Tips & Tricks | 10 Considerations When Designing a Utility Room
A utility room is one of the most desired rooms in all the land, lets face it, we all want one. It creates extra storage for those hard to store items that don't seem to fit anywhere else like light bulbs, candles, pet food and vases. But it is way more than that, it allows the hardworking kitchen and now a well-used entertaining space to be just that, without laundry piled high and the hoover slumped in the corner. All this enables the kitchen to be a clean and more live-able area of the home to relax.
Here are some tips and tricks on how to ensure your utility room is planned to perfection and if you already have a utility room, there’s a couple of ideas here to make it work better!
1. Roles and responsibilities
Not only do you need to think about what this room needs to do but also what role do you want your kitchen to play in this so that you are clear on their individual responsibilities. Think of them as two different people with two different jobs but they have to work as a team!
Questions you need to answer are, is the utility room just for laundry? Does it need to allow space for storage and if so what? Is it acting as a boot room too? Are you going to be washing dirty pets or cleaning off muddy wellies in here? Once you’ve answered these questions think about how that corresponds with the space you have and whether its viable to do all those tasks within that space. If not, you have to prioritise and move elements out somewhere else in the home that would be suitable (often the kitchen but could be places like under the stairs so think more broadly).
Once you know what the room is to be used for, it’s a good idea to look at the plans and diagrams and label where everything will go so you are comfortable you have enough storage for your needs. What is vital though is to ensure the items fit in the cupboards intended, so as silly as it may sound measure the hoover and the ironing board and make sure that the cupboard is tall enough for all of these types of home appliances. Don't forget to make the storage flexible, ensuring shelves in cupboards can be moved to adapt as your needs change.
Once you know the role of your utility room and you’ve planned roughly where everything will be you can plan your lighting. Whilst downlighters can be a bit much in some rooms, and thrown around with no real thought process, in a utility room I think they can be a real asset. By installing downlighters, you can utilise the full height of your walls without worrying if a cupboard door is going to smash your light fitting. They can provide loads of light in what may be a small room squeezed into the house. You may want to add some task lights though too such as wall lights to highlight your shelves or a coat rack, or lighting under shelves to illuminate the worktop.
If you have the space it is such a great idea from an ergonomic perspective to have both the washing machine and tumble dryer side by side and preferably at a height that means you are not stretching or bending over all the time. It also means that you can move from the washing machine to the tumble dryer in a swift movement. Which way are your doors hinged?
So simple and yet it is more important than you might think. If you have your washing machine and tumble dryer side by side, you would ruin the benefit of that by having a door that is impeding the movement between the two. This applies to whether the appliances are integrated or not – if they are behind a cupboard door ensure the doors are hinged to allow movement between the appliances. You can also change the direction of most washing machine and tumble dryer appliance doors too – it’s a simple trick but can avoid stretching and causing a hernia!
You take the laundry out of the tumble dryer, and then what? An integrated hidden shelf that pulls out from below is a great use of space and can be so functional, allowing you to fold the clothes up and be on your way. These shelves are also available to be retro fitted. An alternative and simple solution is to ensure you have a worktop space next to your washing machine or dryer, that you can fold clothing on or a large pull out basket which you can put laundry into and then detach and take with you when putting the clothes away.
Think through how you will move in this space and the frequency you will require items. The simple rule is that the higher the item is stored, the less often is should be needed, and so this will be specific to you – you may not need lightbulbs and batteries very often but vases and candles are in constant demand, so organise accordingly.
6. Storage Solutions
Utility rooms can come in all shapes and sizes, but many of us have to shoehorn them into our homes. You may need to spend a little more on fittings to ensure the room works hard in the limited space you have. Dual use storage such as skinny benches which include shoe storage within can be a good idea and allows you to sit and remove shoes too. Think about whether cupboard doors could get in the way – may be drawers and pullouts would be easier to open and close. Make use of baskets which can go in cupboards and on top of cupboards making use of every inch of space you have and can always be repurposed easily. Think about how you can use all the space you have; you can use walls and ceilings for drying racks, peg rails, shelving, hooks and hangers to hang freshly ironed clothing.
7. Pampered pets
If your utility room is close to the back door as they often are and perhaps it is doubling up as a boot room, a sink can provide a place to wash down muddy paws and boots before entering the house and leaving a trail of destruction! A deep butler sink is a good option to allow for those mucky jobs along with a flexible tap with spray function. You could also use the utility room to encompass a built in pet bed and a place for all their accessories too.
8. Noise and Mess
If you can, always have a door to the utility room to hide the piles of laundry out of sight, but also to provide a little more soundproofing. No-one wants to see dirty pants or hear a washing machine on full spin as they’re tucking into a romantic meal. If you need to steal light from other rooms (perhaps the utility room doesn’t have a window) then choose a door with frosted glass which combines privacy but allows light in, or you could opt for a glass panel above the door.
This again depends upon your answers to my initial question – what is the room going to be used for? A sensible idea is to have sockets within a cupboard so you can charge the handheld hoover or may be even the drill while it is neatly stored away. Are you going to do the ironing in your utility room? If so a plug socket for your iron would be necessary above a worktop but what about the luxury of a radio or even a small TV to entertain the hours away while you’re ironing those shirts? A utility room doesn’t have to be a boring space, it needs to feel like a happy place so you’re not completely dreading using the room!
It can be a worthwhile idea to ditch the standard radiator and opt for an alternative. Underfloor heating is no longer a painfully expensive option and can leave you with more wall space for storage if space is tight. It also helps to dry clothing when combined with a pulley drying rack hung from the ceiling. If you do have a standard radiator, add a drying rack directly above it to make the most of the heat output.
If you are embarking on a utility room project, I hope you have found those tips useful!