counter-space – enough to easily fold towels.

When working with limited square footage, a countertop above front loaded appliances allows a space for folding.

Beyond the Clothing

In today’s households, laundry rooms are used for more than just laundry.

  • Pet care
  • Storage

Pet Invasion

Whether it’s fashion, cars, hotels, or even boats, industries across the board have caught onto the fact that consumers are happy to spoil their pets like never before. The housing industry is no different. Look around Houzz or walk a new model, and you’ll see that pets have taken over many laundry rooms with pet beds, pet food, dog baths, and cat litter boxes.

The problem? Fur, dander, cat litter, food, water… EVERYWHERE – including on your freshly clean clothes!  Perhaps for easier cleanup, a central-vac dustpan can be a huge help.


Then there’s the storage. It starts with where you store your laundry detergent and dryer sheets. Certainly, wire shelves are sufficient for these supplies. But unless you color coordinate your laundry detergents; the open shelves make the room feel cluttered and messy. Cabinets are more elegant. We made our cabinets over the washer and dryer 18” deep so I could reach them over the appliances. Then the next thing you notice is the intrusion of other cleaning supplies like carpet shampoo, furniture polish, floor cleaners, brooms, mops, dust cloths. Gradually, more stuff get keeps finding its way there.

While laundry rooms might not be sexy, they are one of the most important rooms in the home. If we have the opportunity to make these chore rooms a little less institutional, shouldn’t we? I hope you will give these rooms a second thought as design and spec out this neglected room.

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters