Canadians spend more time in the laundry room than in the bathroom: an average of eight hours a week, collectively doing some 11 billion loads of laundry a year. And yet, while bath design has evolved into a discipline of its own, and the space into a bona fide retreat with soothing soaker tubs, the laundry is often relegated to a basement, separated from the life of the home. Increasingly, though,homeowners are creating laundry rooms that are as integrated as a bath or the kitchen. They can even be in a bath or kitchen. Chalk it up to busier lives and a need to multitask, says designer Dana Jones of Long Beach, California. A first-floor laundry room can serve as a command center—a nook near the family room, where parents can keep an eye on the kids while folding, or off the back door, where it can double as a mudroom, home office, or hobby area. On the second floor, stackable, whisper-quiet front-loaders can tuck into a hall closet, just a balled-up-shirt-toss from the bedroom. For help bringing your wash-and-dry space closer to the hub of your home and boosting its function, check out the elements of the decked-out laundry at left. Then, in the following gallery, see how those features, as well as other smart ideas and versatile layouts, are put to work.