Utility room design – ideas on how to organise your laundry space

Expert tips for planning the perfect utility room for any size space
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  • Utility rooms, like pantries, have become a highly desirable room for today’s home. No longer a space to be hidden away, out of sight in shame, highly functional utility room designs are being celebrated – becoming somewhat of a home status symbol.

    With the rise of cleaning influencers, such as Mrs Hinch, and tidy enthusiasts, such as Marie Kondo, more and more of us are beginning to display our household products with a sense of pride in pretty pantry and utility spaces. Research by kitchen specialists Harvey Jones reveals two thirds of Brits, 68 per cent, do not have a utility room in their house but all wish they did.

    See all our utility room ideas for inspiration to suit your 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.

    Read on to share in our top tips for designing and organising your utility room, whatever the size and shape of your space…

    Utility room design – things to consider

    utility room with flower stickers on the washing machine

    Image credit: Sussie Bell

    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.

    2. Plumb in a sink

    utility room design with sink

    Image credit: Harvey Jones

    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

    white utility room design

    Image credit: Neptune – Chichester Utility room design

    ‘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.’

    Related: Small utility room ideas to organise compact laundry rooms and tiny kitchen areas

    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, Harvey Jones Senior Kitchen Designer.

    ‘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.’

    small utility room

    Image credit: Harvey Jones – Shaker Kitchen

    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 Williams at 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.’

    Pink utility room design

    Image credit: Harvey Jones – Linear range

    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, due to the endless varying factors that will impact the cost’ Rhian advises.

    ‘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’ says Rhian. ‘ Give yourself the ability to add to it as life changes and develops.’

    How can you create a utility room on a budget?

    utility room behind cupboards

    Image credit: Tom Meadows

    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’.

    Related: Utility room shelving ideas – organise your laundry room supplies with chic shelf solutions

    ‘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’.

    How will you be using your dream utility room design?

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