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Mar 24 2016 Laundry Rooms Can Look Good Too
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“What’s funny about laundry rooms is that we’re in them a lot, yet we approach these spaces as an afterthought,” designer AJ Margulis says.
It’s true. There’s no standard laundry room size, shape or layout. Often these utility spaces are created in awkward leftover areas after every other room in the home has been planned out. Or they’re banished to dark corners of basements and garages. And yet you’ve probably noticed you’re spending a lot of time in that confined area. Shouldn’t that space warrant extra attention?
This step-by-step workbook will help you think through your options and plan some ways to make your laundry room function better and look nicer.
Step 1: What Are You Hoping to Achieve?
Why have you decided to remodel your laundry room? And what’s important to you? The answers to these questions will inevitably affect your decisions and, above all, your budget. Are you simply after more function? Or are you hoping to make the space look nice too?
Do you plan on working with the space you have? Or are you relocating your laundry room to another part of your house? Buying new appliances and adding some paint or wallpaper is one thing; knocking down walls, rerouting plumbing and building an entirely new room is another.
Another question you should ask is, “Why now?” It’s good to think about why this is the right time to remodel or redecorate your laundry room. Is this a one-off project or part of a larger remodel? If you plan on eventually tackling a larger project, such as a kitchen or master bathroom, it could be more cost-effective to wait and do everything at once, when you’ll probably already have a contractor, tile installer and other professionals on site doing work.
“If you already have a painter coming in or a tiler for your kitchen, get a quote for other spaces too, like your laundry room,” says designer Kirsten Krason of House of Jade Interiors. “You can get a better deal if they are doing more work instead of coming back a year later and doing a separate room.”
Step 2: Research and Budget
Before beginning any home project, you need to know how much you can spend. A new washer and dryer can set you back a couple of thousand dollars right off the bat. Moving plumbing around, adding a sink or window and building custom cabinets are also significant costs.
On the other hand, laundry rooms are typically small spaces, and if you already have good appliances and adequate storage, the cost of making over your space could be as low as the price of paint or wallpaper. It all depends on the level of design you’re striving for. Some people just want their laundry room to function.
“Oftentimes people don’t want to spend a lot of money in the laundry room,” Donaldson says. “They’re not willing to do a countertop that’s really gorgeous because nobody is seeing it. They just want it to function more than anything.”
So decide if this is a space where you want to invest or if that money could be put to better use elsewhere.
When creating your budget, start with the big expenses: cabinets, flooring and appliances. These will provide the function. After all, laundry rooms are utilitarian spaces first and foremost. Once you tackle that, you can move on to spiffing things up if your budget permits. “You can always bring in other stuff down the road as you can afford it,” Krason says. “You can always put in a new countertop later. Start with the basics first.”
To save money, decide what you can keep and what you need to replace. Can you get by with painting or refacing the existing cabinets rather than replacing them? Can you make do with the flooring? Buying appliances during holiday sales or buying floor models can also help keep costs down.
Step 3: Find a Professional
After determining the general scope of your project, you’ll probably have an idea of whether you need to hire a professional for help. If you’re doing a major renovation, you’ll want to assemble a knowledgeable team to make sure things run smoothly. A professional can help you think through problems and offer solutions you might not have thought of, such as adding a window for natural lighting. “If your laundry room is on the back of the house, it’s especially easy to add a window,” says designer AJ Margulis.
Step 4: Think About Style
Once you’ve tackled the functionality of your space, consider spiffing things up a bit with paint, wallpaper, tile and accessories. If your laundry room is tucked out of the sight of guests, you might want to consider experimenting with some fun, energetic colors or prints.
The more visible your space, the more you’ll probably want it to look nice. A laundry area in a side-entry mudroom that guests and family members often pass through might warrant some extra attention. On the other hand, if your laundry area is in an unfinished basement where few people ever venture, then looks might not be as important to you.
Krason likes open shelving to help break up heavy cabinetry. She also likes ditching the neon-colored detergent boxes for decorative jars. “And pretty art can make your space feel less utilitarian,” she says.
Step 5: Construction Documents, Estimates, Demo, Installation and More
At this stage, the process for remodeling or making over a laundry room is similar to any other renovation project. You’ll be perusing floor plans, elevations and other relevant drawings. You’ll iron out the finer details and get a grip on what permits need to be pulled.
If you’re working with a designer, he or she will probably help you interview contractors and get estimates on the cost of your project. Once you have that settled, you’ll begin preparing for installation by making sure you have all the materials on hand, as well as getting your space ready for demolition.
Make sure you save all receipts, construction documents, warranties and product information so you can properly maintain and care for your appliances and other features.
After your project is finished, walk through the space and make note of anything that’s cracked, chipped, broken or installed incorrectly. Get this list to the person who’s in charge of fixing these mistakes and include information about how and when the work should be completed.
Step 6: Decorate and Enjoy
Now that your space is complete, personalize it with rugs, hampers, soap holders, art and more. Just remember that detergents and bleach can wreak havoc on materials. “You don’t want anything too precious in there,” Margulis says.
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About Me BIOGRAPHY ~Seller’s Success Story~ How my client received 23% more for his home than his anticipated list price! I suggested adding $1,700 for granite counter tops in the kitchen ....