Laundry in Kitchen and other things

BurnsFamilyJuly 31, 2012

New poster to this forum but have been perusing it for several weeks getting ideas, tips and all kinds of information. What a great resource!

We are at the beginning stages of updating our kitchen. I'm trying to keep this as economical as possible (who isn't?) so we would like to use our existing cabinet boxes as much as we can. We currently have contractor grade cabinets with medium oak stain - typical mid-range kitchen. The layout is also kind of strange. It's an L shape and I've attached a photo of our current layout (not to scale) so you get an idea. On the west side of the layout is the entry from our garage. On the south side of the layout is the open dining room. There is an "eat in" area in the kitchen we currently have a pub table with 2 chairs that we never use (near the door entry from the garage). We eat at the peninsula.

We have our laundry in our kitchen in a closet with bifold doors which I hate hate hate, but there is absolutely no other location in our home for it. Believe me, I've thought about where I could possibly put it for years. We may eventually add on, but I don't want to price my house out of the neighborhood - we're already near the very top of the neighborhood in terms of current value.

So I have added a couple of photos of what I'd like to do to the washer/dryer area that will add counter space. We've considered that if/when we decide to sell, we would have to offer to leave our washer/dryer behind since it will have to be front loaders, and we're okay with that. So now to my questions:

1. What is your opinion on tearing out the closet surround, having a custom cabinet made that will enable me to hide washer/dryer and put counter top on and install uppers above it? I was thinking I could also install a narrow but deep prep sink next to the washer/dryer area. When the doors are closed, it would not even give the appearance the washer/dryer is in the kitchen, and I think will open it up some and certainly gain more counter space.

2. The west wall where the garage door is at seems like wasted space to me, particularly since we don't eat at the pub table. I was thinking of getting rid of the pub table altogether and building a mud room bench (similar to the photo) on that wall. We don't have young kids anymore, but we would definitely utilize it and for resale, I think it's a desirable feature - we just don't have a space for a mudroom.

3. From the edge of the future mudroom bench to the existing pantry, I was thinking of installing a counter/desktop with a base cabinet of drawers for a workstation in the kitchen that I could slide a chair under.

4. Keeping in mind that I'm trying to utilize the existing cabinet boxes as much as possible, we are prepared to change out all of the doors and drawer fronts. What would you all recommend in terms of trying to match new to existing? The doors/drawers won't be an issue since I can purchase all the same doors/drawers, but the actual cabinet boxes? I'd prefer to go darker wood, but staining existing boxes plus purchasing unfinished new boxes and staining them to all match...seems impossible to me. We've considered painting all the boxes white and purchasing the additional cabinets also in white. DH had an idea of painting the boxes in a color that closely matches the stain we will purchase the new doors in but I can't seem to picture that in my head other than those crazy shows I see on TV where they re-do a kitchen and paint the boxes black with red not my style!

5. Layout. I'm not in love with the peninsula - would love to have an island instead but not sure it will work in my kitchen and we must have a place to eat in the kitchen. I'd like to try to keep the existing fixtures as close to where they currently are as possible to help reduce the cost of moving plumbing/wiring, but really am open to just about any ideas. I have a range, would prefer a cooktop but that means a wall oven and my budget will have to go up - but I'm open to considering it if it will improve the layout of my kitchen. I've not seen one home in my neighborhood with a cooktop wall oven setup. I could push the peninsula side of my kitchen out into the dining room but I think that will basically change my dining room into a huge eat in area for my kitchen. I would consider that if I could picture it.

Any help, tips, suggestions, ideas are so welcome! Thanks in advance!

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Since I'm new I am learning - I apologize but it only let me upload 1 photo (or I don't know how to upload more than one) so here's another photo.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:19AM
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And the other photo...last one!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Great pictures! That laundry area is really charming :)

If you can do this with your laundry area...I would take out your current peninsula and extend the washer dryer area and make that like an island. You'd have the wall and upper cabinets with the washer/dryer, but the rest would be open...and the prep sink would work great for laundry and prep, across from the fridge...with maybe room for a few stools, too.

Something like this? From Cottage house plans

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:55PM
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I was going to do an enclosed cabinet for my washer and dryer, but decided against it. It has been recommended that you leave the door of front loading washers open a bit so it doesn't get a sour smell. I tried leaving the door of my front loader closed for a few days and sure enough, it got a bad smell. So I am going to do a cabinet similar to your last photo, but without the doors.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:40PM
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One thing I'll mention is that the washer in that picture is probably a pretty compact model. A full size front loader would be too tall to do that. A Miele is nice and small but really expensive. You can get a more reasonable 36" high washer, but your counter will be a bit high. I would think anything taller than that would make the counter unacceptably high.

Here's our laundry alcove (still under construction, a cabinet will go over the sink and a fold down countertop will cover the sink when not in use). We used a pocket door instead of the sucky bifold doors.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Something else to consider is hamper space - I have a smallish, dungeon-like utility/laundry room right off my small kitchen, and every time I think about trying to incorporate it into the kitchen proper as you're suggesting above, I balk at the lack of any space to stash to-be-folded clean clothes or bins for stuff that needs to be washed. Right now I can fit a slim wheeled laundry cart in my tiny laundry area and it gets a lot of use. Instead of built-in cabinets, I'm hoping to do something along the lines of the lovely alcove that gregincal posted above, with a tall cabinet like this to the side:

Here is a link that might be useful: Ikea tall laundry cabinet

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:18PM
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I have been reading up on how to design a closet area for a stackable washer dryer. One thing I saw mentioned was the need for lovered doors or some way of allowing for airflow. Apparently this is required for the dryer, but it could also help with keeping the washer from getting smelly - if you plan to leave the door slightly open, I would think you need ventilation in the closet as well.

I notice that most of the pictures I see do not seem to have such air flow openings...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:39PM
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Well, I wouldn't give up just yet, on your wonderful laundry idea.

Maybe check on the appliance forum and other places, for smaller condo/townhouse sized appliances? I know that smaller fridges are being shown a lot on HGTV (for rental income) so there must be someone making smaller, affordable appliances.

As for hamper space, you don't seem to have any now, but it is a nice feature. I think it just depends on how you plan to use the space. I'd rather get 'rolling hampers' or carry in the laundry, if I could have more of a built-in look :)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:40PM
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Bosch makes a smaller, front loader washer and even ventless dryer, which you may need with that setup. We have our laundry (stacked Whirlpool Duets) off the kitchen in an enclosed pantry. The one thing that drives me crazy is the noise when the machines are running. However, I mentioned this before and others said their w/d weren't loud. Specifically the Miele was mentioned as being quiet. They may be much more expensive, but if you account for how much money you'll save by not doing major construction to add a laundry room and the benefit of a quiet machine, it may be worth it for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ventless Dryers

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Does your washer 'walk' when in the spin cycle? My daughter has her washer and dryer in her kitchen (she lives in an older 50's cottage-style house with no utility room) and the PO's left the W/D in a re-designed kitchen. Her washer is anchored but it gets pretty noisy and shakes the floor pretty good. She has hardwood floors. Don't know if that would be a problem for your situation but you might think about some reinforcement if so.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I dislike having a laundry in the food preparation area for sanitary and aesthetic reasons. Handling worn clothing and bedding leaves your hands contaminated with E. coli sp., not all of which are not benign comensals; not to mention loose hair and skin cells and even occasional intestinal parasite eggs. Not something I like to have around my food.

Plus as noted, the issue of sorting and then holding for subsequent loads of dirty clothing needs space. Even if you use a dryer, there's also necessary folding and ironing space required.

I see you have a door from the garage noted. Can you figure out how to move the laundry appliances to space in the garage, even if means making a well-insulated closet for them.

As a practical matter, don't be mislead by the comparatively small size of the true horizontal-axis, front-loading, European-style washers. These are usually 220V (they make their own hot water, as needed). They are about the size of dishwashers but will easily hold as much as a large capacity washer. I know because I have been using them for more than 20 years and can pack quite remarkable amounts into them. When FL machines first were availale in the US (again, they existed many years ago and then fell out of favor) there was considerable consumer consternation about the size of the machines. I can't tell you how many times I listed the contents of my typical FL machine loads over on the Laundry Forum in answer to skeptical questions about capacity.

Nowadays, Miele, the preeminent-manufacturer of high quality Eorpoean FL washing machines has abandonned selling its superb true-horizontal machines in the US in order to pander to the American taste for ginormous machine sizes. The result is machines that are less effective than the smaller ones. LG, Kenmore, Samsung, Maytag and many other brands also make these huge FL's with varying results of efficiency. I believe that Asko and Bosch still make, and sell in the US, true European-style machines. I can heartily recommend the older-style Mieles. They are often available second hand on Craigslist for excellent prices ($150-300 second hand vs. $1800-2100 for new Mieles) as clueless people ditch them in their headlong rush for ever-bigger machines. I also have had more than two decades of excellent work from my Asko machines.

Some of the benefits of the smaller, flat-axis machines, are higher spin speeds, lower water consumption and much higher temperature possibilities (if 220v models.) Higher, including very hot (140-200F) temp is one of the lynchpins in avoiding stinky bio-film buildup in a washer.

A garage location would also seem ideal for making a doorway to an outside drying yard. Although I have a dryer, I dry all my stuff outdoors, year-round, with great results. (And I live in northern NY where just-out-of-the-washer clothes are often literally freezing as I hang them up.) It costs about 9 cents for the electricity to run a load of clothes in the washer (even counting for the fact that I heat the wash water to more than 150F), but the electricity to dry the same load costs nearly a dollar per load so the cost saving in outdoor drying is very high, plus it yields sweet-smelling, great-feeling cothing and and brilliant whites.

Although keeping the machines closed in and under counters looks nice as practical matter to do neglects the need for the washing machine's door to to be left open when not in use. (Not wide open, but not firmly latched shut.) Pictures of these arrangements are often shown in shelter mags even though they don't work as well as you might imagine. Even the dryer needs air access if it is to exhaust efficienctly to the outside. There are dryers - called condenser dryers -which need no exhaust. I have one and I am only tolerably satisfed with it. It does markedly raise the ambient humidity and temperature of the room while operating, and doesn't work well in a confined space. Once the room temp begins to rise the ability of the machine to condense moisture from the dryer-air stream begins to degrade. Luckily I only use it in a bathroom during the winter so the added temp and moisture in the air are welcome things. It wouldn't be satisfacory if I planned to use it year-round for all loads. It also creates a certain amount of extra fugitive lint in the air since it is not externally vented.

Give some thought to whether you can capture some garage space for the laundry. Insulating and even heating a small space like a laundry closet shouldn't be that difficult and would add convenience and re-sale value to your house without the risks of a full scale addition. Perhaps you could have the laundry closet extend from the kitchen into the garage.


(PS: if you have more questions about laundry equipment, the place to read up on that is on the Laundry Forum of this site.)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Just one more observation...having the laundry in the kitchen, seems to be very popular in Great Britain. Probably other european countries, too. It makes, sense, especially if space is at a premium.

The ventless dryer is a good idea. As for walking washers, we've had them...they're usually either on uneven floor or just really cheap. We've been guilty on both counts! LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 3:51PM
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I've always loved that photo of the creamy yellow laundry with uppers and sink! We are planning on doing something similar. I love LavenderLass's drawing. Regarding the size, we're going with full-sized side-by-side W/D, and yes, that means the counter will be bar height. That works well for us as a prep space because we're both tall, and I like the multi-height look. In our situation there's room for a small slide-out hamper, and we already keep the laundry soap and other supplies under the nearby sink. I love the doors in the photo above, but yes, in our jurisdiction they have to provide airflow for the dryer air circulation, and I hate the look and dust of louvres, so we're thinking of going with screen or punched tin in a shaker frame. Great space! Good luck, and please post "after" photos!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Okay I've been playing with your layout and I found one that I would personally love in my own kitchen. I hope you like it :D

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 5:43PM
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I want cam's kitchen! What a nice idea.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:51PM
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You guys are may ideas now! I love the mud room addition with washer/dryer. The only problem with that is that in my original drawing, to the west of the existing washer/dryer is a bathroom (entry into the bathroom is not from the kitchen) so gaining entry into the kitchen would require moving our bathroom. We actually do have the space to move it back almost 40" without losing any living space but I need to think about the economical impact of moving the plumbing. Our saving grace should we decide to do that - the basement ceiling below the existing bathroom is unfinished. In fact, the basement ceiling underneath my entire kitchen is unfinished so moving plumbing/electrical, although would be an expense, wouldn't be outrageous - definitely do-able!

The other idea of extending the peninsula from the washer/dryer area would work perfectly if we're not able to move the bathroom to accommodate the mudroom. That would open up the side that has the existing peninsula for a desk space or an additional base/upper cabinet combination.

I wish there was a way to work something out with incorporating garage space for a washer/dryer or mudroom but I don't think that is an option. Our property line runs fairly close to the garage and with the easement, I don't think we could "bump out" the garage enough to accommodate a mudroom.

Thanks for all the great ideas, especially the info about the washer/dryer. If we are able to do the mudroom, we wouldn't have to have front load only. I will update you all with the final decision and our floor plan. We are definitely several months out from actually doing it. I want to begin after the holidays - have exterior remodeling going on right now and will need a break to my stress level and my bank account before we begin the next renovation :)

Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 10:08PM
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