For many, the laundry room is little more than a place to get stuff done — and then get out.
Seattle home organizer Kammie Lisenby is even more to the point: “It’s the place where we all dread to go.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Lisenby, the CEO of Organizing Experts, suggests starting by asking yourself, “How do I make this a place I want to be?” Look at your laundry room from an operational standpoint, with the goal of improving the organization and flow.
“When redesigning a laundry room, focus on the efficiency of the layout as a top priority,” says Brittney Heiser, an interior designer and owner of Heiser Designs, in Bellevue. A laundry room designed to transition smoothly from space to space — from washer and dryer to folding counter to sink — saves time and energy.
What about those of us looking to consolidate these steps from various rooms (wash here, iron there, fold and hang someplace else) into a single space? Lisenby says some practical steps could include a fold-down ironing board, or a heat-resistant mat that allows you to iron on top of a washer or dryer. Some drying racks can pop down from walls or the back of a door.
Making it all fit
Stacking washer-and-dryer setups are the best for maximizing your space, says April Bettinger, owner of Nip Tuck Remodeling, in Monroe. Replacing side-by-side appliances can clear the way for the addition of a linen closet, sink, hanging rack or a storage system with drawers.
If you do have a side-by-side washer-dryer combo, consider adding cabinetry above the machines, Bettinger says. Appliance-depth cabinets can include rollout trays to increase accessibility.
Lisenby says some of her higher-end clients are adding a steam closet that steams wrinkles out of clothing. These closets cost around $1,000 per unit, she says, but the appliance can be a significant timesaver for busy professionals.
For those who live in a condominium or apartment, a laundry “room” can be as small as a stackable washer-dryer set within a closet, says Paula McHugh, owner of Belltown Design, in Seattle. Smaller, European-style appliances by manufacturers such as Bosch can be a good fit for ultratight spaces, she says.
For clients with even the tiniest laundry rooms, McHugh tries to add cabinets with closing doors for storing laundry-related items (detergents, stain treatments, dryer accouterments) and controlling clutter.
If a laundry room is just too small and the home has the right floor plan, some owners choose to “steal” space from the garage. If it’s possible, Bettinger says, bumping out a wall 3 to 5 feet into the garage can make a big difference for design options in the laundry room.
For those with a laundry room in the basement — a common location for many homes in Seattle — McHugh suggests relocating it to the main floor for increased convenience. For example, you could tuck a washer-dryer combo into a main-floor bathroom.
There are many ways to make a laundry space more efficient. Bettinger especially likes the Dryerbox, a niche built into the wall that contains the dryer vent, allowing the dryer to be flush with the wall without bending or crushing the exhaust hose.
“Such a small item makes a huge impact on flow in a laundry room,” Bettinger says.
A multipurpose space
Regardless of its size, your laundry room can be more than a stark, utilitarian space. By adding stylish flooring or wallpaper, Lisenby says, “it becomes more of a hidden gem in the home.”
Color and lighting can also cheer up a laundry room. McHugh recommends adding a coat of paint in a shade of yellow; her favorites are Farrow and Ball’s Dorset Cream and Benjamin Moore’s Wheatfield.
It’s not uncommon for a laundry room to pull double duty. It can serve as a space for pantry overflow after stocking up Costco, Lisenby says, or for pet needs such as litter boxes, dog crates and washing or feeding stations.
Bettinger remodeled a dark and dreary laundry room located next to one client’s garage into a home office/multipurpose space with built-in cabinetry, quartz countertops, tall windows and a patterned tile floor.
For one of her clients, Heiser transformed the laundry area of a dark basement into a bright, welcoming space by adding lights and utilizing farmhouse design touches. She created storage space by installing cabinets and a walk-in pantry, increased the counter space, and even worked in a dedicated cat-box cabinet — which is both discreet and practical, she says.
On the other hand, the pros agree that it’s important to avoid going overboard. For Lisenby, extreme steps such as decanting your laundry soap or detergent pods into fancy glass jars is a step too far.
“All systems need to be simple, to be organized,” she says. “But the jars need to stop.”