Like death and taxes, laundry is one of those little inevitabilities of life – it piles up faster than you’d expect, takes longer to do than you think, and it often seems like there’s another load that needs to be run before you’ve finished putting away the last one. In short, keeping a family clean and clothed takes a lot of time – which is why I’ve never understood why most laundry rooms end up in unpleasant, unfinished spaces like the basement. If you’re going to be spending as much time there as many of us do, it’s worth making a laundry area a little more pleasant to use – which is why we’ve got six great ideas, big and small, to dress up and streamline your laundry space.
Pick A Better Sink
To me, one of the easiest ways to totally change the ambiance of your laundry room is to replace the sink. Now, utility sinks are fine – they’re an inexpensive way to add a usable sink basin to a semi-unfinished space like a basement laundry room – but they sure don’t do anything for style. Big, industrial plastic or stainless steel laundry sinks have always struck me as being particularly grim and utilitarian. Instead, consider installing a fireclay or porcelain coated cast iron sink, which has a slightly more finished appearance, and can add a little cottage style flair to the space. These work best, of course, with a built in counter top or cabinets (which also provide much-needed workspace and storage), but in a smaller space can be quite nicely paired with a wooden (rather than metal or plastic) washstand for a much more appealing look.
If the way your laundry room looks can set your mood, how well it works can just as easily make or break it. Petty frustrations are the most likely to tank your laundry-doing experience, too: having clothes everywhere and nowhere to put anything, having to drag out your ironing board for that one shirt, or even just tripping over your sorted piles. Thankfully, these little irritations are among the easiest to address. Installing a built in hamper – or better yet, one for each type of load you run – is a great way to keep dirty clothes out of the way but organized and easy to dump in the wash while also leaving your counter space free for folding clean clothes. And installing a built-in ironing board cabinet not only gives you a little extra storage, but frees your from the shackles of a big, unsightly ironing board. These tuck away in a drawer or fold out from a cabinet (like a murphy bed) for easy use while staying totally out of the way and invisible when you don’t need them.
I’ve mentioned this obliquely, but if you want to improve the way you use your laundry room, you’ve got to make space for folding. This can come in the form of counters – which offer more storage space and can even be used to sort clothes, as mentioned above – or islands or tables designed at a comfortable height to be used while standing. Which one will work best for you will depend on your budget, the size of your space, and how you use it, but simply having a single, organized place to manage your laundry from start to finish can really take some of the pain out of the process.
Rack It Up
If your family is more closet-inclined, you might want to make provisions for hanging rather than folding your clothes in your laundry room. This means installing at least one sturdy closet bar either directly over your washer and dryer or near a flat work surface. Having additional racks can also be nice if you have delicates that need to be line or air dried, as you can do it right in your laundry room without having to pull out a clunky drying rack. Be aware, though, that if you leave clothes to dry on the line indoors, you should take the increased moisture into the room into account as well, and consider adding either a dehumidifier or a drain in your flooring to help eliminate standing water. A drain is often a good idea either way if you can swing it, as it can help stave off the possibility of water damage in the event that your washer breaks down.
Laundry In The Kitchen?
Finishing a basement or altering any area of your home to improve your laundry space can be expensive. But while it might sound strange, if you’re planning a large scale kitchen remodel, you might want to consider incorporating a washer and drier. That’s right – move your laundry room all the way out of the basement and add it to your kitchen. Not only will this allow you to combine and reduce the budget of two projects by making them one, but having a washer and drier in such a central location can make it much easier to do your wash (which involves a lot of waiting) while you’re doing other things. If you keep a clean kitchen island, it can even do double duty as a folding station. Combo washer/driers can minimize the footprint, while the kitchen sink can do double duty as a utility sink.
If You Can’t Finish, Start!
The two biggest elements in increasing the comfort of your laundry room are actually two of the most difficult to address: location and ambiance. If your laundry room is in the basement, you’re going to have to haul your laundry up and down stairs, or shell out a decent amount of money to relocate the machines. And if your laundry room is in an unfinished space, putting in tile, drywall, and lighting can definitely make the space more inviting, but not necessarily on a tight budget. But even if these two big features aren’t ones you can afford to change, that doesn’t mean it’s not a project worth undertaking. Installing beadboard walls and a better lighting fixture and tossing a rug on the floor is an inexpensive way to immediately perk up the space, while allowing for more improvements when you have the budget to do them.
What do you wish you could change about your laundry room?