Your laundry room, while possibly dainty and a bit unorganized ends up being the command center for your home. This is where the true nitty gritty work happens. Although when it’s time to remodel, it’s likely one of the last rooms of the home that is thought of. It may just be in a corner of the basement, the dedicated room off of the garage or taking up a closet. No matter where your laundry room is located within your home, we’ve got some expert advice that you need to know about before taking on this remodel.
Location, Location, Location!
Many families are happy with a laundry room located in the basement, however this trend is more prominent in the East Coast than it is for our local Peoria, Arizona homeowners. For those that can spare the space, whether it was already a dedicated room or not, prefer to have the laundry closer to bedrooms or even the kitchen to minimize the distance between the washing machine and the bedroom/bathroom hampers. There are a few things to note though.
- Second Floor: Two story homes often have bedrooms on both floors or all bedrooms located on the top level of the home. Adding a washer and dryer upstairs may require additional insulation and sound proofing to cut down on the noise and vibration being on a second story, as well as adequate venting, so keep that in mind when determining your budget for the project. An experienced general contractor can go over these additional costs with you. A con worthy of noting when locating such amenities and plumbing lines on the second story is the possibility of malfunction. Should there be a water leak, it’s likely that it will not stay contained on the second level and has the possibility of damaging not only that story, but the first floor rooms as well.
- First Floor: Having your laundry room nearby to where other household chores are done is an added benefit, as many of the tools of the trade are stored in the laundry room. This could be mops and brooms, extra linens or cleaning supplies. Plumbing lines for a new laundry room can be ran off the kitchen, guest bathroom or plumbing lines that may be in the garage. On the down side, having your laundry room on the first floor increases the chance of your heaping laundry being seen by guests. Laundry overload can begin to creep into your hall or walkways, and even the entrance to your garage if in close proximity and not kept up on regularly. For two story homes this also means carrying hampers full of soiled laundry downstairs and laundered items back upstairs, which can be quite the work out.
The Importance of the Layout
The laundry room of the home is typically not one of great proportions when compared to other rooms and living areas. You don’t need a huge space to make a huge impact. With the help of your general contractor, you can create an efficient layout while keeping the necessities within close proximity. Naturally your appliances and supplies should be kept within one to two steps from each other anyways. A washer and dryer will fall into one of three layouts:
- Stacked – Most commonly chosen for apartments, condos or homes with smaller available space, a stacked washer/dryer combo is a space saving measure that is beneficial. For Phoenix homeowners incorporating universal design (or aging-in-place) design methods into their remodel, we recommend one of the other two appliance layouts though. A stacked unit can be quite difficult on those with limited mobility having to reach and lift heavy laundry between a higher and lower unit.
- Two-In-One Combo – Technology on the market does make a two-in-one appliance available for homeowners looking to save space. Thus far these units have been on the smaller side and are not recommended for larger loads, although that could change as it becomes more common in the marketplace. This option is great to utilize for a secondary laundry location such as located within an in-law quarters or butler area to do smaller loads less frequently.
- Side by Side – Walk into any home improvement store or appliance center and this is the layout that you are likely to see the most of. A washer located immediately next to a separate dryer. This layout option makes it easy to transfer laundry from one to the other. If aging-in-place design is important to you, be sure to ask about front loading machines with an assessable front control panel to eliminate having to reach down into a machine to take out clothes. Most front loaders on the market claim to clean better and operate more efficiently than top loaders anyway, so the additional cost may be worth considering either way depending on your budget.
Other items that you’ll want to be sure are stored neighboring your appliances can be detergents, stain removing products and clothing care items such as a sewing kit, iron and ironing board. These can be stored in open shelves, cabinetry or baskets next to the machines within reach.
If the room exists, we recommend integrating a work surface into your layout. Talk to your general contractor or designer about having a dedicated “work station” that can be used for sorting and folding clothes, soaking and treating garments. This can be accomplished with a fold-out or freestanding table, or a countertop located either next to your appliances or on top of the machines to save space when utilizing front load washer and dryer units. An added bonus to having a countertop over your front load units is that it prevents items from falling behind or between the washer and dryer.
Gas VS Electric
When remodeling on a budget, the existing connection in the laundry room will likely determine whether your new appliances will be gas or electric due to the cost involved to add new gas lines to a home that doesn’t already have them. For the fortunate homeowners that have both a gas hook up and a 240-volt electric outlet, you’ll want to weigh your options. When purchasing new appliances, electric do tend to run a bit cheaper. On the flip side though, over the life of the appliance it will cost less to operate a gas dryer than an electric one. The per load cost can be as much as $0.15 to $0.25 cheaper. Now that may not sound like much on a per load basis, but consider how many loads of laundry your family does in a single week then multiply out. On average, a household does approximately 300 loads per year, so the cost savings can add up quickly over time. Combine that with energy star and/or high-efficiency appliances to maximize your savings even further.
It’s important to note the dimensions of your space or dedicated room that you are remodeling to guarantee that your amenities will properly fit with the surrounding clearance they require. Don’t stop there though. You’ll want to make sure that if you are remodeling an existing room with new appliances that your new machines will also fit through the existing doorway and walkways or stairwells leading to the room. Otherwise, additional remodeling costs may be in the works if door casings having to be removed or wall damage repaired from too tight of quarters.
When building out a laundry room into another area of the home, you’ll want to talk to your general contractor about how to incorporate the proper ventilation needed for the space. Be sure to install a self-closing exhaust vent when running the vent-pipe to the exterior of your home in order to keep the outdoor air/heat from coming into your home when the dryer is not in use. If your new laundry space has any wet areas such as a pet-care station with a shower or open wash tub, you may want to consider putting in a bathroom style vent fan to keep moisture under control.
From floors to wall treatments and countertops, choosing your finish materials are important decisions that should not be taken lightly. The materials in your laundry room will need to be strong and hardworking to withstand water, chemicals, and soiled items that tend to get splashed and sprayed during your daily and weekly chores. For this reason, durability, should be priority over luxury. Next in line should be the ability to keep the material clean in such a high traffic and active area. Tiles that are difficult to clean or show dirt are not suggested. Let’s not forget about grout lines. Floor tile that requires thicker grout lines require more upkeep to prevent them from becoming dingy or stained.
Semi-gloss paint is the most popular sheen for walls, baseboard, and other woodwork in your laundry room due to it’s easy-to-clean properties. This will especially be important if wet areas are present that tend to splash.
When it comes to choosing a countertop, nonporous surfaces like Corian and man-made engineered stone are ideal. If you are on a limited budget for your remodel, laminate is a possibility but is not recommended for use around water or high moisture areas.
These key points should be taken into account before making any decisions. Once you decide on the right material for your space, you can then begin exploring color options to add a punch of color. Creating a cheery atmosphere with color will make doing your chores more desirable.
Adding multi-functional elements to your space can save you time in your daily or weekly routine. Here are a few items to keep in mind and speak with your remodeling professional about incorporating:
- Ironing Board – First you will want to consider how often you truly iron and the types of garments that you iron. A foldout ironing board located within the laundry room can be compact in size to save on space, which is ideal for quick jobs or for those that typically do not habitually iron their clothing. This type of set up can be tucked in a cabinet end or false drawer front keeping it hidden when not in use. Homeowners that utilize their ironing board on a regular basis may prefer a full sized board that can be hung out of the way on hooks or in a recessed niche to not take up any valuable space. This allows you to take the board out of the space to iron in another room if need be. If you are the type of person that likes to tote your laundry to the bedroom to watch your favorite television show while accomplishing your growing ironing pile, then this is the perfect solution for you.
- Hamper(s) or Sorting Baskets – Having at least one laundry basket or hamper located within your laundry room can help cut down on trips between the bedroom or bathroom and the laundry room. This can be a great place to store kids uniforms or soiled clothing from working out in the yard for your next laundry cycle saving you a hike across the house or upstairs. This can also serve as a place to store garments that need to be taken to the dry cleaners, table linens that need washing, bathroom or pool towels, and more.
- A Laundry Valet – This is a convenient place to hang delicates, hand washing items, dry cleaning, etc and can be incorporated into your upper cabinetry.
- Utility Sink – A wash sink is a wonderful feature to have in any laundry room for convenient pre-soaking, soaking and washing of delicate linens, hand washing, pet care, filling of buckets and more. Though a standard sized bathroom sink is handy, a larger deeper sink is more practical in this application. Square or rectangle shaped with curved corners for easy cleaning and in a depth of 10” or more are a few of our recommended specifications. Pair it with a pull-out spray faucet or gooseneck faucet for maximum clearance and versatility.
- Shower Stall – Adding a shower to your laundry room is not only beneficial for homeowners with pets, but those that need to rinse off muddy and soiled gear before entering the house, or for hanging clothes to drip dry over a drain without creating more of a mess.
- Television – It may sound like a splurge, however if you routinely spend long periods of time in the laundry room ironing, folding or working on other projects, a television can keep you entertained and engaged making doing your chores a breeze.
Though pendants and smaller chandeliers are trending and look elegant in the magazines, depending on the design of your room, there can be a more stylish alternative that works better in your room. With high shelving, cabinetry or even a drying rod for laundered items, a drop light of sorts could prove to be in the way more so than not. As in all home improvement projects, natural light is always preferred, although if unavailable low profile lights that mount to the ceiling are most commonly chosen. Task and under cabinet lighting are perfect for spotting stains and wrinkles while working on laundry or for doing other household tasks. Ask for energy efficient and cool to the touch lighting to prevent adding any unnecessary heat to the room.
Hopefully these tips and the guidance provided have got you thinking about your laundry room. No one wants a room in their home that can be described as dull, ordinary or uninviting. With the assistance of an experienced general contractor and design professional your laundry area can transform into one that is both stunning and multi-functional.
In the Phoenix and surrounding area, homeowners trust their remodel projects to our award-winning team at Todd Whittaker Drywall Inc. Despite the name, we have been in the industry remodeling and performing various home improvement projects since 1996. From small repairs or upgrades to full blown renovations, we pride ourselves in providing one-on-one attention and superior customer service to each homeowner. With the opportunity to earn your trust, we want to become your general contractor of choice for all your project needs. Located in Peoria, Arizona, we have a full-service design showroom where you can meet our on-staff design team and plan your entire remodel in one convenient location. You can also find us online at www.twdaz.com. While you are there, peek at our photo galleries for ideas on your next remodel, then request your free consultation to experience the TWD difference.