One of the joys of living in the city is that you often miss out on in-unit laundry. Although newer rehabs are making sure to include laundry, but our building was last rehabbed in 1980, before in-unit laundry was considered essential. In-unit laundry was on our “must have” list when we were condo shopping, but this was before the housing marked imploded and there weren’t many options out there that fit our needs. So we settled on a unit that was billed as “laundry on-site, in-unit laundry easily installed.” Since we loved most things about the condo, we decided that as long as installing laundry was an option, then we were happy.
We were accustomed to hauling loads of laundry down to a communal laundry room when we were renting when we were first married and living in Minneapolis. So we didn’t mind continuing that tradition for a time. But what we didn’t realize is that the laundry room in our building isn’t accessible unless you go outside. Seriously. Maybe not such a huge deal in the summer but come winter, that meant hauling huge laundry baskets of clothing up and down two very steep, often snowy or icy, flights of stairs, walking across a snowy courtyard, and down into the basement laundry room. It wasn’t fun. Especially for DH, who did about 90% of the laundry (despite that it is one chore I actually enjoy) just because he was home during the day and if we waited until evening or the weekend, the machines were always in use.
So when we started thinking and talking about having a baby, we realized that our laundry needs would be greatly increased–especially since we wanted to do cloth diapers. We decided this meant it was time to figure out how easily installed in-unit laundry would really be. Okay, so this back story is getting pretty long and probably you just want to know what we did and see pictures, so here’s the Cliff’s Notes version. I had always envisioned a traditional stacked washer and dryer. However, on consultation with our contractor, we realized that because the only closet that had the right access to the pipes was not on an outside wall, we’d have some major work to do to properly vent the dryer. He suggested we consider the European-style washer/dryer combo, which doesn’t require venting. I was very skeptical as I had seen these in several of the condos we had looked at, but our realtor had said she hadn’t heard anything good about them so we assumed they were horrible. But I did more searching online and learned that when used properly, there were actually some advantages to them over traditional washer/dryers (they are gentler on your clothes, for example). I knew that it would take much longer than a traditional gas dryer to dry a load of laundry, but I already was air drying lots of laundry so that didn’t seem that huge of a deal. Plus, with the alternative being way more expensive (and potentially more risky) we decided to go for it and just get one with good online reviews and hope for the best. We purchased an LG. She’s pretty.
While we were waiting for the washer/dryer to be delivered, we went to work planning the rest of the space. There was actually minimal work for our contractor in the actual closet, but he did have to open up the wall in the bathroom in order to get all the pipes properly hooked up. Luckily we were planning to install a new sink at the same time, so we did it all together and it worked out great. More about that another time. The closet that we were going to put the laundry room in was j-u-s-t big enough to house the unit, which is roughly the size of a standard dishwasher (apparently in Europe many people have their laundry in the kitchen!). When we started the closet was laid out like this (sorry for no before pic–this was pre-2BB days!):
In addition to actually installing the washing machine, we had our contractor remove some of the shelves, and adjust a few others. The main difference now is that we installed a hanging rod, which is perfect for hanging laundry to dry since we only use the dryer setting for about half our laundry. The new layout looks like this:
We used paint left over from painting the living room to make it feel like an actual room that was part of our house instead of just a closet. Here’s what it looks like on a non-laundry day:
Of course, I’ve added a few finishing touches, like:
- the mini hooks in the far (great for hanging stain remover and lingerie bags)
- two nesting laundry baskets (which is also where we collect cleaning rags and kitchen towels that need to be washed)
- a variety of different hangers for air-drying
- a great multi-hook hanger from the Container Store (which is perfect for air drying anything small like trouser socks and diaper covers)
- our ironing board
- old towels for line-dry items
- a sign that says “laundry” that I painted a long time ago
Here’s pic of this hard-working “room” on a laundry day:
And here were are, two years later, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision. I can’t even begin to explain how much more convenient this is. The room is centrally located in our home so it is very easy to check on the laundry. Throwing in a load takes almost no time at all since it is close to both bedrooms. At first we were concerned that hanging stuff to dry in the closet would cause mildew, but we haven’t had an issue with this at all for two reasons. First, we usually will run a load with a dry cycle while there is wet laundry hanging up, and the closet gets nice and toasty and dry, thus also speeding the drying time of the hanging items. Second, if were not planning to run a dry cycle, we just leave the door open a bit to help keep air circulating. The other great thing about a combo washing machine/dryer is that you can set the entire cycle up front–no transerring the load from the washer to the dryer. I often will run a load with a dry cycle (which can take 4 hours) overnight. I just put everything in, add the soap, select the washing and drying settings, and by morning I have clean, dry laundry waiting for me!
What do you think? Have you installed one of these all-in-one units in your home? Are you thinking about it? Do you have any questions? Please share!