When space is at a premium, it pays to make your rooms work twice as hard. Combining a laundry and guest bathroom makes sense in so many ways – both rooms require plumbing, both are wet areas – but the thought of guests seeing the laundry is enough to make most hostesses feel slightly ill. Plus, how do you fit a shower, toilet, vanity, washing machine, dryer and adequate storage into one small space? Fear not – with a little forward planning, you can create a dual-purpose space that seamlessly blends function and form.
The key to forging a happy marriage between bathroom and laundry is mastering the art of concealment. Guests will never guess the true nature of the bathroom with bulky laundry appliances hidden behind curtains or built-in cabinetry. Most interior designers suggest running floor-to-ceiling cabinetry along one wall to house laundry items, with the bathroom elements on the opposite side. In a compact room, stick to bench-height cabinetry to avoid making the place feel overcrowded, and if you need extra storage, consider open shelves above to maintain the airy feel. Store the washing machine and dryer side by side or stacked on top of each other in a tall cupboard – if stacking appliances, choose a front-loading washing machine and install necessary plumbing connections in the cabinetry. If space is very limited, a combined washer/dryer will free up room for more storage.
Sort out your storage
Clothes: The last thing you want is for guests to spy piles of dirty clothes or yet-to-be-ironed laundry. Stack neatly folded items in labelled baskets to make it easy to clear the benchtops when you expect visitors, and use the space to display guest towels. Try installing a pull-out basket inside cabinetry to hide dirty clothes, and allocating benchtop space for folding and sorting clean items. Hettich make cabinet fittings for all laundry scenarios, including pull-out baskets and ironing boards; visit hettich.com.au. If you have the room, a beautiful freestanding shelf unit or ladder is another way to display guest towels that can also add a splash of colour.
Cleaning products: Pour laundry powders and cleaning products into canisters, and store bits and bobs in wicker baskets to keep clutter under control. “In a guest bathroom, less space is needed for toiletries, so dedicate this space to laundry storage instead,” says Serena. If you have open shelving, keep the look fresh and uncluttered by coordinating accessories. “Invest in a collection of matching caddies or colourful trugs to give the space a visual sense of order,” advises Cathy Player from Howards Storage World.
Decorate and distract
Distract guests from the utilitarian aspects of the room by making the bathing area beautiful. For instance, in this bathroom, a glamorous mirror and decorative plates are mounted on a panelled feature wall. You could also try a feature wall of mosaics in the shower enclosure, or a strip of stunning tiles, to draw the eye away from the laundry. Plush towels and candles will help to create a soothing environment, while an illuminated mirror is a thoughtful touch for guests.
To up the luxe factor, consider a show-stopping shower for your pamper zone. “We always recommend to have one feature piece – a luxurious shower is a welcoming experience for any guest!” says Karine. Ceiling-hung rainshowers have the added advantage of keeping the wall clear. Opt for an enclosed shower so water doesn’t splash on drying clothes that might be nearby.
Create drying and ironing zones
Customise your laundry space by including a cabinet where you can hang an ironing board and iron from a rack on the inside of the door, or incorporate a shelf for iron storage. Fold-out ironing stations work well in a combined laundry/bathroom, as do table ironing boards you can use on the vanity top. “If opting for a pull-out ironing board in a cupboard, remember to install a powerpoint inside the unit,” advises interior designer Victoria Waters of Victoria Waters Design.
“Often bathrooms don’t have enough hanging space but there are simple tricks to fix this – try over-door towel racks or even extra rails to hook over the shower screen,” recommends Cathy Player of Howards Storage World. A heated towel rail with multiple rungs can double as a drying rack for small items of clothing. You could also try integrating a drying cupboard into your cabinetry so clothes can dry out of view. “Drying racks in full-height cabinetry above a ducted heating vent create a drying cupboard in winter, and beach towel storage in summer,” says designer Serena Elise of White Chalk Interiors.
Bring in light and ventilation
Natural light is a boon for laundries but problematic for a combined laundry/bathroom where privacy is a concern. Skylights are ideal as they bathe the area in light and also assist with clothes drying. If a skylight isn’t an option, position windows close to the ceiling to filter light into the room without compromising privacy, or consider louvred windows, which allow you to control light and air flow. Make sure you have a high-powered fan to absorb moisture and check your dryer’s ventilation requirements – some dryers require external vents. A Condensation Dryer stores moisture in a special water container so it requires no ventilation and can be installed under a bench.