Kitchen? Bedroom? Dining room? The answer could unlock a powerful new homebuilder advantage.
Call it the last great, unexplored territory for homebuilders. Claiming it has the power to differentiate, dazzle, and delight your customers with just a modest and thoughtful effort.
We’re talking about, of course, the one room that’s AWOL in listing descriptions. Largely absent in trendy home design publications and websites. And missing in design center vignettes … the one and only laundry room.
It’s only been in the last 20 years or so that the laundry room finally emerged from the basement or garage. Yet today it’s often relegated to cramped, unfriendly quarters.
So observes Michael Ledford, arguably one of the world’s leading authorities on laundry rooms. Ledford studies laundry room practice as one of his duties as the director of product strategy for the world’s leading manufacturer of major home appliances Whirlpool Corporation.
“Home design has focused on where consumers say they want it, the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. That’s understandable. However, I believe the laundry room is an area of untapped delight moving forward,” says Ledford.
As proof, Ledford offers some persuasive evidence. His research teams relentlessly comb the marketplace for laundry room best practices. Every size and value property is investigated. Their conclusion? “I’ve never seen a single laundry room that checks all the boxes,” reports Ledford.
And those boxes? Ledford has some well-informed ideas where the checkmarks should go:
- Think Holistically. Ledford says builders would be wise to consider the totality of their housing solution. For example, how likely is the buyer going to use the laundry room? What else is provided in the home? That understanding and expectation should inform the laundry room.
- More Room. “More room to hang clothes. Room to fold. Room to organize laundry baskets. Room to store soap, dryer sheets, and bleach. More room to hand-wash items,” advises Ledford. In nearly every home, the kitchen, living or dining room becomes the unintended wash day annex. Ledford says his company is doing its part with features like the Load & Go dispenser on select Whirlpool washers, a way to preload the washer with detergent for up to 40 loads. The Maytag brand offers select laundry appliances with an Extra Power button to help tackle stains, minimizing the need for a stain-treating area.
- Hookup Access. Another flash point for design convenience. “Ideally, the washer goes on the left for front load laundry, the dryer on the right to allow the doors to open. It’s basic and important,” says Ledford.
- WiFi Access. Washers and dryers are the top connected appliances worldwide. Builders should ensure that modems and router stations are well-positioned so they can reach every corner of the home, including the laundry room. New connected laundry machines provide many benefits, such as alerting the owner when the laundry in the dryer is finished.
- Frequency Not Size. Changing lifestyles and household means bigger isn’t always better in washer and dryer size. Today’s two-income household is more likely to spot wash and dry small loads more frequently, like the outfit for tomorrow’s meeting.
For homebuilders looking for another selling advantage, it’s hard to find a more unexpected differentiator than the laundry room. Ledford can easily imagine the effect: “The home buyer walks in and says, ‘Oh my goodness, I never dreamed it could be this good!”
To learn more about laundry appliances from Whirlpool Corporation and other products for building industry professionals, visit WhirlpoolPro.com.
This article originally appeared on builderonline.com.