help me design my laundry closet please!

arlosmomNovember 12, 2012

Hello all, we're getting ready to finish our basement and we'll be re-configuring my laundry area as part of that. The plan is for the new laundry to fit into a closet area approximately 60" wide by 30-32" deep. I can get a new washer and dryer, or I can keep my 12 year old Whirlpool pair with top-load washer that have served me very well.

So here are my options:

Option 1:

Washer and dryer side by side with shelves above -- PROS: good laundry folding area on top of the machines, can keep current machines if desired, good storage on 2 full width shelves. CONS: no laundry sink

Option 2:

Washer/dryer stacked with laundry sink and 2 small shelves above -- PROS: laundry sink (I have a cool vintage sink that I'm hoping to use if I go this route). CON: the only laundry folding area would be behind me in the hallway, least amount of storage

Option 3:

Washer/dryer stacked with small laundry-folding table/cabinet and shelves both above and below the table -- PROS: decent storage, convenient (but small) folding area. CON: no sink

So what would you recommend? If I don't have a laundry sink, I don't have any good place to do messy stuff like wash paintbrushes. There will be a sink in the bathroom that we are also be putting in, but I'd prefer not to do too much messy stuff there, plus that sink will be small. On the other hand, can I afford to give up the space in the laundry area for a sink? I don't think I need all that much storage...laundry soap, bleach, oxy clean, paper towels can probably all fit on a small shelf. Ironing board and iron can go in the closet across the hall from the laundry area. I'll get one of those fold-down valet hooks for hanging shirts as they come out of the dryer. I'll need to keep a basket of hangers somewhere. What else am I missing?

We're finishing the basement with resale in mind about 5 years from now, so I want to do what makes the most sense both for me and for future owners. We are a family of 2, but it's a 4 bedroom house so the next owners would likely be a larger family. 100 year old house in a fairly expensive historic area. I dream about upstairs laundry, but we aren't going down that road.

Here is the vintage sink I'd like to use in the laundry (with a wall mount faucet) if the plumber can make it work:

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I think I would keep the w/d pair as long as they give you good results. But I know that leaves you without a laundry sink. I'm guessing you can't change the size of your laundry closet or go with a different set-up?

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:56AM
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P.S. If it isn't too late, I would want to change the size of the laundry space to allow for a laundry sink, plus larger machines (front loaders) in case the next family wants them, since you're planning to sell in about 5 years. I would want to have a nice laundry room, not just a closet.

Of course it's easy to say all this when one is not paying for it. :)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:00AM
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mara, thanks for the reply. It isn't really a matter of money, it's a matter of floor space available. The only way I can see to make the laundry space bigger is to eliminate the shower in the planned bathroom and make that just a half bath. If that is the tradeoff, would you still vote for a larger laundry space? There will be two finished rooms down there when we're done, one of which could be a good guest room space (or a great man cave). The other will be a rec room.

If I switch to frontloaders, I'm planning to go with 27" machines. I'm waiting to see how much ceiling height I have after we have some ductwork redone to see which stackers would fit.

I'm torn on keeping my current w/d. They've never broken down and they do a decent job, but I'm tempted by the steam technology in the new washers. Plus, if I plan around them now, but the time we sell they'll be ~17 years old.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 5:53AM
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arlosmom, a couple of things that have come to mind since I posted earlier:

~ Based on what I'm seeing in the housing market these days, very few families want the laundry space to be in the basement. (Having said that, I realize it may in fact be your only option.)

~ IF there were no bedrooms in the basement, I do think a half bath (lacking only a shower) would be acceptable. Since you indicated a guest room is a possibility, I realize this may be the major consideration on that issue.

From all I've been hearing from people who've owned washers/dryers with steam, that's not a deal breaker either way. Personally, I haven't seen a need for it.

It's not always easy these days to find washers and dryers that do what they're supposed to do -- and most new ones are expensive. This is why I would stick with the w/d you have as long as they work well. If you do keep them, you could still allow room in your laundry space for bigger frontloaders in the future.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 6:26AM
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hi mara! Unfortunately, I think laundry in the basement is the only option for this house unless we want to give up one of the second floor bedrooms (which I don't think makes sense and would entail WAY more intrusive construction than we want). I agree that it's not ideal, but it is what it is.

I sketched out a couple of ideas for the basement space...would you mind taking a look?

Here is the current basement overall. The door on the right by the toilet leads to the new part of the basement under our kitchen addition. That space is already finished and is what I'm calling potential guest room/man cave. It has outside egress through a pair of "Dorothy doors". So the way it is now you come down stairs from the breakfast room into an unfinished basement with a cement floor, low ductwork and rubble stone walls and wind your way past open laundry, furnace, a non-functioning toilet in a tiny wood enclosure to reach the nice finished space. It's a pretty odd setup. The black dots in the sketch are steel support beams.

We had an HVAC guy out yesterday who can fix most of the ducting issues. Our thought is to drywall the whole left section of the basement, adding lots of lighting and tile or pergo floors. This will give us a 12' by 24' rec room (we currently have a smallish living room and no family room upstairs, so I think this space will be important to future buyers). The plan is to use the upper right quadrant of the space for the utility functions of the basement: laundry, bathroom, furnace room. Plumbing and gas lines are already there, so I think this makes sense. It also has to serve as the hallway to the new portion of the basement. My husband's beloved workshop would get drywall and a door, but would otherwise be untouched.

Here is the idea that I think I like best so far. A stacking washer and dryer and the laundry sink would be behind double pocket doors. The pocket doors would open all the way and stow in the wall by the shower. There would be a cabinet with storage below and space to fold laundry just opposite the laundry. There could be an upper cabinet or open shelves above. Access to the storage closet (which will have pretty low headroom due to ducting) would be from the rec room.

Here is the other idea that I'm also considering. The stacked washer/dryer and sink would be behind double doors that swing open on heavy-duty hinges. On the inside of the left door, I could hang my iron and ironing board. On the inside of the right door would be a fold-down table. The right door would open all the way against the wall backing up to the shower and the table (I think it could be about 3' by 2') would unfold into the hallway space. In this plan, the access to the storage closet would be across from the laundry.

If I wanted to keep the washer and dryer side-by-side and still have a sink, I'd have to put the sink where the shower is in the sketches above. I think it makes more sense to stack machines, keep to a smaller laundry footprint, and have a full bath with shower.

So what do you think? Are either of these pretty decent substitutes for a laundry room? Thanks so much for taking the time to look and to make it through all of my rambling!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:38AM
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arlosmom, your "rambling" makes perfect sense to me. :)

I don't know what Dorothy doors are, but I love pocket doors. They are really great in tight or snug places where doors that swing open would be in the way.

I see much more clearly now why you want to use a stacking w/d -- a pic really is worth a thousand words.

IMHO, as one who has never done a basement renovation (keep that in mind), both of your ideas look equally good to me. I rarely ever have to iron anymore (did I say I love my washer and dryer?), but I do like the idea of having the ironing board so handy if you need it.

My DIL could tell you exactly what to do, lol -- she is an amateur designer, but everything she's ever done (in her house and other houses too) looks great, like it cost much more than it did. Unfortunately, she's working long hours and is rarely available.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:03AM
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P.S. I forgot to mention -- I really like Option 3 in your post above. I would want the sink.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 4:04AM
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mara, "Dorothy doors" might be my own made-up term...think Wizard of Oz and those slanting cellar doors that Dorothy struggles with when the tornado is coming. That's what we have at the back of the house and what the exterior door of the addition leads to.

We have our contractor and his plumber coming over today, so all of your help has been SO appreciated. I think that my game plan for now is to build the laundry space for a stackable set, using the sink in the photo if the plumber can make it work. For the time being, I'll put my old top load Whirlpool in the new laundry space and keep the old dryer in the new rec room. I'll have the new dryer vent run, but I won't use it until I buy a stackable set.

It's been very helpful to be able to bounce my ideas off of you. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 7:16AM
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