Those who have a washer and dryer at home often take this for granted. But even in big houses we haven’t had the convenience for so long.
Indoor plumbing and electrical made electric washing machines and clothes dryers possible, and in 1937 they appeared on the market. Most people installed these devices in rooms that already had plumbing, usually the kitchen. Soon the basement became the laundry room in many homes; the machines were noisy so best to keep them away from living areas.
Larger homes and quieter appliances have brought laundry upstairs for convenience. And now, with quieter, more compact and stylish machines, laundry rooms are in every room of the house.
Pinterest recently flagged “luxury laundry” as one of its most searched terms. Houzz’s 2022 Houzz & Home survey found laundry renovation spending increased by around a third in 2021 compared to previous years.
Sustainability concerns are also changing laundry spaces. Energy-saving features on the machines are standard, and owners are asking for simple sinks for washing clothes by hand, as well as shelves and retractable clotheslines for air drying, the designers say.
The spin on what’s new in home laundry spaces:
Some major manufacturers now offer a combined washer/dryer unit that does everything in one machine, good news for apartment dwellers and others with limited space.
For separate machines, stackables tend to be more compact.
“In a kitchen, side-by-side appliances (laundry) can be hidden under counters to use every inch. In a closet or bathroom, stacked machines save space,” says Jeanne Chung, a designer in Pasadena, California.
Other features may include fanless drying, offered by many brands.
make it fun
Laundry rooms no longer need to be hidden.
“They’re another area of design and decor, where people feel comfortable taking a risk with bright, fun wallpaper,” says Abby Gruman of Abby Leigh Designs in New York.
Hillary Stamm of HMS Interior Design in El Segundo, Calif., agrees: “This is a space you’re not in for hours (hopefully!), so have fun. A textured tile or an intricate design with a pop of color can work wonders here.
If your laundry room is in a separate area that customers rarely see, you have the opportunity to really personalize it. Do you prefer a pristine oasis, with soothing hues and accents, or an upbeat space with bright colors and lots of patterns?
“Wallpaper is my favorite,” says designer Maritza Capiro in Coral Gables, Florida. “It’s cost-effective and creates visual impact. In a utility room, I’ll use vinyl wallpaper; it is easy to clean, durable and flame retardant.
Peel and stick wallpaper tiles are another DIY-friendly option, perhaps in faux stone, decorative patterns or natural prints.
For a recent project, Capiro integrated materials from other rooms. “We chose marble subway tiles for the walls, as marble is in the bathrooms. Then we chose a durable white quartz countertop, which complements the tiles,” she says.
“In most new construction, the laundry room is downstairs from the master bedroom,” says Gruman.
“Another big trend is the stacked washer and dryer” – two of each, next to each other. “Instead of one, people want two,” she says.
Capiro cites a client who installs laundry rooms on the first and second floors – one near the bedrooms and the other adjacent to the kitchen, with a large utility sink.
There are also stylish laundry rooms in the garages.
“The selection of attractive cabinetry, countertops, and backsplashes enhance the look of the space,” says Capiro.
Natural light is a plus. But functional lighting fixtures can add punch to the design. A hands-free motion sensor switch can also be useful when your arms are full of clothes.
Laundry rooms are now often multipurpose spaces. Have enough shelving and keep it organized. A junk drawer is recommended.
“Laundries are often used as utility closets and laundry rooms,” says Los Angeles designer Jessica Nicastro. It integrates ironing boards and energy-saving dryers vertically into the cupboards.
Also on customer wish lists: plenty of counter space, storage, and areas to wash pets.
“I love a laundry room that can double as a gift-wrapping center or craft space,” Stamm says.
Capiro is working on a laundry room that doubles as a workout room. In addition to space for a stationary bike, there will be a television and storage space for holiday decorations.
Chamber ready to use
It can be daunting to buy all the storage items you’ll need if you’re doing it yourself. Some retailers offer component packages.
To name a few: MandiCasa’s Drop system includes base, column and wall cabinets, shelves, deep drawers, vanities and other elements, including some specifically for laundry: drying rods and a folding folding table. The modular collection is made of sustainably produced wood grain melamine.
The Container Store’s White Elfa laundry solution features epoxy coated steel, vented shelving, melamine shelving, closet rod, utility hooks and easy-glide drawers. And Pottery Barn’s Aubrey collection includes open cabinets, closet rails, a rack and a laundry cart.