Let’s get one thing straight: Laundry rooms are first and foremost about functionality.
But there’s a trend toward moving laundry rooms out of dark basements and into the limelight — and treating them as a bona fide room in the house, with the same quality materials found in high-end kitchens.
“A beautiful space makes doing laundry enjoyable,” says interior designer Arlene Ladegaard of Design Connection, Inc.
One of Ladegaard’s clients came to her with the laundry room at the top of her remodeling priority list.
“It was one of two drop-dead items on her wish list,” Ladegaard says. “She dreamed of it looking more like her kitchen. We kept that standard with cabinets in the same style and installed beautiful quartz countertops.”
When it comes to laundry rooms, details matter, says interior designer Laura McCroskey of McCroskey Interiors. One of McCroskey’s recent renovations in Mission Hills features a show-stopping laundry room with lovely blue cabinets and a warm wood farm table.
“It’s as pretty as any other room in the house,” McCroskey says.
The space doubles as a playroom and craft space for grandchildren. Ceiling-height cabinets conceal toys and art supplies.
The room’s ample and pretty storage space “makes you want to put things away,” McCroskey says. “It even makes kids want to put things away.”
Of course, a few items purposefully left out can enhance a usually utilitarian room. McCroskey styled the room with potted shrubs, bottles of bubble bath and textural baskets for a decorative touch.
You won’t find any pretties or tchotchkes in Shelley Lichty’s laundry room, though. She prefers countertops with nothing on them, and everything stored away behind closed cabinets.
“I am incredibly minimal,” she says. “When we moved out of our old house around the corner, we packed our suitcases and left everything else for the estate sale.”
Lichty’s laundry room in Prairie Village is located between the master suite and kitchen. It features a stacked washing machine and dryer, plenty of space for cleaning supplies, dog beds, a coffee maker and a dishwasher.
“I’ve really thought of it as the hub of the house,” Lichty says. “I’m probably in my laundry room 15 times a day.”
The functional room has the same pleasing aesthetic and materials used in the rest of the house, including Ikea cabinets, quartz countertops and tile flooring.
“When my husband designed the house, we wanted every room to look good, including the laundry room,” Lichty says. “But we approached it as a room where everything happens that you don’t want anyone to see.”
Though many homeowners are giving their laundry rooms more attention, they’re still usually separated from the main living spaces with a door so that guests who peek down the hallway don’t see any hint of untidiness.
Whether you pick up or don’t, efficiency rules in this multitasking space. Designer Megan Bringman of Schloegel Design Remodel has relieved the pressure of daily life for a number of clients by creating drop zones with chargers in drawers, framed bulletin boards, workspaces and activity centers.
Customization is the hero of the day. Bringman has incorporated space for recycling centers, filing drawers, printer cabinets and even dedicated drawers for “thank you” cards. She’s also designed more than one custom wood dog kennel.
For Bringman’s client Jen Anton, the actual laundry component of her laundry room was only half of the design. The room also featured a cat zone, workspace and a door to the backyard. Anton wanted black quartz countertops and a farmhouse sink with a brass wall-mounted faucet.
“I love that that space got such great attention,” Bringman says. “It is the entry point to her home and a daily hub.”
While no one loves doing laundry, homeowners are making the most of the chore by entertaining themselves with extra amenities in the space.
Fortunately for Ladegaard, her husband does the ironing.
“When we moved to Europe years ago and found out it would cost $12 to press a shirt, he took it upon himself to do it — and still does it today — while listening to music or watching TV,” Ladegaard says.
Secondary appliances (such as coffee makers) also ease the grind of a busy lifestyle and aid in kitchen overflow. Good lighting and windows are a big plus, and not just because they help with spotting stains on garments — they also provide a mood boost.
Art or meaningful items displayed on shelves or walls can help connect users with the space. Anton’s college artwork is displayed on an open shelf, and a good luck horseshoe hangs above the back door.
“I want the space to look pretty,” Anton says. “It’s an extension of the rest of the house.”
How to upgrade a laundry room
-Make sure there’s plenty of counter space for air drying and folding. Quartz or granite are top picks.
-A pull-out cabinet next to the washer/dryer keeps detergent, stain sticks and other products within reach.
-When it comes to above-appliance storage, Ladegaard says, “if you’re going to put cabinets over the washer/dryer, bring them out as far as the appliances so you can easily access the space. If they’re 24 inches deep, put a false back on them so you don’t lose things in the back.”
-A roomy sink is essential for hand-washing your clothes or scrubbing the dog. Don’t forget a pull-down or touchless faucet to make running the water easier.
-Sort loose items with baskets. Determine a sorting system that works for you — by color, the room it lives in, or person it belongs to.
-Install telescoping rods or multiple hanging rods for different garment lengths. Air drying can extend the life of your clothes, so make hanging a habit if you’ve got the space.
-Add a tile backsplash. Just like a kitchen backsplash, this small area can make a big impact on how you view the space.
-Proper lighting is a must. Ladegaard recommends LED cans with 3,000 watts. If the room is large enough, get a standout fixture as a focal point.
-A TV or music player eliminates the boredom from everyday chores.
-Vinyl wall coverings make for easy cleanup. Ladegaard is installing a metallic vinyl covering on the walls in her own home. “There are some gorgeous vinyls now,” she says. “I want one with some sparkle; the walls will always look clean and spiffy.”
-Built-in pet crates make a permanent spot for family pets. Add custom cabinetry and tile for easy care and cleanup.