The Well-Appointed Laundry: Washers and Dryers with Style

An ideal laundry area, painted white, featuring a rich-colored washing machine, hangers and other items.

This laundry area doubles as a mudroom, where shoes, coats and bags can be stored. The aspen green Whirlpool Duet steam washer and dryer pair adds a pop of color to the all-white room. (Courtesy of Whirlpool Corporation.)

There are few chores more necessary and less pleasant than washing clothes. But, doing laundry can be enjoyable.

Or at the very least, laundry can be done in a space that is enjoyable to be in.

“Laundry rooms are getting nicer,” says Jamie Gold, a San Diego, Calif., a certified kitchen designer and author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work. “That’s a trend that I applaud because I like a pleasant space to do an unpleasant chore.”

Choices, Choices, Choices

So, just how does Gold add style to a laundry room? With color. Many manufacturers offer washer and dryer sets in several different colors — red, purple, mustard, green; Dyson even offers a colorful washing machine that comes in purple, blue and silver, all at once — in addition to stainless steel and the traditional white. “I like the fact that you can get them in so many different shades,” Gold says. “Color really punches up a laundry room.”

If you have a white or stainless steel washer and dryer set, you can still use color in the laundry room with paint.

For a while now, front loading washers have become more noticeable in laundry rooms, mostly because the majority of them are high-efficiency washers, which means they use less energy and water. A 2012 PulteGroup Home Index Survey found that energy efficiency was one of the top five features that home buyers want to see in a new home, says Bob Bergeth, general manager of builder sales for Whirlpool Corporation.

“People are looking to take control of their energy consumption and appliances that are Energy Star-qualified allow them to do so,” he says. The Whirpool Cabrio top loading washer, for instance, offer cycles that use less water and even has an eco cycle.

Today’s high-efficiency washers utilize the least amount of water possible to fully clean clothes. Bergeth says the Whirpool Duet washer, for instance, have been optimized to use a precision dispense system that releases the exact amount of water and detergent necessary for each load, regardless of size, equating to greater energy efficiency and long-term savings for homeowners. And high-efficiency dryers, like the Duet dryer, also save money by using less energy.

While appliance manufacturers have been offering high-efficiency washers and dryers for years, there are now high-efficiency top-loading options too, says AJ Jones, a repair technician with Fans of top loading washing machines are especially excited to jump on the high-efficiency train, Jones says, because front loaders are hard on some people’s backs. “They easier to load for some people and they do a really good job for what they’re designed for,” he says. “And they have a lot more settings than their predecessors.”

In addition to color, manufacturers are offering washers that are not only sleek, but more customizable — and connected — than ever before. The LG WT6001HV top loading washer, for example, has SmartThinQ technology that allows you to download new wash cycles, sends alerts to mobile devices when a load is done and knows when the least expensive time of day to wash is, saving you money.

Whirlpool’s washers and dryers with 6th Sense Live technology alerts you on your smartphone and tablet when a load is done. And, if you’re out while the load finishes, you can remotely enable the washer’s FanFresh Cycle, which lightly tumbles your clothes to help prevent wrinkles.

Laying It All Out

Wash basins are still popular in laundry rooms, but only when space allows it, Gold says. More popular than those are multi-use laundry rooms. Using the laundry room as a multifunctional room is a trend Gold doesn’t see going away soon. She has seen laundry rooms increasingly double as craft or utility rooms as well as some that have exercise equipment or flat-screen TVs in them.

“Laundry rooms are one of those areas that people customize to fit their needs,” Gold says. “They can be used as a mud room or craft room too. They can be a charging station for electronics or they can be combined with an exercise room. How convenient would it be to finish your workout and then toss your gym clothes in your washer?”

In homes with lots of space, Gold is also seeing more than one laundry room. For instance, if the home is two stories, there will be a laundry room upstairs and downstairs. This makes it easier to wash clothes for larger families and it’s more convenient than going down the staircase with a large basket full of clothes. “It just makes unloading clothes that much more convenient,” she says.

Gold has even seen instances where a laundry chute was installed from one floor to the next to make washing clothes easier for the family. In some cases, a separate laundry room is built into a home’s master suite as a matter of convenience. “If it’s a large home and the homeowner has a lavish master suite and a separate kids’ area, then they’ll probably have two laundry rooms in the home.”

Also gaining speed in laundry rooms are drying racks that can be folded up against walls to save space.

A well-appointed laundry doesn’t necessarily mean a large room with the latest washers and dryers. Now, it means making the most of your space while accomplishing a necessary task. The modern laundry room is all about being multifunctional and utilizing the space in a way that makes it enjoyable. As Gold says, “A stylish laundry room just makes doing laundry a little less unpleasant.

Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning journalist and former content manager for NewHomeSource. You can find her on Google+.

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