Question: We bought a beautiful two-story, five-bedroom home in an excellent area of Newbury Park for resale. However, there is very little storage in the house and a very small laundry room, which feels more like a long closet. I read an article in The Times lately about laundry rooms being the next big renovation area. We have a playroom off of the kitchen and next to the laundry room, with a tall, arched opening without a door. It also has a desk in an alcove. Others in the neighborhood have turned this into a guest room. For resale, is it better to keep this room as a play room that is basically used for storing extra computers and books? Or, should we make it into a beautiful laundry room with lots of storage?
Answer: From David Kean, a Prudential California agent based in Hancock Park:
The addition of a laundry room to your home sounds like a good idea given your home's design. As you already have five bedrooms, it’s unlikely that you or potential buyers really need a guest room.
As long as you are renovating the room, why not make it a multi-purpose room? A laundry room in and of itself doesn’t add much value to a home. Yet a well-designed home office/laundry/storage and crafts room will appeal to a wide variety of buyers.
To facilitate these functions, add lower cabinets with a counter on top that matches the design and décor of the kitchen. The counters can be used for everything from folding clothes to art projects. I would suggest a Corian-type material for durability.
Adding shelves or wall cabinets above the counters will help solve the storage problem. The room should have the basic look of a butler’s pantry, with the washer and dryer concealed behind cabinet doors or installed under the countertop. Adding a utility sink may not be very expensive because plumbing should be nearby. The sink will enhance the multi-functionality of the room and make it seem a well-planned extension of the kitchen and family areas.
You may be able to incorporate the existing desk alcove into the new room. This will help the room function as an office or homework area and provide ample storage for books. You can leave the archway open if you keep the style of the room in line with the kitchen. The openness will allow the two areas to flow together. Buyers often prefer that these areas be open to one another.
As for the former laundry closet, consider converting it into a pantry. Adding floor-to-ceiling shelving will give you lots of storage for paper goods and such. If you entertain, this would be a smart place to add tray and party ware storage. You may even want to add a section of drawers for rarely used items. Remember to add good lighting so you can easily see what’s in the room.
Though extra storage may not add to the value of a home, inadequate storage does turn off buyers. Rather than exclusively creating a laundry area that may not meet another homeowner’s needs, you’ll be better off at resale time if the room has many purposes.