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How to Design a Fun and Functional Laundry Room

Let’s face it, while the laundry room often gets the least amount of attention, it is one of the most vital rooms in our house, but the amount of space allocated to it varies greatly from house to house. “The laundry room usually tends to be a smaller or slim space so a big hurdle we see for clients who want to get their laundry room organized is not knowing how to maximize and enhance it to be easy and functional,” says Jamie Hord, in-home organizer and founder of Horderly, an organizing company affiliated with the Container Store, in White Plains, NY. Post-Covid surveys have revealed the average American household does anywhere from five to 8 loads of laundry a week, with some families doing more than one load a day. That’s a lot of time fluffing and folding! But a well-organized and stylish space makes the task less daunting. These expert ideas and products from the pros can give even the smallest laundry room loads of style.

Prioritize Workspace

At the end of the day, a functional laundry room is a well-designed laundry room. Think about how you use the space most, advises Jeanne Collins of JerMar Designs in New Canaan, CT. She says she asks her clients about their needs: “Do you want to store laundry or cleaning supplies? Do you need lots of hanging space and drying racks?”

“My favorite organizing tool for the laundry is pretty dull: It’s a clear work surface for processing,” says Matt Baier, founder of Matt Baier Organizing in Stamford, CT. “We also recommend smaller laundry bins for sorting and we do have a favorite hamper.” 

Before you begin designing your laundry room, decide what items you will need to store so you make sure you have space for everything once the work is done, advises designer Lana Nguyen of Design by the Jonathans. “Planning and layout of the space is definitely the biggest hurdle.” 

Collins recommends when designing more than one room involving countertop slabs, using leftover from a kitchen or bath. “It allows for more interesting counters such as quartzite with movement in the stone design,” says Collins. “It doesn’t always have to be plain white.”

Conceal your Unmentionables

A drying rack is essential to the laundry process, particularly for delicates. If you don’t want to display them for all to see, opt for something you can tuck away easily. “We custom design drying racks that seamlessly slide into cabinetry,” says Denise Davies of D2 Interieurs. “The clothes dry just as well as if they were hanging on an exposed rack or line.”

Add Pattern and Color

There isn’t room for furniture, but your laundry room doesn’t have to be devoid of design. Add pattern and color it to the walls, ceiling or floor to elevate your space. “We start with a fun floor tile in a pattern and custom cabinetry with some open spaces,” says Davies. “Mixing materials adds interest. Often, we hang wallpaper on either the ceiling or the walls.” 

“The laundry room is a great space to go bold with cabinet colors so try something outside your comfort zone,” says Collins. “Have fun with the tile for the floor, the walls and the counters. Make doing laundry fun!”

While heavy draperies may not make sense, if you have a window, a valance or printed shade can also be fun, says Emily Fuhrman of Sage and Ginger. She says for a recent laundry room project, “We added a pop of color with a fun, vibrant window covering that softens the space.”

Give Storage some Style

“From a design perspective, laundry rooms are not always the prettiest spaces because, typically, you have machines and cabinetry as the focus, but choosing fun tile and painting cabinetry bright, unexpected colors are ways to make the space pop,” says Fuhrman. “Decorative containers are another accent to utilize.” She says hamper baskets for sorting are a great way to add texture and pattern. 

“If you like to separate out whites and darks, consider a two pocket hamper,” says Hord, from Horderly. “If you want to also separate out dry cleaning, consider a three pocket hamper. And if you toss everything in the washer together, a single pocket will do just fine. You’ll also want to consider if you want a lid on your hamper or not. If you find that the kids aren’t taking the extra step to open the lid to put their dirty clothes in, let the lid go! If you find yourself doing laundry daily or more often, a smaller hamper might suffice.”

Cool canisters to store detergent, stain removers or laundry sheets can also up the style of your laundry room and give a clean and organized look. Davies loves the Neat Method clear canisters from Crate and Barrel and the Muuto Restore Basket from Mika Tolvanen sold by Knoll. Both look great with a modern, black and white tile floor. 

Get Creative with Lighting

Fluorescents aren’t the only option out there for bright lighting. You want to see stains, but you don’t want to feel like you’re in a laundromat. “Don’t overlook the lighting,” says Collins. “You want to be able to see in a laundry room so make it bright with lots of lights and if the space allows, add a fun ceiling-mounted light or a pendant over the sink.

 If you have a long narrow room or closet for your laundry, opt for wall sconces. For overhead lighting, Davies loves this Alto Compass pendant light from Cedar and Moss, which has a modern, fresh look and provides bright, clear light to the room. 

Make room for Laundry Baskets

“The laundry basket always seems to be an after-thought but it is important,” says Nguyen. She  recently helped a client who needed to move the washer and dryer out of the primary bathroom and opted to move the laundry space to a large powder room. Because of the layout of the powder room, they were not able to have door panels to enclose the washer and dryer, so they left it open. Then to the right side of the washer and dryer they added shallower cabinetry that houses all their detergents and a laundry basket. “Integrated open shelving that is sized correctly to fit the laundry basket below the washer dryer may require custom cabinetry and can be expensive,” adds Nguyen, “but it gives a nice high end curated look’ adds Nguyen.”

On the floor, she opted for an easy-to-clean gray and white tile, and on the wall behind the sink a fun teal and white tile, both from Tile America, with some fun hanging artwork and a matching teal shutter.

“Just because laundry is a drag, doesn’t mean your space has to be,” says Nguyen.

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