The 1930s house I grew up in had its laundry machines in a dark, unwelcoming basement area, two flights down from our bedroom closets. Today’s laundry rooms tend to be brighter, more welcoming, more functional and usually better located! That’s a huge benefit for both young families and older homeowners who may have a hard time lugging loaded laundry baskets up and down stairs. It’s also a huge boost for a home’s functionality, one of the five facets of wellness design.
Home improvement platform Houzz predicts that enhanced laundry spaces with mud room features will be a strong trend for 2024. I agree. So do the many home improvement pros I surveyed by email and through social media groups.
“Combining a laundry room with a mudroom is a natural step for homes that see a lot of mess at an entry,” observed Mitchell Parker, senior editor for Houzz. “This increasingly popular setup lets homeowners place grimy sports uniforms, muddy winter jackets and sandy beach towels directly into the wash before they track dirt further into the home,” he adds.
“The popularity of the combined laundry-mudroom trend is no coincidence,” comments San Antonio area custom home builder Tommy Lipe. “By seamlessly merging two rooms with similar material needs, we not only streamline construction but also reduce square footage, simplifying the often hectic nature of our lives.”
Resilience is key for Scott Tjaden’s St. Louis area laundry-mud room projects, the designer says. “You use it frequently and that’s where your money should be spent in terms of quality machines, workspace flooring and any sort of paint or wall covering. Paint should be wipeable and of high quality and so should wall covering.”
Resilience is a criterion for New York-based architect Havard Cooper too. ”I use stainless steel, tile or concrete for sinks and countertops due to their durability and ease of cleaning. The appliances selected are aesthetically pleasing but also robust, energy-efficient, and capable of handling high-volume laundry tasks. To combat moisture, materials like waterproof paints and backsplashes are used to protect walls from water damage,” he adds.
Tjaden additionally suggests a large curved spigot for the water. “Some people prefer a hose attachment,” he notes, “if the laundry is near a back door, sometimes people will use that for cleaning and repotting.”
Resilience is mandatory for Central California-based interior designer Wendy Glaister’s agricultural clientele. Their homes are “surrounded by orchards, farms and lots of dirt,” she muses. She also favors durable materials like antimicrobial stainless steel for sinks, especially when you need to use stronger stain removers that might hurt other materials. Glaister specifies vinyl planks and porcelain flooring for resilience and cleanability, she says.
Flex spaces like combined laundry-mud room areas are ideal for busy households. “Having everything in one spot makes multitasking easier,” Parker comments, that can include chores, hobbies and pets. “Mudrooms can be a convenient spot for a doggie stop, whether they include a space for your pet to dine or a storage area for walk-related items to grab on your way out the door; many homeowners on Houzz also incorporate a pet shower in their mud-laundry room to ensure that muddy paw prints don’t make it into the main house.”
Ottawa-based cabinetmaker Deborah Gervais is definitely seeing more pet features in her area, including “dedicated washing machines for animal blankets, clothing (for folks who have cattle and/or horses) so they don’t mix with everything else.”
A ‘slop sink’ can double as a pet washing station for smaller dogs, suggests New York-based remodeling company owner Jean Brownhill. Atlanta-based designer Stephanie Ives likes to see a pet door, litter box space with exhaust fan, and built-in kennels and feeding areas. She also likes to include space for recycling management and robot vacuum charging stations.
Mud rooms can also be the perfect place in which to store outdoor sports gear, like wall-mounted ski racks, cubbies for hats and helmets, and spots beneath benches for boots and shoes, Parker shares.
If this is a trend you’ve been considering for your own home, there are some elements you’re definitely going to want to include. Parker cites a utility sink with pulldown faucet for easy handwashing and rinsing muddy gear. Hooks, sorting space, cabinets for supplies and storage is also a boon for these utility spaces.
Las Vegas-based interior designer Patricia Gaylor incorporates a bench in drop zone areas located close to a home’s family entrance. “Built in low seating with open cubbies to remove shoes before entering main part of house” help these spaces keep a home cleaner. A small shower area can also be helpful in this regard.
“Radiant heating under the flooring is a benefit, especially in colder climates,” the Houzz editor comments, noting that they not only keep feet warm but help dry boots.
Parker also suggests incorporating a workstation if there’s room. This can be used for folding laundry, wrapping gifts, handling package shipping and hobbies. “Having everything in one spot makes multitasking easier,” Parker notes. Glaister likes to have an area for hanging and drying hand-washables and Gervais suggest a built-in ironing board, extra pantry storage .
Cooper suggests integrating a home automation panel. “This feature allows homeowners to control laundry appliances, lighting, and security systems from the laundry room.” Laundry sorting bins are also helpful, he notes. “Tech enthusiasts appreciate integrated phone charging centers and robot vacuum bases,” he adds. Several designers include device charging stations and family calendars in their projects.
New York designer Isfira Jensen cites “beautiful, multi-layered lighting” in her nice-to-haves. “This means having the nice central light fixture to provide ambient lighting and layering it with task lighting in forms of wall sconces or LED strip lights.” She also recommends ventilated drawers for shoe storage.
Boulder-based interior designer Megan B. Daughtry suggests having “a designated basket and large wardrobe cabinets for each family member to store their gear.”
One trend we’ve been seeing for quite a while throughout the house is personalization. The fact that it’s showing up in these utilitarian areas speaks to their growing importance to homeowners and their families. “Photos of popular mudrooms on Houzz showcase inviting styles, smart built-in cabinetry, attractive furniture and decor, and bold colors,” Parker shares.
Brownhill is seeing “Fun tiles and printed wallpaper.” These high traffic areas benefit from busy patterns hiding scuffs and wear, she points out. Daughtry creates custom calendar and boards for tracking family activities and kids’ growth. Ives is starting to get requests for digital family calendars, she says.
Style enhancements certainly make doing laundry a more enjoyable chore. I think my late mother would have enjoyed many of these features, but a luxe laundry hadn’t occurred to her back then. Right now, my townhouse has a compact laundry closet, but a laundry-mud room flex space is definitely on my next home wish list.