How To Design a Functional Laundry Room Layout

If room size always correlated with room purpose, laundry rooms would probably merit more square footage than they often get. Yet, some home plans allocate only a small hallway alcove or combine the laundry with a mudroom. Spacious or reserved, your laundry room layout impacts functionality and whether using the space is a pleasure or a challenge. While laundry room designs can vary considerably, the best among them often adhere to sound principles that make functionality a priority.

1. Design to the Utilities.

A functional laundry room layout often centers around a 220-volt power outlet for a dryer and hot and cold water lines for a washing machine. Add to that the requirements for a dryer exhaust and washer outflow as well as the square footage to accommodate both machines and their functional requirements like drain height, ventilation and power. For example, appliances must usually sit within six feet of their power source, washing machines usually have a maximum drain height, and dryer exhausts have distance and bend limitations.

2. Include a Utility Sink.

While skipping this one might be tempting initially, once you’ve experienced how useful a utility sink or laundry tub can be, going without one is unimaginable. A utility sink or laundry tub is usually much larger than a kitchen sink and made of sturdy materials intended to handle dirty tasks. It’s a place where you can soak or pretreat really grimy articles, hand-wash delicate clothing, clean up after crafts or outdoor projects, water houseplants, clean housekeeping articles like mops and brushes, or simply wash your hands. It can also spare your kitchen and bathroom sinks and counters from tasks they really weren’t designed to handle. If your space simply does not allow a sink, consider a washing machine offering a built-in pretreat station.

3. Reserve Flat Work Surfaces.

Having a flat tabletop with an uncluttered counter space gives you a clean surface area to check clothing for stains, fold and sort clean laundry, iron, place laundry baskets or set up tiered mesh drying racks. For example, these spaces also give you a place to spread out crafts or let paint rollers dry. Depending on your space’s dimensions, you may be able to install one long counter, use multiple sections, or incorporate an L-shaped counter to accommodate a corner or angle. Rolling carts, foldout or pullout tables, and pulldowns can also expand horizontal workspaces.

4. Value Storage Space.

Laundry supplies should be readily accessible yet stored safely. If you have small children—or pets—that usually means keeping detergents, spot treatments and bleach in a wall-mounted cabinet or shelf that puts them out of the reach of little hands yet keeps them handy for your use. Laundry rooms are also logical places to keep household cleaning supplies, a few small tools and even pet supplies. Floor or base units can provide secure storage for bulky or heavy items—buckets, household paint, pet food or cat litter, for example, while also supporting those highly desired counters and housing pull-outs.

5. Maximize Small Spaces.

A washer and dryer pair claims a fair amount of floor space. If areas are limited, stacking a washer and dryer may be an option to consider. Keep in mind that you need a special kit to safely stack appliances, that you’ll be limited to front-loading washing machines and that the washer must go on the bottom. You can also opt for stacked laundry centers, but they typically have smaller capacities and fewer washing and drying options than stand-alone full-sized appliances. Stacking requires extra attention to safety and proper loading during use to avoid imbalances and excessive vibration. Pedestals are another option, as they can raise appliances while offering storage space within the pedestal. Pedestals are unique and must be matched to an appliance’s make and model.

6. Light Up the Space.

You need to be able to clearly see stains to pretreat them, read care labels to clean articles properly and ensure the area where you’re placing clean items is actually clean. You also want to remove all of the lint that got on the dark shirt that somehow made its way into a load of towels and, for example, see the sticky handprints—or pawprints—on a counter before you fold a towel and place it there. Fixtures don’t need to be fancy, but bright, stylish overhead lighting makes a difference—especially in small spaces or corners. Don’t forget that a window can not only let in light but also offer a source of ventilation in an otherwise closed space.

7. Add Hang-Up Space.

Some clothes can’t go in the dryer. Others must be ironed. In some cases, you may simply like to be able to keep some items handy in the laundry room. Having a section of hanger rod or a wall-mounted rack or two gives you an organized, clean place to keep clothes hangers and place items to dry or await ironing. Options range from stylish racks of industrial-style pipe to swing-out arms or pull-down racks. Many features are space-smart and highly functional yet offer style elements contributing to the room’s overall aesthetics.

8. Design for Work and Traffic Patterns.

Like kitchens, laundry rooms often have a primary user yet can handle a number of activities. You’ll want to finetune your laundry room layout to eliminate potential bottlenecks or blockages that can occur with door swings or pull-outs. You may also want to make sure that the distances between areas work. How far will the utility sink be from the washer, or what will the logistics be for drip dry items? For example, a drying rack placed above a laundry tub can be a convenient pairing.

9. Choose Safe, Durable Flooring.

Laundry room floor coverings must be able to stand up to moisture as well as any number of household cleaning agents and chemicals year after year. Dyes, bleach, paint, stains, harsh cleaners, and even items like fingernail polish and remover can leave their mark. Flooring must be able to handle exposures to these types of substances as well as frequent cleaning. Waterproof vinyl and ceramic are popular choices that are both durable and stylish. Be sure to carefully evaluate glossy finishes that can be especially slippery when wet.

Of course, one of the most important features of your laundry room will be the pair of appliances you’ll depend on to keep your clothing and home neat and clean. If you’re considering replacing your laundry room appliances, remodeling your home’s laundry spaces or building a new home complete with a laundry room, Coburn Supply Company can help. Explore our website to find the perfect washer, dryer or utility sink, or visit your nearest Coburn’s Kitchen & Bath Showroom for inspiration. Our consultants know exactly how to convert your needs and wants into the perfect laundry room layout and how to integrate the best laundry room designs into your vision for your home.