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How to make your laundry a beautiful and functional space

This article was originally printed in the Your Home & Garden magazine. You can view it here.


How to make our new favourite room – the laundry – a functional and practical space that’s full of style.

Unlike the kitchen, we don’t really expect to be enamoured by a laundry. That’s because this hard-working room is normally all function and no frills. But when a laundry delivers the unexpected – beautiful design – it blows people away. And why shouldn’t it? A space that looks as good as it functions deserves to be celebrated. Here’s how to make yours shine.

Location, location

Even if you have the quietest washing machine and dryer on the market, your laundry should still be located as far away from the bedrooms and living room as possible, recommends Jen Jones, renovation project manager of Nine Yards Consulting. Whether it’s a dedicated room or simply in a hallway cupboard, the laundry is best placed near the bathroom for ease of transporting dirty laundry – used towels, bathmats and post-shower dumped clothes – into the washing machine. It’s also a good idea to place it somewhere with direct access to the clothesline.

Interior designer Vic Bibby from Bibby & Brady says, “An internal garage is another possible location, but avoid an external garage – no one likes having to go outside to put a load of washing on.”

Layout options

Jen says the size of your laundry – regardless of location – should be a minimum of 1.6 metres wide and ideally 3 metres long.

“This will allow for cabinetry that is 70cm deep to accommodate for whiteware and ensures there’s enough space for a bench, cupboards and a basin,” she says.

The size of the space will dictate the layout and configuration of your laundry, so before you start designing, think about how you will use it and what your top priorities are. For example, ask yourself if you need a dryer or can you do without? Do you require bench space for folding clothes? Do you want a deep sink for scrubbing grass stains out of sports gear? Will you need a place to iron and hang clothes? Once you’ve decided on the way you want your laundry to function, you can design the space to achieve this.

“A great layout option is to have the washing machine and dryer at each end with a built-in sink in between and one long benchtop,” suggests Vic. “You can then have wall-hung cabinets or open shelving above the machines and a hanging rail over the sink. Alternatively, if you need some tall storage for mops and brooms, you can stack your dryer above the washing machine, have the sink in the middle and a tall cabinet at the other end.”

Jen suggests thinking of your laundry like a conveyor belt. Where should each item be and where should they connect? For example, to ensure it’s as streamlined as possible, your washing machine and dryer should be as close to each other as they can. Jen suggests the basin is best positioned close to the washing machine so you can transfer soaked items into the machine without dripping water all over the floor.

For a small cupboard laundry there are plenty of options to maximise space. A popular layout is having the washer and dryer stacked on top of each other. This configuration allows for a short bench with a sink and some cupboards, says Jen. Another option, for those who require more bench space, is to have the washer and dryer sitting next to each other with a bench overtop. This set-up allows for overhead cupboards and a hanging rail.

Clever features

From a practical point of view, good ventilation is a must, says Jen. As is a sink for scrubbing, handwashing and rinsing laundry items.

Where cupboards are concerned, she recommends closed storage. “Save the open storage for the kitchen where you can display nice things. Closed storage is ideal for cleaning products and hiding unsightly brooms and vacuums.” However, open shelving is a space-saving and more budget-friendly option. So, if you choose to go with it, pop your washing powders and cleaning products in containers and style the shelves with a few indoor plants to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Vic says, “Aside from good bench space and great storage, we always try to include pull-out laundry bins. These can be integrated into your cabinetry, so they just look like a drawer – perfect for sorting lights and darks, or delicates and normal clothes.”

If you have space and the budget to accommodate it, a pull-out ironing board is a hassle-free addition to your laundry routine. As is a hanging rail, which is great for drying shirts and delicates. Finally, as a luxury addition, underfloor heating is something to consider, especially if you’ll be spending a bit of time in there washing, drying, folding and ironing.

Choosing materials

“If the laundry is doubling as a dumping zone for sports gear and dirty laundry, you want the materials to be hard-wearing,” says Jen. “You don’t want anything that can be damaged by the chemicals in your cleaning products – this isn’t the place for a marble bench.”

For this reason, tiles are a great option for the floor and the wall. “They’re waterproof and easy to clean,” says Vic. “We also love the look of James HardieGroove lining on the walls – as an alternative to tiles – which is made from premium fibre cement suitable for wet areas.”

For cabinetry, Vic suggests looking at a two-pot polyurethane paint finish or a laminate, which are both hard-wearing and practical. Hard wood or wood veneer
are also suitable options.

Super styling

When the layout and functionality is sorted, it’s time to turn this hard-working room into a beautiful space you want to spend time in.

“If your laundry looks good and functions well, it makes a mundane job so much more enjoyable,” says Vic. “You don’t have to stick to white, why not inject some colour with your cabinetry or tiles? Put your laundry powder into a pretty container, hang art on the wall and add some lovely hand cream.”

Be bold, not only with tile colour but also shape. And don’t be afraid to mix patterns and colours together. Replace your plastic laundry basket with a woven, wire or linen option and choose a cute or colourful bath mat or runner to keep the chill off your feet.

Latest tech and must-have accessories
  1. Samsung AddWash Smart front load washer: This smart machine will revolutionise the way you do laundry. Samsung’s BubbleWash saves on laundry washing time and energy – and the AddWash feature allows you to add that missing sock, even after your cycle starts. This machine is able to determine the right amount of water, detergent and time for each wash according to the load’s weight and soilage. This extends to the drying process via an Auto Cycle Link, which pairs compatible washer and dryers to automatically set the best dryer cycle for each load. You can also control the machine remotely from an app.
  2. Fisher & Paykel WH1160F2 front loader washing machine: Boasting 25 different fabric cycles, this machine is made to care for clothes. Its active intelligence feature tailors the detergent and wash time to your load for optimum results and energy and water saving. It also comes with a Steam Refresh cycle, which revives and de-wrinkles garments in 20 minutes – perfect for lightly worn clothes or soft furnishings.
  3. Bosch WNA254U1AU Serie 6 washer dryer: This two-in-one hybrid is ideal for small laundries and households who don’t have load after load to put through the washer. It comes with an EcoSilence drive for an extremely energy-efficient and quiet operation. The AutoDry feature gently dries your load to the exact degree of dryness it requires, and it also comes with a refresher cycle for a quick wrinkle-free revive.
  4. Earthwise anti-bacterial laundry sanitiser: This detergent is a little boost for your laundry cycle, helping to keep 99.9 percent of germs away without bleach. It’s ideal for loads with muddy or smelly sports gear, and has a lovely lemongrass and pine fragrance.
  5. Laundry dryer balls: Throw these little felted wool balls into your dryer for a little energy-saving hack. They bounce around, soaking up moisture and separating garments for more airflow.
  6. Hanging drying rack: Put this on your shopping list if you have a small laundry. This great space-saving device is designed to be hung from the ceiling on a seamless pulley system.


Do you have plans to renovate your bathroom or laundry?

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