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The Laundry Room: The Busiest Room In Your Home

Laundry. Is there anyone who truly likes to do it?

We all love having clean, fresh-smelling clothing and linens, but no matter if you are looking after yourself or are the provider of clean laundry to your family, you’re literally running a wash, steam & folding service out of your laundry room.

But, do we really take all of this into consideration when planning and designing a laundry room?  This room is frequently Grand Central Station for clothing, bedding, athletic gear, cleaning products, and ‘nearly finished’ projects. It’s essentially the hardest working room in your home.

When I was going through the process of renovating my own house, I learned many things, including how important a laundry room is. After making a list of everything this utility space had to serve, and all the inventory it had to store, I realized the laundry room is where the action is. In fact, it rivals the kitchen as the nerve center of the home.

The amount of stuff that comes in and out of a laundry room on a daily basis is staggering so, whether you are starting from scratch or making tweaks to an existing space, I invite you to learn from my mistakes and incorporate the decisions that regularly provide me home-keeping self-satisfaction!

Here we go!



Tip:  If starting from scratch, locate your laundry room near your sleeping quarters.


It’s A Wet Damp Room

If your contractor suggests you construct your laundry room as though it were one big shower, with a drain, vapour barrier running at least 18 inches up all walls, and excellent all-season ventilation, please trust me that they are not overselling! You’re essentially building a wet room and so build accordingly. If you need to be convinced, close your eyes and imagine what would happen if your washer overflowed or sprung a leak (not a good thought, right?).


Here Kitty Kitty

If you have pets, consider their needs too.  The laundry room is an ideal location for a litter box, dog gear, pet food, and, in my home, a safe place for our ever-so-slightly neurotic cat named Charlotte.



Tip: Be ready with the dimensions and technical specifications of your washer and dryer as your contractor will require every detail.


Storage. Storage. Storage.

Not only do you need to create storage for your everyday tasks but the laundry room can be a great place to store overflow or infrequently used items.  For example, my laundry room also serves as a medicine cabinet; a linen closet; the place for mops, brooms, and our vacuum as well as items I require less often like party décor, wrapping paper, replacement light bulbs & a few basic tools.  



A Big Sink & Wipeable Surfaces

Make sure you include a big deep laundry sink and an easy-wipe solid backsplash. It will be a godsend when soaking stained clothing, scrubbing running shoes, cleaning a paintbrush & tray, or a greasy barbecue grill. Please learn from my mistake, I did not install a proper backsplash and now really regret it, lesson learned. 


A Training Centre, Repair Station & (If You’re Not Careful) A Catch-All.

If you are a household with children, consider getting kids involved in the laundry process from an early age.  Show them how to sort by creating 3 bins; whites, colours, and darks, and yes, your laundry and your life will be better by taking the time to do this!  When it’s a game for a 3-year-old it becomes a habit, and that is a good thing because fighting with a 13-year-old about it is no fun at all!

Train kids and partners (and yourself) to always check pockets before things go into the washer; old tissues and crumpled-up homework don’t do your machine any good and can even stain garments.  Another ‘every time’ habit is the removal of lint from the dryer, do it EVERY TIME you use it.  Fires in dryer vents from lint really do happen!

Keep a sewing kit in your laundry room.  When you see something that needs mending, do it right away before it goes into the washer. Trust me, instead of magically repairing itself in the laundry, your machine may take a garment from torn to tattered in one spin cycle!



Be Diligent

If you’re waiting for your washing machine to finish its spin cycle, use those moments to toss anything that is no longer serving your household.  Take the risk and toss out that partnerless sock, clear the collection of wire hangers you’ll know you’ll never use, and pocket the loose change piling up unclaimed.

Create a system for what goes where and stick to it.  Things like bleach and detergent containers are large and shelves may have to be adjusted to accommodate.



Clean The Room You Clean Clothes In

Accept it, the laundry room is a dirty dusty place. Make every surface easy to clean. Keep your cleaning cloths & products easily accessible. Have a container for lint near your dryer so you can give it to the birds in Spring when they are nesting. It’s a fun kid project and – Mom Tip – anything that can interest kids in an element of cleaning is a miracle of biblical proportions.



Form Follows Function Follows Pretty!

A friend once said to me, “Get a car that you like because you are going to spend a lot of time in it”. Well, I feel the same way about laundry rooms.  You’re going to be in there a lot doing something that you might not love, so make it as pleasant as possible.

Pick a colour you find pleasing, add storage that is decorative (as well as functional) and before making any design decision for your laundry room, envision yourself in a mad rush, searching for things or doing a last-minute repair and make the design decision that will make your tasks easier and less stressful. 

Here’s wishing you happy laundry room planning and remember: your design decisions should always provide you with the feeling that your domestic life is one big, successful home-keeping hack!  


To read more about other great Canadian renos by Theresa, check out these other great stories below, exclusive to

Katie Herbert Of Toronto-based Herbert Homes Is Fluent In ‘Reno’!

Hanover, Ontario-based Designer Heather Smillie On Tradition And Trend


This story was written and researched by Theresa Kowall-Shipp, a TV producer, director and writer.  Her interest in home design grew from exposure to her family’s construction and architectural woodworking firm and producing or directing dozens of hours of TV focused on design, construction, and home organizing.  


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