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How to plan a laundry renovation

Adam_W
Valued Contributor

ChaksLaundry.png

 

The laundry is the forgotten room in many homes. It’s a purely functional space, most often visited simply to load or unload the washer or dryer, and with more crammed in than their designers ever intended.

 

With research and planning, you can turn your laundry into an efficient and even welcoming space.

 

What do you need from your laundry?


Most laundry renovations will involve working with the existing space. Laundries are classed as a wet area so expanding them is a more complex (and expensive) process than renovating other rooms. Of course, most people also don’t want to surrender any living space to increase a laundry.


The key is deciding how best to work with the available space. That starts with looking at how your laundry is working (or not working) now and deciding what you need it to do for you.

 

Farmhouse laundry renovation by housetohomeFarmhouse laundry renovation by housetohome

Here are some questions to get you started on evaluating your existing space:

 

  • Are the existing windows large enough, providing enough light and air?

 

  • Is the door in the right position and is it the right type?

 

  • Are the tubs close enough to the washing machine?

 

  • Is the dryer taking up valuable bench space?

 

  • Do you have enough bench space to put down the laundry basket and still have some room to spare?

 

  • Laundry renovation by NhamLaundry renovation by NhamIs there enough tall storage for brooms, mops and the vacuum cleaner?

 

  • Is there enough under-bench and overhead storage?

 

  • Do you have enough room to fold out the ironing board?

 

  • Are there enough power points in the right places?

 

  • How is the ventilation?

 

  • Do pets use the laundry for their litter trays or beds?

 

Potential complexities and how to avoid them


As a wet area, a laundry has multiple services: hot and cold water, waste water outlets, electricity and light. This can raise a host of issues. But moving water and waste can be made easy by concealing extended plumbing inside cabinetry. You’ll likely find that waste outlet pipes are smaller in diameter than in a bathroom so if you do need to change their position through the floor or wall it’s not as complex.


The last few years have seen legislative changes to where power outlets and light switches can be positioned in wet areas. For example, light switches or power points near tubs might now need to be moved. Again, you can get smart and conceal conduit within cabinets however it’s wise to talk with your electrician about requirements for positioning switches and outlets.

Barn door by petaBarn door by peta
If you decide to change a window, it is advisable to stick with the same dimensions as the existing frame. This way it may be as simple as pulling the old out and fitting the new without needing structural work.


If you are switching a traditional hinged door to a sliding door, consider using a wall-mounted barn door instead of a cavity slider. As useful as cavity sliders are, retro-fitting one can involve extensive and expensive structural work to pull apart and rebuild a wall. In comparison, a barn door mounts on the outside of the wall and is attached with screws to the existing lintel and framework inside the wall.

 

Top tips for revamping your laundry

 

  • Thinking of a new window? Consider louvres. These are much more efficient at spreading air-flow over a wider area, even when only open a small amount, and they can be left open a little in rainy weather.

 

  • Use frosted glass in windows to avoid the need for curtains or blinds while still giving you maximum light and privacy all day.

 

  • Keep plumbing in the same locations if possible to keep costs down.

 

  • Install an extractor fan in the corner furthest away from the window or door to draw air through the entire room.

 

  • Have your extractor fan wired to switch on with the lights so it’s regularly used.

 

  • Retain tiles (especially floor tiles) if they are still serviceable and match your colour scheme plans. Stripping up tiles is a very labour intensive and messy process, and the floor will need the expense of waterproofing again before new tiles are laid.

 

  • Spread your lighting around. Rather than having one central light, consider a couple of LED downlights or spotlights where ceiling cavity space is restricted. Aim to have good shadow-free light fall in areas where needed, such as above your sink and ironing area.

 

  • Consider under-cabinet strip-lighting to add light to work areas.

 

Space saving ideas

 

  • Changing a door to the laundry can be a huge space-saver. A traditional hinged door that swings open needs a lot of clearance and in a small room that means you’re sacrificing a lot of space. Consider a barn door instead.

 

  • $500 Bunnings laundry renovation by prettyliving$500 Bunnings laundry renovation by prettylivingMake your laundry the ironing room too by including a wall-mounted, fold-away ironing board. You’ll even find under-bench, slide-away ironing board units.

 

  • Build a clothes folding bench with an overhead hanging rack beside your ironing zone.

 

  • Make use of any possible space to add cupboards or open shelves. Even high overhead spaces can be useful storage for infrequently used or light items.

 

  • Consider updating appliances, especially if you have a top-loading washing machine. Top loaders require a lot of extra space and use enormous amounts of water and power.

 

  • Position your appliances to save space and make your work zone more efficient. If bench space is scarce, consider having your washer and dryer side-by-side under-bench. Otherwise, mount the dryer above the washer on the wall but leave enough clearance between the benchtop and the bottom of the dryer to slide in your washing basket for loading, unloading and storage.

 

Mini laundry makeover by Jesse1Mini laundry makeover by Jesse1

  • Consider a pull-out laundry hamper concealed behind a cupboard door right beside the washer. These are handy for things like tea towels from the kitchen.

 

  • Maximise storage and avoid dead-zones in corner cupboards by installing pull-out shelves or rotating organisers.

 

Making a plan


Draw yourself a basic plan with measurements and location of important things like windows, doors, light switches, power, waste outlets and water. This can then be used for your own D.I.Y. planning or in discussions with an in-store designer to put together some ideas.


Once you know what you want, you’ll need to talk with the various trades. The earlier this can be done the better to both book them in and seek their advice.

 

You'll need to consider the following when deciding on which tradespeople may be required for the job:

 

  • If you are in a Strata, chat with a representative of the Owners Corporate to check any limitations on your plans.

 

  • By law, anything to do with plumbing and electricity must be done by a licensed tradesperson.

 

  • Laundry transformation by ProjectPeteLaundry transformation by ProjectPeteYou can D.I.Y. tiling but you need a tiler or waterproofing specialist to sign-off on any new waterproofing.

 

  • If you have a higher level of D.I.Y. skills, replacing doors and windows may be within your skills but be aware of structural issues. Otherwise, you’ll need a carpenter or builder.

 

  • Modular flat pack cabinetry is straightforward to install with plenty of excellent D.I.Y. videos online. If in doubt, talk to a specialist as they’ll do the job quickly and efficiently.

 

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