9 Things to Know About Your Project Choices

If you’re designing, renovating or building your family home, getting overwhelmed about your project choices is common.

Get clarity here.

They say you’ll make over 15,000 project choices, or decisions, during a renovation or new build. It’s easy to get confused or know what to do. 

These ‘9 things to know about your project choices’ will help you stay focussed, and create the perfect home for you.

Short term vs long term

I was recently explaining to my kids, (who love binging several episodes of their favourite Netflix series on a Saturday night), that when I was a kid, we had to wait.

We had to wait a week for the next show to come out.

We had to wait months at the end of a season (sometimes a year) for the next season to arrive.

If we missed it, we missed it. Later, we could record it on video – but then had to watch it with all the ads.

“Yes Mum, we know you were born in 3,000 BC.” [Not quite, munchkins – 1973 was a good year]

The world has changed so quickly, that now we are very used to things being on demand. Delayed gratification is a really challenging concept to teach our kids when everything around them says ‘now’.

It can especially be a really challenging concept when you’re building or renovating your home. I see homeowners approaching their projects like it’s the first and last time they’ll ever spend money on their home, and they need to make it the best and biggest and most it can possibly be right now. 

As a result, they can often stretch their budget across lots of space, with low quality finishes and products to get them all included. These then create maintenance and cost issues down the track when they deteriorate or break.

For example, I’ve seen homeowners reduce the height of their external windows and doors to afford the much bigger kitchen they want. 

It’s a false trade-off – because a kitchen can be added to and upgraded quite simply down the track. Changing windows is a huge undertaking, and fundamentally impacts the efficiency, performance and feel of your home.

We can live in our family homes for a long time, and life changes a lot over that time. And then other families buy them, and things change again. 

I suspect that, if you plan to be in your home for 10-15 years (or more) this will not be the last time you spend money on it. As you make your project choices, choose for quality, durability, low maintenance, high function, and feel-good factor. 

Make project choices that create flexibility and adaptability in your home, so it can better embrace these changes. 

Timeless design means making things really work for you, and you can build in the capacity to upgrade down the track. 

Decision fatigue

Renovating or building your home is not one big choice. It’s a series of them, and each one will lead you to the next.

Sometimes there’s 2 options to choose from. Sometimes there’s 200 (or more).

One of the biggest challenges is that you can make a couple of not-so-great choices, only to find you’re a long way down the wrong path, and it’s time-consuming, stressful and expensive to course-correct at that point.

On this journey, they say you make something like 15,000 choices when building or renovating a home (I suspect it can be even more!)

From the big decisions (like who you’ll work with and how much you’ll spend), through to the smaller decisions (like what colour should the front door be LOL!), it can be A LOT for the uninitiated.

Renovating and building is a marathon, and not a sprint. From start to finish, projects can go for two to three years, and that’s a LONG time to be making decisions and staying on top of things.

Many homeowners get to the pointy end of their project (the fun bit of deciding on finishes and fixtures and the stuff they’ve actually been looking forward to all along!!) and find they’re just exhausted by the thought of having to make another decision about something.

That’s called “Decision Fatigue”. It’s very real, and there’s some great ways to overcome this.

One is to bring forward your decision-making as much as possible. It manages risk during your build, will enable you to make choices when you have more energy and motivation, and can help you manage your budget overall.

Wikipedia says “… decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.”

See that? Deteriorating quality? So recognise that your decision-making ability may not get any better the longer you let it drag on. 

Homeowners can really struggle to commit to early decisions in their projects, but it will serve you much better to make decisions before you sign your building contract. 

That way, the contract sum can include the specific things you want – and you can enjoy construction without the pressure of making decisions on the run in tight timeframes.

Spend your budget on project choices that have an ROI (saving stress, financial, lifestyle)

Every choice you make in your project can generally be assessed by its return on investment, or ROI.

The return may not always be financial – although many definitely are. Hiring a professional such as a designer or architect should always return more in savings or value than the cost of their fees.

Sometimes, the return may simply be in saving you stress, or protecting you against future drama or mistakes (both in and beyond your project). And some will purely be lifestyle returns in making your home feel more amazing, functional and long-lasting.

I find that some of the best project choices … the ones that make a big ROI … are related to risk management. Lowering or removing your risk of budget blowouts, nasty surprises, significant project drama or big design errors.

I think homeowners can really benefit from many of the practices used in commercial and public projects. Because in them, every choice is assessed for risk, value adding, ROI and project benefit (short and long term). 

A lot of this is done very early in the project, before starting design, and then carried throughout. This may all sound like industry gobbledygook, but it’s an approach shouldn’t be limited only to the big projects worth millions. 

Because chances are, you stuffing up the financial investment you’ll make in your family home will have a far more detrimental and long lasting impact on your finances and lifestyles, and be much harder to recover from, than the big corporations and government ever have to worry about. 

As you make your choices, assess your investment of time, money and effort in your project carefully, and consider what your ROI is, so you don’t waste that investment unintentionally.

Guided by a framework

There’s a couple of things I regularly see homeowners do when they decide to build or renovate.

The first is this:

They’ll have been dreaming, thinking about their project for months. Sometimes years. Gathering their inspiration, getting ideas, and trying to envisage what would be possible once they decide to do their project.

And then they decide it’s time. And they’re like a bull at a gate, and it all has to be done yesterday. Any method or process is thrown out the window. There’s an urgency for it to be done, and they’re just going to make it happen.

(Spoiler alert: this can, and usually does, go terribly pear-shaped at some point).

The second thing I see is this:

Homeowners may move a bit slower, but they only think about their next step, once they’ve made their last. Inch by inch, step by step, they move towards their finished home. However, they lack strategy and an overview of the whole journey. And so they can often have to make steps more than once, pay extra time and money along the way, and don’t have the simplest or smoothest of journeys.

So, what’s a better way to get going, once you’ve made the choice to build or renovate?

It’s to establish a framework for your overall project journey, so you understand the steps ahead. 

This will help you know whether choices can be delayed, or have some urgency. It will also help you be strategic, which can then help you save serious time and money. Some projects can be seriously streamlined when you establish what the pathway is, and you have the right team guiding you through the process.

You wouldn’t head out on a new journey to a remote destination without a good map to guide you, some research into how long you expect it to take to get there, and what you need to take along for the ride. 

Renovating and building can be a two to three year process once you actually say “yes, we’re going to do this”. 

Treat it like a journey to a new destination and get yourself a good map of the steps ahead, so you can avoid the wrong turns, and horrible dead-ends. 

And then you can reach your destination (your finished home) actually enjoying the ride, knowing you didn’t waste time, money or effort along the way.

Setting goals

Given you’ll be making so many choices in your project journey, it’s essential that you have a way of sifting and filtering through all the options. Otherwise, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and off-track.

The way I suggest to best do this, is to figure out what your big-picture goals are for your project. There are a few ways you can do this.

One is to think about what the next 5 to 10 years will look like in your life. Will you be having more kids? Will aged parents be moving in with you? Will you be working from home more? Are your kids becoming teenagers, or even moving out? What else will be going on in your life, and what plans or dreams do you have?

Then think about what you hope to gain from doing this project? Is it more space? Is it a more comfortable home? Is it a bigger yard? Is it to be closer to work or the kids’ schools? Is it purely because the house is falling down around your ears and something has to be done about it!!

And then think about your budget. Your home is a big expense, and a big part of your life. And the spend on a renovation or new build is money you could be spending on anything. So, where does this choice – this investment of funds – fit into the overall goals and vision you have for the near, medium and long term future?

Determining your overall objectives is such a useful exercise. Then, in the noise and overwhelm of all your project choices, you can revisit them, and get to helicopter view. It will give you some objectivity in those tricky times when choices seem difficult.

Time and time again, I’ve seen how powerful this is for homeowners to spend time on. Because in doing so, you’ll provide yourself a place to come back to and check in with on an ongoing basis. And you’ll create a home that’s in alignment with all the other parts of your life – so it can support you fantastically as your life rolls on.

Where do you get your guidance from?

If you’re making project choices without the support of industry professionals, then where are you getting help and guidance from?

Many turn to their builder for advice on all project choices. However, that can be problematic. Whilst there are amazing builders in the industry, I’ve seen some cause their clients huge headaches because they’re not up to date with town planning changes, code reviews, product updates or industry info.

Others rely on their designer or draftsperson, and this can also be challenging. Many draftspeople have very little legal liability. Some designers are self-trained, and again, don’t have much legal liability in what they recommend and endorse.

Interior design is an unregulated industry, so always check the qualifications and background of the interior designer you’re working with. Some are awesome at styling and creating ‘a look’ but don’t have much knowledge about the performance of materials or longevity of the fixtures they’re specifying (or the risk they may be exposing you to).

For any professional you’re using, be sure to check their credentials, experience, liability, insurance, the projects they’ve done that are like yours, and how other clients have found them to work with. And if they say they’re an architect, confirm they’re a registered architect. It’s illegal to say you’re an architect unless you’re registered.

Lastly, if your source of guidance is free Facebook groups or well-meaning friends and family, this can be super risky. They can definitely make the decision-making process worse. 

Knowledge is often limited to one (or even a few) projects, and so they don’t know what they don’t know. Some of the advice handed out online (even though it is well intentioned) seriously shocks me, and will cause such dramas, and even legal ramifications, for those that follow it.

Tap into sources of guidance that have loads of professional industry experience. Look for those who also have a professional responsibility to the quality of their guidance, and are sharing from industry knowledge spanning years (and decades) and many (many, many) projects.

Compromises vs Priorities

I think homeowners sometimes imagine that there is one solution for their perfect home. The one design that will tick all the boxes. And that the journey is about getting there, and if their budget can’t stretch that far, they’ll just have to compromise and cut until they can afford the result.

However, my experience with design is that there are always a multitude of options available. There’s no such thing as the perfect home. Only the perfect home for you.

Something I’ve observed from my 25+ years of work with homeowners is this: 

The ones who have a great experience in renovating and building get clear on figuring out their priorities, and determining their order. 

They then make choices based on what they value most, and in doing so, hone the design towards the best outcome to meet those priorities.

Because a home is perfect for you when it suits your site, your lifestyle AND your budget.

When this doesn’t go well, is where homeowners treat their project choices like a process of elimination. They see it any choice they can’t have means their dream vision is getting watered down, and each further choice feels like compromise.

Constraint is a huge creativity boost. Priorities provide you with constraints that can unleash great opportunities in yoor design and project. 

Lazy design (and deep pockets) can create terrible results where homes simply don’t work hard for your money, or for you.

So what is most important to you? What will your priorities be?

It’s very human to want it all. But a trade off isn’t necessarily a negative thing. It can create the most fantastic of homes, and often the smallest changes can create huge transformation.

A home that’s sustainable, functional, flexible and fun to live in. That gives you bang for buck, helps you be the best version of yourself, and sells well and quickly when the time comes to move on.

Figure out the order of YOUR priorities – it’s a great way to streamline your project choices, and ensure you’re creating the perfect home for you.

Be your own hero shot

This is potentially going to sound strange, but it’s something I’ve only had the benefit of noticing since we moved to our home in the Byron Hinterland around 7 years ago, and I thought I would share.

See, where I live, it’s 20 or so minutes to the nearest ‘town’. And even those towns are pretty low-key in terms of retail and density. Billboards are almost non-existent, and it’s very easy to drive around where I live without being exposed to advertising much at all. 

And so, when you step back into the world of advertising, retail and commercialism, you notice just how much we’re bombarded with images and messages about all the things we ‘need’ to have to make our lives complete. To make us complete.

I’m very fortunate that I don’t live with this everyday. Because when you do (and I remember it being like this when I did), it’s amazing how much it sinks in. It’s almost like you numb yourself to just how much you’re being sold to … but the messages it’s sending you still impact your choices.

Renovating and building, of course, does this too. In a marketplace of heavily styled images and hero shots, it’s very easy to lose perspective on what home creation is actually all about.

I heard Lucy from @huntingforgeorge speak at the @renoanddesignshow about how she’s seeing a trend of people designing to create their own ‘hero’ shots in their homes. Those specifically styled spots in their home that look ‘just so’ for a photo they can share on instagram. 

Instead, be your own hero shot.

Creating a home is a beautiful opportunity to shape your own haven. A sanctuary that protects and shelters you, helps you relax and restore, and is a place for all you hold dear and special.

And it’s also a chance to shape an environment that represents you. Your tastes. Your style. Your favourite colours, textures and items. YOU. In a way that may never photograph well, but when you settle into it at the end of each day, it’s in alignment with what you value, and what you want to tell the world matters to you.

Don’t fall for the hype. Ignore the billboards. You are enough. Your home is enough. However you choose to make it beautiful and yours.

It starts with you 

You may have heard me say this before: “You unlock what’s possible for your future home”. So what do I mean by this?

What I mean is that it all starts with you. 

You’re the one who …

>> decides you’ll renovate or build

>> chooses who you’ll work with

>> creates the list of wishes and wants for your future home

>> figures out what you’ll spend money on to make it all happen

And in doing so, YOU are the one who is choosing what is important to you, what you value, and what matters.

Maybe it’s sustainability. Maybe it’s about a great, functional design. Maybe it’s doing something that’s small and compact. Or maybe it’s creating the home you’ve always dreamed of.

It all starts with you.

And yet, so many homeowners enter their project like the power belongs to someone else. They make themselves beholden to others, and forget their agency. And they don’t educate themselves, or get the expert support and guidance they need to stay in control, and make confident choices throughout their project journey.

Don’t give your power away.

As a consumer, you have HUGE power in the spending decisions you make in any industry, and especially home building and renovating. 

I don’t know about you … but I know I’m sick of waiting for the government to get its act together and increase the star rating for our energy efficiency requirements. We’ve had 6 stars for over 10 years now. Meanwhile, energy has doubled in cost, and the climate crisis has got worse.

I’m sick of waiting for developers and builders to create projects across the board that are well-designed, well-built, sustainable, and fantastic places to live for all. 

We have been beaten down to accept a very low standard of quality and design when it comes to our homes. The Australian Standards and Building Codes are all the bare minimum – they are not the exemplar of what a great home should look like.

Take your power back. Demand better. Because it exists and you can access it when you know how.

That’s exactly why Undercover Architect exists. To help you unlock what’s possible for your future home. 

It starts with you, and the choices you make.

FOR MORE ON PROJECT CHOICES AND REAL LIFE RENOVATING AND BUILDING:

This episode will help you learn the unexpected blindside of renovating and building your family home (and why it’s like having children). You can listen here >>> HOW TO MANAGE YOUR RENOVATION OR BUILDING PROJECT

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva.
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9 Things to Know About Your Laundry

What are the key things to know about your Laundry, so you can create a functional, fantastic space?

Consider how you’ll plan and design your laundry, so it can be the hard-working and functional room your family really needs. And you can maximise how it helps family life overall!

Where in the home

Laundries are a much-used space in the home, but also a space you don’t want taking great real estate in your floor plan. And so, often I see them get pushed to a ‘leftover’ space in the floor plan.

There’s a range of opinions on where to best locate your laundry.

My preference is to have it near the internal entry from the garage. Then, it can act as a dumping ground when everyone arrives home … for dirty shoes, clothing, sports gear, etc … before all of that stuff makes it into the house.

Some prefer to have it near the kitchen – the rationale being you can multi-task whilst using the kitchen, doing loads of washing etc whilst juggling everything else in the kitchen (which is often the heart of activity in the home).

In the USA, it’s common to have the laundry upstairs, where it’s closer to bedrooms (and dirty clothing and bed linen), and dryers are used instead of washing lines.

In Europe, it can be common for the laundry to be located in the kitchen or bathroom … and many compact home designs explore that option here in Australia too. If you’re planning this, check your local building regulations to see whether you need to include a dedicated laundry sink. (Some plumbing codes won’t let you use the kitchen or bathroom sink as a pseudo laundry sink).

Whether your laundry is a room or a cupboard, think about:

getting dirty clothing to the laundrystoring dirty laundry in the laundry whilst it’s waiting to be washedhow you’ll be drying clothingwhat connection you want your laundry to have to other spaces in your home

Consider the acoustic privacy of laundries to living areas and bedrooms (especially if you generally do your washing or drying overnight). 

And ideally, you’ll have the option to line dry your clothing somewhere (either externally or internally), so think about easy access to that space. I always prioritise a shorter distance between the laundry and washing line – because a basket full of wet washing weighs more than when it’s dry.

What will you include in your laundry?

Firstly, identify the appliances you’ll need to include. For most, this will mean a washing machine and a dryer. Will you do top loading, front loading, in a tower, or side-by-side? 

Front loading can be a great choice if you want to maximise space and benchtop, purely because they can be stacked on top of each other in a tight tower, or side-by-side under a continuous benchtop. People tend to have very definite preferences about which way they want to go with their machines though!!

There’s also the sink … and whether you want something that’s purely functional, or want to choose something for aesthetic reasons as well (like a farmhouse style version).

If doing a front-loader, consider sitting the machine off the floor, so you don’t have to bend down so far to load and unload it. Some manufacturers will supply a structural drawer you can locate under the machine to raise its height.

Get the dimensions right so your machine can fit snugly and prevent those gaps where grime can gather. Locate the power point for the machine in an adjacent cupboard so you can easily switch on and off without needing to move the machine itself.

Then look at what else you’ll want in the laundry … storage, ironing facilities, drying space (we’ll be diving into some of these in more detail later). Think about what you want to reach and access from where, and use the design to make this easy on yourself. Mentally rehearse using the space so you set it up to be as functional as possible.

Then think about how the dimensions need to work. Super narrow laundries can be hard to use, and big spacious ones can become dumping grounds. Cupboards that are too tall can be wasted. Bending down all the time can be painful. Test the design dimensions at 1:1 so you know they’ll work.

Consider including a floor waste in the floor (not always required by building codes) for ‘just incase’.

Choose materials for durability and longevity, as laundries take a lot of punishment. Make the space easy to clean, and review the extent of splashback for easy-to-maintain surfaces. A budget approach can still be super resilient, great looking and functional.

Natural light and ventilation

Ideally you’ll locate your laundry on the southern or western side of your home. 

These orientations work well because your laundry is a ‘service’ area. It can tolerate the western orientation (which brings hot afternoon sun) because you’re not in it for long periods of time. The southern orientation means constant, ambient levels of light, which is also good. 

Locating it with these orientations enables you to prioritise the north and east for spaces you spend more time in (like your living areas).

If you can, include an operable window in your laundry so you can access natural light and ventilation in the space. Many prioritise storage over window openings in laundries, however, you can incorporate a high slot, or a narrow vertical window, and access that fantastic natural light and ventilation without giving up too much storage. 

If it’s not possible, select an external door for the laundry space that has glazing in it. 

One big error I see is when people do a laundry with a sliding door at one end that runs from wall-to-wall. The fixed glass side runs down beside the joinery, and the sliding part is the opening to outside. Only it’s a narrow opening when open. Think about how wide you are when carrying a basket of washing, and what that means for walking through doors. 

My preferred option is an aluminium framed, 820mm fully glazed hinged door that opens outwards. You can choose an obscure glass if privacy is required. 

Have the door open outwards (most plans show external doors opening into laundries as a standard). This will mean it’ll shed any water to the outside when there’s been rain. It also means you can push out on it when walking out with a basket of wet washing, and it won’t take up room inside the laundry as it opens and closes.

Depending on how much you use your dryer, consider how you’ll ventilate the space when the dryer is on, so you prevent condensation in the laundry (which is rife for mold growth). 

Condenser dryers can be a great option for laundry spaces that aren’t well ventilated, or for internal laundries, and laundries in cupboards.

Storage design

In homes with good overall storage design, there’s not a huge amount that actually needs to be stored in the laundry itself. 

Many instead create a lot of storage in their laundry, and lose the opportunity for it to function really well as a laundry.

I prefer storage to be located around the home. Bed linen and towels near family bathrooms and bedrooms. Sporting, gardening and camping equipment in the garage. Family files and documents in or near the home command centre / study nook or home office. Kids gear in or near their rooms. 

Think seasonally about what you need access to, vs what can be stored away for longer timeframes (even in roof spaces, etc). 

Keep your vacuum cleaner in a cupboard near where you regularly use it (if that’s upstairs where all the carpet is, then locate it there). 

Think instead about how storage can work for the regular working of your laundry space itself. Tall cupboards can store brooms, mops, ironing board, etc. Overhead cupboards or shelves (out of little people’s reach) can store washing powder etc. 

Wall attachments can be great for irons, hand-held vacuum cleaners, etc. You can even hang washing baskets when not in use if you design for it.

Some of the best laundries have sorting storage for dirty washing. This can be through sizing joinery for specifically purchased baskets. Or it can be allocating deep drawer storage below bench. You can then train the kids to sort into the various colours / lights / darks categories via the drawers or baskets. And you can streamline your regular washing, plus not deal with the piles of dirty washing all over the floor.

Think also what happens with the clean washing. Many use their spare bed or sofa to deal with this, which just pollutes your rest and relaxation unnecessarily.

An uncluttered laundry will generally feel far better to use, and improve your overall experience of those necessary tasks that happen ALL.THE.TIME in family life. Designing it so it’s easy for others to also stay organised can be huge in helping family life overall. It will really help with the general feeling of organisation and calm in your home.

Drying

These days, the backyard clothesline doesn’t work for every home and every family. Back gardens are getting smaller and smaller, some climates preventing outdoor drying year-round, and people working full-time means they’re not getting home in time to get washing off the line.

A dryer is a solution, and there are some energy efficient options now that won’t guzzle your power or $$$. But if you can dry things naturally, it can be better for your clothes, and for the environment.

So, think about how you’ll design in drying solutions that enable you to have flexibility in your lifestyle, and still get your clothes dry without using a dryer. These are some options:

>> include a fold down or retractable washing line in your double-car garage or carport. This space is usually empty during the day, and washing can hang above the bonnet line. Most garages can actually fit 2 clotheslines, always undercover.

>> include hanging racks in your laundry. This can be a simple single rail over your benchtop for shirts and t-shirts, or taller hanging area for longer dresses etc. 

>> include a foldable / retractable hanging rack in your laundry or another internal area. There are lots of options that fold down from the ceiling or wall, manual or electric.

>> look for hanging options that enable you to hang lots of things in a small space. For example,spider like, foldable hanging clothes lines with a series of pegs for underwear and socks, take up little space but can fit a lot.

>> drying rooms and drying cabinets or cupboards can also be brilliant, especially in colder climates. You can purchase proprietary drying cabinets that are simple installations, or create a cupboard that includes ducting from your heating in the floor or ceiling. These can dry clothing quite quickly, and surprisingly, don’t need to be that big. Check your local regulations for requirements re de-humidification, and material requirements. 

>> in smaller homes, don’t be afraid to use what you have – especially for the less frequently washed items like sheets, etc. Stair balustrades can be great drying zones with rising heat and ventilation. Your understair area is also a useful zone to repurpose.

Laundry chute

Doing a 2 storey home? Include a laundry chute.

You’ll need to think about this right at the start of your home design process, because it’ll determine how your layouts work so you have the right spaces over the top of each other in the arrangement of your home. 

One of the ways you can save money in your build, and help the services in your home, is to group your wet areas together, and locate wet areas upstairs over the top of wet areas downstairs.

(By wet areas, I mean bathrooms and laundries). 

Planning your home so you have the family bathroom over the top of your downstairs laundry means you can incorporate a chute quite easily. And it means you won’t have to carry loads of dirty washing down the stairs each day (plus you can encourage the family to be proactive in getting their dirty washing to the laundry).

You can still incorporate a chute even if it doesn’t run from upstairs bathroom to downstairs laundry. I’ve done homes where the upstairs laundry chute hatch is in a hallway, or a linen press, or the ensuite. I’ve also done homes where the downstairs end is not inside the laundry, but nearby.

Consider how the chute terminates at each end. 

Upstairs, I’ve done options where it was a hatch in the floor of the linen press or walk-in robe. I’ve done options where it was in a cupboard of the bathroom. Or where it’s in a hatch on the hallway, that’s been done as a frameless panel to keep it discrete. 

Downstairs, look at where you want the washing to ‘drop’. You can have it drop in a cupboard where you can locate a basket to catch it. You can have it drop onto your benchtop in the laundry (either open or inside a cupboard). 

How do you stop kids from using the chute for things other than laundry (including themselves)?

look at the height it’s located at to avoid little kids getting access to itmake it lockablelocate it in the master bedroom somewhere in a more secretive location

Your laundry chute doesn’t need to be a straight drop either. It’s possible to angle it, and it still work. Discuss any assumptions you’ve made with your team prior to starting construction so you know it’ll work around structure and plumbing.

Multi-functional laundries

One of the ways you can save space in your home, and make your home multi-functional, is to include other purposes and functions in your laundry.

The mudroom has become an inclusion in many homes. Originally used in homes in colder climates (especially where it snows), mudrooms were a space that acted as an airlock into the home, where wet shoes and coats could be stored before entering the home. Now, homeowners are including them as a ‘drop zone’ into the house, often located near the internal garage entry, for bags, shoes and coats.

Mudrooms don’t need to be a dedicated room though. They can be a zone or space within the laundry. Great joinery design that enables shoe storage, a bench to sit on, and some hooks for coats and bags (or even little cubby holes) can be super functional. It really doesn’t need to be big.

Another inclusion many are looking at for their laundries is to help with their pets. Dog wash areas, or sinks large enough to wash a dog in, with shower attachments for ease of use.

If you leave via your laundry to exercise or walk your dog, then design for it, and include things that make this easier.

Friends I know located their laundry so the keen cyclist hubby could leave and come home after a bike ride, via the laundry, without disturbing the sleeping house. That includes undressing out of sweaty cycling gear, putting it in the wash, and having a shower in a nearby bathroom and getting dressed before stepping back into the house! The whole layout of the downstairs area was to facilitate him not waking everyone in the house each morning.

Laundries can be such a great zone because they usually have connection between the inside and outside of your home, and they generally have durable flooring and surfaces. If you design them well, they’re easy to clean, and so can be a much better access point for bringing dirty kids or pets in from outside.

I’m not a fan of locating the second or guest toilet inside the laundry though. Walking through the laundry to go to the loo never feels great, and always makes that toilet feel more utilitarian and less like a ‘powder room’. 

Finishes and details

Here’s a few mistakes people make with their laundry fitout, finishes and details (in no particular order).

>>> In an effort to create a matchy matchy feel through the home, they carry the same finishes through their laundry as they’ve used in their bathroom and ensuite.Your laundry is a space that is rarely seen by anyone other than those living in your home. Whilst it works well to create a holistic colour palette throughout the home for continuity and connection, the laundry is somewhere you can have fun and do something quirky. Pick a fantastic tile for your splashback. Go a few tones darker for your cabinetry. Bring some joy to the space so it’s not so utilitarian in colour scheme.

>>> You carry the same expensive finishes from the kitchen through into the laundryA laundry can be durable and low maintenance, without guzzling your budget. If you’ve used stone benchtops in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to use a laminate benchtop in the laundry. You can choose a thick benchtop still, and colour tones that tie together with your kitchen and other wet areas, but save some serious $$$.

>>> Washing machine doorsKnow which direction your washing machine and dryer door will open, and don’t put it against a wall or in a corner where you’ll not be able to swing it fully back. Having it bounce against a wall, or be restricted, can make loading and unloading washing more tricky.

>>> Narrow cavity slider to enter the roomIn saving space, I see homeowners use a 720mm cavity sliding door, which doesn’t fully open due to the handle on it. And voila, you can’t move a 600mm wide washing machine and dryer into the laundry via that door. Stick with an 820mm door as a minimum.

>>> D-handles D-handles or bar handles are a joinery handle where there’s a small projection of the handle beyond where it’s fixed to the door … and I’ve watched my husband tear so many pairs of shorts on such handles, as he catches his pocket on the projecting end of the handle. I’ve seen other homeowners have a similar experience. I won’t ever specify these again in any home!

A laundry is a place to bash and crash a bit. Choose finishes, fixtures and details that will sustain this.

Flooring

This may be controversial, but I really encourage you to never specify a laminate, vinyl or hybrid flooring for any space in your home, and especially your laundry.

The manufacturers of these products have really nailed their marketing and convinced homeowners they need waterproof floors throughout their home. And consequently, homeowners are choosing the most unnatural, toxic and high VOC materials to cover their entire floors with. 

They are not all scratch-proof. They can move and pull away from each other. They are not all fully waterproof. They are printed surfaces designed to look like a natural product, and I just don’t get why anyone wants such a fake imitation of something real in the place they spend every day (for years and years). They sound horrible underfoot. 

There are a couple of products in vinyl that are eco-friendly, but you have to look carefully. There are a couple of hybrid options that are too. But for the most part, they are fake imitations of a natural material. 

I know that these are lower cost choices than the natural options. I know that they give the impression of a more luxe floor for a lower budget. I get that, when you’re managing your budget and figuring out how to stretch it across all the things you want, it feels right to choose a lower-cost finish that still promises so much durability.

However, when you actually look at how these products are put together, and see all the layers, the manufacture, the glues, the fact that the finish you’re choosing to stamp an aesthetic appearance all over your home is literally a piece of printed paper … we’re building homes we want to last for decades, out of the strangest stuff these days.

If you choose to have these products in your home, please choose well. Do your research into how your choice is made, what the components are, the level of VOCs, the true durability (how has that been tested given the recency of these products?) and how will it really perform?

For any flooring choice – run it under your laundry cabinetry. Avoid the beading, and problems with replacing cabinetry later (and needing to match flooring then).

If your family is like most, your laundry will be an incredibly hard working space. 

Think honestly about how you will use this space in your future home, and design it so it makes this simpler and less stressful. For example, if that means that dirty washing normally gets dumped on the floor, ensure your laundry privatised space so it doesn’t clutter the rest of your home. And then design in opportunities for greater organisation with laundry to help your family use the space better. 

Create a space that works really hard for you – so it makes your life easier overall.

FOR MORE ON YOUR LAUNDRY, MUDROOM (and LINEN AND WARDROBES:

Be sure to listen to my podcast episode on designing your Laundry and the associated spaces. You can listen here >>> LAUNDRY PODCAST EPISODE

IMAGE SOURCES:

Images are sourced from Canva.
The post 9 Things to Know About Your Laundry appeared first on Undercover Architect.

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