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home>>family>>home & decor 4>>laundry room

Laundry Room 'Living Spaces' a Growing Trend


(ARA) - According to a National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) consumer preference survey, 95 percent of respondents desire or must have a separate laundry room in their new home. And Home Magazine says that 61 percent of laundry rooms are being built on upper levels rather than first floors or basements.

And those aren't the only hot trends changing our perception of the once lowly, cramped spaces where the washer and dryer were hidden away. Builders note a move away from traditional laundry rooms towards laundry "living spaces" that can be used for many purposes.

The NAHB survey finds that homeowners want an expanded, multi-functional work area for more than just washing clothes. Built-in ironing boards and solid-surface counter spaces for folding and sewing are popular, as are built-in storage cabinets or closets. These are used to both store detergent and other cleaning supplies as well as to conceal appliances.

Harold Carter of J. H. Carter Builder, Inc., a custom builder in Raleigh, N.C., says that there are three primary areas where his clients concentrate their spending in the homes he builds. "People put a significant portion of their budgets into kitchens, master baths, and laundry areas," he says, "with the laundry areas being similar to kitchens in the use of solid surface countertops, high-end fixtures and strong lighting, lots of cabinets, some of which hide washers and dryers, and other built-ins."

If you've ever tried to match socks or sort colored clothes in low light you know that an important consideration for these expanded spaces is natural light, and lots of it. According to Joe Patrick, product manager for VELUX America, manufacturers of skylights and sun tunnels, providing as much natural light as possible is critical. "Since many times these spaces are located in windowless interior areas of the home where artificial light is the norm, adding abundant natural light with skylights makes a much more pleasant and effective work area."

Patrick points out that venting skylights not only flood the area with healthy natural light but provide significant air exchange too -- an important consideration in laundry areas where heat and humidity can be equal to or above that found in kitchens. "Venting electric skylights can be operated by remote control," Patrick says, "and even have sensors that will close them if it starts to rain." More economical manually operated venting skylights are also available.

If a skylight isn't necessary or won't fit in a smaller area, natural light from above can still be admitted effectively and economically with sun tunnels. "Sun tunnels are easily installed and are very efficient at lighting interior spaces, plus, in some cases, they are less expensive than skylights," Patrick says.

For information on skylight and sun tunnel selection call (800) 283-2831, or visit www.veluxusa.com. For government information on window and skylight energy efficiency visit www.energystar.gov, and for independent agency information visit www.nfrc.org or www.efficientwindows.org.

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