Expert Tips for a Laundry Room That’s Efficient (& Beautiful!)

How to create a space that’ll make you look forward to laundry day.

September 20, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth.

We’ve teamed up with LG STUDIO to share our top tips and tricks for laundry success, starting with the appliances. Our pick: The LG STUDIO WashTower, which has built-in technology that selects just the right cycle for your wash-and-rinse routine. And don’t forget their Styler steam closet—it’s the perfect laundry room plus-one for refreshing your favorite garments, pillows, plush toys, and more.

Any home renovation can seem like a daunting task, and a laundry room reno is no exception. Even though it’s a small space, the design—plus all those extra touches, from the wall color to built-in hanging racks— can go a long way toward making laundry day less of a chore. To find out how to get it right, we talked to a few of our favorite design and DIY experts about how to create a hardworking laundry setup that's good-looking, too.

Whether you want to make a few quick cosmetic upgrades or build a new space from scratch, here are 16 tips and ideas to consider when tackling your own laundry room re-do.

1. Pick the right location for your needs

The first question you’ll have to answer is where the laundry room will go. You should start by considering your lifestyle, and the spaces you have to work with. Some people prefer their laundry room near the bedrooms, but DIY and renovation expert Cathy Poshusta says, “I love having the laundry room next to the kitchen, where everyone hangs out.”

Noise is another factor to consider; if you’re sensitive to sounds and like to do laundry at night, you may not want your washer and dryer right next to the bedroom. Architect Yaiza Armbruster points out that in Europe, washer-dryers are often located in bathrooms which, while not a popular choice stateside, is an ultimately practical one. “That way, you don’t have to worry about waterproofing and plumbing,” she explains.

2. Ponder the practical considerations

It’s a whole lot easier to locate a laundry room near existing plumbing. When Poshusta redid her laundry room, she moved the plumbing about 10 feet, but because the laundry room was on top of an unfinished basement she had easy access (and space) to run plumbing and electrical. Armbruster notes that you’ll need dedicated outlets for the appliances, but it’s easy to convert regular outlets to GFCIs— aka ground fault circuit interrupters, which are a must for spaces where a water source is present.

3. Say yes to a sink

All our experts agreed: putting a sink next to the washer-dryer is a very handy idea. It’s key to have a place to treat stains before washing, and a sink is the best spot to do that. Just make sure you get one deep enough for soaking, and if space is tight, consider a stacked setup, like the LG STUDIO WashTower.

4. Invest in efficient machines

Corinna and Theresa Williams, co-founders of Celsious (an eco-friendly laundromat in Brooklyn), suggest opting for ENERGY STAR-certified equipment if you have the option. “Upgrading to a front-loading washer saves water and energy, and if it’s ENERGY STAR, it’ll use up to 45 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than a top-load agitator washer,” they tell me.

5. Uplevel your sustainability

The Williams sisters encourage homeowners to toss a Cora Ball in with each load to reduce the amount of microfiber shedding (from synthetic fabrics) that gets flushed into waterways. Another new innovation to consider is the LG STUDIO Styler, which lets you refresh clothes in just a few minutes using the power of steam, saving the water and energy of a full wash cycle.

6. Go vertical in small spaces

Whether you’ve got a small apartment or a sprawling space, a vertical washer-dryer is always a solid option. A space-saving unit that's also large-capacity, like the LG STUDIO WashTower, might even fit in an existing closet if that’s all you’ve got to work with.

7. Build in ample storage

“Laundry room storage is definitely something you should plan into a renovation,” says Poshusta, who included a built-in hamper in her laundry room. Consider everything you use for laundry, not just soaps: your iron, steamer, drying rack, dryer balls, towels to dry sweaters, and the like.

8. Hide your clutter

Poshusta points out that any counter space next to washers and dryers tends to collect loads of unfolded laundry. “It’s nice to have a door on the laundry room that you can shut!” she says. Alternatively, she notes that you can hang a curtain to hide the laundry area.

9. Make some room for air drying

For those delicate and special items that can’t go in the dryer, like lingerie and silk blouses, be sure to have a dedicated space for air drying. This can be a simple folding drying rack or something more elaborate like Poshusta’s custom-built air-drying rack that lifts up and down on a pulley.

10. Bright lighting is key

Good lighting isn’t just a nice-to-have—you need bright light to see stains before washing. The Williams sisters recommend lighting above all work areas (where you sort, treat stains, and fold), as well as above the appliances.

11. Upgrade your floor—without retiling

DIY expert Malissa Jerome used a peel-and-stick luxury vinyl tile in her laundry room makeover. “I could lay it right on top of my existing flooring with no problems,” she says. “It was a beginner-friendly, affordable project and could be finished in less than a day.” However, she notes the adhesion is very strong, so she wouldn't recommend it to renters. The Williams sisters opted for zero-VOC epoxy flooring for their laundromat and say it’s another easy DIY project to upgrade outdated tile.

12. Consider closed storage

“We prefer closed storage to open shelving,” say the Williams sisters, who note that it tends to be more hygienic (think: lint and debris from sorting). Plus, “It allows for less visual clutter, which lends to a more calming space,” they explain. They also add that it helps keep any (potentially hazardous) cleaning materials safely out of reach from kids in the house.

13. Shop secondhand

If you’re adding new design elements to your laundry space, try incorporating second-hand materials and accessories. “Craigslist is a treasure trove of usable goods,” say the William sisters. “You can find everything from tiles for a backsplash (leftover from someone else’s project) to lightly used garment racks and shelves.” The owners of the Germantown Laundromat scoured eBay for a rainbow of retro laundry baskets for their laundromat, and the result is so colorful and fun.

14. Make the most of your wall space

Utilize any empty wall space with a wall-mounted drying rack, drop-down ironing board, or fold-away table. Jerome always wanted to be able to fold clothes in her laundry room, but didn’t have many options. “There was only one spot that I could put a table since the room is narrow,” she says. “When a friend suggested I purchase a wall mounted table, it sparked the idea for me to design a folding table that was hidden in plain sight by having it look like a piece of art.”

15. Don’t forget to have fun with it

Because laundry rooms are small and often tucked away, they are a great place to experiment with bolder colors or patterns. You could add personality with wallpaper, like interior designer Shavonda Gardner did in her Sacramento home. Or add texture to your laundry room with machine-washable rugs and curtains, which the Williams sisters note will also absorb sound from noisy machines.

16. Bring in some greenery

The Williams sisters filled their laundromat with plants because they say it helps cut down on dust (by up to 20 percent) and noise—it doesn’t hurt that they look good, too. Likewise, Gardner has filled a whole ledge above her machines with houseplants and uses her laundry sink for repotting. But if you don’t have daylight, copy Jerome and clip a few greens from your yard to display in a small vase.

What features would you add to your dream laundry space? Tell us in the comments!

Reinvent your laundry routine with high-tech appliances from our friends at LG STUDIO. Their space-saving WashTower is perfect for laundry rooms big and small, thanks to a compact vertical design and neat features like the TurboWash™ 360, which powers through even your largest loads in a swift 30 minutes. To keep your garments (and other treasured items) clean and fresh in between washes, the LG STUDIO Styler has you covered—it uses the gentle power of steam to deodorize, sanitize, de-wrinkle, and then some.

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Laura Fenton is the No Space Too Small columnist at Food52. The author of The Little Book of Living Small, she covers home, design, and sustainability. Laura lives in Jackson Heights, Queens in a 690-square foot apartment with her husband and son. You can follow her on Instagram @laura.alice.fenton or subscribe to her newsletter Living Small.