I believe there are 10 things to include in a laundry room to ensure that it works effectively. Let's face it though, this room is often the last one on your list when it comes to a renovation but if you get this room right then it saves you so much time and hassle.
Definitely the least interesting room – even for those of you who profess to love doing the laundry. I find that hard to believe by the way. However if you plan the room properly and get organised then this chore can certainly seem less onerous and if you make it pretty you may even enjoy being in there!
I have 10 things to include in a laundry room to make it work well for you and ease the daily burden.
10 things to include in a laundry room
1) A good quality washing machine and dryer
This may seem pretty obvious but the care that you take in selecting the right machines can save you a lot of time. I like to have a front loading washing machine as I feel that they are gentler on clothes and are more energy and water efficient. However it is what I have always had and so am probably biased but from a design point of view they work so well as they fit nicely underneath a bench which gives you more working space in your room.
Space, I believe, is one of the most important things to consider as it is very difficult to get organised without enough room.
I like to design the space with a washing machine and dryer side by side.
If you are purchasing new machines then it makes sense to do your homework and find a brand that you like for both machines. This way when they sit side by side they will match.
So aesthetically this makes sense however if you can't find a matching pair that you like it is preferable to have a good washing and drying solution. A side by side solution works well from a practical point of view and it looks streamlined and is certainly preferable to having the dryer on the wall. However this will be dictated by the amount of space available. Some machines come with a racking system so that you can have the dryer above the washing machine.
What to consider when choosing a washing machine
- Size of the drum – do you have a large family with regular large loads or do you have a smaller household and prefer to wash small amounts regularly?
- Water and energy consumption – this is really important in terms of your back pocket and the impact on the environment
- Range of wash programs – a quick wash function is handy and a steam program designed to refresh your clothes without water is very useful
- Check out online reviews where you can find out ratings for gentleness, dirt removal, even with cold water and rinse performance
What to consider when choosing a dryer
- Do you have good ventilation in your laundry? This will dictate whether you purchase a vented or condenser style dryer. Remember that the moisture from your clothes has to go somewhere.
- A vented dryer will pump it straight out into the room so you must have very good ventilation if you have this type of machine.
- A condenser dryer will capture that moisture and either drain it away or collect it in a reservoir that you can empty. This saves you having moisture running down your walls but of course these machines are more expensive.
- Do you want to be able to program your machine?
- A moisture sensor is useful to prevent over-drying your clothes which over time can damage them.
- Do you have a large family? Remember to consider the size of the drum as you should only ever fill the machine to half its capacity.
If you're short of space there are also combined washing machine/dryers. The drum can only ever hold half of a full load when used as a dryer though so you can never dry a full load at one time. However they are still a good solution if space is limited.
So, basically do your homework. A washing machine and dryer are a huge investment. Recommendations are generally to replace this type of machine every 8-10 years so you need to make the right decision at the beginning.
I must say that personally I never dry anything straight from the washing machine as I have a washing line outside which is out of the way and underneath my eaves so unless the rain is torrential I can always get my clothes mostly dry. I then use the dryer for 10-15 minutes to finish the clothes. However it is more difficult in a very wet environment or in an apartment.
2) Laundry room bench space
I touched upon bench space above which is the driving factor for me in installing a front loading washing machine. But I really can't stress enough how important this is. To be able to sort and fold your laundry with ample space is priceless. Otherwise you end up with washing baskets in the living room or bedroom!
Unless you have very tall items to store then I like to design a galley style laundry where you have bench space on either side with cupboards above and below.
Let's face it, the laundry room, if it is anything like mine, tends to end up as the dumping ground for other items and unless you have a dedicated mud room, this is often where coats and bags are dumped too.
The bench can be made from stone but I always recommend that a 20mm thickness is ample for this space and personally I often just specify a good quality plain laminate for this room which is hardy and easy to clean. If you do opt for laminate then finish it with a square edge to keep the look crisp and contemporary.
3) Laundry room storage
When it comes to designing interiors, storage is one of my favourite words! Without it a room can never work effectively and it doesn't matter how many beautiful items you fill it with, if it is messy, it won't work. A work-horse room like a laundry or kitchen needs well thought out and good storage.
If you do like the idea of lots of useful bench space then you should design your laundry to have wall cupboards. However you should make an assessment of what you need to store in the room that needs height. You certainly need at least one tall cupboard for housing brooms, vacuum cleaners and floor mops. Ensure that you plan to install a plug socket in this cupboard so that you can re-charge vacuum cleaners here.
A laundry room also needs high storage for items like bleach, draino and other types of poisons so that they are out of reach of children. A lock on cupboards like this can also be useful.
You will also need to consider storage for an ironing board. You can go all out and have one that folds out of a cupboard but if you're like me you will probably do the ironing in front of the TV! I never forget a builder coming to our home years ago and mainly addressing my husband and telling him how good it would be for me to have a fold out ironing board in MY laundry. I've hated the idea ever since and the builder didn't get the job!
I actually love this idea of putting the ironing board into a walk-in-wardrobe but you get the picture of building it into a laundry space too and I suppose it does make sense.
When thinking about what you should store in the laundry cupboards and how you can easily access them, consider using clear plastic boxes with labels to keep similar items together. For example, cloths, furniture polish and waxes, bathroom cleaning items, laundry items, pegs etc. I'm sure you get the picture but it makes life so much simpler if things are grouped together and when placed in a box they are more accessible.
Drawers are also useful in a laundry room but just ensure that anything toxic, particularly if you have young children around, are kept on a higher shelf.
4) Laundry room baskets
If you have the space than a range of baskets for dirty clothes is essential. This way you can sort your laundry from the beginning with a basket for towels, one for bedding, one for dark items and one for whites. Even if you have space for just 2 baskets so that you can sort whites and darks then this can be a good time saving tip.
Baskets generally look great for styling too!
5) Hanging space for laundered clothes
A hanging rail for freshly laundered clothes, waiting to be ironed, is essential. If you hang shirts when they are damp, you can leave them until almost dry and then iron them. Many shirts now need hardly any ironing and if treated like this they need a one minute run over with the iron. This saves you considerable time and is preferable to ironing your clothes that have been left folded in a basket all week.
You can also see at a glance what needs to be ironed rather than rummaging through a pile of clean clothes looking for that top that you really want to wear!
6) The laundry room sink
A deep laundry sink and pull-out tap is also very useful. Washing machines are now so sophisticated that you often don't need to wash clothes by hand and many will enable you to pre-soak items. However if you have a pet you will appreciate how useful they can be or if you have children who love arts and crafts and painting, they are invaluable.
If you have a good deep sink in the laundry then this saves your kitchen sink from being used for these practical and often messy clean-ups!
I know people who use their laundry to bottle preserves, make ginger beer, dye clothes and all sorts of other crafts and hobbies so a good sink is really useful here.
A pull-out tap makes a lot of sense for a space like this too.
7) Fresh air
Clearly access to fresh air is not always possible, particularly for apartment dwellers. However if you are designing a home from scratch, ensure that you have opening windows and doors. I see new homes designed that have internal laundries and this is crazy or a laundry room with only a door and not a window. Get those windows open with fresh air flowing.
The laundry room can create a lot of moisture and you need fresh air to prevent mould from forming.
8) Good quality lighting
There is no way that you can remove stains from clothes if you can't see them. Good lighting is therefore paramount in this room.
LED downlights are preferable here as they flood the room with good quality light. I also like to install LED strip lighting underneath wall cabinets to light the benchtop.
9) Shelving in a laundry room
If you don't have the space for wall cupboards or you only want to mount them on one side of the laundry then open shelving can be a great solution. The beauty of this is that you can see and easily reach items that you regularly use. Keep canisters of laundry powder, soap flakes, pegs etc here and anything else that you use on a regular basis.
I like open shelving as this also gives you the opportunity to style the room. You can buy matching canisters and make a feature out of something that is a necessity.
This can also be a good place to install a hanging area for shirts too.
In terms of styling and making the room look good, shelving can be made from beautiful timber or even from a laminate that looks like timber and linked to the laundry bench top. This is a utility room but you can still make it look really attractive.
10) Add some greenery
I think that all areas of the home benefit from a touch of greenery. In terms of styling this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to make the room look good. Plants are also really effective for maintaining good air quality which is crucial in a room like this which is full of air pollutants and can too easily attract mould.
So, there are my 10 things to include in a laundry room and now I have some ideas and inspiration for combining this room with another utility area and some tips for how to make it look great.
How to combine a laundry room with another utility area
I grew up in England where the washing machine was a part of the kitchen! This is still the case for so many houses that in a built up area simply don't have the space for a dedicated laundry room. People are now thinking outside the box though when it comes to incorporating these essential machines into our homes. When thinking about things to include in a laundry room, most of these are still relevant in a small space.
European Style Laundries
The European style laundry where you install the machines into an alcove, possibly in a hallway, and then hide it all with doors is a good solution. Bear in mind the following though:
- Your dryer really does need to be a condensing type to ensure that you don't have too much moisture.
- Install a good quality extractor fan that vents to an exterior wall.
- Check with your local council for building restrictions. In Australia, a European style laundry also must have a laundry sink and tap. This may sound ridiculous if your laundry is small and close to the kitchen sink but that is the case and your laundry won't stand up to an inspection when you come to sell your home.
When you are designing a renovation or a new home look carefully at the amount of space that you have and consider the following:
- Can you include the laundry into the main bathroom?
- Is there an alcove in a hallway that can be used as a laundry? Even a small area under the stairs could work. Don't forget that you can buy a washing machine/dryer combo which could work here.
- Do you have one long wall in a kitchen area that could be used to house the laundry? Remember that if it is all behind a sliding or bi-fold door system that you can close it off and keep your kitchen streamlined and attractive.
- Would you find a mud room really useful? If so, could you just have one room that could be used as a mud room and a laundry?
How to make a laundry look good
So, we have looked at the practicalities and the things to include in a laundry room. We have reviewed some ways to lay out and design your space but you will also want the room to look attractive. I have some tips for that too:
Cabinetry ideas for a laundry
Give the same thought and attention to your choice of cabinetry as you would for your kitchen. Consider the colour scheme and the look and feel that you want for the space.
Generally I like to see laundries that are crisp and fresh and I hear this feedback from my clients all the time too. White is a favourite of mine for this room but I am also a lover of soft grey cabinetry and this can look really sophisticated in a laundry room. I would avoid very dark joinery though as this will show specks of dust more than white or a mid tone grey – this is the case too for carpets, upholstery etc. too. You have a lot of lint floating around in the air from the process of drying clothes so this is an important consideration for this room. Saying that though they do look great – you just have to be clean and tidy!
Related: How to choose kitchen door handles
Splashback ideas for a laundry
Splashbacks in stone or tiles are my preference for a laundry. Glass will show moisture and you will be forever polishing it. Tiles are a good way to add a splash of personality to what can be a very clinical and functional space.
I generally like to tie in the look of the laundry with your kitchen so that you don't have a house with lots of different styles happening. This can be important when you come to sell your home as you need to have broad appeal and if you are mixing styles it is harder to find a person who likes both! This way too, you have some continuity and flow to your home.
They only need to have a link though so if you have a marble splashback in your kitchen, you could opt for simple white subway tiles in the laundry or a tiled marble look.
With all the steam and moisture in a laundry room this can also be a good space to tile to the ceiling but this will depend on how much cabinetry you have as you don't want to overdo it.
Benchtop ideas for a laundry
I have touched on the practicality of this above but again, there is no reason that your laundry shouldn't look great. I have some ideas below to give you inspiration for planning this room.
Related: How to select a kitchen benchtop
Laundry room walls
As with any other room in the home don't forget to consider the right paint colour for the walls. If you have a classically styled home then you might like to consider shiplap timber for the walls as this gives you a really nice streamlined look that is easy to keep clean and looking good. You could even introduce this into the splashback too.
Alternatively you can add some wainscoting to the room and have a two tone colour scheme with white and soft grey or a pastel. Always remember that this room needs to stand up to a lot of wear and tear with moisture being the biggest problem for the space. Always use a good quality mould inhibiting paint.
If this all sounds overwhelming then you should consider putting together a mood board. I have an e-book on how to put a mood board together in my FREE resource library. You can download it here.
So, these are my 10 things to include in a laundry room. Give it the attention that you would your kitchen design and I believe you will at least be content if not deliriously happy doing the laundry! Don't forget that I have free resources for you to sign up for. Check in on Instagram or Facebook or follow me on Pinterest for lots more inspiration. As ever, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.