What is a Built-In Ironing Board?

Malcolm Tatum

A built-in ironing board is type of ironing board that is constructed to fit into a compartment in a wall, known as an ironing cabinet. The board is typically attached with hinges at one end that make it possible to open the cabinet and lower the board into a horizontal position, making it ideal for ironing articles of clothing. Once the ironing is completed, the flip-out ironing board is returned to an upright position within the cabinet and the door is closed securely.

The bottom of an iron.
The bottom of an iron.

The concept of a built-in ironing board has been around for decades. Many apartment buildings constructed during the first half of the 20th century offered this amenity. This was particularly true with efficiency apartments where closet space was limited. In some designs for these smaller apartments, the ironing cabinet was situated so that when the built-in ironing board was lowered into position, one end of the device rested on a kitchen counter top, a design that helped to eliminate the need for retractable legs on the board.

An iron.
An iron.

Homes constructed during the early years of the 20th century also sometimes included a built-in ironing board in the design of the kitchen. The installation of this type of ironing board made it possible for homemakers to manage other tasks such as cooking while also ironing dry clothing. In an age when most meals were prepared without the aid of prepackaged food, the ability to remain in close proximity to the oven and stove range while doing the ironing made it possible to avoid kitchen disasters such as burned entrees or pots and pans that boiled over.

Along with being space-saving, a built-in ironing board also offers a few other advantages. The board is easy to maneuver into position and requires little in the way of upper body strength to lower and situate the device for use. This is in contrast to other types of ironing boards that must be lifted from a closet, carried to a suitable location, and then held in position while the supporting legs of the device are lowered into position. In like manner, little effort is required to return the built-in ironing board to the cabinet, especially if the board is equipped with a spring loaded feature that aids in returning the board to a vertical position.

While the built-in ironing board is not a common feature in newer homes or apartment buildings, there are examples of architectural plans for laundry rooms that include the installation of this type of device. It is also possible to purchase and install a wall-mounted ironing board that functions in a manner that is very similar to the built-in design. While less esthetically pleasing, the wall mounted version offers most of the same benefits and avoids the drawbacks associated with other ironing board designs.

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