LAUNDRY AREAS

A lot of laundry is generated in the vicinity of the bathroom, from dirty clothes to towels and wash cloths. Plus, there are likely to be bedrooms nearby, with sheets and pillowcases.

Planning a laundry area in or near the bathroom makes a lot of sense. It is a time – and work-saver as dirty clothes, towels, and bed linens do not need to be carried to another part of the house for washing and drying, and then carried back to their area of use and/or storage. In addition, a laun­dry requires plumbing, which is already in the bathroom. For these reasons, your client may be considering incorporating a laundry in or near the bathroom.

What Type of Laundry?

Some people like the idea of having a complete laundry area centrally located near the bedrooms and bathrooms for convenience. Others may choose a "mini-laundry" area right in the bathroom for wash­ing towels or doing quick loads of laundry while bathing, grooming, or dressing. Still other people may want to use the bathroom to rinse out or hand-wash single items, and then hang them up to drip-dry.

The client needs assessment (chapter 5) should reveal what type of laundry area your client might like, in or near the bathroom. In addition, the checklists will help determine what type of laundry activities, equipment, and supplies will need to be accommodated in the design. This section gives some specific information about planning a laundry area.

A laundry area in or near the bathroom can be convenient, but there are some factors to consider first.

• Who will use the laundry area?

A laundry area used by different members of the household needs to be centrally located for easy access. A personal or "mini-laundry" in the master suite might make sense for individual use, but not for the whole family. A laundry area near the bathroom might save hauling laundry to and from different parts of the house. However, a laundry area near the kitchen or family room might actually be more centrally located to family activities and thus more convenient to use.

• Is there adequate space for a laundry area?

A laundry area is more than a washing machine. A well-designed complete laundry includes stor­age, hanging and folding space, a sink, and adequate clearance to move and complete tasks. A mini-laundry may only be a combination or stacked washer and dryer. Will the laundry area inter­fere with other activities and space needs associated with the bathroom?

• What about access to the laundry?

All users need access to the laundry without invading the private space of bathroom users. Another factor is door and hall width clearance for carrying laundry baskets and hanging clothes. If an outside clothesline is used, there needs to be a direct route to the outdoors.

• What about noise associated with laundry equipment?

Many busy households put in loads of laundry late at night. This might be a problem when the laundry equipment is adjacent to the sleeping space.

• Is it feasible to provide the infrastructure for a laundry area in or near the bathroom?

Water supply and drainage for the washing machine and electrical or gas connections, as well as exhaust ventilation for the dryer all need to be considered. The floor structure may need reinforc­ing for the weight or vibration of laundry equipment. A floor drain is good protection in the event of a leak or other water problem. These features may be easy to provide in new construction, but more of a problem in a remodeling project.

• What about the mess of the laundry area?

Laundry areas can be messy. Laundry areas seem to collect clothes waiting for special treatment, or to be folded, ironed, or repaired. This is a utility area of the home, and many people prefer to close it off from other areas.