It's unlikely that laundry room lighting ideas are going to be the first thought when designing a new space – after all, there are much more pressing concerns such as making sure you have enough storage to meet your family's needs when it comes to cleaning and washing.
But, just because a space has a practical nature, doesn't mean it can't look good too. More and more, even the hidden corners of our homes are being beautified and as these laundry room ideas go to show, these spaces aren't exempt from some seriously inspiring interior design.
But more than that, it's important to create a laundry room with lighting that makes it comfortable and enjoyable to use. For a functional space like this, that hangs on getting the balance right on the types of lighting used in the space. Without enough bright task lighting, for instance, you might find it hard to do simple jobs like sort color washing properly, while if the lighting is too harsh, your laundry room will feel clinical and unwelcoming.
Check out these nine laundry room lighting ideas drawn from clever and effective real spaces for inspiration for your own design.
Laundry room lighting ideas
While you might think that the kitchen lighting ideas you've used will work just as well for your laundry room, there are some key differences in how these spaces are utilized that will inform the type and quantity of lighting you choose.
Laundry rooms are mostly used for practical tasks, and apart from the odd evening spent ironing, it's not somewhere that you'll usually dwell for long periods of time. This means that task lighting, not ambient mood lighting, is the most important consideration for these rooms.
However, for every rule there's an exception, and with the right lighting set-up, a laundry room can be both Instagram-worthy and an enjoyable place to spend time, even if you're undertaking some less than enjoyable chores.
1. Try to prioritize natural light
‘With any space, regardless of what it is, natural light is the best light for obvious reasons,’ says Whittney Parkinson, an Interior architectural designer. However, laundry rooms are often the smallest rooms in a house, meaning that they may suffer from smaller windows or even have none at all.
For existing homes, there are not always a lot of options for increasing a room’s natural light, but where possible, adding new windows, enlarging existing ones, or even adding roof lights or sun tunnels can help make your laundry room a more enjoyable place to be.
2. Add internal glazing to borrow light from other rooms
If it’s not possible for your laundry room to have windows or they’re not very large, using a glazed internal door or divider will help borrow light from adjacent rooms such as the kitchen and help this space feel more open and less dark and enclosed.
While this example is a laundry room with plenty of natural light of its own, it also allows a beautifully designed laundry room to be shared with the rest of the house, while allowing light to reach the furthest reaches of both the laundry room and the kitchen.
‘The ‘must have’ list for this project included a purpose-designed laundry room,’ explains Richard Moore, design director at Martin Moore of this home renovation. ‘This was every bit as carefully planned as the main kitchen area and the two are visually linked through a Crittall-style divider.’
3. Use integrated lighting for laundry room shelving
Laundry rooms can make use of many of the same kitchen shelving ideas as your kitchen to keep essentials close at hand, but this can cause issues when it comes to lighting, especially over countertops.
Integrating lighting in any wall-mounted storage is a clever solution to this problem. ‘Spots underneath the wall units and shelving are essential for lighting the immediate surface to avoid shadows that are often created by shelving above,’ suggests Allison Lynch, senior design consultant at London-based kitchen designers Roundhouse.
Recessed LED strip lighting offers a sleek alternative to spotlights for laundry room cabinetry too –and while best built-in to cabinetry and shelving, such as in this carpentry created by Westbourne Group, there are also ways to effectively retrofit strip lighting onto existing set-ups.
4. Stick to downlights for a functional space
To take a practical approach for a moment, when it comes to adding ceiling lighting, downlights provide the type of useful task and ambient lighting that fulfills a laundry room’s needs. A laundry room isn’t somewhere that you’ll usually spend time when not doing cleaning and washing, so less requires ambient lighting that creates a relaxing mood.
However, when it comes to our homes and good design, it’s hard to focus on purely the practical, so combining downlights with other types of lighting will help you balance the task and mood lighting, while also having light fixtures that look good in the space both day and night.
5. Or consider pendant lighting for a stylish laundry room
While most kitchens make use of kitchen pendant lighting ideas, it’s not always a practical option for a laundry room, which has a more limited floor space. Without higher ceilings, this might mean a pendant light that’s in the way, or that has to be hung with such a short flex that it looks stunted.
However, for the right space, a pendant light can make for a brilliant addition, making the room feel less stark and providing a softer ambient light for when the need arises. But how do you know if you have space for a pendant light? ‘Whatever you select, keep the base 7’ from the floor,’ suggests Ben Marshall, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and creative director of Hudson Valley Lighting Group. This should give anyone using the space sufficient headroom.
6. Get the best of both worlds with semi-flush lighting
If you don’t have the ceiling height for pendant lighting, but want to add interest to your ceiling in a laundry room, semi-flush lighting is a good solution. While it may not come in as many varieties as pendant lighting, there are still options to suit different styles of spaces, while preserving that 7’ of headroom to keep the space functional.
In this design by Whittney Parkinson, an antiqued bronze semi-flush light with a decorative sconce rifts off the checkerboard flooring and classic Shaker-style cabinets to give this laundry room a sense of heritage-style
7. Position lighting over a laundry room island
If space allows, why not consider a laundry room island? This not only gives you valuable extra countertop space, but means you can position a statement pendant light in your laundry room without worrying about head height.
This portable island idea also helps to give the laundry room a better flow when using the space, meaning there's a countertop close at hand when taking clothes out of the washer and dryer.
8. Use adjustable wall lights for better task lighting
Wall lights are another useful element of laundry room lighting ideas, but to get the most out of your choice of wall light, look for designs that can be adapted to meet your space’s practical needs.
‘Often limited on space, laundry rooms require flexible lighting. Lights that can be moved, adjusted, or angled can effectively control direction or spread of light,’ says Charlie Bowles, director of Original BTC. ‘Adjustable Rise & Fall pendants or spotlights help illuminate task areas and supplement natural light.’
In this laundry room belonging to Monika Hibbs, one of Canada’s most influential lifestyle bloggers, these adjustable arm pendant lights can be angled down to better illuminate the countertop, while providing statement lighting for the space and matching the Armac Martin hardware used on the cabinetry.
9. Choose characterful light fixtures for a more enjoyable laundry room
When you’re looking for inspiration for laundry rooms, you’ll see a lot of designs that look similar – bright and light spaces that are neutral and minimal. However, a laundry room also gives you the opportunity to have fun with a design, a small space that you don’t have to spend all day looking at and so you can afford to be a little braver in the design, without getting bored of it quickly.
This extends to lighting too. This design created by Herringbone Kitchens, for example, uses brass wall lights and a fringed pendant light to add extra decorative style to complement a bold choice of wallpaper.
What color of light is right for a laundry room?
The color temperature of your laundry room lighting ideas is an important consideration for this space, though the right choice for your home will depend on how you use the space. If you live in a state which tends to have brighter skies and you have a laundry room with plenty of natural light, your choice may be different. ‘I prefer laundry room fixtures to be a warmer incandescent, to make the space feel warm and inviting, as laundry is not the most enjoyable task,’ suggests interior architectural designer Whittney Parkinson.
However, when it comes to a space that requires more help with task lighting, a cooler, white light color is the way to go. ‘Consider using a whiter light, around 3000K,’ suggests Estefania Marquez, a senior lighting designer at John Cullen Lighting. This will help the space feel fresher, making it better for daytime use, and provide a light that is better suited to tasks such as sorting clothes and matching socks, as cooler light is slightly brighter to the eye.
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2022.
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