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Tips for updating your laundry room

Let’s face it – doing the laundry can be a mundane task. Yet it has to be done. So why not make your laundry area a happier place? An overhaul can be beneficial not only for added functionality but to create a more soothing, less dreary mood. Whether yours is relegated to a poky cupboard or located in a room of its own, a fresh dab of paint and updated features can help you establish a practical, pleasant space.

Tips for updating your laundry room

“Laundries are often hidden in cupboards or tucked away in the back of the garage,” says Resene colour consultant Jill Marsh. “I have noticed a larger focus on bringing colour into these areas, which is often overlooked.”

Colour can make a huge difference, and there are many ways to look at colours for the laundry, whether it's the colour on the walls or with the accessories we use, like storage bins and tiles and the likes. But when deciding which colours to use, plan new items first, says Jill. “Take a look at flooring options – tiles or vinyl – and any cabinetry colours.”

Consider the rest of the home too. If the redesigned laundry does not tie in with the rest of the house, it can be unsettling. Take special consideration of the rooms directly adjacent to the laundry, since these will most likely be visible when you are inside folding or ironing.

If your home has an existing theme, consider continuing that within the laundry, or at least an altered version of it. Perhaps your home is a Victorian villa, which places importance on ornate details and quality workmanship. The two large appliances that usually sit within a laundry cannot conform to this, but you can tie in the room with ornate shelf brackets for wooden shelving, wood-grain cabinetry or a heritage colour scheme.

“Laundry cabinetry has become a feature in this area using wood-grain instead of the traditional white, adding texture and interest and warmth,” says Jill.

Many of today’s trending colours are also similar to those on the Resene Heritage chart.

“Popular choices for laundries are aqua, blues and blue-greens,” says Jill, “but there are also many options for laundries from the Resene Whites & Neutrals collection, including Resene Alabaster, Resene Half Black White and Resene Merino, to name a few. Look at colour schemes like Resene Unwind with Resene Rice Cake, Resene Half Cut Glass with Resene Alabaster or Resene Seachange with Resene Alabaster. If you want to inject more colour and fun into the laundry, take a look at colours from the Resene The Range fashion colours fandeck.”

Light is important in the laundry, as it’s usually small and often situated on the south side of the home. “Always test your colour choices on a large piece of A2 card using a Resene testpot, leaving a border around it so the colour is not influenced by anything else,” says Jill.

Feature tiles and accessories will bring all the elements together. Ideal flooring won’t absorb water or stray detergent but is also non-slip for safety. Generally, tiles designated for bathroom flooring will have some grain or non-slip texturing. Some tile companies offer photo-realistic depictions of wooden planks or natural stones on their waterproof ceramic, bestowing the gorgeous look without danger of warping or staining. Laminate flooring usually features texture and the faux-tile look with the necessary water resistance, plus it’s easier on the budget.

Some non-traditional options are cork (with a waterproof-applied coating) or sealed concrete. Cork is a sustainable, naturally mildew-resistant material. Cork flooring is warm on bare feet and its elastic properties allow it to slowly return to its previous shape if you happen to dent it or scratch it. Concrete can be stained and sealed with virtually any colour combination, and it can even be stamped while wet to create a 3D pattern.

Laundry room colours
The blue and grey tones in this laundry room are in Resene Mischka and Resene Seashell. The floor is in Resene Black.
Laundry room storage and accessories
Left: Resene Cararra and Resene Alabaster make up the soft tones of this laundry room. Center/Right: Resene Blackboard Paint is a feature in this laundry with remaining areas in Resene Alabaster.

The walls should be covered in moisture-resistant plasterboard, then finished with tile or paint specifically designed for wet areas.

“The best paint option for the laundry ceiling is Resene SpaceCote Flat, a water-based enamel,” says Jill. “For the walls use Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen. For the skirtings, window frames and doors, Resene Lustacryl , a semi-gloss water-based enamel, is ideal. Use the Kitchen & Bathroom versions of these products for extra protection with anti-bacterial silver and MoulDefender.”

Storage is often lacking in laundries, especially in smaller spaces, so try to find storage wherever possible by capitalising on creativity. A simple wire or string attached to the underside of a shelf provides double space for hanging spray bottles or socks awaiting matchmaking.

“If it’s a small laundry, only keep items that you use regularly,” says Jill. “Invest in shelves to maximise any space you do have.”

Shelving can be built in to any convenient spot, but especially above your washing machine. Measure your open spots, and head to the store. Most hardware stores will cut wood for you on the spot, so get some shelves cut and pick up some mounting brackets.

Renovating a laundry room - colour use and accessories
Left: Laundry finished with a feature wall in Resene Tarawera. Right: Soft tones of Resene Cararra and Resene Alabaster make this laundry light and bright.

If you have the space, plan a surface especially for folding items. Ideally this is a large flat spot that is higher than a traditional countertop. It can be helpful to limit bending for extended periods of time. Also, consider a utility sink if anyone in the home is prone to stains, like someone who plays sports, paints, or works on cars, etc. Clothing can be soaked and scrubbed in this sink, leaving your kitchen sink open for more suitable uses.

If you will be spending time ironing, folding or doing spot-treatments, installing speakers can turn this mundane work into a therapeutic experience. If you are carrying out new construction, ask that these be wired into the laundry. If not, simply purchase a Bluetooth speaker and tie it to your phone. Place your personal spin on the space to fully complete your new meditative retreat. Artwork or baskets you love will pull it all together.

“Cane or plastic storage bins or buckets can create some nice colour and texture interest while still being very practical,” says Jill.

If you are starting from scratch on a new laundry, your choices will be slightly broader than if you were simply renovating. Again, think about storage.

“Cupboard space is essential to keep ironing boards, brooms, mops and cleaning items tucked away from view,” says Jill.

If moving the laundry from one spot in the house to another, hopefully the new location allows for a better workflow. In any case, make note of all the small daily grievances you noticed in the last space, because this is your chance to amend them! Whether the top shelf was too high to reach, or the washer door couldn’t quite open fully, address these things specifically in your new laundry and save yourself some sanity. Those minor annoyances can add up.

No matter the circumstances of your laundry overhaul, it’s entirely possible to ensure a successful and pleasing design that makes the task of laundering more pleasant

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