Top 10 Design Ideas For Your Custom Laundry Room

Top 10 Design Ideas For Your Custom Laundry Room

Greg:    Welcome to this edition of the Louisville Custom Home Builder Podcast series brought to you by Louisville’s leading construction team, Artisan Signature Homes. I’m Greg, your host, and for today’s episode we are joined by Louisville’s best known and most accomplished custom and luxury home builder, Jason Black. Jason, how are you? Good to see you again.

Jason:    Greg, I’m doing well. It’s always fun to have you back for another great episode.

Greg:    I’m glad you think that, but I’m the one, I think, who gets the most out of this. I’m curious, we’ve covered quite a few rooms in the house; how you go about designing them, what you need to think about when you prepare the home. I don’t think we’ve tackled laundry rooms or some functional rooms like we all need like that. Do you want to-

Jason:    Yeah.

Greg:    Sort of steer us on this?

Jason:    Maybe what we’ll do today is talk about maybe ten things you can think about including in your next laundry room design.

Greg:    I didn’t even know there were ten things to think about with a laundry room.

Jason:    There’s probably many more than ten but I’ll narrow it down to ten today and then we’ll see where that gets us.

Greg:    Sounds good.

Jason:    We can start … We’ll go with Number One and we can go with flooring. Obviously you need a floor in your laundry room but there are all different types of flooring. Pretty popular, people carry the hardwood flooring that they have throughout the house, but some people … You know, a laundry room doesn’t have to be the boring space that it is just to do the mundane of washing the clothes, so might as well have a little fun with it.

There’s a lot of new fun tiles out there. We’ve seen a trend lately with cement tiles instead of hardwood. There’s some great patterns. You can get very fun with the tile work in there, again, just to add a little bit of life. If you’re going to be in there doing laundry you might as well enjoy the space. We’re going to go with Number One on that.

The other thing that sometimes is very often overlooked in the design of a laundry room is the importance of natural light. This goes into the feeling of, you know, you want to feel happy when you’re in a space and you don’t want to feel dark.

Greg:    It sounds like you might not be a fan of the laundry room tucked away in the cellar with the fluorescent light buzzing above it.

Jason:    That’s right, that’s right.

Greg:    Trying to get away from that a little bit?

Jason:    You don’t have to have an abundance of windows because you do want to have functional storage on the wall, but at least a window or two or having some nice cross-light or an open hallway near the laundry room. We’ve got also the ability, we’ve done some solar tubes in the laundry as well and some of the spaces that want some additional light. We just did one of those in one of our Norton Commons houses. Again, there’s options to get in some natural light, and again, it just brings a happy space to the laundry room.

Greg:    Then quickly, these things that you’re talking about, is this something that you keep in the back of your head when you’re designing a home plan or are these questions you ask a potential client or a client as they’re putting the plan together with you.

Jason:    We work hand in hand with the home owner. A lot of times they’ll have ideas of the laundry room and they we’ll always give them our two cents on the design of the space.

Greg:    Got you. All right. Number Three.

Jason:    Number Three is there’s always a need for hanging racks in the laundry. A lot of people sometimes don’t think about … They may wash the clothes, they don’t want to put them in the dryer, don’t want to shrink. A lot of people do what’s called a drip rod over the sink, but we’re also seeing a lot of people installing what’s called, I guess, a drying rack.

I’ve had several customers lately … Sometimes the cabinet company will make them but you can probably save yourself some money and buy them from Ballard Design or Pottery Barn. Sometimes they’ll have the little bead board slacks on the back and when they’re not in use they fold up and when they’re in use you just kind of pull them down and you get three or four different racks to put a hangar on and it hangs there and dries it nicely.

Greg:    That sounds pretty ideal.

Jason:    Yeah. That was, I think, Number Three. Kind of leading into that would be Number Four and that’s the importance of counter space. A lot of times you need a spot to fold the clothes and sometimes with the taller washer and dryers you don’t have the room for it. It’s important to have a decent amount of clothing, I’m sorry, some space to put the clothes on when you’re folding them. Counter space is good. We’re actually doing a laundry room right now, the client refers to it as her mom cave, that we’ve actually done a center island in the middle of the laundry room to where she actually likes to sit in there and have her laptop. Most people don’t think of working in their laundry room but some of these spaces are large enough that they can be multiple uses.

Greg:    That’s interesting. I had not thought of that.

Jason:    Yeah.

Greg:    I grew up in a house where we used our downstairs ping-pong table for folding clothes.

Jason:    That’s right. That or the dining room table sometimes was an often good use.

Greg:    Yeah. Something else.

Jason:    With that counter top some people will splurge and do granite or marble. A lot of times we’ll do a laminate top. One of the mom caves we did, we did a stainless steel top that was very indestructible. That’s, again, just a way to mix up the material. You don’t have to use a traditional laminate top. My wife helps me do the design on some of our spec homes and she likes to color coordinate the laminate top with the cabinetry. She loves aqua, so she’ll do an aqua cabinet color and then get a corresponding matching counter-top; very monolithic look but a little bit more modern and just kind of fun.

Greg:    Right.

Jason:    Maybe we’ll find some pictures of those or something to show you guys with. I think that talks about Number Four. I guess one of the, I guess for Number Five, understood items that you need is a washer and dryer in the laundry room. There are a couple different ways to go about a washer and dryer. We’ve had a few more people lately wanting to do a stack-able washer and dryer just to free up, again, some more counter space. We haven’t done as many washers and dryers on pedestals lately. Again, it loses some counter space so what we’re doing is actually taking the pedestals off, setting them on the floor, and then running a counter top over top of that washer and dryer. What you get is a deeper counter. Again, it’s a great spot for folding those items. Just a couple things to think about there.

Greg:    When you do the stack-able do you have to worry about the vibrations of having one machine on top of another or are they pretty well built for that now and it’s really not a concern.

Jason:    Yeah. Most of the front loaders, and it’s not an apartment grade stack-able; that beach vacation condo you go in and you can get two beach towels in. It’s the full front loaders that you can stack, and they’re designed to stack, and they work very well together.

Greg:    Perfect.

Jason:    Number Six, another thing that … seems like we have a ton of pet lovers building houses these days. It’s important to find a spot for those pets in the laundry room.

Greg:    You’re trying to hit the sweet spot of all your listeners, aren’t you? I know where you’re going with this. Are we talking about one of those little baths for dogs or your pet?

Jason:    You got it. You got it.

Greg:    Those are awesome.

Jason:    Sometimes they’re on the ground, if you’ve got big dogs we’ll put them on the ground; if you’ve got smaller dogs we can elevate them off the ground a little bit. We can put handheld showers in there, we’ll tile them. Again, it’s just a nice way to take care of your animals and save yourself a few bucks not having to take them in to have them groomed all the time. With that we’ll have some storage in the pet showers for dogs food. We’ll have some pullout bowls on the bottom of the cabinets that are kind of cool sometimes. Just think about those pets when you’re designing. It could be cats too, we’ve got some cat storage in there as well.

Greg:    That goes back to one of your earlier points that some of these rooms are turning into a multi-functional space where it’s not just hiding away your washer and dryer. It’s becoming, I don’t know what the right word, multi-functional I guess…

Jason:    Yeah. It’s a mixed use space and you want to have people to give them options …

Greg:    Right.

Jason:    …when they’re designing their space and when they’re using them. Family needs change, and lifestyles change, and maybe the use of the space may change as they develop or the kids get older and as well as when they age.

Greg:    Right. Where are we?

Jason:    I think we’re maybe Number Seven.

Greg:     Or Eight?  I don’t know.

Jason:    I think we’re Number Seven, I’m going to go with Number Seven.

Greg:    Okay.

Jason:    At least if we end up with an extra we’ll …

Greg:    Perfect.

Jason:    We’ll call it a baker’s ten.

Greg:    A bonus, that’s right.

Jason:    Anyway it’s storage; I think is very important. We’ll do a lot of built in laundry bins. Sometimes we can do tilt down hampers. Again, it’s having a spot when the clothes are dirty to put them in so they don’t end up in piles, and baskets, or on the floor. We’ve all been to the friends house, you go past the laundry room and they’re like, “Don’t look in there.”

Greg:    Right.

Jason:    “It’s a mess.” We want to try to avoid that so we’ll do color-coded bins for lights, and darks, and pinks. Again, those can be tilt out or we’ve even done just baskets under the counter but we’ve cut little holes in the top of the counter-top to where you can just run in and drop your clothes on the counter-top and it goes right in the basket. It can be as simple as you can see the basket or it can be behind the door. Again, some people want their laundry rooms very pretty. Some people want them very functional. I think storage is very key for that.

We’re going to move onto Number Eight. With a custom laundry room one of the things that’s a requirement would be an ironing board but where do you put it? We’re doing a lot of built in ironing boards into the wall. You simply pull out a little cabinet and the board folds down and you’ve got a built-in iron and a plug right there. It’s important to think about these things during the rough in so if you do want a built-in ironing board we’ve got to run an electrical outlet for the wire in the wall so it’s all centrally located there. It’s nice, you don’t have that laundry ironing board sitting out in the hallway and kids tripping over it. Again, it can be like the dining room table where people end up storing all their folded clothes on the ironing board.

Greg:    Or the big burnt mark in your dining room table, right?

Jason:    That’s right. That’s right. The other traditional ironing board, if you’re going to go that route, then sometimes we’ll design a little pantry closet inside the laundry room so you can slide that ironing board in there and keep it out of the way when not in use. That’s also a good spot to put your chemicals, cleaners, Clorox, bleach, and all that in that little closet; maybe even your vacuum cleaner.

Greg:    Right.

Jason:    Number Nine is … it’s just color, so paint color. Again, a laundry room doesn’t have to be white so put some fun color in there, brighten it up a little bit. We do some faux finishes, faux finishes on the laundry walls: stripes, dots, polka dots, flowers, you name it. We’ve even done some wall paper lately.

We’ll close it out with Number Ten and that’s… we’re seeing some fun back-splashes going on in the laundry room so if somebody gets a little more calm with the floor they may go to one of those cement tiles on the back-splash. There’s not huge back-splashes in the laundry room but, again, just a little pop of color can go a long way to create a space that’s fun and inviting. I don’t know if you’re ever going to want to get in there and get excited about doing laundry but when you’re in there at least it makes you feel good.

Greg:    That’s right. It has to be as fun as possible. I think that’s the bar we’re shooting for.

Jason:    That’s right. That’s right. That wraps up, I think, ten or so of things to consider. There’s obviously more but that gives you something to think about when you go to plan that next laundry room.

Greg:    I appreciate the education as always. I had no idea and I will definitely look at my laundry room a little differently now.

Jason:    Sounds good, man. We’ll look forward to having you back again next week, Greg.

Greg:    Sounds good.