The laundry is generally the worst planned area of the house. It can be found tucked away in a remote location such as the basement, combined with other work areas such as the kitchen, or crammed into a hall cupboard.
With the advent of indoor plumbing, the laundry left the back porch and took up residence in the basement, where the pipes were easier to tap into.
And it stayed that way for almost a half century. During the 1970s, in response to the complaints of working wives, architects began designing homes with the laundry in a cupboard or hallway off the kitchen, or in the garage - not because this was the best place to put it, but because they didn't know what else to do with it once it was out of the basement.
You can still use this workspace to make an efficient laundry. Other options include relocating the laundry to another area of the house that is more practical, or to convert a seldom used bathroom.
If you're building a new home, you can put the laundry anywhere you want- even on the second floor (closest to the dirty clothes).
You may even want to consider a second, smaller laundry for guests or in-laws. Above all, be practical when planning your laundry area.
Laundries tend to be cluttered with dirty clothes sorted in piles on the floor, with clean clothes piled on top of the dryer or in baskets competing for floor space with the dirties and the ironing board.
Here are some ideas that can be incorporated into existing laundry areas, as well as new laundry room plans.
■ Don't put the laundry in a traffic area. Stepping over baskets and piles of clothes on the way to the kitchen or garage is not only inconvenient but a safety hazard.
■ Don't put the laundry in the kitchen. Laundry rooms produce high amounts of humidity, dust, lint and vapours from cleaning solutions. You don't want this near food preparation areas, nor do you want food and grease all over your clean clothes. Likewise, don't have the laundry share space with a pantry.
■ Resist the temptation to make the laundry a multi-purpose room - such as a sewing room or hobby room. Laundry-room humidity and noise levels don't mix well with other fulltime activities - and there's the competition for space when actually doing the laundry.
■ Don't combine the main laundry with the bathroom, unless you find it relaxing to take a bath while gazing at piles of washing, or delight in using dirty clothes to dry your feet when stepping out of the shower.
■ Consider placing the laundry room near the largest source of dirty clothes. This is probably the bedroom, specifically the master bedroom. Having a door from the laundry room to the master bedroom wardrobe or en suite, as well as to the hallway, is a great convenience.
■ If your new house is a split-floor plan (master bedroom located apart from the other bedrooms), consider putting a stacked washer/ dryer near the bathroom for your guests- or children - to use. This not only makes it convenient for them, but makes it easier to handle bed linen.
You should provide 120cm of clearance in front of each appliance to give you room to walk around the open doors. Avoid placing appliances so the doors block passageways.
Provide a cupboard or shelving over the washer for soap, detergent, bleach, fabric softener and other chemicals.
These should be kept out of the reach of children.
Leave adequate clearance for a top-loading washer lid to clear with 12cm to spare.
If space is not available for full-sized appliances, consider a stacked washer/dryer.
The laundry should have some sort of floor drain to protect the house from water damage in the event of a hose breaking or a tub overflowing.
You will replace your washer and dryer someday. Don't customise the room to hold only the units you now own; try to leave extra space.
If you have a front-loading washer it may be best not to enclose it under a permanent counter because you may move and the next owners won't be able to fit their top-loader in that space.
Placing insulation in the walls and floor of the laundry room will help reduce noise vibration in the adjoining rooms.
If you install a shower in the laundry room, consider placing rails on either side that can be used to hold sliding, removable mesh shelves to drip dry sweaters and other items that should not be hung to dry.
The shower will also come in handy for washing the dog, emergency clean-ups and more.
Placing the shower close to the sink and washing machine will group all the plumbing into one area.
Provide some sort of a sink in the laundry room for hand washables and for clean-up jobs.
Today, a traditional laundry tub/ tray is not really necessary in most cases.
If you plan to use a built-in ironing board, be sure to leave adequate space to walk around it when it's unfolded. If you will be using a freestanding unit you may wish to provide a tall wall cabinet to house it - but remember to allow enough space for traffic.
Adequate lighting is important, including a light over the sink and any work area. Consider an overhead fluorescent fixture; they are effective and energy-efficient.
Try to keep the dryer vent as short and straight as possible to promote airflow.
Counter space is always at a premium in the laundry area.
Try to provide as much as possible. Place wire bins or plastic laundry baskets on sliding rails under a benchtop to hold clean clothes for each member of your household.
The baskets make it easy to return clean items to the proper room. If you will have a laundry chute dumping into the room, provide adequate storage bin in which the clothes can collect.
This should not be the laundry sink.