trends: "Storage, storage and more storage," says Lou Manfredini,
author of Mr.
Fix-It Introduces You to Your Home. Organizational units and shelving
are the big concerns in the utility or laundry room.
"It's evolved," says Rich Trethewey, a master plumber
and an expert on the PBS series, "This Old House." "More and
more, we're seeing people put laundry facilities where the dirty clothes are
generated, on the second floor."
Features to consider: What appliances do you have and what
kind of space do they require? "Take a hard look at a front-loading washing
machine," says Darius Baker, certified remodeler, and a committee vice
chairman for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The machines
can save space, power and water.
For flooring, choose something that really holds up to wear and
tear. Manfredini recommends commercial vinyl tile.
Consider a bucket tub, good also for rinsing brushes, cleaning
fish and washing the dog. With a larger room, think of installing an island
to give the family a place to fold laundry or set up messy hobbies, says Larry
Spangler, CEO of the National Kitchen & Bath Association, an industry group.
"Make it a comfortable place to be."
Remodeling suggestions and helpful hints: Install storage
designed for the way you will use the room, like extra shelving or rods to make
doing laundry easier. "Whatever it takes to make it a pleasure to be in
the utility room," says Manfredini, also a correspondent for the NBC "Today"
If you opt for an upper-level laundry room, fit the washing machine
with a valve that turns off the pressure to the hoses when the machine's not
Have an older home where the washer-dryer hookups aren't recessed
into the wall? Getting a pro to do the job will gain you an extra half-foot
of space, a lot in a small room, says Baker.
New products: Washers and dryers that fit under a standard
counter just like a typical dishwasher, giving homeowners a little extra space
to fluff and fold. Also an air-drying closet to take care of wet clothes or
delicates; shallow sinks with gentle jets for hand-washing, front-loading, energy-
and water-efficient washers and dryers and home dry-cleaning cabinets.
Special problems: Maximizing the space.
Biggest mistake: "I think it's just trying to put
too much stuff in too little space," says Baker, also president of D&J
Kitchens & Baths Inc. in Sacramento, Calif. "It's rare when you run
into a utility area that has a whole lot of extra space. Ninety-nine percent
of the time what we're doing is making them bigger."
Professional or DIY: "If it's more complicated than
installing a new washing machine, you need to call a professional, especially
for plumbing," says Baker, also a contributor to the "Weekend Warrior"
home improvement column in the Sacramento Bee.
-- Posted: April 7, 2003