Awash with possibilities

Fluff and fold in a luxe laundry room.

There’s an enter-at-your-own-risk zone in every Colorado Springs home where socks mysteriously disappear, pocket change is recovered and people occasionally emerge in pink when a red bandanna goes astray in a load of whites.

The average American household does six loads of laundry per week, according to a study conducted by Procter & Gamble. Clearly, the laundry room is a hangout for more than just clothes.

Surprisingly, creating a fabulous and functional laundry room needn’t be time consuming. As with most home improvement projects, it can be accomplished in phases. Whatever your tastes or space size, focus on three key elements: location, tools and decor.

Location, location, location!

“Consumers spend a lot of time in their laundry rooms and aren’t willing to push such a workable space to the basement or spare room any longer,” says Audrey Reed-Granger of Whirlpool. For convenience, laundry rooms are migrating to more livable spaces in the home – near bedrooms and baths.

Combination kitchen and laundry rooms are viable options for Colorado Springs homeowners with open floor plans. New washers and dryers coordinate with kitchen appliances.

Even homes that don’t have the space for a luxe laundry room are enjoying upgrades. Designers are making clever use of closets and hallways, converting them into practical laundry centers tucked behind louvered doors.

Efficient tools of the trade

When your appliances are past their prime, consider replacing them with models that excel in energy efficiency. “While cost once drove purchases, consumers are now looking at water and energy savings as well as performance,” Reed-Granger says. One of the easiest ways to zero in on these is to look for Energy Star®-rated appliances. “These washers are not only better for the environment but save money along the way,” says John Weinstock, vice president of marketing, LG Electronics USA.

Among washer types, front-load models use significantly less water than top loaders. In the last five years, manufacturer shipments of front-load washers have tripled from 9 percent to 29 percent, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

“One of the newest innovations is washers with 400 rpm high spin speed cycles that extract more water from clothes so drying time, the energy guzzler of most households, is reduced,” says Wolfgang Bednar of Ariston Appliances North America. New steam washers, which have generators that refresh clothes and remove wrinkles and odors without water or detergent, also provide considerable energy savings.

In addition, there are side-by-side stackable front-load and space-savings all-in-one combo washer/dryer units. Several options exist for saving floor space and optimizing efficiency of such a tight work area. “If possible, incorporate ironing and folding stations into the design of the laundry room so there’s no need to carry baskets of clothes into a bedroom to fold them,” advises Matt Kueny, senior product manager, Miele, Inc.

Some more ideas include:

Halogen or other glare minimizing lighting
A table or surface for folding
A clock for timing special soaks
A built-in ironing board
An over-the-door drying rack
A portable two or three section laundry sorter
A soaking sink with towel bar above
A lost-and-found bin
Modular cabinetry, installed above eashers and dryers, keeps essentials out of sight but within reach.

In Style

Gone are boxy silhouettes. Appliances now come with curved fronts and softly rounded edges in midnight blue, wild cherry, titanium and stainless hues.

Attractive surroundings always make tasks more pleasant. Perk up your laundry room with a fresh coat of paint and hang wall art. Tile backsplashes add visual interest and protect walls from potential water damage. Also, consider stone, tile or rubber flooring for a designer touch. They are also practical for use in areas near water.

With all these wonderful new ways to brighten and enjoy your laundry room, you’ll be looking for reasons to get your clothes dirty.

As published in My Home Life, a DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen magazine

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