What was once among the home’s most mundane spaces is becoming a new center for household activity as the laundry room evolves into an attractive, convenient place to get things done.
“It’s becoming more than just a place for the washer and dryer,” said Meredith Shaver, a designer for Markraft Cabinets of Wilmington. Imaginative use of working space, attractive new design ideas, and multipurpose functions are all trends she’s seeing in new homes, and retroactively being worked into existing houses.
“It’s often a pet-friendly space,” Shaver noted, with such details as a nook for pet beds or a built-in pet wash area. This would be something like a miniature shower, with a floor drain and hand-held spray hose surrounded by a tiled enclosure. Depending on the owners’ preferences, an appropriately sized pet door can be incorporated into the design.
More cabinetry is another trend in new laundry designs. Utilitarian is the watchword for these specialized built-ins, which could include pull-out hampers for sorting clothes, drying racks that can fold down from the wall – “Like a Murphy bed,” Shaver explained – or niches to hold laundry baskets. A convenient bar for clothes hangers, to accommodate fresh-out-of-the-dryer garments, is a practical addition to the layout. One old idea is back: a pull-down ironing board hidden in a cabinet, helping to put all the clothes-care functions in one place but without taking up floor space.
Additional sorting and folding spaces are also popular, frequently on multiple levels. For instance, a countertop might be installed directly above a front-loading washer, with another surface lower down, to be more convenient to the appliance’s door. More elegant finishes, too, are finding their way out of the kitchen and into the laundry space, displacing old-school plywood and laminate work tops.
“Laundry rooms are becoming more design inspired,” Shaver said, with more attractive lighting and wall treatments. Examples are “Fun wallpapers and paint colors, even tile,” she noted, “under decorative pendant lighting.” This more appealing approach is closely related to the idea that these work spaces are an integral part of the house, not just an afterthought that might get used for only an hour a week.
That’s connected to another trend, that of combining the laundry area with another space, such as a “mud room” or craft area. A place with dedicated spaces for overcoats, shoes, sporting goods and other “outdoor” gear is both convenient and practical, helping to keep the rest of the house cleaner. Another popular pairing is an area for crafts, whether it’s for the kids’ paints, modeling clay, scissors and glue, or for the adults’ hobbies.
In typical new homes, Shaver reports, these hybrid laundry-multipurpose rooms are near the rear entrance, and usually just one door away from the kitchen. When the layout permits, the laundry also may be near the master bedroom.
You can talk with professional designers at Markraft’s Design Center about your ideal utility space. Markraft’s designers provide consultations by appointment, but drop-in visitors are always welcome to come in and browse. The Design Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, at 2705 Castle Creek Lane, just off Castle Hayne Road.
Since 1985, Markraft has specialized in cabinet and countertop design and installation in residential and commercial construction and custom remodeling. To learn more about Markraft, go to www.markraft.com. Contact Markraft at 910.762.1986 and like Markraft on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkraftCabinets.