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Originally published Saturday, February 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Laundry list: 10 ideas to make doing the wash easier

Stylish and functional design ideas to make working in the laundry room less of a chore. Plus, money and timesaving tips.

Better Homes and Gardens

Clean cuts

SAVE TIME — AND EVEN MONEY — with a few tweaks to your laundry routine.

Get thrifty: A tablespoon of fabric softener rubbed into a washcloth takes the place of expensive dryer sheets. (Use an odd color washcloth to differentiate it from everyday ones.)

Sort quickly: Helen bought one white and one black laundry basket to make it crystal-clear to her kids where to toss their dirty lights and darks.

Lessen wrinkles: Reduce ironing time by removing items from the dryer when they're damp. Wrinkles iron out of damp items easier than over-dried ones. Many clothes won't need ironing if you put them on hangers right away.

Laundry rooms tend to be dirty little secrets — raw spaces where clothes pile on the floor and washers and dryers stand alone. The irony wasn't lost on Helen Norman, who had cobbled together a bare-bones laundry area in her 1850s Maryland home. Tired of the inefficiency, she and her friend, designer Janna Lufkin, redesigned the space with loads of function.

Lufkin designated areas for laundering, folding, ironing, air-drying and storage.

"Everything seemed chaotic before," Helen says. "Now, it's a space I want to come into and treat with respect."

"When your home is organized you feel more energized," she says.

With these tips that put everything in its place, laundry is a chore no more.

UNDER COVER

Norman had a cabinet built to house her front-loading washer and dryer. The top is made of linoleum flooring to provide a durable work surface. (Marmorette flooring, $23/square foot; armstrong.com)

LIGHT LOADS

"A fresh coat of paint works wonders," says Lufkin, who brightened the room with white beaded board that covers uneven walls.

OUT TO DRY

An antique quilt rack augments wall-mounted drying racks. Norman air dries a lot of clothes and doesn't iron much; space for those tasks was assigned accordingly.

HEAVY WASH

A shelf provides storage in the space above the washer and dryer. Detergents stored in clear, labeled jars allow Norman to gauge levels and prevent shelves from becoming a riot of packaging. (Duet steam washer and dryer; $1,599 and $1,499; whirlpool.com)

CLEAN SLATE

Store stain removers on a Lazy Susan to keep them in reach and catch drips.

TOP STORY

A free-standing table offers storage. Norman's two boys can grab clothes stacked on the top. The iron rests on a heat-resistant old enamel tray. (Varde base cabinet, $349; ikea.com)

OUT OF SIGHT

Drawers conceal mending supplies, extra dryer sheets, stain removers and the inevitable pile of unmatched socks.

HOLDING POINT

Baskets are used to tote clean rags and towels to their proper rooms. Closed boxes store seldom-used table linens that need ironing before use.

HANG TIME

A vintage drying rack has arms that fold in when not in use. If you can't find an antique version, modern ones are available.

STRETCH SPACE

Tip-out drying racks are an alternative to a standing drying rack. These are custom, but there are many ready-made options. (Beadboard drying rack similar to the one shown, $89; ballarddesigns.com)

Want to see what else is coming from Better Homes and Gardens magazine? Go to www.bhg.com for more.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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