Need design help on laundry/office addition

weedyacresJune 19, 2014

We're demolishing this little shack of a laundry room and building a larger one with a proper foundation and structure.

Here's the general plan

And an elevation with the general idea of wall/roof interface (ignore windows; I pulled this off the internet).

Finally, here's the tentative layout.

Background on the house/us/our needs:
We're an empty nester couple, this house is a scant 920 sf with a low-overhead basement, 2 bed/1 bath, built in 1920. We bought it for next to nothing and are DIY renovating it. It's a modest worker's cottage and when completely fixed up will only be worth around $60K, so this whole project is low budget (but decent quality).

We downsized from 4000 sf, and we've gotten rid of a lot of our crap, but we are still working on the challenge of seeing if we can properly fit into this tiny space.

There is currently a 5x6 laundry room that's shoddily built. While we're doing it properly, we're making it bigger. We want the space to house laundry room and office so that we can use 1 bedroom for sleeping and 1 for a closet. We could also use a 2nd toilet in the house. And we have a chest freezer and a chest built by Mr. Weedy's grandfather that need a place. So we've dumped all that into this space.

My design questions:
1. Any general layout feedback?
2. The rest of the house has 8'6" ceilings. Should we match that in this room?
3. The adjoining room is a kitchen, and it has subfloor + hardwood + underlayment + sheet vinyl (tried and failed to make the hardwood pretty). This room will have the same sheet vinyl. Should we build so the addition's subfloor is even with the kitchen's subfloor or with the kitchen's hardwood? The former seems more "proper" but the latter would mean no need for a 2nd layer of plywood to bring the level up.
4. Windows: 2 in the back (facing south), and one planned over the washer/dryer facing the front of the house. It won't be that ok? And should we also have a window in the powder room or will that look funny?
5. For the passage between kitchen and laundry, should we put a door or just case it out and leave it an open doorway?

Thanks for any and all input.

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Anyone? Anyone?

Gosh, I've never gone a whole day without responses. Too much info? Too little? Too weird? Too tired? It's Friday and everyone's at the pool? :-)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 4:59PM
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Fori is not pleased


I don't know much, but I don't think a door between the rooms is needed. It looks like you are planning a rather nice addition and it doesn't need to be hidden (and the opening isn't very big anyway). Leave it open for extra light.

On the light topic, are you sure you don't want a window on the office wall? I know it would cut into the office, but it would be awfully nice to have a window over the desk.

A window in a powder room is never wrong (unless it's clear glass). I'd need to see a sketch of the whole thing before committing to windows. I don't THINK it needs to be centered (and a PR window would add another complexity to that anyway) but I don't have a clear enough idea of the house to know for sure.

I'm sure there is a reason the PR is positioned the way it is, but if it could use the space labeled "linen", could it be a smidge narrower left-to-right to allow centering the window? That PR looks larger than it needs to be (I love how compact old house PRs can be! I have one that is less than 4' x less than 5' and it has the sink and toilet side-by-side on the short wall. I knew I liked my architect when she looked at it and said "you don't want to change this do you?"), but perhaps you're planning for accessibility? And does your pocket door really fit into that wall? :)

For the flooring, well, it would be nice to have it level but you can get away with a lot on these cute little old houses. And I'd retain the ceiling height unless it adds considerable expense or makes it difficult to plug in the new roof line.

ANyway, bump.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:00PM
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which direction, cardinally, does this addition face? (your cabinet wall--what direction is that?)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:12PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

It’s a nice concept to have an office and a laundry and a first floor lav all in that one space. It caught my eye, because I’ve debated turning a spare room into a first floor laundry with an office and a mud room, but couldn’t interest my husband in the idea.

I like the idea of a window over the desk as well, so you are not sitting at a desk, facing a wall. I don’t see why you would need a window over the washer dryer. I assume the reason is because the washer dryer is on the wall that is the front of the house and you are trying to arrange windows that look right on the exterior. If so, have you thought of putting the desk and file cabinet where the washer/dryer is and vice versa? I can see that maybe you are trying to keep the plumbing together. So, not sure how far you’d want to go in exploring other options.

What is on the opposite wall where the window is?
If that is a backdoor that comes into the kitchen through that ‘utility/office’ room, have you considered working out a mudroom arrangement too? Somewhere to put muddy shoes and seating to sit down to take them off?

I’m eyeing the other wall which seems to have some wasted space.

Sorry, I can’t address your other questions.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:31PM
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The office wall faces the neighbor's driveway, so I'm not sure I want a view of that, or them to have a view into our kitchen thus. (We do like our neighbors).

Rotating the PR 90 degrees is an option. I'll see what that does. I thought 6' long was about the I wrong on that?

The front of the house faces north, the office wall faces east.

The door goes into the back yard. Mudroom space would be nice but it's a lower priority than the other stuff. Do you see a way to fit that in?

The chest under the one window is the one mr. Weedy's grandpa made.

The thought about laundry and office in their respective locations is one for the plumbing and second I don't like running into a desk chair that's poking out from the side wall (current arrangement in our spare bedroom). But if the PR is rotated that might be less of an issue. I will try it out.

My question about floor levels is about subfloor: do we have an inch and a half or 3/4"? Final floor levels will be even. But having 1.5" would allow someone in future to take out the top layer and put in hardwood or tile without it all being higher than the kitchen floor. Perhaps I'm over-planning for an unknown future that is someone else's problem. :-)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:21AM
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Is this a addition coming off the front of the house? Or the back?

I'm assuming it's off the back. If it's off the back, window alignment isn't quite as important. I would keep the windows over the w/d, and I would add a small window to the powder room.

I understand your point about not wanting to look at your neighbors driveway. But maybe high windows, just to let natural light in?

Your base cabinet between the w/d and desk won't be very usable since it's tucked in the corner. It may be better to continue the run next to the desk.

What are the upper cabinets for? Wondering if open shelving would be a (cheaper) option.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:16AM
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OK, here's a revised layout (please excuse the slapped-together format, as it was simpler as I was shifting things around). I rotated the PR and then shifted everything else around. That allows for symmetry in the windows facing the front of the house.

Note that it's upside-down orientation from the original layout above.

There would still be upper cabinets over the w/d and desk area, and it allows for a larger floor-to-ceiling linen closet than version 1.

Mr. Weedy says he doesn't mind the more spread-out plumbing arrangement. :-)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 8:43AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I’d like to make suggestions that might be actually helpful but I find I have all these questions. I like the idea of your project, having been very interested in this new trend toward downsizing and getting as much out of a small space as possible.

Is your only bathroom on the 1st or 2nd floor? Does the one bathroom you have now have a shower and a tub? Is there a linen closet near it or anywhere else in the house? Is there a chance you could sell the chest freezer and purchase a stand up freezer? Is there another place for the chest that grandfather Weedy built? What are the dimensions of that chest and what will you use it for?

The photo of your house is of the back correct? and the new room would be to the left of that picture window in the middle of the back of the house right? And will line up with that exterior wall on that side of the house and go back 15ft from the existing house? The back wall without windows would be the wall facing the viewer of that photo you posted? Which sides are north, south and is it east or west on the other wall? Where will the door on this room exit into the yard and what will be on the outside of it? A landing with steps or a porch?

Is there a chance you would be gardening or planning to plant trees or shrubs for screen from views you don’t like? Vegetable gardening at all? Houseplants? Or a patio or sitting area near the house?

Could you post more photos of the house from different angles and what the view would be from the new room on all three sides? Just what you feel comfortable to post.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:39AM
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House is only 1 story, bath is on the main floor. It has a shower/tub combo and sufficient storage for daily-used bathroom stuff but not linens. No linen storage anywhere else. Each of the 11'x11' bedrooms has a 6' closet and that's it.

The chest freezer is a small one (36 or 39" wide). We really don't need a full-size stand-up freezer.

Grandpa Weedy's chest can't go anywhere else. The spare room will have an armoire and 3 dressers and there's no more wall space than that. It's about 3' wide and 4' high and 2' deep (from memory; it's in a storage unit right now). Well, hmmm, I wonder if we could fit it in the living room. I'll have to mull that one over.

The photo up top is of the east side of the house. The addition will be built where you see the exposed blue insulation, coming out 15' instead of 5' as it is now, and with a decent roofline.

The door on this room will exit onto a landing with stairs going down to a patio in the backyard (current 18x18 slab).

Here's a photo from the back of the yard which shows the back of the house, the raised bed veggie garden we've got, and the neighbor's house and driveway.

And here's the front (faces north) and east side of the house.

The back yard has a couple large shade trees, so we don't anticipate putting any more in. We might plant one on the east side closer to the front of the house than the one we just took out.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 11:17AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Very nice little house. Great that you have a porch on the front. You could convert that to a screened porch at some point if you needed to. I can see why you had to take down that tree. Looks a little close to the house and at a precarious angle.

So the back wall of the new room without windows is on the East side of the house. and the north side of that room would look out toward that picture window in the middle of the house on the East side. The wall that has the exterior door faces south. I think I’ve got it now.

Window placement would seem to be important. Considerations would be, are you going to be spending a lot of time in that room? Will you want to look out on any particular area while there? While sitting at the desk? What kind of light will you want? Strong hot light from the South, morning light from the east, soft dim light from the North? Will you want to grow any seedlings for your vegetable garden in the early spring from south windows in that room? Or do you have another location to do that? Or houseplants? From the outside of the addition, if you have one wall with no windows, will it look odd on that East side? You would want cross ventilation so north and south is pretty good. Do you get hot in the summer where you are? Would windows on the East provide more ventilation and cross ventilation for the rest of your house if you had windows on that East side, directly across from your kitchen door?

I would think some of the uses for that space will be just pass through kind of activity with the exception of doing laundry and using the desk for office work. Will you be doing ironing there too? Will you need a place to hang up shirts on hangers? Do you need a hamper and a place to fold clothes? I would think through how I wanted to do the laundry and what I was going to do at the desk and for how long and how to make those activities perfectly comfortable, pleasant and convenient for you.

In a room with so many uses, having a place for everything and everything in it's place becomes more important. You don't want to end up with laundry all over your desk every time you need to use it.

I can see why you would want another small bath. And that you could use space for linens.

If you already have a chest freezer, I understand that you feel you don’t need a larger one, but if the chest freezer takes up 39” on the wall, that’s a sizable amount, especially in view of the fact you have to open the top of it and can’t put anything else above it. They do make upright freezers that are ‘no defrost’ and are pretty small capacity and a small footprint that might take an upper cabinet above it. And they do seem to be more easily accessed especially as you get older with less flexibility and creakiness. [g] Just something to consider.

With the Weedy Chest -- is there a front entry that it would fit near, to put keys etc as you come in the door? If not, then you could use it in this room and maybe find or build something that will fit above it to extend to the ceiling for storage in the way of that ‘mud room’ function you were trying to fit in. Or could you use it to put a television on top of in the LR or Bedroom?

Looking at Plan #1 and Plan #2, I think the bathroom is in the correct corner of the room, not sure which position yet. The exterior door needs to be on that south wall to go down to the 18 x18 cement slab for a sitting area outside. Where the door and the windows are, is not certain to me. Having the door in the middle of that wall, keeps you from using that corner where the chest is to full capacity. I can see moving the door closer to the washer and dryer in plan #2 to allow more wall space between the door and the kitchen. If the chest was not there, you could put two windows together, with a bench under it to sit and take off muddy boots. The bench could have a flip top that would have storage under it. It could have space under it for boot trays to put wet boots. On the part of the wall that is shared by the kitchen, you could have some hooks to hang coats.

Or in plan #1, you could place the Weedy chest on that wall that shares the kitchen, so the chest faces east and put hooks for jackets on the wall above it. You could move the doorway closer to the kitchen with just enough clearance for the chest and have more room for the same arrangement with a bench under two windows, going the other way.

These two windows side by side, could do double duty as a place to grow plants in the spring since they face south.

Is there a chance you might want your desk in the corner where the freezer or washer dryer is? Or would it be too hot with sun coming in from the south? Or would you be using it at night?

I would want some windows on that East wall. If you had two on the south wall, I might try to put one on each of the other walls. Maybe on the East wall one window high on the wall, if you don’t like the view, but enough to give you ventilation and light. Especially with so much sun coming in from the south, it could make the room hot. Then on the north wall of that room, the window could go where it is the most convenient and looks the most balanced from the exterior.

I’m sorry to throw so many ideas at you, I hope you won't be overwhelmed, but rather, it's just brainstorming. While you are thinking about it, I would hold onto what you like the most about your own plans and what you are looking forward to the most. You probably have thought of all these things already, but just in case you hadn’t. :-) Even one idea that helps is of value. Reject any and all that don't help you.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 1:08PM
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I find I actually prefer the first.
I think you are not quite allowing enough space for your 1/2 bath... Also, I am not sure what the middle of the floor space is really getting for you. Have you tried it with a 1/2 bath that is square--5x5? Or, just a toilet room with a sink that is accessible to the laundry as well?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 1:19PM
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weedy, can you stack your washer and dryer? If so, you gain a nice chunk of floor space.

I have cabinets over my W/D, and since I'm short, they are hard to access. I don't keep anything above the first shelf that I need regularly.

I also had the same thought as kirkall, that you have a lot of floor space in the middle, when what you need is wall space. Can you make the addition a bit longer and narrower?

I like prairie's idea of putting a TV on the Grandpa Weedy chest. The TV in my living room sits on my grandma's cedar chest.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 2:15PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

If you iron, or need room for a rolling hamper or rolling rack to hang shirts on, you might need some of that floor space. Unless you can incorporate a pull out hamper in a base cabinet or one tall floor to ceiling cabinet that included a fold down ironing board, with a built in hamper and place to put your iron and spray bottle. Nowadays, my daughter tells me, that a lot of people use steamers instead of ironing. Maybe you could find room to include one of those if you do? Maybe you need two shelves for laundry baskets.?

I forgot to ask, if you would be planning on using a window air conditioner in any of those windows?

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Tue, Jun 24, 14 at 15:04

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 2:55PM
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Wow, lots of great food for thought. Thanks everyone!

A few responses, and I'll try up a few more designs tonight when I get home.

We don't anticipate spending a lot of time in the room. Some computer work, but not a work-from-home scenario or anything. Don't much care if there's a view from the desk, and in fact, incoming sun could interfere with the monitor.

Laundry for us consists of accumulating it in the closet area in baskets and toting it to the washer when needed, then pulling it out of the dryer into the basket and going back to the closet to hang and fold it. A little bit of staging space is fine (top of the dryer is sufficient), a long folding area isn't necessary. I can't remember the last time either of us ironed. :-p I did use a retractable clothesline we had in our last house, for hang-dry stuff.

The whole point of the south facing window(s) is to start my veggie seedlings indoors. :-) I'll play around with shifting the door over and putting the windows together.

It gets hot here in the summer, but very humid, so other than a short period in spring and fall, we don't open the windows for breezes, we just live in the A/C. We'll pipe the central air to this room. In the summer the sun hits most on east and west windows. In the winter we get it through the south windows.

Chest freezer: we could put a wall cabinet over it. We could also leave it in the basement if necessary. It would just be nicer to have it nearer the kitchen.

Grandpa Weedy's chest could possibly go in the LR where we've currently got a narrow foyer table. And the foyer table could swap to this room. I'll have to measure it and see. It won't fit in either of the tiny bedrooms. We don't have a TV.

Bathroom: I'll try some 5x5-ish layouts and see how they work. That might help with the window situation.

We can't stack the w/d. They're traditional style.

We can make the addition narrower. Not much longer due to setbacks. But I'm afraid too much narrower would look like an odd appendage.

Whew! I'll try out some more arrangements and post them later.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 5:31PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

If starting vegetables in the spring in south facing windows is a want, maybe you could have either 'garden' windows, or an exaggerated sill, so that you can put pots, six packs or trays on the sill with enough room to place another shelf inside the window frame above the sill to have two layers of pots? You could also store some of your garden supplies in the bench if you go w that idea. You can also get some pretty thick blackout shades on the South windows for when the summer heats up. Nice that you don't need a window for your a/c.

I would absolutely design a place for the chest freezer rather than leaving it down in the basement. Really a nice convenience to be that close to the kitchen.

If you do a 5x5ft bathroom, what about a sink that might be more utility style? Something to use for your planting seedlings, for emptying a bucket of dirty water when you wash the floor, washing out a sweater by hand, etc. And if you make the bathroom large enough, could you put the linen closet inside the bath? Have no idea if that will help in any way, but just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 6:30PM
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Wow, enlarging the PR actually increases the options because there's more wall space. Who'd have thunk? I moved it around in the 3 different corners and rearranged the other stuff around it. There are a thousand options, but these give a smattering. Let me know your thoughts on these or other variants thereto.





BTW, here's Grandpa Weedy's chest. It can't go into the LR after all, because there's a piece that Mr. Weedy made in HS that we've got to put there.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:12AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Are there two windows together above the Weedy chest? Is the item facing washer and dryer, the linen closet? Is that going to be built into the wall or a free standing piece of furniture?

Three windows on the south wall? What is that new piece in front of the first window on that south wall? I think this layout creates a tight space at the corner of the PR and linen closet.

The freezer blocks access to any storage on the base of that desk area.

To me, #5 seems to make the best use of the space and it looks in proportion. I might switch the sink to the place in front of the window rather than the toilet. I like the way the freezer and washer and dryer are together. You took care of the southern light causing problems with your computer screen by taking out the window. I’m assuming that’s a double window over the Weedy chest. You can actually look across the room and out the window while seated at the desk if you want to. You would also have direct view of the kitchen from a chair in front of the desk. I’m wondering about what kind of desk it is. If the chair can only be positioned in the middle of that space allotted for the desk, it will be uncomfortable up against the freezer. If you can put the chair at the end of the desk closest to the door, it should work fine. Again, using the space below the desk in the corner, might be a problem, but maybe that isn’t an issue for you. Plenty of room on top of washer dryer and freezer to fold clothes. Plenty of room to open the doors of the linen closet and stand to put things away.

Not sure how much vegetable gardening is going to be an activity for you. You do have a small garden right now, but if you plan to increase the size of it, then I would consider how much room you need to start seedlings. You could add another window over the desk on the south side and use a blackout window shade when you are at the computer and that way if you needed more space for seedlings, you’d have it.

I’d find it interesting to know which option you like the best and why. I guess at this point, I’d refine each option until I thought I couldn’t improve the layout at all, then sit with them awhile then try to narrow down the choices. It really is all about what makes you the happiest and which plan has no hidden pitfalls that would surprise you after it is built. That is what 'custom' is all about. I might also think about running it by a professional before I made a final decision. Maybe someone at one of the box stores might offer to take a look at your two final choices and make comments?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 11:50AM
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That chest is beautiful! It deserves a place of prominence.

I like #7. I allows for a whole wall of shelving/cabinets above the WD and desk, and you don't trap anything in a corner.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 12:51PM
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The Weedy chest is awesome. Reminds me of the furniture I had back in my CT farmhouse before moving to AZ. I know you are working with a tight space, but is there any place at all to place the Weedy chest in the dining/eat in area? Looks like it would make a perfect buffet with storage for serving pieces, etc.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 3:54PM
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#6 has to go--it is too "pinchy" around the corner in the middle there.

I like #9, then #7...

Also, consider your "view" from the kitchen. What would you prefer to see and what would you prefer not to see? (I lost track, will there be a door that you can close off this room?)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 1:34AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I like the way the bathroom is arranged in #8 and #9 with the fixtures on the inside wall and the window free. I like #5 because the Linen Closet is directly across from the washer/dryer. #9 could be improved by putting the linen closet along the inside wall instead of the freezer, because it would use up all that wasted space along that wall and leave the desk on the window wall and the freezer could go where the linen closet was. I also don’t know what that new piece is next to the Weedy chest and I’d rather the two windows be together there instead of where the washer/dryer is.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:32AM
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Thanks for all the feedback. I was getting overwhelmed with all the potential iterations, so I sat down with Mr. Weedy and decided that we needed to start with where best the PR needed to go. As we looked at all the designs, putting it in the upper left made the room feel more cramped, as you would walk through a narrower space to get to the rest. If the PR is on the far wall, you walk into a more spacious area, and the room takes off from the long dimension instead of the short one.

Between top and bottom, it seems like putting the PR on the bottom leaves the most open area and options for the rest of the room in the top area.

Then the w/d, linen and desk can be swapped around on the wall spaces, which seem to be maximized with 2 smaller windows. The freezer seems to work best on the wall behind the door. To kirkhall's point, it's not great to look at (doorway, no door), but perhaps we could put some artwork on the wall behind it. :-)

Thoughts? Please discuss.....

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 9:14AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Yes, your eyes start to cross when you have too many options. [g] Glad you were able to put your heads together and iron out some ideas.

I think your thought about opening up the space with the PR in one of the far corners is a good one. And again agree, that with two doorways in the southern end of the room, the northern end then offers the most space and flexibility. And although the washer and dryer will be permanently installed, the linen closet and desk can be ‘swapped’ to suit you. I am assuming that the linen closet is free standing, like a piece of furniture.

I don’t see an issue with this layout at all, so not sure if I'm missing something. I'm not a professional in any stretch of the imagination, so again, once you have something you are settled on, a professional eye to give it the once over would be worthwhile.

One thought…. you could swap the freezer w the Weedy chest and that would be what you see from the kitchen. And you could put a chair next to it, to sit down and take off boots when you come in that door, with artwork above it. Hooks for coats on the wall to the right of the kitchen doorway.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I like the organization of 9 over this last one... But, it is your home and your space.

I think what is throwing me is the window placement.

Make sure your window placement and style is consistent with the rest of the home.

I would also consider taking the sink out of the powder room and making it accessible, therefore, for laundry as well. Essentially a 1/4 bath (toilet only) room, with sink immediately adjacent and near laundry.

Appealing to you or no?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 10:19PM
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kirkhall: we had a sink in our laundry room in our last house and rarely used it, so it's not a big value add for us. Additionally, I'd rather wash my hands in the PR before opening up the door. So I think we'll keep your original idea of the larger powder room.

What did you mean by making window placement consistent with the rest of the home?

We're also going to put the toilet and sink on the bottom wall and shift the window up, per someone's up-thread suggestion, so it's on the side wall instead of over the toilet.

We took precise measurements of the house today, in preparation for sending them off to a drafting company to "officialize" all the dimensions on everything and give us construction drawings. It looks like we'll have just enough wall depth to swap the freezer and the Grandpa Weedy chest. And we'll have room for some coat hanging on the wall next to the desk. We'll see when it all comes back from drafting.

Thanks again for everyone's input!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 9:51PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Oh, one more thought. I was just looking at your drawing again and if you swap the freezer with the Weedy chest, will the freezer have a South window right above it? I wonder if that is going to make it run more to keep it cold?

Well, sounds like you've arrived at a place you are happy with and Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 10:18PM
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