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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Loads of laundries: In huge homes, washer/dryers appear in pantries and bedrooms, making it easier on boomers.(Globe Real Estate)(TRENDS).

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On laundry day, Jodie Galland goes into her kids' four bedrooms and empties the hampers. But instead of lugging all of the laundry downstairs, she simply tosses the clothes into the washer and dryer in each room's walk-in closet.

"I love it," says Ms. Galland, 39 years old, who also has machines in the master bedroom of her 11,000-square-foot home in Provo, Utah, and another set in the utility room near the kitchen. "The clothes pretty much stay in their closet."

Here's another sign that some Americans will spend a little more to walk a little less: They're outfitting their homes with multiple laundries or stashing extra machines in closets, pantries and family rooms.

There are no statistics on how many households have more than one laundry space, but builders and interior designers say the practice is growing, especially as homes get bigger and baby boomers get older.

Miami-based Coastal Homes, which specializes in $10-million-plus (U.S.) properties ranging in size from 10,000 to 60,000 square feet, included two laundry rooms in seven of the eight homes it built last year, according to Chief Executive Tom Murphy Jr.

The developers of Isleworth, a 274-home gated community in Windermere, Fla. (residents include Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neal), feature dual laundries in five out of six spec homes available. For instance, the 10,000-square-foot Bellagio model, listed for $8.5-million, includes six bedrooms, a wine cellar and two laundries -- one on the first floor and another next to the master-bedroom suite.

Indianapolis-based C.P. Morgan, which builds about 3,000 homes a year, started offering the second-laundry option three years ago.

Some homeowners say they're sick of lugging clothes from one end of the house to another, a hike in some of today's enormous homes. Others want separate machines for separate tasks -- one set near the master bedroom, say, for delicate personal items, and another for heavy-duty family loads.

Home-decor maven Chris Madden recently consulted with a plumber about her plan to put a second unit in the exercise room of her converted carriage house in Purchase, N.Y. Her current laundry room has a Chinese ironing press, a clothesline and an old-fashioned pine worktable, but it isn't big enough for multitasking. "I want to be able to watch television, work out and do the laundry," Ms. Madden said via telephone while on vacation in St. Thomas.

Laundry rooms are multiplying as prices of compact washer/ dryers have come down in recent years. But many homeowners are springing for more expensive, ultra-quiet machines for use in spaces near bedrooms and other living areas; they can cost up to $2,500. A tricked-out utility room with tile floors, granite countertops, custom cabinets and warming drawers (for items too fine for the dryer) can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

While manufacturers haven't gone so far as to urge customers explicitly to buy more than one set of laundry machines, they are encouraging homeowners to get the appliances out of the basement. Brands including LG, Kenmore, Whirlpool and Maytag have introduced appliances in designer colours in the past few years, while recent technological advances in machine motors and drums (the interior shell that holds the clothes) are promising a quieter wash and dry. Bosch says its Axxis Condensation Clothes Dryer, which requires a drain but no venting, "can be installed virtually anywhere" -- even inside a built-in wooden bookcase, as shown in one ad. Marketing materials for the Kenmore Elite HE5t, which Sears introduced in December, show the large-capacity, wine-coloured front-loaders in living rooms and master suites.

Dual laundries are more common in new homes because retrofitting an existing house can be pricey. The plumbing work alone can run anywhere from $2,000, if the plumbing lines are easily accessible, to $5,000, if the job requires opening up walls and ceilings to lay in pipes or a dryer vent, says Andrew August, a plumbing contractor in Freehold, N.J.

Improper installation can prove costly as well. A leaky washer can cause considerable damage if the laundry is upstairs and the water floods down to the rooms on lower floors.

Noise can also be an issue. Real-estate investor Janie Budd, 42, used to wince when she did laundry because her children's bedrooms were nearby and the machines often woke them at night or during naps. When she and her husband, Ken, remodelled their 6,000-square-foot home in Advance, N.C., they added a second laundry room on the bottom floor.

"Before, I just turned the upstairs machines off" when the children were sleeping, says Ms. Budd, who spends about 10 hours a week doing laundry.

Linda Petersen had an unpleasant shock when she first ran the wash in the $4,000 laundry room she and her husband, Frank, 58, installed off the kitchen of their new home in Washburn, Wis. During the spin cycle, the brand new Bosch "almost sounded like an airplane taking off," recalls Ms. Petersen, 48, a massage therapist. A spokesman for Bosch's parent company, BSH Home Appliances Corp., says its laundry appliances should be quiet if properly installed. Now the Petersens make sure the door to the washer/dryer closet is closed and they're adding a low-tech modification: a laundry chute leading to their second set of (quieter) machines downstairs.

That people are adding extra laundries surprises Cheryl Mendelson, the author of Home Comforts, a 1999 best-seller on the domestic arts, and the 2005 Laundry. "I wonder about the attempt to buy ease with such extravagance," says Ms. Mendelson, who notes that additional appliances also mean additional maintenance as well as more nooks and crannies to clean.

Others say the dual-laundry action makes sense, particularly in houses whose owners aren't as young as they used to be. "Baby boomers are building homes that they can grow old in," says Rebecca Lindquist, a kitchen and bath designer in Duluth, Minn., who designed two such projects in the past year for couples concerned about climbing stairs when they get older.

"It's a practical matter when you have a two- or three-story home," says Robert Weinstein, whose design company in Boca Raton, Fla., has completed 16 such projects in the Palm Beach area, including a children's-themed laundry room with custom-made choo-choo-train wallpaper festooned with railway signs ("Keep the station clean" and "Don't step in the mud").

Additional machines also offer privacy for finicky types who prefer not to share all of their dirty laundry with the hired help. Mike and Jodi Levy have two laundry rooms in their 10,000-square-foot house in Boca Raton, because Ms. Levy, 55, likes to do her own wash. "I don't mind the housekeeper doing my linens, but as far as lingerie or personal clothes . . . I want to do it myself," Ms. Levy says. She runs at least one load a day in her private laundry room, which has custom cabinetry and a built-in ironing board.

Not everyone is impressed with the setup. "My father doesn't think we need it," says Mr. Levy, 60, the founder of Sportsline.com, an Internet sports-media company. "But he doesn't think we need a house this big or any of the rest of it."

Then again, Mr. Levy adds: "My mother thinks it's great."

[c] 2007 Dow Jones & Co. Inc.

Source Citation
"Loads of laundries: In huge homes, washer/dryers appear in pantries and bedrooms, making it easier on boomers.(Globe Real Estate)(TRENDS)." Globe & Mail [Toronto, Canada] 2 Mar. 2007: G12. Popular Magazines. Web. 12 Nov. 2009. .


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