Practical laundry rooms in stylish locations

The designer renovates her parents' laundry room and dresses it in a chic but casual way.

As with a well-thought-out outfit, it's the details that often determine the aesthetic of a space. This laundry room Karla Dreyer designed in her parents' home in Surrey, B.C., is no exception. The walls (some painted, some tiled), Shaker-style cabinets and quartz countertop are crisp and clean, and black accents, such as the roll-down window shade and tinted floor tiles, evoke sharp dark pants. However, the room is far from formal and fussy. Instead, it spreads a casual, flirty air. Using fabrics and accessories, such as a multi-colored shag runner and pop-dyed pillows, Karla built this look from sensible to sensational. Here's how.

1) She added specific elements for warmth.

Like a bathroom or kitchen, a laundry room can feel sterile, says designer Karla Dreyer. That's why, in addition to the white quartz on the sink wall, she decided to place butcher-block counters on top of the washer and dryer. The wooden surface brings warmth, and is complemented by greenery, wicker baskets and botanical artwork. "The look is fresh and clean, but also cozy," she says.

2 She recognized the power of contracting accessories.

"Contrast makes a room interesting," says Karla, who elevated the space with black-and-white yin-yang appeal. But the play of opposites goes beyond tone and texture. Take the tile work, for example. The dark floor has a matte barn-style finish, while the pale wall tiles in the subway have a subtle sheen. "The floor is gritty and the wall is gorgeous," Karla says. "They work well together."

3 She made the space airy by eliminating the tops.

Pre-reno, upper and lower cabinets wrapped around the room in a U-shape. "I couldn't reach the upper cabinets, and they were full of junk," says homeowner Janice Dreyer, who wanted to cut them out. "I wanted a room. I wanted the space to be open." Karla delivered. The L-shaped-only design makes the room look twice as big and enhances its natural glow (courtesy of an existing window).

4 She used open shelving.

"I would say less is more, but I don't feel like I have any less," she says. Open storage strategies, such as woven baskets on counters and a floating shelf, are trendy and functional.

5 Make it practical for a dual-purpose room.

The laundry room sits just off the garage, so it's a major artery into the house. To make comings and goings comfortable, Karla dressed a bare wall with a sleek white wicker bench and wooden hooks that resemble funky stud earrings. The rust-dyed pillows add a light touch. "They bring color and pattern, but they're not frilly," Karla says. "You can't put fancy pillows in the laundry-that would look ridiculous!"