As an extension of the practical aspects of a functional laundry room for smaller homes as discussed in the previous article, here we extend those functional aspects to higher end and luxury homes to touch on what is possible, and, what should be.
The high-end home, typically characterized by a large home on a special lot, or perhaps part of an exclusive community, townhouse, or penthouse, does have space to accommodate a larger laundry room facility, often operated by housekeeping personnel, while the luxury home or mansion generally has both housekeeping and plenty of room to accommodate everything one must have available to a staff.
Both types have a view for staff or home owners, the high-end windows are of modest size given the special constraints of the home, while the luxury offers full height windows either viewing a private garden (garden devoted to house-keeping) or a view away from the home owners area. The reason for the window positioning and thus influencing the location of the laundry room is there is a high desire to provide fresh-air into the laundry room for the health of the clothing and fabrics, yet there is noise generated from this room which can be disturbing to the homeowner, thus it’s position is critical and if needed be provided with a servant’s garden walled off to limit sound transmission. The extra benefit is now the housekeeping has their own outdoor area they can call their own, as is often the case in many cultures like in Thailand.
For soiled laundry, there is a special reception area complete with it’s own ventilation to ensure that any moisture trapped within the cloths are removed from the laundry room area. This soiled reception area is larger than on modest homes and may contain several push carts with the capacity to accommodate all bed spreads, sheets, bathroom towels and other heavier fabric cloths.
The luxury laundry room also has additional machines due to the extra space it can accommodate, in order to facilitate the completion of the task. This might be two or more banks of machines, here we show two sets of washer/dryer in one bank. The goal from the house keepers point of view is to stagger loads, timing it so that cloths finish in 15 minute increments which is enough time for folding and post-prep work, making ready for return into the home.
Of note, in both types, the soil receptacle area (where dirty laundry is brought into the laundry room) is positioned opposite of the machines, to allow for easy transfer between the two, as efficiency of process is key to the long term health and success of the home.
The luxury laundry room is connected to upper floors with a service elevator, and at the upper floors, to service lobbies, linen and storage closets, and bedding closets (allowing for the immediate changing of bedding). Where there are many bedrooms, there may be two or more of these upper floor service lobbies and associated rooms.
The luxury laundry room has high ceilings, 9 feet at the washer/dryers, 10 feet and higher elsewhere, to allow hot air to rise and exit the rooms, keeping them especially temperate for housekeeping to remain comfortable.
Both types have a special ceiling design, coffers which are shaped to trap and absorb sound and reverberation. This will help keep the rooms quiet and not the source of nuisance sounds and echoes which can reverberate throughout a home if not properly addressed. In this respect, the surfaces act in a way to re-reflect sound back onto themselves and through sound absorption material trap the sound waves. It is the opposite of what one wants in a performance hall.
Both types have ample storage, the luxury having additional closets and islands rather than base cabinets against a wall for folding.
Both types has built in sound system, intercom system, tv/cable services and other amenities to ensure workers have entertainment during the folding process, as then intent isn’t isolation but to encourage a positive experience during the cleanup.
Both have ironing boards built into the walls, even though dry cleaning is provided to the owners. In the luxury laundry, the large space beyond the machines acts as the organizing node for receiving and sending out of laundry, preparing it before its transfer into the home proper.
Whenever one refers to high-end or luxury living, there is always a separation between service corridors and rooms, and home owner-occupied areas. The separation is further reinforced with fire-rated solid doors that are fully sealed, and if necessary have their own anti-chamber to further isolate any noise that might emanate from the service areas.
While this study touches on the basics of luxury facilities, the luxury home has all the functionality of a luxury hotel or resort, with offices, butler and maid facilities, all interconnected with the laundry facilities part of the overall whole. Further, these facilities must be able to accommodate parties of up to 2000 people, meaning that the caterer, the wedding planner, security, the special events planner, valet parking personnel head officer, music accommodation & storage, and grounds keeper(s) all must be accommodated to allow them to function efficiently without tripping over one another during peek events, yet positioned to easily downsize allowing the household to function when it is off season and the work load is substantially reduced.
In the end, no matter the size of the home, efficiency of services is key to the long term financial success of the home. Homes that are not efficient require additional time and labor to provide the upkeep they require, leaving areas in perpetual transition and thus straining the perception, resources and quality of life of the main occupant.
The bottom line is this, if you are a person who’s spending $10 million or more on a home and your Architect isn’t addressing these back-of-house design decisions, then you are considering the wrong Architect. There is a difference between Architects and ultimately your choice reflects your personality. Sensitivity to ALL the aspects of a home is what is required to do the job of both creating something that is beautiful and properly hierarchically disposed, but is also the functional machine that you deserve, especially considering your investment.