It suddenly occurred to me that water is a selling feature in any house. Think about it … we're always told that kitchens and bathrooms are the key rooms to help reap rewards on renovation dollars spent as they contribute to higher sale prices on homes. If my "have water, sell higher" equation really nets out, I'm adding the laundry room to the list of spaces that deserve to be re-vamped in savvy style. There's no rule that says you must devote upgrade dollars to your laundry room, but I think it's safe to say that it won't likely be wasted if you decide to sell your house. Don't get me wrong - I don't think you need glitz and glam while you fluff and fold, but a simple, stylish makeover of your domestic dungeon doesn't need to be viewed as an extravagance.
Roll out the colour
Due to the fundamental need for a floor drain, many laundry rooms feature a dramatically sloped floor that makes the installation of tile or stone tricky. If you're starting with an old concrete floor, why not consider a material that can simply be laid in place by rolling it out and gluing it down? Rubber flooring comes in a multitude of shades that range from safe to sorbet (if you're hankering for lime green, lemon yellow, mandarin or cherry, you're in luck!). This hardwearing floor with rubber dots has been a favourite for industrial use for decades, so it's ready to handle the task of laundry.
Put it on a pedestal
No matter how you look at it, household laundry is a chore, so you might as well do whatever is possible to make it less painful. Instead of bending over to reach deep into the far crevices of your washer and dryer (to find that elusive missing sock), why not raise the overall height of your machines up by putting them on pedestals? Since laundry pedestals add up to 15 inches to your washer and dryer, there's much less bending involved. With built-in drawers to hold cleaning supplies, these pedestals provide additional storage at a reasonable price.
Keep it lean
Laundry rooms are often used to store extra bedding and linens, but it can be challenging to keep everything well organized according to room, size, and function. Large cupboards can easily become a jumble of disorganization, with no clear delineation of what goes where. It seems to me that most folded items (such as sheets, towels, pillowcases, etc.) are relatively narrow, with an overall folded width of less than 10 inches, so my solution was to use a pair of locker-like cabinets which would facilitate designating a single shelf to each type of item being stored.
Hang it out
If you're trying to cut down on your utility bills and extend the life of your clothes, it makes sense to install a rod for hang drying. An added bonus of the two tall storage towers is that they provide the optimum anchor position to attach a hanging rod. If you want a good quality rod that's a notch up from the standard tension rod (which is guaranteed to collapse and bonk you on the head at an inopportune time), head to a fixture supply company and buy a chrome closet rod with metal flange ends. Proper installation at the outset means it will last for the long haul.
Shipping and receiving
The laundry process necessitates a constant ebb and flow of items coming in and going out, so the goal is to make the process run as seamlessly as possible. Since it all arrives in a jumble and leaves destined for multiple recipients, I want to make the chore as simple as possible. With a long shelf or counter, you can fold it, sort it, stack it, and send it on its way to the place it belongs, while creating distinct piles for all the people in the house so they can come and fetch their belongings (unless you happen to have a laundry fairy who magically returns all clean clothes to their destined drawers…).
I know art is not high on your priority list for the laundry room (in fact, I can hear eyes rolling at the mere mention of it!), but there's nothing wrong with adding a little dressing to the walls if it doesn't cost much. As a child I loved sifting through my mom's button collection and admiring the colours, textures, materials and details, while dreaming about what I could make. As a professional, I still love buttons (the button store is one of my favourite places to visit). I believe you can frame anything, and appreciate the simple decorative beauty of everyday objects.
If reduce, reuse recycle is your mantra, you're going to love these counters. Made of 75 per cent recycled content from post-industrial or post-consumer materials and bound by resin (which comes in part from corn oil), these cool counters are an alternative to traditional stone, with delicate flecks that look like beach glass (a natural continuum on my summer skies palette).
The Signature Sarah
When working on a room that has no "features" to write home about, I'm left searching for a direction. If it's a windowless basement bunker, my mind drifts to a mood more reminiscent of a summer afternoon (imagine blue skies, a light breeze, rays of sunshine…and voila, that drab workroom starts shaping up into a lighthearted laundry lab!). Since your laundry room is likely small in stature it's an ideal location to experiment with colour, mix it up, and have some fun. You can play it safe with the cabinetry and counters, but for goodness sake, live a little and splash some pretty paint on the walls!
Sarah Richardson hosts Sarah 101, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. sarahrichardsondesign.com; http://www.hgtv.ca/sarah101
Washer, dryer, vanity & pair of linen towers - Lowes www.lowes.ca
Rubber floor - Centura Floor & Wall Fashions - available through Merit Decorating www.centura.ca
Counters - Eco by Cosentino www.ecobycosentino.com
Fabrication & install of counters - Elite Stone Design Corp. www.elitestone.ca
Backsplash tile - Olympia Tile www.olympiatile.com
Painted green stand, corbels, hardware - The Door Store www.thedoorstore.ca
Light fixture, woven baskets - Chair Table Lamp 416.934.1021
White stool - The Queen West Antiques Center 416.588.2212
Vintage clock - Morba www.morba.ca
Wicker & woven laundry baskets - Angus & Co. www.angusandcompany.ca
Fabric for wicker laundry baskets - inVU Drapery Co. www.invudraperyco.com
Ironing board - Bianco Plus by Sarahband 416.929.9676
Lacquer for vanity & linen towers - Pro Glo Paints www.torontopaintstore.com
Spraying of furniture - Benjamen Furniture Refinishing 416.745.2559
Custom artwork - Elgin Pictures & Frames www.elginpictureandframe.com
Buttons for artwork - Queen's Fabric & Buttons 416.504.6464
Hangers - IKEA www.ikea.com
Para Colours - Para Paint www.para.com - www.sarahpaint.com
Walls - Butter SR6 (P5059-34)
Ceiling - Retreat SR2 (P5166-24)
Cabinets - Frayed SR47 (P5202-34)