Laundry Room Design Rules – An Expert-Approved Formula for the Ideal Space

Doing laundry is a never-ending chore. But having an efficient, well-designed laundry room can make this task much more pleasant and easy to tackle. As interior design experts, we’ve formulated some key laundry room design rules to help you create the ideal laundry space.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide our insider tips on everything from optimal layout and storage solutions to surfaces, lighting, and accessories. By following our expert-approved formula, you’ll end up with a laundry room that is functional, organized, and tailored to your needs. Let’s dive in!

Where to Locate the Laundry Room

One of the first decisions to make when planning your laundry room is where to locate it within your home. Here are some factors to consider:

Proximity to Bedrooms and Heavy Traffic Areas

Ideally, you’ll want your laundry room placed centrally within your home near the bedrooms, as this is where most of your dirty clothes will originate. It should also be easily accessible from heavy traffic areas like the kitchen or mudroom. This makes transporting loads simpler and promotes use of the space.

Access to Plumbing and Venting

Laundry rooms require access to water supply lines, drain pipes, gas lines for the dryer, and proper venting. Installing these mechanicals will be simpler and more cost-effective if the room is situated against plumbing and venting stacks.

Noise and Vibration Factors

Laundry rooms can generate noise and vibrations from running washers and dryers. Avoid locating your laundry right against bedrooms or living spaces where this could disturb relaxation or sleep. Place laundry rooms against garage walls or utility rooms instead.

Allowance for Door Swing and Appliance Size

Make sure to account for any doors swinging into the laundry room, clearance around appliances, and room to sort and fold laundry. A minimum of 30-50 square feet is recommended for a functional laundry room.

Natural Lighting and Ventilation

If possible, aim for a laundry room with an external wall or window. Natural light makes the space more pleasant, while an exterior vent is best for releasing humidity. If neither is possible, install a good overhead vent fan.


For universal design, the laundry room should be single-story and wheelchair accessible. Avoid laundry in the basement when possible. Also ensure aisles and doors are wide enough for maneuvering.

Convenience and Aesthetics

Ideally the laundry room should be placed somewhere convenient like near the garage or pantry, without sacrificing aesthetics. You still want the space to be attractive instead of feeling too utilitarian.

By evaluating these factors, you can determine the best location that balances function, accessibility, and design harmony. Placing the laundry room strategically can improve workflow and make laundry less of a chore.

Layout and Workflow

Once you’ve settled on a location, it’s time to optimize the layout. Careful planning of the following elements will help streamline your functions and create an efficient laundry workflow:

Clear Pathways and Aisles

Adequate aisle space is crucial for moving around the laundry room when loading, unloading, and sorting laundry. At minimum 3 feet of clearance is needed in front of appliances, but 4 feet is ideal. Pathways between fixed elements should be 42-48 inches wide to accommodate two people.

Triangle Workflow

Position appliances, folding areas, storage and laundry sorters to create an efficient “work triangle” with clear circulation. Group key areas together so you don’t have to take extra steps between washing, drying, folding and storage.

Sorting Station

Designate part of the countertop or a table for sorting laundry before washing. Bins, shelves or baskets for pre-sorting help streamline the process. This space can also be used for folding or ironing.

Folding Area

Allow room for a folding table or countertop space for folding fresh laundry. Locate this near both the washer and dryer for efficient workflow. Open shelving above is great for stacking folded laundry.

Utility Sink

A utility sink is useful for hand-washing delicates, pre-treating stains, or dyeing projects. Position the sink near the washer with counter space on either side. Built-in drying racks above are handy.

Appliance Placement

Arrange washer and dryer units side-by-side if space allows. Stacked units work for tight spaces. Leave room in front for loading and unloading. Place dryer near venting duct. Allow space behind for servicing.

Storage Solutions

Incorporate plenty of cabinets, shelves, and bins for laundry supplies, household cleaning items, and folded laundry storage. Baskets or carts allow transferring laundry easily.

Ergonomic Heights

Standard countertop height is 36 inches, while front-loading washers and dryers are often lower. Consider varied counter heights or installing washer/dryer pedestals for ergonomic use.

Problem-Solving Details

Include design details like a retractable hanging rod, cushioned floor mats, adequate lighting, ventilation, and a radio or TV to maximize function and enjoyment of the space.

Optimizing the layout for an organized workflow will help the laundry room operate smoothly and efficiently. Proper planning provides major functional benefits on laundry day.

Laundry Room Flooring

Choosing the right flooring is one of the most important laundry room design decisions. With copious moisture, dripping laundry, and potential appliance leaks, the flooring needs to be durable and water-resistant. Here are some ideal options:


Tile is a classic laundry room choice, as it is waterproof and easy to clean. Porcelain tile is stronger than ceramic and less prone to chipping. Mosaic tiles laid in fun patterns inject visual interest. Add grip strips if slippery when wet.


Sheet vinyl or modular vinyl tiles like Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) are affordable, waterproof options. Seamless vinyl sheeting is great for containing spills. Vinyl also comes in cool stone and wood-look designs.

Seamless Epoxy Floors

Epoxy floors are impervious to water, chemicals, impacts, and high heat. The thick, glossy seamless installation resists cracking and stains. Vibrant colors and artistic designs are possible.

Rubber Flooring

Rubber floor tiles are naturally slip-resistant and cushioned underfoot. They absorb noise and impact. Large format rubber sheets are seamless and durable, with textured metallics available.


Polished concrete floors have an industrial chic vibe. The continuous surface is easy to clean and waterproof when sealed. Stains can be difficult to remove from unsealed concrete.


Made from renewable materials like cork and linseed oil, linoleum is naturally water-resistant. Sheet linoleum is seamless while marmoleum tiles contain anti-microbial properties.

Laminate Wood

Laminate mimics real wood with less moisture susceptibility. Look for laminates with an AC rating for water-resistance. Keep seams properly sealed to avoid swelling.

Stone or Porcelain Tile

Natural stone like slate or limestone add elegance, but can get slippery. Porcelain tile looks like stone but is less porous. Use textured tiles and seal properly to avoid staining.

Avoid Carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting is too moisture-absorbent for laundry rooms and can trap odors, mold and mildew over time. Solid surface flooring is a better choice.

Select a durable, waterproof flooring that can withstand laundry room wear and tear. Proper sealing and drainage will also help maintain the floor over time.

Laundry Room Cabinets, Shelving and Storage

No laundry room is complete without plenty of storage. Here are some cabinetry, shelving and storage solutions to consider:

Base Cabinets

Install base cabinets for concealed storage and extra countertop space. Full extension drawers easily hold supplies. Include pull-out trays, lazy susans and tip-out bins.

Wall Cabinets

Wall cabinets provide storage above eye level. Glass-front cabinets neatly display items while solid doors hide clutter. Include racks for hanging spray bottles.

Pull-Out Pantry

A pull-out pantry or utility cabinet with adjustable shelves is great for laundry and cleaning supplies. Roll-out trays and slide-out baskets maximize vertical storage.

Open Shelving

Open shelving lends an airy, industrial vibe while offering easy-access storage. Sturdy metal piping or slotted wood shelves hold baskets for sorting laundry.

Hanging Rails

Install retractable drying racks or rust-resistant copper pipes with hangers for drying delicates. Position near a vent or use in conjunction with a dehumidifier.

Slim Storage Tower

A tall, narrow storage tower fills wasted space between washer/dryer. Upper cabinets provide storage while lower cubbies hold laundry baskets.

Wire Baskets

Stacking wire baskets are great for corralling laundry supplies, tools or sorted laundry. Baskets can slide onto shelves or be mounted on the wall.

Laundry Sorting Station

Designate part of the countertop or install a sorting table. Use baskets, bins and divided hampers to quickly sort laundry by color or fabric type.

Ironing Station

Create dedicated ironing space with a heat-resistant countertop and access to an electrical outlet. Nearby drawers can hold the iron, starch spray and folding supplies.

Drying Rack

Look for over-appliance drying racks or retractable ceiling-mounted rods for space-saving solutions. Stainless steel rods resist rust.

Storage Benches

Durable storage benches provide seating plus hidden storage for laundry baskets or supplies. Look for moisture-resistant, cleanable fabrics.

Utility Sink Cabinet

Maximize space under a utility sink with a rollout tray or cabinet holding laundry soaps, scrub brushes and stain removers. Close doors to conceal the view.

Closet Rods and Shelves

Take advantage of vertical real estate by installing closet rods and shelves for laundry storage. Rods allow air circulation to avoid mildew.

Proper laundry room storage ensures everything has a designated spot. Mix closed cabinets, open shelving, specialty racks and clever laundry sorters to keep the space organized.

Laundry Room Countertops

The countertops in your laundry room will see a lot of activity, from sorting and folding laundry to ironing or craft projects. Here are some durable options:

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel counters reflect light and can handle hot irons. The non-porous surface prevents staining and resists scratches. Edges should be eased for safety.

Solid Surface

Quartz or solid surface counters like Corian are non-porous, heat-resistant, and nearly indestructible. Joints are seamless for easy cleaning. Rich colors help hide laundry stains.


Affordable laminate countertops come in hundreds of colors and patterns. Newer generation laminates better resist scratches, scorching, and moisture damage. Avoid seam placement over appliances.


Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile is ultra-durable and impervious to liquids. Use a flat tile on the ironing board side to prevent tipping. Add a decorative tile backsplash.


Poured concrete counters offer industrial appeal. The smooth yet textured surface resists stains, heat and scratches. Edges can be slightly eased for safety. Use sealers to repel liquids.

Butcher Block Wood

Butcher block is generously sized and handsome, but more prone to water damage and staining. Frequent applications of mineral oil maintain its luster and water resistance.

Recycled Glass

Sustainable crushed glass counters come in glowing colors and terrazzo-like patterns. The finished surface is non-porous and scratch-resistant. Edges can be sharp.


Copper, brass or galvanized metal add industrial flair. Use heat-proof mats and avoid harsh scouring to prevent scratching the patina. Stainless works best for hot appliances.

The ideal laundry counters can withstand years of use, heat, spills, and stains. Balance durability, ease of cleaning, style and budget when selecting materials.

Laundry Room Sinks

While not essential, a utility sink can be extremely useful for laundry room tasks. Here are some sink options to consider:

Stainless Steel

Timeless stainless steel utility sinks have an indestructible, easy-to-sanitize basin. They come in multiple sizes and configurations to optimize space.

Enameled Cast Iron

Traditional enameled cast iron sinks offer a deep, spacious basin in a range of color options. The durable porcelain enamel resists scratches and stains.


Tough acrylic-based composite sinks mimic stone at a lower cost. Flexible composition avoids chipping and stands up to years of use. Styles range from sleek to decorative.

Porcelain Enamel over Steel

Like cast iron, these sinks bond glasslike enamel over steel for incredible durability. Porcelain over steel costs less but lacks cast iron’s sound-absorption.

Solid Surface

Non-porous solid surface sinks are seamlessly integrated into countertops, with heat resistance and stain-proof properties. On-trend options include integrated drain boards.


Classic farmhouse-style sinks have deep rectangular basins ideal for hand-washing large items. Fireclay or enameled cast iron offer traditional styling.

Bar Sink

For small spaces, an economical bar sink provides basic utility needs without consuming lots of room. Tiny wall-mounted corner sinks also work.

Trough Sink

Long rectangular trough sinks allow washing multiple items at once. Look for rustic materials like copper or fireclay. Provide adequate drainage.

Laundry Tub

For heavy-duty laundry needs, stainless steel laundry tubs have extra deep basins. Some include convenient fold-down work surfaces.

Choose a sink suited for laundry tasks like hand-washing, pre-treating or dye projects. Prioritize durability and adequate size over stylish looks.

Laundry Room Backsplash

While often overlooked, the backsplash plays an important role in the laundry room:

Protects the Wall

Backsplashes shield susceptible drywall from water splashes and stains. Tiles prevent damage behind washers, utility sinks, ironing boards and countertops.

Adds Visual Interest

Creative backsplash tile patterns and textures make a stylish accent. Vivid mosaics or geometric designs give personality to the space.

Contributes to Cleanliness

The grout between backsplash tiles is easily wiped clean. Glossy or semi-porcelain tile surfaces further resist mildew and grime buildup.

Reflects Light

Glossy glass, metal or ceramic tile backsplashes brighten the room by reflecting light. This helps compensate for dim laundry rooms.

Completes the Look

A backsplash provides a finished, cohesive look. It ties the countertops, cabinets, walls and flooring together into a pulled-together space.

Allows Creativity

From bold patterns to artistic murals, backsplash tile offers limitless design possibilities. Use tile to inject your own personal flair.

Provides Function

Niches built into the backsplash hold soaps and brushes handy. Drying racks or retractable rods can also be incorporated.


Quality backsplash materials like ceramic tile stand the test of time. With proper sealing, backsplashes easily outlast wall paint.

Even in a utilitarian laundry room, the backsplash plays an important aesthetic and functional role that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Laundry Room Lighting

Proper lighting transforms the laundry room from a dark, gloomy place into a bright, pleasant workspace. Follow these lighting tips:

Include Natural Lighting

Windows and skylights cast natural light, improving the ambiance. Sheers filter harsh sunlight while still allowing brightness.

Layer Lighting Elements

Combine overhead fixtures, task lighting, accent lighting and natural light for a well-illuminated space.

Install Dimmers

Dimmers allow adjusting fixture brightness as needed. Boost light for fine laundry tasks or dim for movie nights.

Choose Appropriate Fixtures

Moisture-resistant fixtures with plastic or acrylic diffusers prevent breakage. Look for shatterproof LEDs.

Light the Sink Area

Flanking the sink with pendants or beneath-cabinet lighting facilitates tasks. Go for a minimum of 500 lux.

Illuminate Sorting/Folding Areas

Provide ample task lighting over countertops and folding tables. Position adjustable arms for directional lighting.

Include Specialty Lighting

Sconces, under-cabinet lights or cove lighting add ambiance. Night lights provide visibility for late-night laundry runs.

Light Inside Cabinets

Use battery-powered LED strips to illuminate interior cabinets and allow seeing contents easily.

Avoid Shadows

Arrange lighting to eliminate shadows or dark corners, especially by the washer and laundry sorter.

Check Wattage Needs

Ensure wiring and circuits can support needed watts, especially if adding multiple fixtures.

Proper laundry room lighting makes the space fully functional while also feeling bright and upbeat. Choose energy-efficient fixtures suited to the utility needs of the room.

Laundry Room Ventilation

As laundry rooms tend to get hot, humid and steamy, adequate ventilation is a must:

Install External Vents

Vent clothes dryers directly outdoors to remove hot humid air, lint and flammable gases. Use rigid metal ducting.

Include a Vent Fan

Quiet in-ceiling or wall-mounted fans rapidly clear steam and odors from the air. Look for humidity-sensing units.

Open a Window

If possible,