Ripping up new carpet and pad. Pulling away baseboards. Giant, noisy industrial fans running for days. The culprit? A humble laundry room. But before we continue that story, let’s look at what home buyers are thinking about as well as what they wish they had thought about regarding their new laundry room.
One of the joys of building a new home is being able to prioritize what’s important and get things just right. In the 2019 National Association of Home Builders survey, What Home Buyers Really Want, 91% said a laundry room was a priority, and few of them were okay with that laundry room being in the basement. If your laundry room is a priority for you, here’s a way to think through the most important issues.
The most common preferences for laundry room location are near the bedrooms. followed by near the kitchen. In two-story homes with all bedrooms upstairs, today’s buyers show a strong preference for a second-floor laundry room. Top location issues include:
- Convenience. This is the reason for locating the laundry room near the bedrooms, minimizing steps with heavy laundry baskets. But this is also the reason for wanting the laundry room by the kitchen, for multi-tasking.
- Natural Light & Fresh Air. If the laundry room is on an exterior wall, you may have the option of having a window in your laundry room, which makes the chore of doing laundry less taxing and more pleasant.
- Dryer Vent Location. The shorter the dryer vent hose must run, the better – another vote for laundry rooms on an exterior wall.
- Floor Drain. This should be a non-negotiable. Washing machine hoses fail, water pipes can break…there’s just too much potential for catastrophic water leaks in a laundry room to justify saving a few dollars by skipping the floor drain.
- Views Looking In. When not in use, many people leave the laundry room door open. If in a high traffic area, what are you likely going to see (and smell!) when you pass by? This is also the reason so few people will accept a new home with the laundry room as part of a “mudroom” coming in from the garage. Research shows we go in and out of the home through that connection over 90% of the time. Who wants to be reminded of the clothes that need to be put away – or washed – every time you come home?
- Noise. Clothes washers and dryers can be noisy. If you typically do laundry later at night, consider whether the noise and vibration of doing laundry would affect someone’s sleep, based on your laundry room location.
Hand-in-hand with location is your laundry room’s size. Budget, household size, and your priorities tend to be the most influential considerations when determining the best laundry room solution for you and your family.
- Appliance Choice. Front- or top-load washer? Pedestal base? Stacking washer and dryer? Your choice of laundry room appliances can impact size requirements, and vice versa – if the home was designed for only a laundry closet with stacking washer/dryer, your decision has pretty much been made. Note to self: Look into paying more for a quieter laundry pair if the budget will allow (see “noise” above.)
- Sink. Do you desire a sink in the laundry room? From washing delicates to bathing the dog and even cleaning paint brushes, laundry room sinks can be a wonderful amenity. But they require additional space.
- Hanging. We all have clothes we hang to dry instead of throwing them in the dryer so they don’t shrink. Providing a hanging space (particularly over a sink when possible) is a favored amenity.
- Folding Counter. Tossing clean clothes out of the dryer into laundry baskets is an invitation for wrinkles to set in. Having a folding counter in your laundry room can save you time (ironing) and embarrassment (wrinkled clothes).
- Storage – Laundry Supplies. The first time I heard someone say, “A man must have designed this, no woman would have designed it this way,” was a lady looking at a Parade Home’s bare laundry room that was just big enough for the washer, the dryer, and for the door to swing in. There was no storage. Where would you put the detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc.?
- Storage – Laundry Baskets. You might have a different basket for each person in your household; or, maybe for separating whites from colors, or warm vs. cold water items. Whether they go underneath the folding counter or on shelves: laundry basket storage = organization = less stress.
- Multi-use. If large enough, could your laundry room serve other purposes too? A hobby or craft area, sewing, or ironing, or perhaps even doubling as your pet area?
Lastly, there are aesthetic laundry room considerations that can actually add a little joy to your life. Lighting can be an afterthought in laundry rooms, with the result being a single ceiling fixture. You can do better! Consider the different activities for your laundry room (pairing up dark blue and black socks at night can be frustrating) to help identify the lighting solutions you need. Your choice of flooring material is important. Obviously, it has to be able to withstand getting wet. Beyond that, what about comfort and style? And your laundry room’s overall décor. Believe it or not, your laundry room says a lot about you. Bare, painted walls…or do you see things that make you smile?
Your entire life turned upside down because your teenage daughter left the laundry room sink running. You didn’t think about whether or not that sink had an “overflow” drain. By the time you got home your kitchen ceiling, right below the second-floor laundry room, was little more than white mush soaking into your brand-new wood kitchen floors. You never even thought about a floor drain!
Take steps to ensure your laundry room experience is a dream not a nightmare. The interplay of all those variables can be seen in the following illustration.
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