Dear Tim: One of my New Year’s resolutions involves my laundry room. It’s a long story, but my husband and I are building a huge room addition, and I finally get my dream laundry room. I think I know what I want, but I’d like to get your opinion. If you were designing a functional and practical laundry room, what would the size be, and what would it have in it? —Amy C., Grand Island, Neb.
Amy: I’ll bet you’re excited! I’ve built many large room additions and quite a few laundry rooms in my time. The possibilities are endless, and it’s impossible in this tiny column to do a complete brain dump. Let’s get started and see how far we can get.
First, no one laundry room works for all. Each person has different goals. For this reason, I decided to go online and look at lots of photos of what many consider to be dream laundry rooms.
In just about all the photos I looked at, I saw what I consider to be fatal function flaws. When a designer or person feels the final look or form of the laundry room is more important than function, you end up with flaws.
Based on nearly 40 years of dealing with laundry rooms, I feel the minimum size for one of these rooms should be 9 feet wide by 11 feet long. Bigger is better. The door leading into the room should be at least 32 inches wide. Most are only 30 inches wide. I’d install a pocket door so no floor space on either side of the laundry room is wasted.
Laundry rooms by nature involve water. I recently had to replace the drain pump on my own washer, and because there was no floor drain in the room, my job was much harder.
Don’t let your plumber talk you out of installing a gorgeous tile or natural stone floor that has a waterproof membrane under the entire room. The floor drain should be in the center of the room, in open sight, and the floor should gently slope to the drain. You’ll never regret having this floor if something leaks or you want to give a dog a bath in the winter!
Another key point is easy access to the mechanical aspects of the washer and dryer. Ball valves that control the hot and cold water should be visible and above and behind the washer. Yes, they make those small in-the-wall boxes for laundry valves, but these are substandard in my opinion.
I’ve been a master plumber since age 29 and have come to realize the value of standard valves that are easy to turn off each time I’m finished doing laundry. Supply hoses burst, even the newer braided ones, and you should be able to turn off the water to the machine easily after each use to prevent a flood.
The dryer vent pipe should either go up through the roof or out the wall directly behind the dryer. In my last home, I had the vent pipe turn up out of the dryer, go up the wall behind the dryer and turn out to exit the wall just about 6 inches above the top of the dryer. This piping setup allowed me to disconnect the pipe in seconds. This functionality made it easy to periodically clean out the vent pipe to prevent fires.
I’d have a seven-foot-tall pantry in the laundry room and scads of base and wall cabinets. The layout should favor the way you handle dirty and clean clothes. Think long and hard about the ideal height you’d like to have your dirty clothes basket so you don’t have to bend over too much. Perhaps an 18-inch rolling platform that parks under a bench in the room would be ideal for you to set your laundry basket on as you get dirty clothes out and into the washer and clean clothes back into it after folding them.
Placing baskets up on 36-inch-high countertops works great if you’re seven feet tall. Putting baskets on the floor is no fun, as you bend over too much.
I’m a huge fan of the wall-hung Mustee thermoplastic laundry sinks. These are hard plastic and come as close to the old concrete laundry sinks I had as a kid. You can get single or double width. Consider a high-arc faucet that has a flexible spout like you see in commercial kitchens.
I wish I had more space! Oh, I do! I’m going to create another column with more suggestions titled Laundry Room Ideas at my AsktheBuilder.com website that will have a floor plan idea for you, too. Visit my website to continue the discussion!
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