This small utility room is a masterclass in getting the modern farmhouse look without sacrificing storage

Practical storage has been made effortlessly stylish in this compact utility room makeover

Lisa Dawson utility room with cafe curtain
(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Utility rooms can be tricky to design - you want to include all the practical elements that help your household run smoothly but you don't want it to become an unaesthetic dumping ground for laundry and cleaning products. 

This modern farmhouse utility room makeover is a lesson in prioritising style and making a small utility room idea work in your favour while keeping unsightly clutter hidden from plain sight. 

Knowing how to make the most of a compact space while balancing including essential appliances and stylish accessories is a challenge that interiors blogger and influencer Lisa Dawson welcomed with open arms. This is how she achieved her effortlessly curated utility room, with her own two hands. 

Modern farmhouse utility room makeover

Faced with a utility room that became more of a hindrance to Lisa Dawon's lifestyle than a help, it was time to make it work hard for her family. While utility room storage ideas are essential, she found that too much of it was resulting in much more clutter. 

In a bid to achieve a budget utility room design, Lisa turned to DIY to create her dream modern farmhouse look. 


Lisa Dawson utility room before

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Lisa's utility room before had three levels of open shelving, which although provided plenty of storage space, 'it took no time for them to look messy and cluttered'. Cupboards became a scapegoat for holding onto lots of clutter (out of sight, out of mind, right?) and white appliances were left on show. 

While the pink walls and wallpaper of Lisa's previous design were still right on trend, with three children, the space was no longer working for her family's needs. 

It was time to declutter and find a chic solution for keeping 'stuff' to a minimum.


Lisa's new utility room has a French farmhouse-inspired look, taking style points from traditional kitchen ideas that are loved and lived-in. However, it still has a number of practical storage features to stand up to the needs of her modern family. 

Here's how she achieved the look...

1. Open shelving

Lisa Dawson utility with open shelving and curtain

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Utility room shelving ideas are one of the simplest ways to add storage without overwhelming a typically small room with wall cabinets.

'I had added shelves to the utility room five years ago and whilst they looked good, they were not really suitable for day-to-day life,' says Lisa.

'I took the shelves down, then filled and sanded the wall, repainting in Honest John by Mylands, a soft cream.  I wanted to keep it light as the room has no windows and therefore no natural light bar the open door.  I then reused one of the shelves and rehung it centrally.'

2. Cafe curtain

Lisa Dawson utility room with cafe curtain

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Cafe curtains are one of the biggest kitchen trends for 2024, and while they're most commonly found on windows, swapping cupboard doors for a softer approach will make a utility feel much more homely. 

'There's a fridge, washing machine and tumble dryer in the room and I wanted to hide them, so I found two extendable cafe rods on eBay which were easily screwed into the worktop side, allowing me to add curtains to disguise all the less pretty bits of the room!' Lisa explains. 

'I removed the rest of the cupboard doors so that there would be a clear run of curtains on each side, then used Elmer fabric in Putty from Romo Fabrics.  I went for gingham, firstly because I loved it but secondly, because the pattern style made it easy to work with.' 

No sewing machine? No worries. Lisa didn't have one so she 'cut pieces to size and hemmed them using iron on webbing which worked brilliantly.' Then to attach them, she purchased vintage-style steel curtain clips found on Etsy.

3. Mix and match tiles

Lisa Dawson utility room with Ca Pietra pink tiles

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

 When you're only tiling a small area, in Lisa's case behind the sink, you can justify a more premium tile choice. 

'I wanted to create a small splashback behind the taps, so ordered 21 tiles from Ca Pietra and did it myself,' Lisa says. 'I hadn't tiled before but it was much easier than I thought, especially as it was a small space.' 

Don't be afraid of trying some DIY, especially if it's a small area. It's a simple way of cutting costs by avoiding calling in professionals, and you can easily learn how to grout wall tiles at home. 

4. Antique-inspired dresser unit

Lisa Dawson utility room with walnut dresser unit

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Dresser units lean into a country utility room idea while also adding a huge amount of storage space for seasonal crockery, cookbooks and miscellaneous kitchenware. They're easy to pick up at antique markets or on eBay, and you can restain in a colour of your choice to match your worktop. 

'I sanded down and stained the wooden worktop in English Walnut and bought a dresser top in the sale at LaRedoute which was the perfect fit for the space and perfect storage for crockery, glassware and books,' Lisa explains.  

Styling up the objects inside a dresser unit will make a utility room feel much more curated, but equally, if you're prone to clutter, aiming for an eclectic farmhouse style will look just as chic. 

5. Plenty of accessories

Lisa Dawson shell bowl in utility room

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Now comes the fun part. DIY can be taxing on the body and mind, but the thrill of adding the finishing touches will help you push through the tough parts.

'To finish the room, I accessorised using mainly vintage pieces that I already had, including vintage cheese sieves and artwork,' says Lisa. This is an important lesson in not always needing to buy new - learning how to shop your home will enable you to give rooms a fresh look without blowing your budget. 

'I then added my favourite glug jug from VIlla Bologna to add colour and to tie in with the God Loves A Trier artwork which I found at Clerk Ink Well.'

Lisa Dawson utility room with plates hanging on wall

(Image credit: Lisa Dawson)

Lisa continues, 'I rehung plates from Margo In Margate and a ceramic platter from Harlie Brown Studios to add interest to the walls.' 

'A spindle stool from John Lewis, a large laundry basket from Sunday & Story and a jute rug from JYSK completed the look. Plus, a lamp from Abigail Ahern for an essential utility room lighting idea. Job done!'  

Get the look

Inspired to give your own utility room a much needed revamp? Lisa's makeover is a lesson in getting stuck in and doing it yourself - no expertise is required to create a stylish, farmhouse-inspired design. 

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).