Q&A / 

Laundry Room Cabinets

DEAR TIM: It is time for new laundry-room cabinets at my home. But after looking at several laundry-room designs, I am convinced my current laundry-room layout is bad. I don't want to order new cabinets until I am sure the floorplan will work. What is involved in remodeling a laundry room? Do you have any laundry-room decor ideas that would make working in this space more pleasant? What type of cabinets would you consider if this were your home? Cindy S., Kinnelton, NJ

DEAR CINDY: I have to admit that all the years I built, I pretty much neglected the laundry room in the houses I worked on. My guess is that it stems from the fact that as a kid my washer and dryer were in our basement. The process of cleaning laundry seemed pretty insignificant.

But when I built my own home over 20 years ago, I moved the laundry room to the first floor by my garage. My wife and I thought we had the perfect laundry-room design, layout and cabinets. We were wrong. I am in the midst of a laundry-room remodeling job, and I am here to tell you that the cabinets we chose to use were greatly influenced by the mistakes we made in the past.

This laundry room is not yet ready for cabinets. Pipes, ducts and wires had to be moved to create the perfect layout and design.  PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

This laundry room is not yet ready for cabinets. Pipes, ducts and wires had to be moved to create the perfect layout and design. PHOTO CREDIT: Tim Carter

Our laundry room became the overflow for all sorts of items beyond detergent and fabric softener. Pet supplies, light bulbs, picnic supplies, children's sports equipment are just a few things that you can find in our laundry room. They were all visible on top of the few cabinets we had and some open shelves I built a few years ago in a last-ditch effort to control the accumulation of things.

The new laundry-room wall cabinets are 42-inches tall. Standard cabinets are usually 30-inches high. We decided to take the cabinets to the ceiling so that every square foot of available space is used for storage. These extra-tall cabinets are gorgeous, and do not overpower the room. You should price these out for your job.

As for the layout of your laundry room, you may be able to relocate things with a little bit of work. In my case, we changed the location of the dryer, washing machine and a 48-inch sink base cabinet. The old layout had the washing machine and dryer immediately adjacent to the main pathway leading from the garage to the rest of the house. When laundry was being done, baskets and piles of clothes were in the way as you moved about the house.

If your laundry room is large enough, I feel that you should consider a folding surface for clothes as well as a sink to rinse things before you wash them. We use the deep stainless-steel sink next to our washing machine to clean all sorts of things that would otherwise be a hassle in our regular kitchen sink.

You want to have superior lighting and a bright color scheme in this room. Doing laundry is work, and you should make the environment as pleasant as possible. If you spend lots of time folding clothes in this room, then make sure you have convenient power for a radio or maybe a small television. These things will help take your mind off the mundane chore of folding clothes.

Laundry-room flooring is fairly important. You want a material that is durable and will not show dirt. We have a ceramic-tile floor that is a light mottled brown. It does a magnificent job of hiding dirt, and when it is time to clean it, a mop makes it look like new in minutes.

If you are relocating your dryer-vent pipe, place the top of it 42 inches off the floor directly behind the dryer. This will allow you to easily connect the smooth metal pipe as you slide the dryer into position. The building code requires that smooth metal pipe be used to vent dryers. Avoid using the collapsible plastic piping as it can be easily crushed as you slide the dryer back against the wall. If this happens, your dryer will not work properly causing you to waste lots of energy dollars.

Removing a useless small closet in our laundry room opened up enough space to permit us to install 5 linear feet of additional base cabinets in our laundry room. I installed a second sink here that will come in handy for any number of things. We also were able to install a new wall cabinet in this location where all pet food and supplies will be stored.

We also decided to install laundry-room organizers in a large closet immediately adjacent to the laundry room. This will help keep the clutter under control as the shelves and drawers make use of all the space in the closet.

If you are planning to build a new home and have large dogs, think about installing a rectangular shower basin that can be used to wash off muddy beasts before they come in and shake the brown muck all over your painted walls and wallpaper. You can bet I will have one of these things in my new home that is in the planning stage right now!

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One Response to Laundry Room Cabinets

  1. Hello Tim, I was wondering about installing 42" tall wall cabinets in my utility room as you've suggested in this post. My question is, would I need to give it the crown molding or could I do without it if it's installed all the way up to the ceiling? Thank you!

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