A word on design: Laundry comes alive

The laundry is the tireless workhorse that will continue to live on for as long as we’re all wearing clothes on a regular basis.

We dedicate this space to washing clothes, storing cleaners, storing brooms, storing garden equipment – just about everything under the banner of miscellaneous can be found here. So why is it that so many laundries come well under the bar when it comes to purpose and functionality? 

I know this all too well as we are currently bundled up in our two-bedroom rental as we wait to purchase a home. Our current laundry set-up includes a 2 metre by 2metre room with no door. 

Alert one,  laundry appliances are noisy. Alert two, there is  no bench space, I’ve been using the top of the hot water system to dry my husband’s socks. 

It is frustrating seeing poorly designed rooms when it’s easy to  design a room that works right at the beginning. I can’t number laundry designs I’ve done for my clients and it is amazing what people just put up with for so long before they decide to make a change and fix the problem.

For any working family I’m sure you find that it’s a never-ending cycle of washing and folding clothes. 

So how about we look at how this space can be improved with a few simple design keys.

 ■   1. Storage is at the top of the list; without it you have a room that doesn’t work and is wasting space. Think about all  the things you can store in a laundry. Buckets, mop, brooms, vacuum cleaner, sewing machine and linen. For many of my clients I’ve incorporated pull-out laundry hampers; you could even have two to separate whites and colours. Every item needs a space specifically designed around it so make a list of what you want to house in your laundry.

 ■   2. You need bench space in order for this room to work. Make sure your benchtops are a minimum 600mm deep as  this will allow enough room for you to comfortably work on.  

■   3.  Select a laundry tub that is deep; having a tub deep enough will allow you to soak clothes in it and even wash the dog. There are plenty of  tubs on the market from  stainless steel to the more traditional Butler sinks made from vitreous china.

 ■   4.  Have a think about clever solutions or engage a designer, who will know all  the tricks at the drop of a hat. Robin Hood ironing boards have been around for a long time and they are once again making an appearance in modern laundry design. A Robin Hood is essentially an ironing board that folds up into a vertical compartment that can be mounted to or into the wall cavity. The newest versions are all made from aluminium so you are guaranteed strength and longevity. And it’s great because it’s out of the way, just pull it down for use and then fold it straight back up when you’re done.

A clever tip is to select a sink mixer with a pull-out spray. Having the option of pulling the sink nozzle out makes it extremely convenient when rinsing items,  and even better if you’re filling up a bucket. You can leave the bucket on the benchtop and pull the sink mixer over to it instead of trying to squeeze the bucket into the sink – I know we’ve all done this before. It  is simple design ideas like this that will save you time and effort, and don’t think that because it’s a new design it must have a hefty price tag: you can pick up an Australian designed and made pull-out spray mixer for  under $400 

■Sarah Nolen is a designer from Birdblack Design. Check out  facebook.com.au/birdblackdesign.