Give the laundry room a designer treatment

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Tim McKeough

CNA/THE NEW YORK TIMES — Laundries used to be utilitarian spaces hidden away in basements or small windowless rooms. But not anymore – now they get the full designer treatment.

“A lot of my clients start off with the idea that the laundry room is one of the most important spaces in their home,” said Ashley Martin, interior designer in Winter Park, Florida.

As people continue to move away from formality in favor of relaxed and laid-back living, the laundry room is “becoming a centerpiece,” she said, instead of something to hide.

And who knows? A well-designed laundry room can make washing dirty clothes a little less expensive.

“Things we don’t like to do as adults become a little more enjoyable when the spaces are beautiful,” said St Paul, Minnesota-based interior designer Bria Hammel.

“I think it helps brighten your day, and it’s a space that a lot of people spend more time in than they realize.”

We asked Martin, Hammel and other designers for tips on how to create a space that might make you want to do the laundry.

WILL IT BE A DEDICATED OR VERSATILE SPACE?

Some laundries are dedicated solely to laundry, but it often makes sense to integrate multiple functions into one room.

In a home they recently designed, design firm partners combined an open laundry room with a mudroom.

“It’s actually kind of a small laundry room, but it feels like a bigger room because there aren’t a ton of walls, and it’s mostly cabinets,” said Emily Barry, who runs the business with his mother, Diane Schmunk.

In other homes, they’ve hidden a laundry room in a corner next to the kitchen pantry or concealed stacked washing machines behind cabinet doors in a powder room.

“They’re not full-size machines — they’re a little smaller,” so they can fit in the closet, Schmunk said. “It doesn’t look like a laundry room at all until you open the doors.” When designing a home for a family with three dogs, New York designer Kati Curtis created a room with one side dedicated to laundry and the other to pet care.

“It’s a laundry room/pet crate/pet shower room,” Curtis said. In the middle of the space, she placed an island on wheels that can be repositioned to hold folded laundry one day and pet grooming tools the next.

PLAN WORK AREAS

Anything that makes laundry easier is a good idea. An obvious strategy is to have a counter where you can store baskets and bottles of detergent, and also fold clean clothes.

“We always want a collapsible area,” said Wendy Word, an interior designer based in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Often, she says, the ideal place for a counter is directly above washing machines, if they are front-loading and installed side-by-side.

So if you’re buying new front-loading machines, don’t automatically assume you need rigs to install them on.

Yes, this will make it easier to get inside the machines and might provide storage space underneath, but it will also be more difficult to have a folding counter on top, as the surface might be too high. If you have a top-loading washing machine – or if the top of your machines is too high to accommodate a useful counter – a good place to put the counter is next to a sink, which is another thing. useful to have.

“A lot of times people think they don’t need a sink, but there’s always a time when you have to soak or rinse something and you don’t want to put it in an area where there’s the food.” like the kitchen sink, Hammel said.

It doesn’t have to be a huge utility sink, she added. A modestly sized kitchen or bathroom-style sink is usually sufficient.

ADD STORAGE AND HANGING SPACE

In a kitchen, open shelves and glass cabinets are useful for showcasing favorite dishes and glasses. But that’s not the case in a laundry room, where bottles of detergent, fabric softener and stain remover are rarely worth displaying.

“Closed storage is paramount,” Curtis said. “We want it to be easily accessible and everything inside those cabinets to be neatly planned out, but out of sight.”

If you have clothes to dry, but are tired of struggling with flimsy, collapsible racks, you might want to include hanging space. One solution is to install curtain rods under the upper cabinets.

Where there are no cabinets, Hammel sometimes installs ordinary wall-to-wall closet rods or installs lengths of clothesline.

If you want to dry sweaters flat, rather than risk hanging them out on hangers, another option is to build pull-out drying racks.

Essentially slim drawers in your cabinets, they usually have a mesh, wire or slatted bottom for air circulation.

Other choices include wall mounts that fold up when needed and ceiling mounts that lower on a pulley system. It is also wise to think about where you will place your baskets.

Curtis sometimes builds storage baskets in cabinets behind doors. Other designers, like Hammel, incorporate parking spaces to roll laundry carts under counters.

TAKE DECORATIVE RISKS

An all-white laundry room may look institutional, but a laundry room finished in interesting colors and patterns can look like a destination.

In the Curtis-designed laundry room in Rye, she chose simple white quartz countertops for durability, but covered the cabinets in light blue lacquer and added a hand-painted hexagonal tile backsplash and tiled floor with an interlocking pattern. different.

“I believe that even if it’s a laundry room or another laundry room, it should still have fun elements,” she said.

“It’s almost like it’s a commercial kitchen area where you can hose everything down, but it still looks gorgeous.”

Wallpaper is another option, but Word often prefers to tile the walls, creating surfaces that are easy to clean.

In various projects, she has installed expanses of bright yellow, green, or blue rectangular tiles to add a pop of color that isn’t easily scuffed or scratched.

Cabinet hardware should be as striking as the knobs and pulls you choose for a kitchen, she said, noting that she often prefers pulls from Waterworks.

Underfoot, heavily patterned encaustic cement tiles have proven to be a trend for walk-in laundry rooms, but some designers prefer porcelain tiles that offer a similar look in an easier-to-maintain material.

“We love when we can find a ceramic or porcelain tile that looks like cement tile,” Hammel said, “because it’s more durable than cement tile, doesn’t need to be sealed, and requires a little less maintenance.”

FOCUS ON LIGHTING AND ART

An easy way to make the laundry room more than just a utility space is to install an eye-catching decorative light fixture.

Ms. Curtis suggested adding layers of lighting, just like you would in any other room. In a utility room she designed, she included overhead lights for general lighting, a large decorative pendant for a statement, and under-cabinet lighting to illuminate work surfaces.

And don’t forget the art and accessories: Framed artwork and sculptural objects can add personality and make any space more interesting.

“Our laundry room accessory budgets are just as healthy as our bedroom accessory budgets,” Martin said.

“Artwork and pretty things that can go on the counters just complete the space.”

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