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Well-planned utility rooms

I presently live in a beautiful new home with a combination laundry/mud room. It does not function well with 2 dogs and 4 kids! I have convinced my husband to build a separate laundry off the back of the house. Any suggestions before I start?

I am happy to hear concerns regarding a laundry room... a space used as much as any kitchen or bath, but, normally receive no design attention! Everyone should have a well planned utility room that functions to make this chore easier and more pleasant.

Whether you have selected side by side or stacking units, the rest of the wish list remains the same. An extra deep stainless sink with a tall gooseneck faucet set into a solid surface counter top is a great asset. Position the sink so there is a small work surface to one side and a larger one on the other for sorting and folding. Use few or no base cabinets in order to store sorting bins and clothes baskets below. Do install "silverware" type drawers across the apron of the counter to store small items and use upper wall cabinets to store detergents and other large things. The doors and drawers need to weather lots of heat and moisture along with years of constant use, so don't skimp on quality. Select a door style and decorative hardware that adds to the ascetics of the room.

Shelves above or next to the washer and dryer are a must. A hang rail for shirts coming out of the dryer is quite helpful. And, a broom closet is great for holding the swifter, a mop, vacuum and giant size detergent containers. The rack from the dryer for drying shoes and boots can be stored in it, too! If you have enough room, consider an ironing board that folds away into a cabinet and/or a location for a sewing machine and tailoring area.

If you decide to use a fluorescent light fixture, select something that is attractive. Or, consider a more decorative fixture to enhance the style of the space. Whichever, it is the amount of light being emitted that is the most important factor. As in the kitchen, having lights mounted under the upper cabinets to illuminate the work surfaces is great task lighting to have.

The flooring will have a big impact on the look of the room. A great looking ceramic or porcelain tile with a dark grout is easy to maintain; just get yourself a hairdresser's or chef's mat for long term standing in order to preserve your back! And, the final item on the wish list should be a doggy door that opens into a pen or fenced in yard... one less task to worry about and dirty dogs will learn to enter the house through the utility room!

Published in the Star Ledger, March 8, 2008

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