The laundry room isn't the most exciting place in the house. But it is no longer just the place where clothes get cleaned. Today's laundry room, in fact, can be one of the most high-tech areas of the house. Think “smart” washing and drying machines, ventilation systems and entertainment areas. With the right set up, moms won’t be the only ones doing laundry. Talk about market potential.
Energy and Water Efficiency
Companies such as Bosch, Maytag, LG, Samsung and Whirlpool are stepping up their game when it comes to washing and drying machines. If you need to save room and energy, front-loading washing machines are the way to go. They can save up to 70 percent of the energy bill and use 70 percent less water than top loaders. Many dryers have moisture sensors that trigger the drying cycle to stop when the clothes are dry, which also curbs energy consumption. Some washing machines have a turbo wash option and even smartphone apps that lets you pause and start cycles and let you know when they are done.
To be on the safe side, a builder can install a valve that cuts water to the washer if it detects a leak or a burst hose. FloodStop makes two products for washing machines: one with 90 degree valves, and one with straight valves. If a leak is detected, they will sound an alarm to users. They cost approximately $190. A cheaper option is a leak detector from Insteon for $34.99. You just set it on the floor and receive alerts of leaks via text or email.
Okay, so most people wouldn’t call ventilation fans awesome. But anything that can eliminate humidity in a laundry room is worth praising. Broan makes several utility ventilators that do just that. The Room to Room 512 and Through Wall 512M models operate at 3.5 sones, which is less loud than conversation in a restaurant. And Leviton offers a Humidity Sensor Fan Control to run the fan automatically when high humidity levels are present, eliminating harmful mold growth.
A utility sink multitasks as a hand-washing station, a place to soak soiled sports gear, even an area to pot plants. A rustic enclosure made from whitewashed scrap wood gives an inexpensive plastic sink a stylish look. Have pets? Make this area double as a dog bath.
Laundry rooms tend to be small, as homebuyers and homebuilders often opt to use the space elsewhere. For this reason, consumers like to utilize the space they have to the greatest capacity. Homebuilders should consider installing sliding spaces under countertops that house hampers and foldable ironing boards. Other retractable spaces can be used for sewing and folding stations and storage for detergents, bleach and appliances.
A smart iron like this one from Oliso can make life easier for not only moms, but for any of us who are more likely to burn our hands than get the wrinkles out. The nifty gadget uses iTouch technology, which has patented Scorchguards that lift with the touch of your hand and lower when you’ve stopped ironing, preventing burns, scorching and tipping. The iron also “levitates” above the fabric and lowers as you apply pressure. Another safety feature is the fact that it automatically shuts off after 30 minutes. Just touch the handle to reactivate it.
Many seedy laundromats have TVs or other ways of keeping people occupied while their clothes are being washed, so why shouldn’t a nice, wholesome home laundry? Create a tech space with a flat-panel TV and docking stations to play music or charge laptops, tablets, phones and other devices. TVs can also be embedded into mirrors and medicine cabinets, such as this beauty from Robern.
Task and Decorative Lighting
Under-cabinet LED strips or a halogen strip tucked behind a soffit is a great option for work zones like the laundry room. It’s attractive looking and helps mom see what she’s folding or scrubbing. While Legrand’s Adorne series is geared toward the kitchen, the laundry room is also a great place for these products. Builders can take care of lighting and entertainment with the manufacturer’s energy-efficient LEDs, USB ports, wireless Bluetooth-enabled speakers that stream music from mobile devices and out-of the-way outlets that reduce cord clutter. There are even charging cradles to hold digital devices. Tucking it into the back counter cleverly conceals the techie stuff, but in an accessible way. Components like the LED puck lights are priced separately, but figure on about $85 per linear foot installed.
With the right tools and some imagination, builders can transform a would-be boring chore room into something homeowners can show off. The only thing that would make it better is a Rosie Jetson robot so that people don't have to do laundry at all.
- Convenient location
- Water heater controller
- Energy monitoring plugs
- Tile or water-resistant floors
- Flood and moisture sensors
- Laundry chutes from upper levels
- Windows to assist ventilation and bring natural light in
- Locating in a half-bath or other space, behind doors or partitions
- Work areas for folding clothes, ironing, etc.
What technologies would you use in your dream laundry room? Comment below or add to our LinkedIn discussion.