In the not-too-distant past, the laundry room often meant a dreary corner of the basement where a washer and, if you were lucky, a dryer fought for space with the kids’ sports equipment, battered furniture and musty boxes of books.
No more. Today’s laundry rooms are bright, convenient places where the mundane business of cleaning clothes can be a pleasure.
Here are some tips on making the space even more appealing and orderly. Just remember: this is a work area, so functionality is key.
Classic, crisp white, with its intimations of cleanliness and efficiency, is a perennial winner for laundry rooms, especially smaller spaces, which always feel bigger when painted white. If your laundry and mudroom are in the same space and you have young children, be sparing with the white: it shows up fingerprints.
For cabinetry, try a light blue or warm green. They’re restful while giving definition to the space.
You don’t spend a lot of time in a laundry room, so why not get adventurous with the paint? Try a bold colour on one wall or mix and match for some fun.
Because laundry rooms can get humid, semi-gloss is best for most of the wall paint, especially around appliances and, if you have one, the sink.
Take advantage of the vertical space with ceiling-high cupboards to store rarely used or seasonal items like beach towels.
Cabinets are also ideal for keeping detergents, bleach and other dangerous chemicals out of the reach of children. Inexpensive cabinet and drawer latches, like this one from Home Depot, help keep kids safe.
Lots of cabinetry can make a small space feel even smaller, so try mixing in some open shelving, which is also less expensive. Shelving is convenient for small storage baskets, folded towels and even a plant or two. Natural wood shelving adds contrast to your space.
More laundry room tips
No built-in counter in the laundry room? Two pieces of plywood, some edging, an attractive stain and minimal DIY know-how can turn the space over your washer and dryer into a deep shelf for folding clothes and other tasks Unless the shelf can be mounted by extending it from one wall to another, it should have sides that reach to the floor to provide stability.
Not every laundry room has a sink for soaking stains, hand washing delicate items and laundry room cleanups. The sink doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive (simple, drop-in stainless steel sinks start at under $100), but you’ll likely need a plumber to connect the water supply and drain.
Hang a brightly coloured lint container next to your dryer. It’s one of the best ways to remind yourself that the lint filter needs to be cleaned after every drying session to reduce the risk of fire. More on dryer safety.
A retractable indoor clothes lines like this one from Lee Valley ($69.50) turns your room into an instant drying area for items that can’t go in the dryer. Folding indoor drying racks are also efficient.
IKEA is a great source of space-smart and affordable laundry room items, including cabinetry, shelving, laundry baskets and more.
Final tip: reduce your dryer expenses and get some outdoor time by installing a clothesline. If you’re not already doing it, you’ll be surprised how relaxing the simple act of hanging and taking down laundry can be. And scented dryer sheets are no match for the freshness of the great outdoors.