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Laundry Room Counter Space Dilemma


Laundry Room Countertop Ideas | The washer and dryer are going to have a giant top over them. Copyright 2020 Tim Carter

Laundry Room Countertop Ideas

DEAR TIM: I need some help with my laundry room. I’m enlarging it in a remodeling project and know I need more countertop room. I’m really interested in any options you might know of and how to make the most of the space in the laundry room. I’ve got a healthy budget and now is the time to put all options out on the table for consideration. Thanks for your help and suggestions. Maria A., Tuscon, AZ

You may be lucky like Maria and have a room in your living space where you do laundry. Some people are relegated to the basement as in older homes this is where you’d typically find a washer and dryer. That’s the way it was in the home I grew up in as well as the first two homes I lived in after getting married. Finally, in the last home I built for my family, I created a dreamy laundry room with lots of space and amenities.

How Much Counterspace is Too Much?

If you’ve done lots of laundry, you know how valuable counter space is. You can fold things on these flat surfaces and they need to be strategically located for folding. You may find yourself setting your baskets of laundry up on regular-height countertops. I feel this is a huge mistake because it’s so uncomfortable to get things out of the basket. Putting the basket on the floor often causes uncomfortable bending.

Identify Your Pain Points

The way I solve conundrums like Maria’s is to stop and think about the pain points of the laundry process. You should do this too. For example, when you do laundry, what causes problems for you? Do you have to reach far for the soap? Do you have to bend over too much to load clothes to be laundered? Do you bump into things? Do you wish you had an ironing board in the laundry room? I can list lots of other questions, but I think you know how to create a list of things that make you grumble when doing laundry.

Here’s my wife’s laundry basket on a temporary cardboard box. The lip of the basket is just above the bottom of the HE washer opening. The box is about 14 inches tall. Copyright 2020 Tim Carter

What About a Bench or Platform?

Think about convenience. A short bench or platform that puts your laundry basket at the perfect height for you to get things out to sort or throw into the machine is a must. This could be a permanent shelf that’s right where you want your basket, or it could be a special bench that stores under a sink or some other convenient spot in the laundry room. I prefer a permanent shelf as I don’t want to be moving a bench back and forth.

The actual countertop space in the laundry room should be twice what you think you need. You may want to stack folded clothes in different piles before you put them back into a basket. How much space do you need for these piles?

Can I Put a Top on Top of the Washer and Dryer?

Newer sleek washers and dryers may allow you to put a countertop over the top of the machines because all the controls are on the front of the machines. If you choose to do this, do the math to make sure the finished countertop won’t be too high up off the floor where it’s not convenient to work. Traditional countertops in a kitchen are normally 36 inches above the finished floor for reference.

What Material is Best?

The countertop material needs to be waterproof in my opinion. Plastic laminate tops work fine in these situations and there are some stunning patterns and colors in modern laminate tops. Don’t brush these off until you’ve seen them.

Should I Install A Sink or Two?

I had two different sinks in my last laundry room. Be aware there are all types of giant and extra-deep stainless-steel sinks that will fit inside a normal countertop and regular sink-base cabinet. I had one of these monster stainless-steel sinks immediately next to my washer in case I wanted to rinse something before adding it to the machine.

Should Tops Be Different Heights?

Realize you don’t have to have all the countertops in the room at the same height. Experiment having work surfaces at slightly different heights than 36 inches. If you’re short, you may discover you love having a countertop at 32 inches off the finished floor. It’s not hard for a remodeling contractor to get a work surface at whatever height you want.

Think about any and all other options you may want and find out the best locations for electrical outlets so you don’t have cords draped across the countertops to reach some smaller appliance. Really think through where you’ll place things on the countertops before you tell the electrician where you want the outlets.

This ironing board was installed when the house was built. You can add one in a day to an existing house. Photo Credit: Tim Carter 2020

You can get foldaway ironing boards that fit in a sleek wall cabinet. The actual ironing board is a tad smaller than a normal one, so be sure you’re aware of this before you specify having one installed. I have one in my laundry room, but the builder who built this house – not me! – put it in the worst possible location. Because of this, it rarely gets used.

Lighting is very important. You want great light over the top of the washing machine as well as all countertops. Surface fixtures will achieve this goal well and just be sure you can get LED bulbs that will produce plenty of light.

Don’t overlook the importance of the flooring. You want something that’s slip-resistant and quite durable. I have natural slate in my laundry room and love it. There are lots of vinyl tile products that may work well for you.

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