Beltsville, MD (PRWEB) October 10, 2013
INTRO: Individual “clothes care centers” are the newest and most cost effective amenities in apartment and condominium marketing. These centers use high efficiency front-load washers, matching dryers (vented and ventless), and PanStand floating safety platforms create compact, functional, and attractive work areas.
This is a different approach and the challenge is getting owners/designers to see laundry as an amenity that enhances rents. The CLS displays demonstrate numerous layouts that enhance appeal while saving space and construction cost.
DISCUSSION: A typical community spends thousands on amenities like swimming pools and exercise rooms that are infrequently used by the majority of the residents. They are considered essential, but have little impact on day to day living. Laundry is an essential life function but are generally unattractive and inefficient in terms of both work flow and space utilization.
For decades, kitchen design has revolved around a “golden triangle” which placed the main working elements (stove, refrigerator and sink) in close proximity for maximum efficiency. A similar logic should apply to laundry. There are two general designs used in apartment layouts. The first places a unitized stack (designed in 1965) in a small closet off a hall. There is no storage for cleaning products; no hanger bar for “no iron” blouses, and no folding area.
The second places the washer beside the dryer in a "laundry" room. These may have a shelf that combines open storage and a hanger rack. But they devote 60% of the total floor space to standing room, which frequently morphs into a unorganized storage bin.
The new look in laundry places a premium of efficiency, appearance, and cleanliness. It starts with the recognition that demographics are changing. The number of residents per unit is shrinking along with square footage. In the urban areas average density is between 1.3 and 1.7 people per unit. Another change is the amount, variety, and cost of clothes owned.
The net result is that the average wash load has shrunk dramatically while the attention paid to the quality of the wash cycle has increased. The 24” front-load washer uses a third the water and energy. It cleans better with less damage to fine fabrics. It spins faster which reduces drying time and heat damage. Larger capacity washers do not increase efficiency with fewer loads, because residents have less laundry and separate it more often into smaller loads. They simply waste space, water and energy.
The other side of efficiency minimizing human effort and time. The showroom has “working” designs as shown in the photo. IKEA shelving is used to create inexpensive storage, folding, and hanger space. This combination requires a space 50” wide and can be easily added off a main hallway, or added to a kitchen, eliminating 10 to 20 sf of otherwise wasted space.
Cleanliness is a prime consideration. The three dirtiest parts of any laundry are the exposed drain and water connections, the open space behind the machines, and the dirt under the appliances. Front-load washers make it feasible to add a folding table over the top of the machines, enclosing the backs and preventing lost socks, etc. Replacing some or all of the open shelving with cabinets can easily hide utility connections while enhancing accessibility.
PanStand is a catalyst that makes many of the designs feasible. It combines a 5” pedestal, air-flotation appliance mover and safety pan in a durable platform. The square sides reduce the space needed and the flat front eliminates dirt accumulation under the machines. In addition to the designs shown, this allows installation in kitchens without the cost of a separate closet.
Creative is one of the leading distributors of ventless laundry. These designs are also feasible with vented equipment. Ventless dryers eliminate the space wasted for vent access and the vents themselves (minimum 2 sf). They also reduce lint and moisture discharge into the home.
These design ideas work with both vented and ventless dryers. Eliminating the vents saves 1 – 2 sq. ft behind the dryer and another 2 - 6 sq. ft by eliminating space for service access. They save $1,000 to $4,000 per unit in construction costs and greatly reduce the risk of dryer fires.