The Great Washing Machine Debate


A thought provoking topic that has puzzled homeowners for years is the great washing machine debate, to stack or not to stack? And front loading or top loading? The laundry room is a fun space to design as an interior designer because it’s an opportunity to blend practical layouts with creative finishes. But many of my clients ask whether they should be getting a front loading washing machine or top loading. This really is an ongoing debate!

Previously I was using top loading washers with no issues, but since switching to a front-loading one I wouldn’t go back! After all, with a family of 4 convenience and efficiency was our top priority. As you can imagine, there’s so… much… laundry. My husband on the other hand, would much prefer to go back to a top loading washer! How does a family choose? 

Both front loading and top loading washers and dryers have their advantages and disadvantages. It mostly comes down to personal preference, ergonomics, and the space in which they’re to be installed. We were incredibly lucky to have the option of either but ended up settling on a side-by-side arrangement.

When it comes to designing a laundry room, there are a few options to consider further. Do you choose the convenient side-by-side arrangement or the space-saving stackable?

It is a constant battle between convenience and spatial optimization, aesthetics, and practicality. This is why it is so important to consider all angles before making a commitment. After all – appliances are expensive! And therefore it is important not to make a costly mistake.

In this article, we are taking a closer look into this on-going debate! I’m going to take you through the various pros and cons for both stackable and side-by-side installations, and what each of these mean practically in terms of using them.

Let’s take a look!

backsplash trends 2020

This laundry room we designed features side by side machines. The pedestal on the left is a Sidekick, a small hidden washer! The orientation of the washer and dryer allow for the kids to help with laundry.

Side-by-Side Washers and Dryers


The side-by-side washer and dryer arrangement can be front loading, top loading, or a combination of the two. These could also be a mix of brands and therefore are the most convenient in terms of flexibility relating to budget.

When using the washer or dryer in the side-by-side layout, it’s easier for more people to access, and is often easier to use for those in a wheelchair or those who are petite. Will you children be doing laundry? My kids love to help with laundry, and this wouldn’t be possible if we had top loaders or if our front loaders were stacked. You can even add a folding counter over side by sides to create more of a laundry room look and feel to the space.

Front loading machines can be put on pedestals to create additional storage below, this often makes them more accessible to use as well. Models that offer pedestals are also great for smaller loads! I love mine so much that I have recommended it to clients, who love it too! It’s also worth noting that some pedestals are available as mini-washers (Sidekick). I have a Sidekick in my own home, and really like it! It’s great for smaller wash loads and delicates.

If you prefer using front loading machines and currently have them installed side-by-side, you may be able to stack them later if you change your mind. It’s important to check with the manufacturer and model number to see if this is possible for your specific machine.

In this new project above, I have designed a laundry room that features a side-by-side appliance layout. This will give my client flexibility when doing the laundry, and still allows for a countertop area adjacent. They really wanted a top loading washer, so this was important.


Stackable Front-Loading Washers and Dryers


Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the stackable arrangement – it saves on square footage needed! This will be particularly helpful for those living in smaller homes or apartments, or if you’d like to have a laundry closet in a small space.

However, stacking the washer and dryer will make it difficult for those who are vertically challenged (wheelchair users, children, and petite) to reach the top machine controls and add items into the drum. You could have a foldable stool nearby to help with this, but it can become a big effort and therefore side-by-side would be recommended.

Stacking your washing machine and dryer will require front-loading machines, but many people have strong feelings about this. If you are open to saving space in your home and trying something new, then go for it! 

Another drawback to stacking machines is that they require both units to be from the same manufacturer. If one machine needs replacing in the future, you’ll likely need to replace the other one too.


Final Decisions

The best way to make a final decision on which type of laundry room configuration you will have would be to first look at function. Determine if everyone in the home is able to reach inside a top loading machine to access laundry that’s at the bottom of the drum. Confirm if everyone in the family is able to reach the back of the drum of a top machine when stacked. If there are no ergonomic and functional issues, then the next consideration would be square footage. What fits best in the space? Next, is there an aesthetic that you’re more drawn to than others? I had mentioned earlier that I prefer front-loading side-by-side machines for my own home while my husband prefers side by side and a top loading washer. Why don’t we have a top loading washer? I find them a pain to get things out of. We also have small children who love to do laundry, and they wouldn’t be able to reach the inside. My laundry room is currently in my unfinished basement, and I have big plans for the space in the future. Those big plans involve storage above the washer and dryer, and front loading would work best for the design I have in mind. Each family has different needs. If you need help sorting through what you should do, don’t hesitate to reach out! Our design team would love to help!

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