According to consumer goods giant Proctor and Gamble, the average American family does 416 loads of laundry per year. And since the pandemic hit, that number has increased.
Not only are we spending more time doing laundry, we are paying more attention to the laundry room space and giving it a facelift. Once relegated to the basement, washers and dryers have been inching closer to the main living spaces since the 1970s and ’80s as homes became larger and appliances became less noisy.
In recent years, builders have positioned the laundry room alongside mudrooms or the garage entry for convenience; however, it was still treated as a utilitarian area kept out of view from guests.
Lately, upgrading the laundry room’s lighting has become a priority. According to lighting expert Jeff Dross, Principal at Lighting by Jeffrey in Cleveland, laundry rooms are no stranger to unexpected splashes of color. “Washers and dryers have been selling in red and cobalt for years,” he notes. “This has opened the window for something else, why not unexpected lighting?”
With the laundry room adjacent to the main living areas, many homeowners are looking for a cohesive design aesthetic, although Dross points out it can also be a place to express individuality with the option of closing the door if conservative friends or relatives stop by for a visit. He states, “This cloistered room can remain a hidden secret, but why? The laundry room has become a ‘safe’ space to experiment with something different.”
That “something different” could mean trying a bright color scheme or a daring style departure from the rest of the home. Or, it could mean outfitting the space for additional purposes. Instead of the typical arrangement of sliding the washer and dryer against one wall with shelving overhead, Dross notes that laundry rooms are now being combined with a craft center, art studio area, or gift-wrapping station.
“Laundry rooms, while servicing an important function in the day-to-day operation of a home, are also taking on new responsibilities during get-togethers and parties,” Dross adds. “Guests might be hanging coats there or grabbing a drink. The area needs to look better than that dank spot in a dark corner of the basement.”
No More Boring Lighting
Fortunately, there are a lot of decorative alternatives for lighting besides the fluorescent ceiling box or recessed lights that might have come with the house. Interior designers have been installing flush-mounts, semi-flush, and chandeliers that not only bring light down closer to the work area, but also in a warmer color temperature (2700K to 3000K) that matches the rest of the home rather than the typical blue-white bright fluorescent color (5000K) often found in utility areas. Another bonus: say goodbye to mismatched socks. Proper lighting will help distinguish black socks from navy blue, speeding your sorting time.
If the ceiling in the laundry room is high, consider installing several semi-flush lighting fixtures. “They add a touch more elegance to this work-a-day room,” Dross comments. “If you want to up the game even farther, a chandelier, hung with one or two links of chains or a short stem will transform this boring space to one which will garner cheers and admiration from visitors.”
When searching for lighting for the laundry room, don’t limit yourself to that search category. Today’s design approach is more about adapting the decorative lighting styles suitable for the rest of the home to this area, but perhaps on a smaller scale (i.e. mini chandelier vs. full size). On the high end, some laundry rooms are spacious enough to accommodate an island. In those cases, interior designers often illuminate the work surface with pendant lights as they would in a kitchen.
Speaking of kitchen lighting techniques, to maximize your renovated laundry room, consider implementing accent lighting for more design versatility. “There are multiple opportunities for interesting lighting,” Dross remarks. “Most laundry rooms are being built with upper and lower cabinets accompanied by countertops. This is an invitation to install accent lighting such as undercabinet and toekick lighting and even above cabinet, soffit lighting — all of which can be used to great effect during a party.”
With all of us spending more time at home, there’s no reason to have a room that we don’t like being in. Upgrading the laundry room is a practical improvement that will also increase your enjoyment of that space.
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