Wash, dry, fold, repeat. Sound familiar? If you spend copious amounts of time loading and unloading the washer and dryer—and dreading it—we’ve got good news: Laundry doesn’t have to be such a drag—at least, not when your laundry room is a thing of beauty. Read on for inspiration photos, tips, and tricks to upgrade this utilitarian space into a sanctuary that showcases form and maximizes function.
Texture & Pattern
Laundry nooks tend to be catchall spaces, and that central role makes them deserving of some extra attention, says Cassy Kicklighter Poole, owner of Denver-based Kaleidoscope Design. Her easy fix: Add pattern. Better yet, add a few. The key to making it all click, she says, is to “pay attention to the scales of the patterns and to particular colors.” You want elements with similar colors or shared palettes, but the size or scale of the patterns should contrast.
Not sure where to start? Begin with one foundational element and pull themes from there. In the laundry room pictured below, Poole began with the floor and customized the coral color of the swirling lines. “I actually drew out the floor design, then pulled the scales of pattern down elsewhere”—like on the Roman shade fabric. She compares the process to planning an outfit: “People understand that you can use large, wide stripes in the same outfit as tiny, skinny stripes because the contrast is great enough that the effect is actually complementary. We’re using the same philosophy with design.”
Poole also favors contrasting textures: “It’s the juxtaposition of materials that gives the room depth and sophistication,” she says. “It’s exactly why the Roman shade is there—to add a softer element to a space with lots of hard surfaces. Even the rolling canvas bins soften the space texturally.” Poole’s goal was to “ditch the idea that the laundry room is synonymous with tedious chores. We wanted to make it a bright pulse of energy.” Pass the Tide.
Laundry likely isn’t the sexiest part of your to-do list—which is why you should choose a bright color to make your laundry space more appealing, says designer Emily Tucker, owner of Boulder-based Emily Tucker Design. “My approach is to make it cheerful and playful,” she says—but rich, bright, or bold colors can feel like a big leap from the safety of cream or white.
Tucker’s advice: “Pick a [cabinet] color you would never use to paint a bedroom or a living room or any room you spend your life in,” she says, acknowledging that bold hues could feel somewhat overwhelming in larger common areas. “And always get a sample to test it out.” Second: “Choose colors that don’t have electricity to them,” she says. “As in, avoid a kind of yellow brightness. Deep, rich, gray undertones read really nicely.”
If you’re still nervous, Tucker says, it’s OK to start small. Her strategy: Paint the panel profile on the cabinet doors a bold or saturated color and leave the cabinets white. This technique adds subtle color—alternatively, it may give you the reassurance you need to go ahead with full color on the door and drawer faces. “Paint can really change a space,” she says. “The worst that can happen is you have to repaint.”
Bonus tip: Add color and interest to your ho-hum floor with solid-colored tiles arranged in a pattern—as opposed to patterned tiles in a repeat arrangement—like the gray and white stripes on the floor of Tucker’s own laundry room (pictured above).
No matter how sleek or eye-catching, a laundry room is only as good as its usefulness. “My philosophy with any space is function first,” says Chris Awadalla, principal of Denver-based Sanctuary Kitchen & Bath Design. “With any remodel, there’s usually an underlying need to make it function better.”
So, before you chase those dreams of trendy wallpaper and a sculptural chandelier, Awadalla recommends focusing on your storage needs. “You do your washing and drying in there; how about ironing? Think about how your family uses the room, and which items you need to have in there. For instance, most people need space for a waste bin. Meet with your designer and go through your must-haves. Do this a couple of times.”
Once you have a list of things you’d like to keep handy, think creatively about ways you can hide—or at least organize—them. For instance, a company called Iron-A-Way “can integrate the ironing board into pretty much anything,” says Awadalla, who tapped the company to help create a sleek storage setup (pictured above) that incorporates practical shelving—including handy bins for tidy storage—around the foldaway ironing unit.
Incorporating ample space for laundry room tasks, from stain removal to folding clothes, is a must. If you have the square footage, a mobile work table can make laundry cycles run much more smoothly. “In this room, we skipped the island in favor of a table on casters,” Awadalla says. “It’s kind of cool to get an old table and repurpose it for more workspace. The more folding space you can get, the better.”