THE most important question: How do you do laundry?

THE most important question your architect should ask you: How do you do laundry? This is not simply because I am raising 3 boys and laundry is an all consuming task for me. Kind of like the children’s book, Everybody Poops. Well, everybody I know also does laundry.

OK, maybe it’s not THE most important question, but it helps me make my point. The number one mistake I see in my practice is clients designing a home for the way they want to live.

I do believe, to some extent, that the built environment affects behavior. Things like how the hot evening sun hits the patio in the summer, pedestrian scale on a shopping strip in town, natural light in a school building. All of these design decisions can affect behavior. However, if you fold laundry in front of the TV, there isn’t a laundry big enough that will keep you in the room for long.

Of course we can change our habits, but honestly, I have many habits that are higher on my list that need changing before I consider how I do laundry.

On my Facebook page, I posted a poll question: If you could choose, where would you put your laundry room?

The results were not earth shattering. "Close to bedrooms" edged out "Near kitchen." My point was proven though in the lone "Basement" vote. She is not wrong.

If you are designing a custom home and your habit/routine/comfort level is with doing your laundry in the basement, then the goal should be to have the most effective basement laundry room ever. Maybe that leads to making sure the bedrooms all have access to a laundry chute. We could incorporate a dumb waiter system to convey those heavy baskets back up to the bedrooms (and with just a little thought and planning this is not crazy expensive).

I would make sure there is some natural light and ventilation in the room and on the path to the laundry room so it is not depressing to go there. Also, lets pay attention to what this room is adjacent to: the exercise room might be fine but not next to the high end theater room. And don’t forget a floor drain.

This is what the design process should look like: start with how you live. Build a custom home that makes the way you work better. Nobody succeeds forcing a square peg into a round hole. Here are a few laundry room layouts I have designed. Each different, just like the homeowner now using them.

I cautioned this client that it will not be lovely to enter from the garage through your laundry every day. This is actually one of my pet peeves. However, this client described to me that it is only she and her husband at home, her washer and dryer are beautiful, and she does all of her laundry in the stacked unit in her master bedroom closet. Okay!

I love this simple layout. If clients don’t have a strong opinion, this is what I recommend. It is open to the mud room, but separated into differently functioning spaces. There is enough open floor space to sort, enough counter space to fold. There is even some wall space for hanging rod and ironing board.


This is my all time favorite (so far). Laundry and pantry combined off of kitchen. Center island can be used for
grocery drop, folding, organizing, gift wrapping, etc. Lots of natural light and not in any circulation path.

The benefit of a well designed laundry room will make the chore not so dreadful. The benefit of a whole house designed around the way you actually live your life is priceless.

- Sheri


As Founder and Principal Architect of Springhouse Architects, Sheri’s mission is to lead Clients through the building process with the Clients in control and Springhouse as their guide, advocate and ally.  With over twenty years experience in Residential Architecture, Sheri brings knowledge and confidence to your custom home project.

Lisa Saldivar