The Lean Designer: Second floor laundries are just stupid, or are they?

January 10, 2012

One of the benefits of working with builders and customers all over the country is that I get a real grasp of what is happening with design trends. For the longest time it seemed everyone wanted a second floor Laundry Room. The logic was that all if all of the bedrooms (including the Owner's) are upstairs then that is where the Laundry should be. Here are some of the supporting points to that logic:

  1. The laundry is generated on the second floor.
  2. No trips up and down the stairs carrying clothes.
  3. The transfer from finished laundry to the closets is efficient.

Here is the rub. Most people will do laundry during the weekends. On the weekends people are chilling in their Family rooms watching TV, putzing around in the yard, or playing with/watching the kids. With a Laundry Room upstairs they have to run up and down the stairs every 45-60 minutes to change loads, fold and hang the laundry. When the Laundry Room is on the main level laundry can be done in conjunction with these activities with just a slight interruption by walking into the space to change loads, and hang/fold while keeping the bulk of the laundry in that area until all of the loads are completed. This activity can be done with little Timmy toddling by your side or just hanging out in his bouncy chair. This as opposed to having to pick him up, carry him upstairs, and reset his place as you are doing the laundry, only to do it all again in a matter of minutes.

Second Floor Laundry rooms became popular in our market about 10 years ago when a large public big box builder had second floor laundries in all of their two story plans. The reason they had Laundry Rooms up related to their plan massing. The Second Floor completely covered the Garage space therefore their plans were all very top heavy in terms of square footage distribution. Their sales staff was well versed in the "pro" reasons listed above. It was only after people lived in houses set up this way for a while that the Second Floor Laundries went out of fashion. Currently second floor laundries are considered a negative in this market.

If you are in market where there is still a demand for this madness there is a clever solution. Some builder's are providing an optional stackable washer/dryer in the Owner's closet. This makes a lot of sense because at the end of the evening people love to have the opportunity to sneak in one last load of laundry while getting ready for bed. Provide that option with a clear explanation of why a full Second Floor Laundry does not make sense and you will be ahead of the curve in your market.


Todd Hallett, AIA, president of TK Design & Associates has been designing award-winning homes for more than 20 years. He spent 15 of those years working for a $50 million production building company. Todd designed all of its homes but also worked in every other aspect of the company including purchasing, development, land acquisition, product development, and operations, and was president of the company for three years. Equipped with his vast building experience and fueled by his love for architecture he left to form an architecture firm that is second to none in working cohesively with builders. Todd specializes in Lean Design and works, alongside Scott Sedam of TrueNorth Development, in the trenches with builders, suppliers, and trade contractors. Todd welcomes your feedback at or 248.446.1960.