Who said the laundry room had to be all work and no play? (Probably someone who never spent an hour matching kids’ socks.) Folding shirts feels like less of a chore when you do it in a stylish, inspired space. Make a splash in your new home’s most utilitarian room by building it in three stages, spelled out by pro designers.
Stage 1: Build Out the Basics
Start off by getting the room’s most essential elements in place.
Color is key to making a laundry room feel anti-dungeon, so start there. “Paint it a bright color like aqua or purple,” suggests Leah Gomberg, owner of Sweet Life By Design, an interior design/home staging company in Maplewood, New Jersey. A cheery shade will lighten the room’s mood, especially if it’s in the basement, she says, “and make it a happy place.” For a first-floor laundry room, go bright, or stick with the color of the adjacent room so it feels connected to the rest of the house and not a separate entity.
Take advantage of the presence of a moving crew and install a new washer and dryer on moving day. When you shop, don’t just base your choice on what’s pretty (red! stainless!); think about what’s practical. “Choose the style that works best for your room size,” says Angie Gardeck, owner of New Perspective Design in Algonquin, Illinois. Front loaders, the most popular style, take up less space than side-by-side models since they’re stackable; side-by-sides, however, give you counter space for folding clothes.
Then, pick up one of the hardest workers in the laundry room: a plastic laundry basket, which is indispensible for transporting clothes to and from other parts of your home. Get one with a curved design that nestles your hip to make carrying a week’s worth of towels a lot easier.
Other forget-me-nots: shelves or a rolling cart for storing detergents, dryer sheets, and other cleaning necessities; hangers and clothespins; a plastic wash basin to soak hand-washables in and, in lieu of counter space, a table for folding laundry.
Stage 2: Add Embellishments
Layer in a little something extra.
Built-in cabinets that hide cleaning and laundry products (we’re looking at you, big orange detergent bottle!) instantly de-clutter and add elegance to a laundry room. This is still a workspace, so skip the glass-fronts and hang cabinets that are solid and sturdy. (Gardeck loves a rustic-industrial feel for this space: Think reclaimed wood cabinets with nickel or wrought iron hardware.) Top off cabinetry with a granite countertop made from a remnant.
While you’re making permanent upgrades, look up: “Lighting is important, even in a laundry room,” says Gomberg. Your standard recessed lighting may be enough, but if the space feels dim, try a decorative layer (say, a pendant light over the sink), plus under-cabinet lights so you can see the tasks at hand.
If you’re organized (or aspire to be!), a laundry sorter with removable bags or compartments is a worthy upgrade, letting you separate darks from whites, cottons from silks, or your daughter’s clothes from your son’s.
You’d love to iron in the laundry room but space is tight? Not a problem. Get an over-the-door ironing board that only takes up space when in use, and the rest of the time, stores out of sight. Suit it up with a stylish cover that matches the décor, or perks you up with hearts, stripes or flowers.
When it’s time to deal with items that you can’t throw in the dryer, like certain sweaters and lingerie, a collapsible drying rack comes in handy. Find an easy spot to store it, like the space between side-by-side appliances.
Stage 3: Give It the Wow Factor
Load your laundry room with items that take it to the next level.
Once the functional aspects of your laundry room are in place, focus on form. A good first step: Installing specialty flooring in a water-resistant material, such as porcelain, stone, brick or ceramic. Gomberg also recommends interlocking FLOR carpet tiles, which can go over concrete and don’t soak up water.
Keep the flow going: Install a utility sink in a sculptural shape, a convenient place to take care of hand-washables. (Avoid sensory-activated models, which would go into overdrive with all the movement in a laundry room, notes Gardeck.)
Even in a traditional home, serious artwork in a laundry room would look out of place (and worse, could deteriorate in such a high-humidity area). A better choice: Cheeky signs, posters or prints, or a gallery wall dedicated to your kids’ finest works.
The ultimate convenience: a chute that deposits clothes from an upstairs room down to the laundry room. Imagine no more lugging baskets full of clothes from one floor to another. If you’re going to dream, dream big!