Sorting Out Laundry Room Options

June 27, 2014
Laundry Rooms

The key is to conceal the washer, dryer, detergent and other supplies. (Handout, Handout / June 19, 2014)

What do you get when you add custom cabinets, shelves and sinks to your laundry room? A reimagined, efficient space that can multitask and blend with the rest of your home.

The space can double as a mudroom or hobby area, even a home office.

The key, said Marcus Voltz, head of business development for Banner Plumbing Supply in Buffalo Grove, Ill., is to conceal the washer, dryer, detergent and other supplies.

“By being able to hide everything, you can repurpose it as you need it,” he said. “There’s a pantry application, doing laundry or serving guests when you need an overflow at a party.”

Banner Plumbing designed a model laundry room with those special uses in mind. Having the room next to a kitchen boosts its utility.

“People are now focused on creating a functional laundry space to accommodate their family’s lifestyle, while also incorporating a stylish design to remain consistent with the rest of the home,” said David VanderWaal, head of marketing for LG Electronics.

Despite the options for disguising the washer and dryer, VanderWaal believes the sophisticated styling of newer models enhances the look and feel of a laundry room.

“Washers and dryers are featuring more modern and sleek designs while moving away from the outdated misconception of them simply being unsightly, bulky machines,” he said. “Families now feel comfortable showing off their laundry room space as opposed to keeping it hidden and out of sight.”

Reinventing the laundry room also means out with the ugly washtub and in with a stainless steel utility sink. A 30-inch-wide Elkay model with a minimum 10-inch depth serves not only as a laundry room staple, but as a backup sink when the laundry area is transformed into an entertainment area.

Rod Magnuson, Elkay product director for sinks and faucets, said the industry is seeing more interest in upgraded laundry spaces. “It’s a room people pay attention to,” he said.

Magnuson’s newly built home also has an upgraded laundry space. “The relatives have severe laundry room envy,” he said.

One reason for his laundry room’s popularity could be the large sink.

“What you used to see was the big, old concrete tubs,” Magnuson said. “They transitioned to plastic tubs, functional but not attractive. What I put in my house is an undermount sink you’d normally see in a kitchen. It has the drain position in the left rear, which allows more storage underneath. It’s very attractive, has a nice stainless steel finish.”

Old-school laundry rooms have countertops for folding clothes. By installing a stainless steel counter and backsplash, you can make the room look like an extension of the kitchen, also ideal for entertaining. Where the kids’ freshly laundered clothes sat yesterday is where a vegetable platter, coffee maker or flower vase sits today.

There are some laundry accessories that still need to be stowed away. An ironing board, for example, can be set up to fold into the space under the counter. Slide-outs can store soap and dryer sheets.

A stylish laundry room shouldn’t sacrifice storage space. A row of overhead, vertically hinged cabinets turns dead space into a catchall for supplies or clean towels and linens. For a functional and nice touch, install Blum’s Servo-Drive hinges. One touch and the cabinet opens, hit a button and it closes.

“We are continuing to see the trend of people investing more money and time customizing their homes, particularly in the most-used areas of the house,” VanderWaal said. “People are interested in creating functional spaces that serve their families’ needs, including the laundry space. By improving the design of this area of the home, it provides a unified feel and aesthetic that complements other rooms. Also, a welcoming and organized space also makes the daunting task of doing laundry feel less like a chore.”

This article originally appeared on ChicagoTribune.com on June 27, 2014.


About The Author

Read All Stories By Chicago Tribune