There are few things more satisfying than creating a perfectly organised space to turn even the most mundane tasks into something delightful. Utility room design is the perfect example of this. Instead of a messy space, hiding away clutter, when done correctly it can become something rather beautiful.
When planning your utility room ideas, there are options to suit every style and size. They’ve become something of a home status symbol recently and are one of the trends than can bring ease and functionality to your everyday life.
‘We’ve noticed a shift in the number of homeowners looking for a bespoke utility room solution,’ says Alex Main, Director, The Main Company. ‘Often an extension of the kitchen or living space, utility rooms provide an ideal storage space, perfect for busy families or homeowners with pets who need custom-built storage to meet their needs. Hooks, cupboards, shelving and a second sink can all be added into the design to create a truly unique space.’
Utility rooms by their very nature are home to a vast number of items – washing equipment, cleaning products, boot racks… the list is endless. So while an organised and uncluttered utility room might seem like an impossible dream, there are easy ways to keep the space tidy and usable. A well designed utility room helps out with everyday chores, declutters kitchens and helps with hygiene.
Utility room design
Discover how to create the perfect laundry space in your room with advice from the experts.
What is a good size for a utility room?
The size of your utility room is, of course, dictated by what space you have available. Luckily, there are solutions to create laundry rooms in a vast array of shapes and sizes. ‘An experienced kitchen designer will be able to incorporate a utility room or area into whatever space is available,’ advises Richard Moore, Design Director, Martin Moore. ‘Whether it’s combining several small rooms to create one large utility, or putting up a partition wall or sectioning off a corner of a room to create a dedicated new space.’
To work out what size of utility room design is best for your home, it’s important to consider your needs. Think about what you actually are planning on using the space for, and what you need to fit in the room.
‘If it’s solely for laundry purposes with minimal storage, you won’t need much space and can function perfectly fine with a room that’s approximately 1.9m long by 1.6m wide,’ says Darren Watts, Design Director, Wren Kitchens. ‘If you have furry friends or children, however, and would like room for additional amenities such as an indoor pet shower, along with additional storage for bits and bobs, you’d want a room which is 3 metres by 3 metres which allows for more freedom to move around.’
How do I get the most of a small utility room?
Laundry rooms can work just well regardless of size. Small utility room ideas do require you to be a little more creative with your planning, but a practical and stylish space can still be achieved. The key thing is to assess you space and find, or create solutions which make the most of what you have.
Start with the largest items that you want to include. ‘Bulky appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers often take up a considerable amount of space,’ says Tom Howley, Design Director, Tom Howley Kitchens. ‘Moving them to a dedicated full-height cabinet allows you to hide them out of sight when not in use. Stacking them vertically also frees up valuable floor space and makes it easier for you to load washing.’
Storage will make all the difference, too. ‘Take the time to consider not only how you will use the space but importantly, what will need to be stored,’ advises Richard from Martin Moore. ‘This will allow you to incorporate clever storage solutions and include only what you need within the space. A combination of deep and shallow drawers and open shelving is usually the best way maximise the space available. Plinth drawers, double-layered drawers, corner solutions and other, modern space saving mechanisms, are all possibilities worth exploring and exploiting.’
How do you organise a utility room?
How you organise your utility room design depends on what you’re looking to include. Typically, you’ll want to integrate a washing machine, tumble dryer, sink, clothes airer and plenty of storage.
‘Organising a utility room is an easy and fun task,’ says Darren from Wren Kitchens. ‘Firstly, make sure your washing and drying machines are close together, so it’s easy to move from one to the other. Place your cleaning products in caddies to make your space feels and look more organised. Install adjustable shelving above your laundry units such as a drying rack so you can easily place your clean clothes to dry in a tidy area. Finally, having easy-access open shelving for décor purposes and for any items you use frequently in your utility room will make the space look and feel homely and cosy.’
‘Consider including as much clever storage as possible for an organised utility room,’ adds Graeme Smith, Head of Retail & Commercial Design, Life Kitchens. Tandem larder or pull-out larder is a must for an overflow of dry food items as they bring the contents of the cupboard out to you, allowing you to see what you have inside and be able to easily reach items quickly.’
Does a utility room need a window?
One thing which you may not have considered in terms of utility room design is whether or not you need to have a space with a window.
‘Utility rooms don’t need a window, but it’s ideal to help with ventilation in the room if you don’t have access to a vent,’ advises Darren from Wren Kitchens. ‘A window also allows natural light into a room which, if your pet lives in this room, would be something that would be beneficial to them. Alternatively, without a window, you can keep your utility room door propped open to allow both ventilation and light into the space.’
‘Having a window in any room is always beneficial for the natural light and fresh air, however it is not necessary in a utility room,’ agrees Ann Marie Cousins, Founder, AMC Design. ‘If your utility room is a smaller space, hanging a mirror on the wall will give the feeling of depth.’
How do you build a utility room?
If you’re creating a utility area off the kitchen, what are the main things to consider in terms of access? ‘It sounds incredibly obvious but consider the door opening’ says Rhian Williams, Senior Kitchen Designer, Harvey Jones.
‘Will it impede either working space? Will it improve access and ergonomics to swap the hinge on the door to the other side? Open the door out of the room or into it? Do you need a door? Simple “easy fix” suggestions that can significantly improve how the two rooms work together.’
What are the most common design mistakes when designing a utility room?
‘The biggest design crime committed with utility rooms is that they are considered last. Poor things!’ exclaims Rhian from Harvey Jones. ‘Typically, they are behind a closed door and are considered a necessary yet secondary “overflow” to the kitchen. It is tempting and common to mis-proportion a project’s budget and spend as little as possible on the utility room.’
‘This usually translates to an inferior work surface and fewer cupboards. In a space that takes the most abuse and needs to squirrel away all the bits and bobs. My advice is to invest in a hard-wearing work surface that can handle muddy boots and paint splatters. And ensure your utility room has enough versatile storage.’
Don’t compromise on storage. Give yourself as many units as possible to hold everything you need. A utility room will often store items you don’t use on a day to day basis, so you can afford to have cupboards where items sit at the back until they are needed.
How much does a utility room cost to build?
As a minimum, what should you budget for a new utility room if you’re starting from scratch e.g. no plumbing/electrics/heating? ‘It is always sensible to get a minimum of three quotations for creating a new utility space,’ advises Rhian from Harvey Jones. ‘This is due to the endless varying factors that will impact the cost.’
‘If services need to be bought into the room this could be incredibly straight forward, or costly, depending on the property. The best practice is to design the space as accurately as possible before you obtain your quotations. This will in turn enable tradespeople to provide an accurate quotation and negate any unexpected extras. They will also be better equipped to make suggestions or problem solve (where relevant) with a good understanding of your needs and requirements!’
‘If you are worried about overloading the space, or budget is tight, then simply design it to be future-proof,’ adds Rhian. ‘Give yourself the ability to add to it as life changes and develops.’
How can you create a utility room on a budget?
If you intend to keep your utility room hidden from sight you can save money on the cabinetry. Don’t go for a bespoke, more expensive design like that of your kitchen – you could try sourcing a second hand solution. Or simply go without cabinets and opt for open-plan shelving instead.
If your home doesn’t have space to dedicate a whole room you could try to emulate the look with smart storage – saving money in the process. Kitchen designer Matt Baker suggests ways to make your small space feel more generous and like that of a utility room.
‘Box shelving is a great way to open up a space without overwhelming the room’ Matt explains. ‘If the space is small covering the walls in cabinets can make a room feel cramped and full of shadows’. Considered utility room shelving ideas help to organise your laundry room supplies.
‘There is an opportunity to go for tall appliance housings to stack units such as washing machines or dryers,’ he suggests. ‘Leaving the rest of the room clear for practical storage solutions such as double base cabinets or coat hooks’.
If, for whatever reason, you can’t have a tumble dryer in your utility room, then it would be a smart idea to opt for a heated clothes airer instead. This will help your wet clothes dry faster, and some options are nice and compact to make for more storage space in your utility.
Where do I start with utility room design?
Considered the engine room of the home utility rooms, whether used as boot or laundry rooms, have become invaluable in keeping homes organised.
Before you start planning you need to decide on the main function of the room. Think what you’ll be using your utility room for and work backwards. Is it going to be a laundry? Perhaps an overspill area for the kitchen or even a boot room? Each room will differ a little different in its makeup, so it’s important to make the call on the purpose before you start designing.
1. Plan appropriate storage
Design a utility room layout with as much thought and consideration as you would when designing a kitchen. Plan your storage solutions around how you use the room. A laundry room will need plenty of surface space to leave washing, both clean and dirty. While a boot room will need direct access to the garden and plentiful coat and shoe storage built in. Tall cupboards are the order of the day in general utilities to store items such as mops, vacuum cleaners and ironing boards.
If you don’t plan the space well you’ll end up with a messy room full of items that you don’t have a home for. Thoughtful planning is even more essential to make the most of a small utility room idea.
2. Plumb in a sink
Whatever purpose you decide on, do plan in a sink. Useful for hand washing, doing extra washing up after entertaining, flower arranging or simply washing muddy wellington boots – a utility sink has many functions. You’ll never be sorry for having a sink put into this versatile space.
3. Consider the aesthetic
‘One way to add a little more style to your utility room could be to consider colour and lighting,’ advises Amber Greenman, Home Designer at Neptune. ‘As it is often a smaller space, the more light the better.’
‘Our Chichester cabinets in Snow for example, paired with the Somerton laundry baskets, creates a stylish and homely space for cleaning up. It also provides plenty of storage space for keeping organised.’ Choose vertical storage to make the most of a narrow utility room idea.