If you’re like most people, you’d rather do anything but laundry.
First, you have to drag dirty clothes across the house. Then, you have to sort everything by colour to make sure your whites stay white. And let’s not forget to handwash all those delicates and find a clean place to air dry them. Worst of all, if your washer and dryer are in the basement, the room is likely dark and dingy and you spend much of your time watching for spiders. If you find yourself recognizing any of these images, it’s time for a laundry room makeover.
Enjoy doing laundry.
1. Move It.
Relocating your laundry area from the basement to another part of the house can increase convenience and add value to your home. Moving your appliances up a floor or two makes perfect sense when you have more to do than run up and down stairs. Finding the ideal location will be determined on a few factors:
- Space available
Do you have enough room for the appliances you currently have? Can you include a laundry tray and drying rack for hand washing delicates?
Is it important to be able to multi-task while you do your laundry? If so, will having the laundry room close to your main living space be a help or a burden?
- Access to water, electrical and gas lines
You can have new services run but it may be cost prohibitive if the job is complex.
If you have more than one option for you new laundry room location, you should consider these factors:
- Near the Kitchen
This popular spot will give you easy access while preparing meals and spending time with the family. This could be a problem if your machines are noisy and if that would interfere with quiet family movie nights or entertaining friends. Don’t forget if you have a two-story home, you’ll still need to carry laundry up and down the stairs.
- Hallway Closet
Whether on the first or second floor, re-using a storage closet that’s out of the way or near bedrooms can be ideal. This solves the problem if you’re limited on space while improving convenience.
- In a Mud Room
This is a favourite location for moms as dirty play clothes can be deposited directly into the washer. Be careful if you’re trying to cram too much into one room or it will always be cluttered and unorganized. Having guests over on Laundry Day could be embarrassing if piles of dirty clothing greet them as they enter.
- Second Floor
Whether you move your laundry to a walk-in closet off the master bedroom or create a separate room for it, you’ll love the step-saving convenience of having the laundry on the same level as the bedrooms. Kids can help with the chores by pulling clothes from the warm dryer, folding them and putting them away before they have a chance to wrinkle. Noise may be a factor if you wash late at night and new plumbing lines and utility lines would need to be installed.
This can be the perfect out-of-the-way location for your laundry, especially if you’re limited on space. There could be concerns with temperatures being too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, so you’ll need to add insulation or a space heater to the room.
While leaving it in the basement isn’t technically “moving it,” creating a true laundry room that’s got walls and a door will feel like a whole new space. Cover the concrete floor with a durable laminate, paint it a bright colour, add some decorative lighting and you’ll have a place you won’t mind spending some alone time in.
2. Plan It.
Setting up a new laundry centre anywhere in your home will require some serious planning. Even if you’re an experienced DIYer, you may want to consider hiring a professional contractor, especially if new plumbing and utility lines need to be installed.
Consumer Reports has identified the top issues to consider before starting your laundry reno project:
- Structural integrity.
An engineer or architect can determine if the floor joists are strong enough to support your washer and dryer’s weight and vibrations. Extra framing blocks will prevent the floor from sagging.
Fill walls and joist spaces with insulation or use two layers of drywall to reduce machine noise. Remember to use below-grade materials if you build a room in the basement.
- Water and utility lines.
Building codes will require a licensed contractor handle any new service lines needed for a first- or second-floor laundry room. This will definitely add to the cost of the reno project but the added convenience of a new location will be worth it.
Preventing a flood from a leaky washer or broken water line is critical when moving the washer and dryer to upper floors. Add a curb at the doorway, waterproof the floor, and put in a drain. A trap primer will stop sewer gas from escaping from the drain, a washer drip pan will catch minor water leaks, and electronic shutoff valves can stop flooding at the first sign of a problem.
You’ll need to run an exhaust vent for the dryer. First-floor vents are generally run out the side of the house; while second-floor vents typically run up through the attic and roof.
3. Select It.
If you’ve budgeted to do a laundry reno project, you’ve probably also included new appliances in your budget. There’s a variety of high-tech, high-efficiency washers and dryers on the market. Selecting the right ones for your needs may take a little research. Here are your choices for washing machines:
The best this type can be stacked with a matching dryer if you’re limited on space. It is more efficient than traditional washers as it uses less water and extracts more water for shorter drying times. It has a large capacity drum and no agitator so bulky items can be washed without going to a commercial laundry facility. The front-loading washing machine includes advanced technology and enhanced features, so it will cost more than top-load styles. It often takes more than 30 minutes to run a complete cycle and may vibrate more. Special detergent packs are required and can be costly. Regular cleaning is required to prevent musty odours in the drum and detergent dispenser.
- Traditional Top-Loading
It’s uncomplicated operation and affordable pricing make this an excellent choice if you have a tight budget. Short wash cycles and minimal vibration will work nicely for your second-floor laundry room as it won’t disturb your light sleepers. You can use regular, inexpensive detergent and add laundry after the wash cycle has started. It’s not stackable and it may not clean your clothes as well as other models if they’re heavily soiled. Many still have a center agitator that can catch clothing and cause damage. Even large capacity machines may not be able to handle bulky blankets and comforters.
- High-Efficiency (HE) Top-Loading
It cleans just as well as a front-loader but costs considerably less. It doesn’t have an agitator, so your big, bulky items should fit just fine. It uses less water than a traditional top-loader but doesn’t have a problem with musty odours.
The HE top-loader wash cycles take 30 minutes or more and can’t be interrupted once started. It can’t be stacked, so you’ll need enough room to allow the washer and dryer to sit side-by-side.
Dryers are typically front-loading and some models are stackable. Many offer a pedestal to increase height for easier loading and unloading. Now let’s look at the two types of dryers available:
It must have a dedicated 240-volt outlet. It is a little less expensive than gas machines but uses a significant amount of electricity to operate. It’s simple to run and works well in areas where gas is not available.
It costs a little more initially than an electric dryer but will be less expensive to run. It requires a dedicated gas connection, so a professional will need to install one if there isn’t one in the new room.
Other things to consider:
Large capacity dryers work well for larger families that do a lot of laundry but aren’t necessary for individuals or a smaller families. Dryer features have improved energy efficiency through settings like: sensor dry and eco-cycle (senses moisture content of clothing), steam (reduces wrinkles and removes odours), delicate (gentle drying for lightweight garments), express dry (increased airflow for faster drying), and silent (allows you to turn off the end-of-cycle signal.)
4. Organize It.
Laundry rooms are becoming much more than a place to clean your clothes. They often serve multiple purposes like storage area, pantry, pet station, mud room or any number of other functions. To keep your new room from being overrun, keep it organized with these clever ideas:
- Include shelves, cabinets and built-ins to store all your supplies.
- Keep a table nearby or build-in a counter for folding clothes.
- Add a pull-out drying rack.
- Install a hidden or pull-down ironing board.
- Use a rolling storage cart with castors that you can push out of the way when the laundry is done.
- Keep a bag-lined trash can in the room for discarded dryer sheets, lint and other trash.
- For smaller rooms, use baskets or bags hung under a countertop to sort clothing before washing and carry clean clothes back to their respective locations.
5. Decorate It.
The best way to enjoy doing the laundry is to enjoy the room. Add some fun, colourful accents and accessories to liven up an otherwise dull room:
- Brighten the room with colour—paint, wallpaper, storage containers, shelves.
- Paint the ceiling or install wallpaper.
- Decorate your machines with washi tape. It’s easy to apply, comes in many patterns and colours, and can be removed without damage.
- Install pendant lights over the sink and appliances to brighten the room and add a pop of colour.
- Swap out detergent packaging for decorative glass jars or fabric-lined baskets.
- Add a stylish tile backsplash behind the washer and dryer.
- Hang artwork, family pictures or novelty pieces to express your personality and coordinate with the decor.
- Lay down some bright-coloured throw rugs.
No matter how big your laundry room is or where it’s located, you’ll want to make it an pleasant space to spend time in. By following these renovation guidelines to move it, plan it, select it, organize it, and decorate it, you’ll find your chores are a little less tedious and a lot more enjoyable.