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How to design a small laundry that has both function and style

Homes to Love logo Homes to Love 4 days ago Olivia Day

When space is tight, a small laundry that utilises every nook and cranny is key

a close up of items on a table © Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP

Mudrooms and large laundry areas may be all the rage, but not all of us have the space for such luxuries. Compact laundries get the job done in a fraction of the space and are ideal for petite homes, apartments and small families.

The very on-trend ‘European laundry’ is a great solution for homes with no designated laundry room. Typically tucked away behind bi-fold or sliding doors, this type of space-saving laundry can still include a full suite of washing machine, dryer, storage and sink, as well as bench space. Lucy Sargent from Pocketspace Interiors says European laundries are an increasingly common request and can be achieved on a pretty modest budget, especially if you’re working inside an existing footprint.

“If you are renovating your laundry to make it smaller, try to keep all your services such as plumbing and electrics in the same position to avoid excessive trade bills,” she says. “However, if your laundry has a really impractical layout or needs to be moved, you may need to bite the bullet and invest in this space.”

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How much space?

If all you need is a washing machine or washer/dryer, a simple 600mm cupboard space will do, whether below counter height or mounted. But for a functional laundry area with a workspace, storage and maybe a sink, you’ll require an area at least 1.2m wide and 60cm deep, ideally with a full-height space above for shelving and cupboards. If you’re creating a European laundry, you’ll also have to include space for the sliding or folding doors themselves.

It’s important, too, to consider whether you can easily plumb in your washing machine and sink (if you need one) and ventilate your dryer, if you’re installing one (condensing dryers don’t require ventilation but do emit a lot of hot air). Finally, you’ll need to leave room for power points and plugs.

Top tip: Folding doors make a laundry easily accessible and, when closed, keep the washing out of sight and out of mind.

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Laundry layout

First off, have a think about what exactly you would like to get out of your compact laundry. After the basic need to wash your clothes, what’s your next biggest priority? Do you need a dryer for wet days or can you do without? Do you need a shelf for your laundry basket so it can be kept out of the way when not in use? Would you like a bench space for folding clothes? Do you need a decent sink for scrubbing grass stains out of sports gear? Make yourself a prioritised list of tasks and plan your compact space so it ticks off at least the top three.

Lucy says that by creating a functional layout, you can reduce the amount of time spent doing laundry chores. “Simple things such as adding a pull-out shelf beneath your dryer (if it’s wall-mounted) so you can place your laundry basket there and unload washing without trying to balance it on your hip make all the difference.”

Although stacked laundry appliances might seem like an obvious way to save space, Lucy doesn’t recommend it. “If you are strapped for space, having a front-loading washer and dryer side by side is the way to go. By going for side-by-side you can have a benchtop above, which adds functionality and is also nicer to look at.”

© Provided by Bauer Media Group (NZ) LP

Flat-pack or custom?

All the big hardware stores offer flat-pack cabinetry systems that work really well for laundries, and if you have the time and skill to install them correctly, these can be really affordable and look great – especially if you add a gorgeous tap and on-trend handles.

However, you may miss out on crucial storage space if your laundry area doesn’t suit the flat-pack dimensions. “Custom cabinetry can maximise the amount of storage you get because it’s tailor-made for your space,” says Lucy. “Going for pre-made cabinetry can be great if you are on a tight budget, but it often means there will be little nooks that could have been better utilised, and that can make all the difference in a small laundry.”

Can’t stretch your budget to cabinetry? If your laundry space is relatively out of the way, ditch the cupboards altogether and get creative with a sturdy shelving system and a secondhand laundry cabinet. Happy laundry day!

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Words by: Sally Conor. Photography by: Bauer Syndication.

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