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Is a laundry room in a bathroom a good idea?

Is a laundry room in a bathroom a good idea?

Some people advocate washing clothes in the bathroom, rather than in the kitchen and, assuming no laundry room or utility room exists it is sensible to consider this arrangement. Firstly, there is a considerable point in doing this if laundry is generally dried over the bath, but somehow the intrusion of a washing machine into the bathroom is incongruous and in any case presents problems of electrical safety: electrical machines must be connected directly to the mains supply rather than an open socket in the bath- room. It may well be feasible to arrange a small laundry recess, perhaps as a lobby to the bathroom, with a louvred door and airing racks over.

Obviously, the general arrangement of the house will influence a decision such as this, as will the family habits; muddy football shorts probably ought to be washed as near to the entrance to your house as possible. Laundry and household cleaning are as much a part of living as eating or watching television, but most homes do not accommodate these activities in a satisfactory way. Once again, it is space that is the real luxury, and any plan that can gain useful space is the one to aim at even if you want a nice bath.

An alternative arrangement would be to have a laundry area associated with a downstairs secondary bathroom or shower unit, to be used by guests or children, leaving the upstairs bathroom for more relaxed uses. As in all these decisions, it is best to sit down calmly in advance and decide what your family really needs, rather than opting for some conventional solution based on habit.

Lighting

The purposes of bathroom lighting can be defined very specifically, which helps when it comes to choosing fittings and their position in the bathroom. Lighting is discussed in some detail in the section on bathroom planning, in the first part of this book, but it is as well to consider the type of fittings that will be needed. The two main requirements in a bathroom are to provide good face lighting where it is needed, at the mirror for example, and to have a good general standard of illumination throughout the rest of the room. The important thing about face lighting is that the whole of the face should be well lit. To achieve this the light source must be mounted on the wall to which the mirror itself is fixed.

Strip lighting in the form of tungsten or fluorescent tubes is satisfactory, but only if the fitting is long enough to cast light on the sides of the face as well as the front. A short, 300mm fitting, which means most of those made specifically for the purpose with a built-in electric shaver socket, will tend to light the upper surfaces of the face and leave the sides and lower parts under-lit. Lights on each side of the mirror are much better and there are many suitable strip-lights and opal glass or plastics tungsten fittings for this purpose. Some mirrors are made with concealed strip-lights that shine through translucent strips on each side; this is an excellent solution and it can be duplicated using any size mirror with a bit of ingenuity. Some bathroom cabinets also incorporate mirror lighting. In a very small bathroom, if plenty of light is provided at the mirror over the basin it may well be that, depending on its position, this will light the rest of the room adequately and no further lighting is needed.

Usually, however, at least one other source of light is desirable. This is best provided by a ceiling or wall fitting, depending on the size and shape of the room. Generally speaking, the room lighting should balance the mirror lighting so that between them they light the whole room satisfactorily. It is important, however, to make sure that no strong lights reflect in the mirror behind the person using it, as this will reduce the effectiveness of the mirror lighting. Some people like to read in the bathroom and this and other factors should be taken into account when siting the general light sources. A wide variety of translucent fittings are suitable; recessed fittings are more sophisticated but they will generally not spread the light as widely as surface-mounted fittings. They also tend to be rather more expensive to buy and, of course, install. The fact that they are also a rather more costly way of providing a given level of light may not be so critical in a bathroom, where the lights tend to be used for comparatively short periods of time.

Where there is space and you have the opportunity to do so, it is possible to let yourself go and aim at the kind of lighting effects more commonly met within other rooms, with lighting from concealed sources to give atmosphere and, perhaps, spotlights for features such as plants or pictures, should your ideas on bathroom design run to it. Lighting switches must, of course, be safe to use in the bathroom and this means either having the familiar pull cord from a switch mounted on the ceiling or, alternatively, mounting switches outside the room altogether.