We are installing a front load steam washer and dryer. Because of the cabinets above them, we have to put a wood panel on each side of the set to support the cabinets above them. Our contractor says we have to have 17" clearance above the W/D. I'm reading that is only if its in a closet, which its not. The room is open, just the W/D and cabinets on the right side of the units. Would the panels make it be enclosed enough to call it a alcove or closet?