The laundry room is the perpetual runt of the litter, starved of attention and love, so when it's made beautiful, it can delight. We recently completed one of my favourite laundry rooms, on the top floor of a 5,000-square-foot home in Vancouver.
This 13-by-13-foot room was unusual because it is on the bedroom level. The goal: Create a bright space suitable for laundry, ironing, household repairs, cleaning and crafting.
Despite the room's size, the ceiling, which sloped down on two sides, was a serious design complication. With the room's contours limiting our use of conventional cabinets, we had to find a new way to maximize the room's utility and storage potential without making it feel cramped.
Here's how we approached the task.
The big idea
The home has the feel of a relaxed, modern farmhouse. The interior is clean, simple and free of aesthetic flourishes. The laundry had to harmonize with those quiet notes.
The danger in a simple workspace, of course, is austerity. The room shouldn't be so forbidding as to deter the family from spending time there.
Our approach demonstrates how to polish the visual lustre of any modest space.
We put our energy into finishes, pulling together the most elegant and simple we could: white cabinets, grey tile, wood accents and stone countertops. From there, the task was to create lots of counter space, with ample storage and enough visual detail to give the room a pop of pretty.
The big spend
Investing in millwork is a cornerstone of my philosophy. It's expensive, and, executed properly, always worth it. In this laundry we laid the cabinets out to maximize storage space while taking care to work with the room's odd profile.
The key was to design banks of cabinetry along the longest sides of the room, on the walls meeting the lowest point of the sloped ceiling.
On the side opposite the sink, we put a washer and dryer in the middle of the run of the configuration and designed a counter for folding clothes, above it. Making the appliances central gave the room a measure of symmetry and created an equal space on either side of the washing station.
We placed an open cabinet, with a rod for hanging and drying clothes, to the left of the appliances. (There's plenty of space for extra hampers, and tiles to protect the floor from dripping clothes.) And to the right went a tall-doored cabinet to accommodate iron and ironing board, vacuum hose and cleaning tools.
On the sink side of the room, we wanted a long working surface with lots of storage space. We installed a countertop across the entire run and designed a simple combination of drawers and cabinet doors below.
Rather than put short, awkward cabinets above the countertop, we ran a thick floating shelf the length of the wall. Its warm hue balances an otherwise cool space and it's a handy spot for quick-grab items.
We kept the millwork the same white as the baseboards, walls and ceiling. The hope: that the room's elements would blend together, and by blurring the line between millwork and ceiling, elevate it.
The big save
In a space like this, there's no need for fancy mosaic or stone tile. They'd prettify the room without benefiting it, and drive up the construction budget unnecessarily.
Instead we kept our tile costs for both floor and wall to under $4 a square foot. We selected a 12-by-24-inch porcelain tile in warm grey for the floor. It has a nice texture underfoot and doesn't command much attention. On the backsplash went a glazed white subway tile (6-by-12 inches), which was laid in a stacked (as opposed to bricked) pattern to keep things looking modern.
The farmhouse sink and gooseneck faucet were important design details for our team. Functionally, we love them for their ease of access. Unlike a standard under-mount, the sink sits slightly lower than the counter, so it's easier for the owner to lift a heavy bucket into, and the faucet's high neck gives plenty of clearance for large items.
The pieces are crucial to the aesthetic of the room. Central within such a simple, utilitarian interior, their unusual silhouettes give the laundry room a measure of charm.
Appliances: Samsung; samsung.com
Countertop: BS250h Stormy Sky, Chroma quartzite , pentalonline.com
Floor tile, backsplash: Amestile, amestile.com
Cabinet door hardware: Bradford Hardware, bradfordhardware.com
Paint for wall, trim and ceiling: Distant Grey, oc-68, Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com
Faucet: Kohler, kohler.ca
Sink: Kraus Products, krausproducts.com