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Laundry room redefined

THE laundry room today is a far cry from the cramped basement afterthought that so often defined the washer/dryer space of yore

We've come to understand that a laundry room, enduring the day-to-day use it does, needs to be a place that is both well designed and pleasant to be in.

Laundry rooms come in all shapes and sizes and are as unique as the people that use them. If a new or remodelled laundry room is in your future ask yourself a few questions before you start.

What's the size of your household? Are you an active family with young kids or a more sedentary couple of empty nesters? Do you fold your clothes in the laundry room or bring it somewhere else? Do you typically do lots of smaller loads during the week or just a few larger ones on the weekend? Do you need space to drip-dry clothing? Will you iron there?

Answers to these questions will help shape the design of your laundry room and will help ensure that it best suites your particular lifestyle and habits.

Empty nesters and couples without kids will often find a laundry space close to their bedroom to be most convenient and efficient. The smaller household generally won't require a large laundry space, often needing only an efficient space for sorting and folding clothes with accompanying storage. A bump-out in a corridor with front loading washer and dryer and a countertop above works great for such a scenario and when concealed with fold-away doors, is the perfect setup for efficiency and economy of space.

As households grow so do their rooms and it's no surprise that larger households will typically require a separate, dedicated laundry room to satisfy their needs. The size of the room and how it functions depends strongly on the answers to the questions above. Some families see the laundry room as a multi-functional space that affords the washing and drying of clothes as well as a host of other functions. It's a real trend these days to provide work stations for hobby and project work as well as areas for repotting plants and the like.

Another trend is to incorporate the laundry space within the mudroom. This can be a very successful arrangement especially for active folks who can dump their clothing directly into the wash without having to traipse through the house to find the washing machine. The space ideally has room to hang-dry athletic gear or related outdoor clothing and may even provide a drying rack.

Incorporating the laundry area as part of the kitchen is also a popular trend. It's important to create some differentiation between the two zones though even if their physical relationship is close. The key is to have the capacity to close off the laundry area when needed. The last thing you want when entertaining is to look into the potential ramshackle of a laundry room.

Regardless of its size or location, a laundry room needs lots of work surface and lots of storage. Front loading washer/ dryers are the way to go these days as they allow a countertop to be placed above them for a convenient work surface for sorting and folding.

I like mixing up laundry room storage with both open and closed storage units utilizing open shelves above the sink and appliances for frequently used items (detergent, fabric softener, etc) and closed units to store everything else. I'll always incorporate a tall, full-height cabinet for storing brooms, mops and an ironing board at the end of the room.

The laundry room has taken an important role within the modern home. From the discrete executive arrangement tucked neatly off a corridor to the dedicated room housing a number of other household functions, the laundry room has an essential place within the modern home.

Kevin Vallely is a residential designer in North Vancouver. His website is