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Dirty laundry

Kirsty Allsopp's crusade to move clothes washers out of British kitchens has hit a raw nerve - issues of class/wealth and suggestions of bad hygiene all being sure to trigger heated words on Twitter.

For me, kitchens are super flexible rooms. People do all kinds of things in them: they ferment cabbage and beer, dance around to tunes from Spotify, do homework, get children dressed for school, all in the kitchen. Washing the clothes you've recently been wearing to cook or eat in hardly strikes me as 'disgusting'.

Washing machine in the kitchen

I recently designed a kitchen with a clothes washer in it (above, washing machine on far right). The clients program it to come on while they're at work as space is tight in their apartment. This solves what I think is a real problem with a washing machine in a busy room, its noisiness. Clearly it's a bonus to place one in a room where you don't linger as manufacturers don't soundproof these machines and anyway it's difficult to imagine a heavy spinning action ever being made really quiet.

The underlying problem here is our housing is just not being big enough for people to live comfortable lives. A great many new houses and apartments are so small that a utility room is pure fantasy. But even without one of these excellent amenities it's possible to think creatively and move your washing machine out of your kitchen if that's what you want. Europeans use the bathroom; the Japanese place theirs outside the front door - but maybe on second thoughts the kitchen is fine.

Otherwise, new housebuilders, please take note that we need utility rooms in new homes. Kitchen designers also have a job to do bringing their skills and advice to rehousing the washing machine next time they oversee a refurb.

Washing machine in Japan

Left: a drastic solution in Japan


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