Q: My outdated kitchen is a woman's worst nightmare: The stove sits right next to the washer and dryer. My friends and family love to joke that I never have to leave the kitchen to complete all the "woman's work." This was actually sort of funny for a while, but now I want that washer and dryer gone. Unfortunately, there's no space in any other room and no closet is big enough to fit them. Would they be okay out in the garage?

— Vicky, Gresham, OR

A: Steve replies: Unless your garage is heated, or you plan to add heat, that probably wouldn't be a good idea. Your winter weather isn't nearly as cold as ours here in New England, but it still freezes now and then. Sooner or later, that could spell trouble if water in the supply pipes and drain hoses turns to ice; you'd have a real mess when they thawed out. And even if the pipes never freeze, frequent trips into a chilly garage won't make your laundry chores any fun. Perhaps you could find room inside your house for one of the front-loading combination washer/dryers that are popular in Europe and among space-cramped occupants of urban apartments. Since one box takes up less space than two, locating it in a closet becomes feasible. There's at least one unit that doesn't need a dryer vent — it condenses moisture out of the dryer's air and dumps it down a drain. Another approach is stacked appliances. Over/under units range from about 71 to 76 inches high but are only 27 inches wide — closet sized, in other words. While you might lose some space to hang things, just think of all the kitchen cabinet storage you'd gain. Sometimes, finding a good spot is just a matter of thinking outside of the box. When Rob Thompson, the owner of the TOH project house in West Palm Beach, faced the same problem you have, he put his front-loading washer and dryer under a counter in an eating area off the kitchen. Hidden behind cabinet doors, they operate so quietly you hardly know they're there.
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