Common Laundry Room Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Not Being Flexible About the Room’s Location

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your utility room has to be on the bottom floor or next to the kitchen. “It may need to move up or down in the house, depending on other needs and use of spaces,” says interior designer Claudia Dorsch.

The solution. Be clear about how you want to use the space when it comes to deciding on its position. “For example, don’t put a utility [room] on the ground floor if you plan to dry and iron everything on the top floor,” says Cat Hoad of Absolute Project Management. “Perhaps a cupboard on the same floor with the washing machine and dryer in it would be better, if plumbing and drainage can be arranged. This is usually straightforward if there’s a bathroom nearby.”

Eva Byrne of houseology advises against using up valuable space and light next to a yard. “My rule of thumb in a modest house is to locate the utility room toward the middle of the home, where it’s darkest and it won’t impede the relationship between the living spaces and the garden,” she says.

Claudia Dorsch Interior Design Ltd
2. Assuming You Need a Separate Room

Don’t presume that a dedicated utility room is the only way to go. “In a small house, a room devoted to utility functions can occupy precious space,” Byrne says.

The solution. Work out if existing rooms could be redesigned to multitask. Dorsch says her firm often has combined a laundry room with a powder room using clever cabinetry and interesting materials, finishes and colors.

In the powder room seen here, the washing machine and dryer are installed along one wall, but you also can see open shelves, a hanging rail and a countertop reflected in the mirror.
Once you embrace the idea that laundry facilities and storage can be installed anywhere, you’re free to create a truly multifunctional space. “With careful design, there’s no reason why you can’t combine the functions of the utility room with other uses, such as an exercise space or a home office,” Byrne says.

For example, Byrne hid a washer and dryer within the storage area in this office-exercise space.

Courtney Ellen Interior Design
3. Not Thinking Creatively About Storage

It can be easy to miss opportunities to incorporate helpful storage of all kinds. “Add as much storage as you can and ensure that corner units are used fully,” Dorsch says. “We’ve seen many places where corners weren’t utilized.”

The solution. Building custom cabinets up to the ceiling makes the most of vertical space, although remember that the storage right at the top is only really practical for infrequently used items.

Dorsch also cautions against overcrowding the room with storage, as this can make it feel oppressive. “Include an open shelf, and where possible add in space for two to three baskets for sorting laundry by color,” she says.

Hoad recommends installing open cupboards. “They’re great for accommodating laundry baskets and recycling boxes,” she says. “Ensure there’s room to store bulky movable items, such as the ironing board and vacuum cleaner, too. It can be useful to mount these sorts of fittings on the wall to maximize floor space.”

Steven Cabinets
4. Forgetting to Install Good Lighting

Illumination is key in a laundry room, particularly if the space has no windows. No one wants to be trying to pair black socks in poor light.

The solution. “[Install] good lighting, and consider LED strips in cupboards and alcoves as well as overhead lighting,” Hoad says. “This will make using the utility much easier and more pleasant.” Mirrors also will help to boost the light and can make a compact room feel slightly bigger.
avenue design inc
5. Ignoring Ergonomics

Overlooking how easy, comfortable and convenient your utility room will be to use is an error.

“It’s a functional space that you, or someone else in your family, will probably use most days,” Hoad says. “So it’s really important the ergonomics work, especially because lots of utility rooms are small and squeezed to maximize space elsewhere in the home.

“It will be incredibly annoying to use frequently if you have to stretch and crouch to reach everyday appliances,” she says.

The solution. Position the most-used appliances with care first, then build storage around them. Consider locating the washing machine higher up so you don’t have to bend down to access it. An even more useful solution is to ask a cabinetmaker to build a pullout surface beneath the appliance, on which you can rest items while loading and unloading.

Pure Salt Interiors
6. Failing to Factor In Ventilation

Some laundry rooms, like the one seen here, are blessed with windows. Often, though, this functional room is squeezed into a pocket of space with no connection to the outside, in which case you’ll need to think about ventilation.

The solution. Install a ventilation fan ducted to the exterior, Hoad advises. “The appliances in the utility room will probably produce heat and moisture, so it’s really important to ventilate it to avoid problems with condensation,” she says.

7. Scrimping on Practical Extras

In a small space, it can be tempting to limit how many things you include, but that could make the utility room less functional.

The solution. You might think you don’t need one or can’t fit it in, but you’ll never regret installing a sink. “An additional sink is almost always really useful, even if there’s only room for a small one,” Hoad says.

Building in somewhere to hang and dry clothes means you might be able to say goodbye to that space-hungry dryer or reduce its use. “Always try to allocate a space for air-drying,” Dorsch says. “Use a flip-down wall rack, an undermounted hanging rail or hooks on the wall.”

“A heated towel rail is a great choice here, allowing socks and other small items to be aired easily,” Byrne adds. “A pulley rail works well too, or even a fixed clothes rail, which will allow you to air clothes on hangers.”
Studio S Squared Architecture, Inc.
8. Thinking You Don’t Need to Add Style

When designing your utility space, don’t fall into the trap of forgetting to have fun. Color, pattern and texture often are overlooked in the drive to make the space functional, but they can make a huge difference to how you feel about using it.

The solution. “Laundry is a chore, but make it the best-looking chore it can be by using colors, nice materials and good lighting and adding a bit of fun,” Dorsch says. “If you have any spare wall space, hang a picture too.”
DC Studio Architecture and Planning

Hoad stresses the importance of combining practicality with good looks. “Choose fittings, surfaces and finishes that are both attractive and hard-wearing,” she says. “Surfaces should be easy to clean but, as you’ll probably be using the room a lot, your experience will be much better if there are tiles, colors and door handles you love rather than just tolerate.” 


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