Saving space goes hand-in-hand with apartment living, so for many renovators working with tight floorplans, it can be hard to justify a laundry taking up an entire room.
And while the huge apartments on The Block Australia have ample space for a full-size laundry, many others are simply too small to include one.
In newer apartments there is a trend towards what is known as a European laundry – a simple, two-door cupboard that conceals a washing machine, perhaps a stacked dryer, basin and storage. It can take up less than one square metre of space.
But do compact laundries make life easier, or is it better to have the space to spread out? We spoke to three laundry designers to find out whether a full-size laundry is worth it.
European laundry: Space-saver or inconvenience?
Mint Kitchens design director Frank Iaria says European laundries are a good idea, provided enough storage can be found elsewhere.
“Generally, apartments don’t have a lot of storage areas so I would be more inclined to have a smaller European laundry in a cupboard, and then have an additional cupboard for general storage,” he said.
European laundries save space but may lack storage and functionality.
Lucy Gauder from Lucy J Design said cupboard laundries can make sense in small spaces, but a full-size laundry is generally a better option.
“In certain situations, thats the only way to go,” she said. “If you’re in a tight, two by one apartment and all you can get is a cupboard, well then you might have a washer-dryer combination, and a little basin.”
“In my experience the laundry is an awful lot more than just where people wash clothes.” she said. “If you have space, a laundry doubles as an ironing centre and storage area for linen.”
“Everything that you can’t find a place for elsewhere in the house generally lands in the laundry,” she said. “That can be anything from sporting equipment to gym boots to garden equipment. So the more storage that is available in the laundry the better.”
Salt Kitchens and Bathrooms project and design manager Michelle Carey said a full-size laundry might seem excessive in a small apartment, but it has its advantages.
“A lot of clients have large laundries, so in a way it’s a waste of space because you don’t tend to spend a great deal of time in a laundry,” she said. “On the other hand you want space to spread out your laundry and organise.”
“It always goes back to space. Obviously if you’ve got the space and your layout allows for a larger laundry, that means more storage and more functionally. But you can still do a lot of storage in a hidden, in-line laundry.”
Including adequate storage in any laundry is essential, but especially important in a European laundry, according to Iaria.
“I would put in some adjustable shelving to be able to store cleaning products, as well as try to integrate a broom or ironing board cupboard or at least a space for them to stand up,” he said.
Should you combine the laundry with the bathroom or kitchen?
Some compact apartments have laundry appliances and fixtures in the bathroom or the kitchen.
“We do a lot of combination laundry and bathrooms to add value,” Carey said. “So it might go from a two bathroom to a three bathroom.”
“It’s not something we go out of the way to suggest. People come to us to see how they can make it work.”
Unless the appliances are concealed, the bathroom might feel too much like a laundry.
Carey said the key was including a “really beautiful basin” with enough depth for washing clothes, and perhaps concealing appliances behind a cupboard, allowing the space to feel more like a bathroom and less like a laundry.
For renovators with no other alternatives, it’s possible to include a laundry in a kitchen, but it’s the least desirable option, according to Iaria.
“If the laundry was to go into the kitchen, then the space is considered a ‘wet area’ under the National Construction Code, which means that it is required to have a water-resistant floor and the wall and floor junctions must also be waterproof,” he said.
“It must also include a trough, in addition to the kitchen sink. This creates an additional cost and the flooring would have to change from floorboards to tiles for example.”
The laundry is concealed within cabinetry in this kitchen
“But as the kitchen is generally the meeting place of the apartment, it feels less inviting to be in the space if the washing machine is on,” Iaria said.
“The bathroom, however, already has to be waterproofed and a laundry in here is generally more accepted by people today.”
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