Laundry Rooms--To Stack or Not To Stack

Laundry rooms are without a doubt a service area, but they can be attractive, colorful and functional spaces.  In two recent cases, I faced with the question of whether or not to stack the washer and dryer.  In the first case, stacking was the most practical application given the available space, a very awkward room inside the garage.  

Removing a deep and poorly spaced shelf was the first practical thing to do.  The client was using it for storage with predictable results:  things were out of sight and got lost.  The shelf was too high and too deep.  What seemed like a good idea in theory was disastrous in practice.  

Once the shelf was removed, it was clear that stacking the washer and dryer was the answer to this awkward room.  The space once occupied by the washer became available for easy-to-reach narrow shelves to hold laundry products within easy reach of a person of any height.

The second laundry room was an addition added to the existing room.  In this space, the washer and dryer could be useful either side by side or stacked.  Stacking the appliances in this instance improved the storage capacity of the room.  Since only tall people could access cabinets above the washer and dryer easily, stacking would permit the space for a tall cabinet into which anyone could reach for laundry or cleaning products.

In this second situation, stacking allowed more visual space and made room for a folding table or desk, adding another definite advantage.  This laundry room provides a corridor to the back yard and patio where the homeowners hold summer parties.  As an additional bonus, this space make a great landing place for food, buffet style, keeping insects outside and off the prepared foods.

Changing out the old door with windows in the top half for a door with a full window from top to bottom floods the room with light, making it feel even roomier.  Tall ceilings and more windows are the answer to many small room problems if they can be made to fit into the remodeling plan.

Stacking the laundry makes a lot of sense for most applications, but side by side appliances allow for a counter on top for folding, if you are lucky enough to have windows above the machines for light and air circulation and do not have to reach into upper cabinets.  

Make sure you look at all the aspects of your situation, keeping in mind that light as well as storage need to be considered.

Contrast Adds Drama

While it is true that high contrast will add drama to a room, it is wise to consider how you use contrast.  A painted accent wall is fairly easy to change should you decide you cannot live with the drama the color created, but a floor or a tiled backsplash or shower enclosure is a bit more complicated in terms of expense and time invested.

When you are considering changing something more permanent in your home, like flooring and counter surfaces as well as backsplashes and tub/shower enclosures, try less contrast.  You will be living with these changes for a long time and a classic surface in these areas will serve you better.

Think of all the homes built in the early to mid-20th Century; for the most part, these homes were built with hardwood flooring.  Over the years, as wall to wall carpet became popular, these floors were covered with soft, colorful carpet.   Today, that carpet is considered undesirable and old fashioned.  Carpets in older homes are routinely being  pulled up, exposing those now treasured hardwood floors.  If the wood is in good condition, a simple sanding, staining and fresh coat of polyurethane to preserve its beauty for another half century or more.

Choosing a new color for the floor will be important and fairly permanent.  While it may be tempting to add or stain a border or pattern, think in terms of long term use and how you will feel about such a contrast as a wide, light or dark border verses a solid-colored floor.  An exception to this rule, would be if the floors cannot be successfully refinished, but can be painted instead; then I’d say, go ahead and paint a fun harlequin pattern or boarder.  While the traditional black and white pattern is always popular, you can use softer colors for less contrast, like shades of grey or spa colors like blues and greens; even shades of beige would be a calm and peaceful color combination. 

Tile and natural stone is an expensive and fairly permanent surface for kitchens and baths.  Tempting are the bright colors and fun patterns, but again, consider how long it will be in style, staying classic is wiser.

Unless your home is clearly in a particular style like a Spanish Revival or Spanish Colonial, the use of colorfully patterned tiles might be a bit risky.  Adding cute “accent tiles” to a kitchen backsplash will date your renovation very quickly and reduce its value at resale time.

If using these colorful and playful tiles is something you have your heart set on, use them in less permanent ways.  For instance you can make tile trivets and hang them on the backsplash to add some personality without risking the need to tear it out once you tire of it.

When considering high contrast, think about how long you will live in this home and consider the home’s style.  High contrast will give you high drama, but you can enjoy soft contrast too and it is often easier to live with in the long term.