It is amazing that a large percentage of new builds still view the laundry room as an after-thought. It seems that some builders have no idea what goes on in the laundry room. One can only surmise by standing in some laundry rooms that the designer never handled a load of laundry before.
Thank goodness laundry room are making their way out of the basement and garage and earning some dedicated square footage inside the house. There is nothing worse than doing laundry in a dirty environment.
Designing with Laundry Work Flow in Mind
Laundry work flow is important, just like the kitchen triangle. Laundry is quite a tedious unrelenting job so designers must be thoughtful about how they can make laundry more pleasurable.
Create two separate areas in the laundry room: a 'soiled' area on the left or opposite side of the washer and a 'clean' area on the right or opposite side of the dryer.
At least 24-36" of counter space in the soiled area will be required for organizing and separating laundry into piles for different color and temperature loads. Built-in baskets or bins to house each load would be ideal. No one likes to put clothes on the floor, even soiled clothes.
In the clean section of the room, if possible, add a bar for hanging damp clothes that do not go in the dryer. This is a wonderful selling point in any laundry room. No one wants to drape clothes over the dining chairs or hang them from the bathroom shower bar. No one likes those portable rolling laundry carts either as they are usually flimsy and are typically stored in garage where they get dirty.
Make sure the hanging rod is deep enough to accommodate a normal sized hanger.
For folding laundry, there should be enough flat counter space to fold a shirt. Ideally, there would be enough clean counter space, approximately 30-36" to fold a shirt and also have the ability to pile stacks of folded clothes for everyone in the household. Some large homes have included an island in the laundry room for folding. Such a lovely idea if you have the space.
To Sink or Not to Sink
Add a wide and deep sink if you have the room. This is the sink that will be used for cleaning up big messes, soaking dirty clothes, deep watering plants, cleaning mud from boots and a variety of dirty jobs.
Place it away from the clean clothes section of the room, nearer to the washing machine and close to the exterior door.
Doubling up Laundry Room as a Mud Room
Many houses are making dual use of space and combining the laundry room with the entry or mud room. Design the layout so that the entry and mud room are on the 'soiled' end of the room. Muddy boots and dirty jackets do not mix well with clean hanging clothes.
Some designers have been touting space within the laundry room for pets to rest and shower. Unless you have an enormous laundry room, dirty pets and clean clothes don't mix well together. If one has a combination mud room / laundry room, place the pet areas close to the dirty/soiled area. Your clean clothes will thank you.
No wasted space.
Living in Arizona makes one very appreciative of inside storage space as garages can get extremely hot in the desert. The same is true of cold weather geographies. Storing temperature sensitive items inside is a must.
When planning your laundry room, think about maximizing storage.
Design cabinets to go up to the ceiling for additional closed storage which also cuts down on dust settling on top.
Plan for at least one deep, tall closed cabinet to store brooms, mops and other tall and bulky heavily-used utility items so the homeowner doesn't have to retrieve these items from the garage.
I'd love to hear more ideas from readers on how builders and designers could make your laundry a bit more functional and thus pleasurable for homeowners.