Need to fit a feature-packed laundry into a small space? These clever design ideas will show you how.
Every modern home needs a laundry, but quite often the space left over for one is minimal. Despite this, the laundry is a room that’s guaranteed to see regular use, possibly every day, so it’s essential that it’s as practical and user-friendly as possible.
To ensure that your small laundry is functional and easy to use, it’s critical that you make the most of every inch of the limited space available. And if you’re looking for clever design and storage solutions for your small laundry, you’ve come to the right place.
The European laundry
If you don’t have a large amount of space to work with, clever design and innovative features are essential to the success of your laundry for everyday use. However, don’t let the lack of space get you down – you might be surprised just how much you can fit into a small laundry without it becoming overly cramped.
The key to getting the most out of the available space is to embrace the concept of a European laundry. Increasingly popular in Australia, a “European laundry” typically refers to any sort of laundry that isn’t your typical, standalone laundry room. This can include:
- Incorporating your washing machine and dryer into the kitchen
- Incorporating your washing machine and dryer into the bathroom
- Incorporating the laundry into a “mudroom”
- Incorporating the laundry into a cupboard
The European laundry
In many European countries, and particularly capital cities where space inside the home is at a premium, these types of laundries are an excellent way to include all the essential functions of a laundry without taking up any more floorspace than is absolutely necessary.
There are many benefits to a European laundry, including:
- Saving space. Their minimal footprint leaves you with more space to use however you want, for example as a living area or to create a larger kitchen. This makes them especially popular in smaller units and apartments.
- Convenient. By incorporating the laundry into a kitchen, you can take care of many of your daily chores all in the one place, rather than going back and forth to opposite ends of the house.
- Flexibility. A European laundry may allow you to locate your washing facilities in a practical space where a normal laundry room wouldn’t fit, for example much closer to the clothesline.
- Save on plumbing costs. By incorporating the laundry into a kitchen or bathroom you can save on plumbing costs – much of the piping is already in place.
Clever laundry solutions for small spaces
There is no shortage of clever, innovative design ideas and products available to help you make the most of the limited space available and create a practical laundry. Let’s take a look at some of the key features and fittings you can choose from to turn even the smallest of areas into a user-friendly laundry.
At the very least you’ll need a washing machine, but most Australian houses also rely on a dryer. The best way to fit these into your small space is to invest in a combo washer/dryer. Popular in Europe for years, these intelligent space-saving appliances are only just starting to catch on down under.
If you’d prefer to go for a separate washer and dryer, choose appliances that are big enough for your needs but still sufficiently compact that they don’t use all the space you have. Using wall-mounting racks to install one on top of the other is also a great way to make use of the vertical space available – just make sure they’re both front-loader machines.
While not all European laundries include a tub, this is a very useful inclusion and you’ll definitely notice its absence if you go without. There are specially designed slimline tubs available if space is at an absolute premium, while you should also look for a tub that allows you to include a decent amount of storage space.
Storage and bench space
In a small laundry, clever storage solutions are crucial. You need adequate space to store all the essential laundry supplies, from detergent and fabric softener to towels, brooms and the like.
The good news is that there is an enormous array of clever internal hardware available to give you somewhere to put all your odds and ends. There are vertical sliding organisers, hanging baskets, clever wall organisers with hooks and behind-the-door shelving. If you’ve got enough room to include a storage cabinet, make sure it has storage below and bench space on top.
Remember to look up and take advantage of the available vertical space, while including open shelves can also prevent the space feeling overly cramped. Specialty storage shops and other home supplies stores are your friend when furnishing a European laundry and you will be amazed at the innovative solutions they offer.
You may also want to include ample bench space to help you complete all your day-to-day laundry tasks. This may include a station for folding clothes, a fold-out ironing board, concealed clothes hamper, pull-down drying racks, drop-down work spaces and so much more.
The right lighting is a crucial consideration for your European laundry. Tucking the laundry away in a cupboard might be convenient, but if it’s not set up right you could end up doing all your washing and drying in a dark, uninviting space.
To keep the space well lit, install task lighting above the work areas so you can see exactly what you are doing. Some homeowners also like the convenience of automatic lights that switch on whenever the laundry is opened.
Another important factor worth considering with a European laundry is how you will incorporate it into the surrounding space. Many laundries are simply hidden behind bi-fold doors to make them look like any other cupboard off a hallway, for example, or like extra pantry space in the kitchen. This helps them blend in with the rest of your home so that they don’t stand out like a sore thumb – in fact, it’s quite easy to forget that the laundry is even there.
However, keep in mind that washing machines and dryers can make quite a racket when in full swing, so you might want to use solid doors and possibly some extra insulation to help keep the noise intrusion to a minimum.
How much will a small laundry cost?
Cost is a critical factor in any renovation project, and it’s no different when creating a small laundry. We’ve already looked at the average cost for renovating a laundry, but to give you an idea, according to 2013 figures from Homesafe Group, a standard laundry renovation costs approximately $4,300 while a luxury upgrade will cost north of $16,000.
Of course, total cost will vary widely depending on the size of your space, where it is located and what you want to include. Our laundry renovation guide features a comprehensive rundown of all the costs involved in individual laundry features, from tiling and tapware to appliances, but remember that your laundry may have unique features that adjust the price, such as custom-made cabinetry that includes innovative storage solutions.
And if you want an all-in-one washer/dryer, expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 for a small unit to $3,000 for a top-of-the-line model.
Other tips and tricks for small laundries
There’s plenty more you can do to make your small laundry a more practical, usable space, such as:
- Elevate your washing machine. Bending down to load and empty a front-loader washing machine or dryer can be hard on your back. Consider elevating the machines slightly to make this chore easier, and also to open up some handy storage space underneath.
- Choose your location. The location for your European laundry is crucial. You want it to be somewhere it can be used without causing too much of a disruption – for example, trying to do the washing for an entire family in some small laundries could block off an entire hallway or part of the kitchen. You also want the laundry to be situated in a spot where there is easy access to the clothesline.
- Use what you’ve got. Where possible, locating your European laundry in or near your bathroom or kitchen allows you to take advantage of the plumbing connections already in place. This can minimise stress and plumbing costs.
- White out. To enhance the feeling of space, use a white or neutral colour scheme. This will help your laundry feel larger than it actually is.
- Fold away. Fold-out technology can help you fit a whole lot more into your small space. Ironing boards, work benches, drying racks and more can all fold down for easy use, and then fold back up and out of the way when not required.