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Overlooked and under-appreciated: why the laundry deserves more attention

Overlooked and under-appreciated: why the laundry deserves more attention

It’s one of your home’s biggest workhorses. You’d be lost without it. Anyone with a family probably spends time in it every day. And yet our laundries are perhaps the most overlooked part of our homes.

If your kitchen is the beating heart of your home, your laundry is more like your liver. It helps you detoxify your living space and keeps everything running smoothly. Just like your essential organs, your laundry deserves attention and upkeep.

So what separates a just-okay laundry from a great one? And what can you do to make your laundry work better?

Start with the basics

A good laundry needs a few simple things.

Space for a washing machine and dryer, a laundry sink for hand washing, room to sort clothes before washing and space to fold freshly dried clothes so you don’t have baskets of laundry cluttering up your living areas. You might also want to add an ironing station and a drying rack for delicates that need to be dried away from sunshine.

Good ventilation. Tumble dryers work much better in a ventilated space. A laundry that doesn’t air can become humid very quickly, and may even develop mould on the ceiling.

Storage for your cleaning products so you can easily see what you have and access them. A tall cupboard is ideal for keeping brooms and mops out of sight.

Make your laundry work smarter, not harder

A few simple hacks will help your laundry work more smoothly. That means less time spent dealing with dirty clothes – win! Try the following:

Elevate your washing machine and dryer. Standing your appliances on a platform or low bench means you can eliminate bending down, which can be hard on your back. You can use the space underneath to store laundry baskets.

Keep cleaning products together in the order that you use them. Keep stain remover (sprays and soakers), laundry detergent and fabric softener on a single shelf. Hang lint brushes, mesh bags for lingerie and a towel for gently squeezing water from your woollens.

Buy stackable storage. You’ll always end up needing more storage than you originally think. To avoid a cluttered look with crates and boxes everywhere, invest in stackable laundry baskets and boxes for your cleaning products.

Be thoughtful about design

Laundries should be easy to clean and low maintenance. This is not the right spot to hang your prized artwork or try out a shagpile rug: keep it high gloss and hard wearing.

That doesn’t mean you can’t play with design. In fact, a laundry can be a great place to try out some new looks and get a bit quirky. After all, who’s going to see it except you?

Consider a bright colour on the walls to cheer up the space instead of boring white. There are even several wallpapers on the market that are designed for wet areas, so you can add some pattern and interest.

Tiles are always the best choice for floors thanks to their hard wearing waterproof qualities. There’s no reason you can’t use colour and texture here as well. A tessellated pattern or even a feature splash back behind the laundry sink can add pops of colour.

To keep things sleek, consider hiding appliances behind folding cabinet doors. This is a common solution for smaller apartments, where they’re known as European-style laundries and are often located in a kitchen or hallway. You can use the same trick in a dedicated laundry area: just remember to let the machine air out between washes.

Reflective surfaces maximise natural light and make a small space look larger. Use high gloss tiles and mirrors to get the look.

Pay attention to the lighting. You want the room bright enough to see what stains you need to tackle, without it feeling like an interrogation! An interesting light fitting can add interest and elevate the space from dull to dazzling.

No matter who you are or what your lifestyle, few of us can escape laundry duty altogether. Spend a little bit of time making yours a pleasant place to be and reap the rewards!