Move Laundry Rooms Upstairs

Putting laundry facilities in a spare bedroom will make room for the amenities.

So your clients are tired of trucking their bed sheets and towels to a laundry room on the first floor or in the basement and want the convenience of doing the wash closer to their second floor bedrooms and baths? Can you blame them? They're not getting any younger, either, and those laundry baskets can be pretty heavy to carry upstairs. That's why Bill Bartlett, president of Home Rebuilders in Atlanta, suggests turning a seldom-used spare bedroom into a laundry room with all the amenities.

Home Rebuilders is familiar with completing high-end remodeling projects in the Atlanta area, so Bartlett knows how to make a laundry room functional and attractive. Even the biggest challenge of installing the plumbing is not much of a problem, he says. "All you need is a small strip in the wall measuring 5 inches wide by 2 to 3 feet tall," he says, with pipes coming up from the first floor.

The first thing the homeowners need to consider is the type of laundry equipment they would prefer. "Homeowners are generally well-educated today and know how to do their own research on products offered by manufacturers. However, when they ask for my opinion, I do point out that there are important differences between appliances made in Europe and those manufactured in the States," he says.

American-made washers: These are generally top loading and are larger, allowing for bigger loads. They use more water than European brands. There are exceptions, however.

European washers: Most of these front-loading machines have been designed to conserve water. Their spin cycles are faster, and they are noisier to operate. There are fewer desirable features. Once you close the front door, you can't open it in mid cycle. And if the machine breaks down in mid cycle, you need to drain it with a hose.

He recommends the following for any new laundry room:

  • A pan under the appliances. "If the washer overflows or leaks, it can cause a lot of damage, especially on the second floor," Barlett points out. The equipment can be placed behind a curb, but it will be hard to move. If a pan and drain is used under the washer for protection, a primer or valve that drips some water into the drain pipe's trap is needed. "Otherwise the room may end up smelling like a sewer." He prefers finishing the whole laundry room floor with tile and installing a floor drain.
  • A soaking sink and countertops for folding clothes. "In many cases, we are remodeling a kitchen along with creating a new laundry room. We often reuse the kitchen countertop material, such as granite or Corian, in the laundry room.
  • A pull-down ironing board.
  • A retractable clothes line or hanging rods for drip-drying clothes.
  • Storage cabinets. "Today we are using more color on cabinets, such as black or red," Bartlett says. "We also are mixing cabinet styles in the same room."
  • Good ambient and task lighting. "We want the room to be pleasant to work in, and this means some daylight. If the room doesn't have a window, we recommend installing a skylight." Bartlett prefers to use lighting fixtures that hang down slightly from the ceiling instead of recessed spots. He also installs small task lights under the cabinets to illuminate the countertop areas.

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