Organizing Your Laundry Area
Wherever you locate your washer and dryer, you can probably better organize the area of your home that's dedicated to laundry. In a perfect world, a laundry area would offer the following:
Ample space for a full-sized washer and dryer (remember to leave at least a few inches between each of these appliances and the nearby walls)
Shelving or cabinets to store detergents and fabric softeners (the room will look less cluttered if you utilize cabinets with doors, so items can be stored out of sight)
Space for keeping laundry baskets or hampers of dirty clothing
An area for ironing, steaming, and folding clean clothes
An area to hang wet clothing that needs to be line-dried
Storage for hangers and/or a place to hang garments
A sink for hand-washing garments
A television, radio, and/or telephone with a speaker option to occupy your mind while you fold and iron
Ample lighting, so you can separate different-colored clothing, identify badly stained garments for special treatment, and read the handling instructions printed on the small labels of some garments
Temperature control, because if the laundry area gets too cold (especially in a basement), the water pipes could freeze; if the room is too hot, it will be unbearable to work in the room
Even a closet-sized laundry room can be functional and attractive.
Unless you live in a large house or have allocated a section of your basement to accommodate all of the above-listed needs for space, chances are you'll have to improvise. Most people do, anyway. Perhaps you want to set up a laundry line outside (if your local climate is appropriate for this), or you may even want to install a retractable line above your bathtub.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when organizing your laundry area is that you want your detergents and fabric softener to be within arm's reach of the washer and dryer. Ideally, the flooring beneath your washer and dryer will be waterproof, should a flood occur. You'll also want to place an overflow container under the washer to prevent water from escaping the immediate area, should the washer overflow or leak.
While some people have large rooms devoted to laundry, others make do with a small alcove in the bathroom or a closet. For those who must pack a lot of laundry into a small space, it is critical to think of ways to simplify the space so that everything you need is stored in way that is compact, efficient, and attractive.
If your laundry room is in a busy part of the house — or in a hallway, bathroom, or alcove — you might want to invest in a hamper that will conceal your dirty laundry. If you purchase a triple hamper — with a bin for white, light colors and dark ones — then you can simplify your life by sorting the items before they go into the hamper.
Although many people like to have a full-sized ironing board, it can take up a lot of space and be a hassle to set up and take down if you do not have a stand-alone laundry room. If your laundry space is compact, you might purchase an ironing board that comes in its own cabinet, can fold out when needed, and then be neatly concealed.
A fold-away ironing board is a clever solution for small laundry rooms.
Another great addition to any laundry space is some cabinetry above the washer and dryer. This will allow you to store your detergent and laundry supplies out of sight, and will also afford you some useful storage for linens, towels, and other items. If the cabinetry is directly above your washer and dryer, then extra blankets, sheets and towels can simply be folded there and tucked directly into these cabinets. Be sure that there is a decent gap — at least two feet — between your appliances and the cabinets so that you have easy access to top loading machines and so that the contents of your cabinets are not exposed to too much heat or humidity.
Another benefit of cabinets — especially when a laundry area is part of another room or located in a hallway or closet — is that cabinetry can allow for a cohesive look in an area that might otherwise look thrown together. Cabinetry can distinguish the space that is used for laundry in a way that is both decorative and functional.
Now that laundry rooms are so often small and tucked away, it can sometimes be a challenge to find a flat surface for folding clothes. If you can integrate a secondhand table or a countertop into your laundry area, this will facilitate the folding process. Think in terms of comfort as well — if you think that you'll want to sit while folding, put a comfortable chair beside the table. Make sure that you have a radio or television nearby as well, to decrease the monotony of folding your clothes.
You'll also want to be aware of lighting in this area — you'll enjoy being in there if it is adequate but not overbearing. Few people want to work happily under the glare of fluorescents. Remember that lighting can set the mood of a room, and ideally, your laundry area will be inviting and warm so that you'll actually want to spend time there. Changing the lighting doesn't have to cost much, either. Sometimes the simple addition of a floor lamp that glows instead of glares can transform the feel of the room.
Bring In Some Beauty
Who said that a laundry area has to be ugly? Especially if your laundry area is in the basement or another part of your home that does not receive much natural light, consider painting the walls a cheering color. Hang artwork or photographs that you enjoy looking at near your washer and dryer. These small touches can increase the human element of a space that is more typically dominated by machines.
Although cabinets can be functional and beautiful, they may be out of your price range. If this is the case, you can use baskets instead. A few square baskets on a shelf above the washer and dyer can be useful for keeping detergents and fabric softeners in order, and they can also add some texture and visual appeal to the area.
Everyone develops a personalized system for doing laundry. The layout and design of your laundry facilities should complement your work habits in order to make this task as stress-free and easy as possible.