Imagine a woodworking shop with the wood set up on a work bench in the garage or basement and the tools located in another room at the opposite end of the house. Or, what if your lawnmower and snowblower were stored in a shed a couple of blocks from your home requiring you to trek a quarter of a mile every time the grass needed cutting or the snow needed shoveling. That’s a reasonable comparison to what home buyers are forced to accept every time they move into a house or condo with the laundry room in the basement or far away from where their function is required.
Think about it. Where is most of your laundry generated? In the bedroom and master bathroom. Sheets and towels that require regular laundering are heavy and awkward to haul from one end of the house to the other in search of the washer and dryer, then back again. When you remove your clothing each day you drop it into a laundry hamper located in your bedroom, closet or bathroom. Why oh why do designers of residential spaces still insist on locating laundry facilities so far away from where they are really needed. That’s a major beef I have with the annual Princess Margaret Lottery homes. Wonderful designers have produced fairy-tale spacious laundry facilities that include craft areas, acres of built-in storage, flat-screen televisions and room for setting up an ironing board in beautifully designed spaces that are always located in the basement, miles from where the actual laundry is generated.
Here’s a brilliant suggestion. Actually I have a few suggestions for designers of residential space. Build it and we will come.
- Laundry facilities should always be adjacent to master bedroom or bathroom. Minimal steps to deposit laundry, remove from washer and dryer, fold, and return to closet or drawers.
- Include hanging racks for air-drying frillies and other delicates.
- Linen cupboards should be incorporated into every master bedroom or bathroom. Same reasons as above. And don’t try placing a few wired shelves at the end of an already undersized closet and call this a linen closet.
- Built-in cupboard space for cleaning products should be located with the washer and dryer in the laundry area along with a countertop for folding. We can always set up the ironing board in the master bedroom near the walk-in closet (another overlooked design must!!) and watch TV while ironing.
- A laundry sink would be lovely for hand washing or soaking large items as well bathing family pets but it’s not essential if space is limited.
A floor plan for a condo comprising nearly four thousand square feet of high-end living space was featured in a recent edition of The New York Times. Starting at $2.5 million++, the unit had a dinky little laundry cupboard with a stacking washer/dryer located near the fourth bedroom, at the opposite end of the apartment from the master suite. Either the maid doesn’t mind trekking that far or they send their laundry out because laundry is obviously not designed to be part of the lifestyle in that household. Toronto condos advertised in our local papers are equally guilty. And seniors’ apartments are even worse which is an issue that should concern downsizing baby boomers. I recently reviewed the brochure for new seniors’ apartments that had no front closet for coats and boots, no linen closet and no room for a kitchen/dining table at all. Where are we supposed to sit to read our newspaper and drink our morning coffee or tea?
Designers continue to ignore the practicalities of doing laundry so the only solution I can suggest is that anyone who does not do his/her own laundry should never be allowed to design residential living space. It’s not the design of the laundry rooms themselves I object to but the location, which is a total washout. If any progressive developers or their wives are reading this, heed my five suggestions above. Or me and my baby boomer friends will never buy your residential space until you start to design for the practicalities of daily life. Wake up and smell the coffee, or we’re going to relocate your three-car garage three blocks away from your fancy house. See how you like that!
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