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Black/white laundry room banishes washday blues

Dark and dungeon-like, with bare concrete floors and low light, the laundry room in designer Sarah Walker’s home was made even unlovelier by a space-hogging furnace, water heater and wash tub.

“None of us wanted to go down there very much, so it was a bit of a deterrent to getting laundry done,” she says.

Having determined it was  time for a makeover, Walker decided a galley configuration that pulled the tub out from under the window and opened up the wall would offer the best use of space.

On one side, the furnace and water heater were covered — but kept accessible — with off-the-shelf doors in white oak from Metrie.  They were cut to size, and then hung on a sliding door track system from Upper Canada Specialty Hardware.  The solid oak also dampen sounds (the laundry is right next to a media room)  and white oak is repeated in floating shelving on the other side of the galley.

The floor is encaustic black and white tiles, a material Walker came to love during tours of Regency homes in England. “It offers both a modern and traditional nod. It’s so graphic, and it’s a great visual anchor,” she says, adding that “sometimes bold strokes are the very thing a small space needs.”

Walker then added black cabinetry for a “grounding” effect. “It’s almost as if the black is melting into the floor,” she explains.

Employing a budget-friendly designer trick, Walker had a  two-inch MDF gable built to frame the washer and dryer.  That’s complimented with a creamy white countertop from Cosentino  that’s “virtually indestructible”, says Walker, recounting the recent successful clean-up of a spill of calligraphy ink. (Walker uses the room for art as well as laundry.)

Having a touch-activated Delta faucet  came in handy too, as Walker could  turn it on and off without using her ink-stained hands.

Affordable subway tiles are used in the backsplash and grouted with a classic soft grey that “can stand a little dirt”, rather than black, which she think would look “too harsh, too institutional”.  They were laid horizontally, as was drawer hardware.

The finished laundry room was such a success that for months after it was completed, guests begged for a “tour”.

“They asked if we could have coffee down there,” laughs Walker. “It became the hottest room in the house!”

All photography by Larry Arnal.

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