Many of us long for those huge laundry rooms featured in the glossy home magazines. You know the ones, rows of cabinets with a gleaming washer and dryer in a fashion color. There is counter space for sorting, lots of rattan baskets for sorting and a built-in ironing board at the ready. And, if you want a little something extra, there's the sewing area and a crafting/gift wrapping area.
In real life, just having a convenient spot to do laundry is foremost and the extras are gravy. If you must use a laundromat, community laundry room or even a basement or garage laundry space, there may be a space in your home that can be converted into a workable laundry area. An in-home laundry space is especially convenient for young parents and as we age. These ideas can be used in apartments or when remodeling smaller homes.
Finding the Space
The two most obvious places to find space for a laundry set-up are in an existing closet or bathroom. Look for a wall that has existing plumbing stacks. The walls might be adjacent to, or on the backside of, your bathroom, kitchen or mechanical room wall. Existing plumbing means both water supply and waste lines are easily accessible and will save you a great deal of money as you develop the laundry space.
In addition to the plumbing requirement, you will need to have the electrical capacity to support the appliances. A washer needs a 120v outlet and a dryer must have a 240v outlet. Add as much lighting as possible to the space. It will make it more cheerful and make it easier to spot stains and problems.
To convert a closet or pantry to a laundry space, make sure that the closet is large enough to have a 2.5-foot wide door so that machine doors can be opened and easily accessed. The area should be at least 2.6 to 2.9-foot deep to accommodate machines. Three feet is best so that there is room for air circulation around machines.
In a bathroom, a large or double sink vanity can be converted to house a washer and dryer. By giving up some storage space and the second sink a washer/dryer combination appliance can be installed under the counter. Or, the vanity can be shortened to allow the installations of a stacked washer/dryer unit.
Select the Right Appliances
For a closet space, stackable washers and dryers are a great choice. Front-loading washers reduce the height requirement even more and allow for a full-sized machines.
For a vented dryer, a vent must be installed to exhaust to an exterior wall. Quite often, the vent can run within the ceiling joists; or you can create a soffit to conceal the vent under the joists. If an exterior vent is impossible, choose a ventless dryer.
A popular appliances in Europe is the combination or all-in-one washer/dryer. Becoming more available in the United States, a combination machine works as both a washer and dryer in a single unit. The laundry cycle takes longer, but you need much less space and no exterior air vent. These units are sized to conveniently fit under counter or inside a closet.
A Stylish Space
When my grandmother got her first electric wringer washer, she was so proud and pleased that she kept it out on the back porch so everyone could see it. If you're not that proud to show off your new laundry space, there are so steps you can take to make it look a bit more stylish.
If you have installed under-the-counter appliances in a bathroom or kitchen, use matching cabinet doors to conceal the machines. Sometimes there is not enough clearance space for doors but you can always use a tension rod and a decorative curtain. Another option is a rolling window shade. It is easy to pull down, can be covered with any type of fabric and disappears when not in use.
The same idea can be used for a closet laundry room - use doors, shade or a curtain. You can also buy an inexpensive folding screen that can add style to the rest of the room.
If there's room to add some art work or special lighting fixtures, do it. Having a cheerful space will make every load of laundry easier.
Room for the Extras
In almost every laundry space, there is room for a few extras. If you have side by side appliances, add a slim organizer between the machines for detergents, spot cleaners and other tools.
Use collapsible laundry hampers which use so much less space than cumbersome wicker or plastic baskets.
Don't forget wall space. A shoe organizer can be used to hold tools, lost socks, dryer sheets and treasures pulled from pockets. Add some wire shelving that can be used for storage and even for hanging damp clothes. A retractable clothesline or a wall-mounted drying rack is a wonderful addition.