Small laundry room ideas – create a hardworking space for laundry

All it takes is careful planning and a stylish look to make sure small is both beautiful and practical

White utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer and open shelving
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Fed up of having laundry scattered around your home – from the ironing pile to clothes drying on radiators? Perhaps it’s time to find a dedicated laundry hub, however small. Trust us, you’ll soon wonder how you managed without one. Laundry rooms (or utility room ideas if it's used for more than just laundry) are becoming hot property, but if you need small laundry room ideas, panic not, there’s still plenty you can achieve.

Even the smallest laundry room can be functional, smart and efficient, helping you banish those washday blues. Many of our suggestions are easy DIY small laundry room ideas – from making a cute curtain to conceal your washing machine to easy panelling. Think about where you’ll store your laundry kit, with baskets, clothes pegs, ironing board and airers all stowed neatly out of sight (and if they are on show, make them part of the look).

Small laundry room ideas

‘If you can separate a utility or laundry room from your open-plan kitchen space, then it will prove invaluable. It doesn’t need to be very big – even just one metre deep will be enough – just a space where you can do the washing and shove the toys etc when people call round!’ says Kunle Barker, property expert.

When looking for small laundry room ideas, thinking creatively with the space you have – even something as simple as a pulley airer might transform your laundry space, while stacking appliances is a great space-saver. 

1. Go for a utility cupboard

Washing machine and tumble dryer stacked in a cupboard in a white kitchen diner

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Merewether)

No space for a separate laundry room idea – what about a laundry cupboard? Stack your appliances on top of each other, either on a special stacking shelf or on a separate unit shelf. Allow for a shelf for your laundry detergents too. 

In really tight spaces, try two smaller doors that meet in the centre to conceal this brilliant small laundry room idea, rather than a single one.

2. Create space to sort clothes

White utility room with washing machine and tumble dryer and open shelving

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Even a simple worktop above your white goods can help create a more practical laundry area, providing space to sort and fold clothes as they come out of the tumble dryer or off the washing line. Add a bookend, that’s the end of worktop that meets the floor, giving a neat, contained finish.

Make use of wall space above your appliances with built-in shelving. Try mixing open and closed shelves for a great utility room storage idea, making it easy to grab those everyday essentials.

3. Go up high

small cream utility room with black worktop and ceiling mounted clothes airer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Clive Doyle)

Fed up of constantly tripping over the clothes airer in a small laundry room or kitchen? Why not go for a traditional pulley clothes airer, which can be fixed to the ceiling of even the smallest kitchen or laundry room? One lends a lovely modern country feel too when looking at options for your utility room design

Hang up clothes on coat hangers to dry from your airer and you’ll reduce the amount of ironing needed, while opening a window slightly will help reduce that ‘damp washing’ smell.

4. Make it work for a family home

Small cream laundry room with stacked washing machine and tumble dryer

(Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith)

Busy family homes will really benefit from a laundry or utility room – a place for washing and appliances, but also where anything messy can be dealt with, such as sports kit and arts and crafts. Think about what else you need from the space when planning your utility room design.

If you have space, opt for a sink and drainer for dealing with such activities, while appliances stack free up under-the-unit space for more storage. In a small-but-busy laundry room, choose a practical utility room flooring idea, such as rubber. 

5. Hide behind a curtain

Wooden worktop with washing machine underneath, and a patterned curtain instead of a door

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you haven’t got integrated appliances in your laundry room, then try concealing with a fun fabric curtain. This is a great budget utility room idea. Thread onto net curtain wire, which can be hooked to the wall at either end of your worktop run. It’s an easy way of adding colour to a utility room too, especially if you pick out a colour from your fabric design for the walls.

In a small laundry room, make storage fun with brightly coloured baskets for laundry, pegs and your bottles of washing detergent, making it quick to tidy up and keep any worktop space clear.

6. Create an organisation station

Black hanging rails used to hang kitchen items and baskets for organising

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

In a small laundry room, make use of the wall space to organised essentials. Hanging baskets and tubs will keep those smaller bits and pieces – like clothes pegs, dog-walking kit – neat and to hand.

Why not use the back of the door into your laundry room for storage? Hooks are a small utility room’s best friend!

7. Inject a sense of style

Dark grey kitchen units with belfast sink and wall panelling with peg rail shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Just because it’s a small, practical space, a laundry room can still be stylish. Laundry and utility rooms appear high on people’s wish list – utility rooms often adding value. For a modern utility room idea try painting units a dark colour, with a statement wallpaper and tongue and grove panelling. A jute rug is a great solution for a utility room floor idea, as it will help trap dirt while adding warmth.

Shaker-style peg rail provides space for those every-day essentials, such as scrubbing brushes, while adding to the practical, utilitarian vibe.

8. Go for white

Doorway through to a white utility room with white washing machine

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Splashed out on your dream kitchen? If you haven’t the funds to continue the look into your laundry room, then keep units to basic white. This will help increase the sense of space in a small utility room idea

When planning your utility room design, go high with wall units, making the most of available space, while those lesser-used countertop appliances can find a home on your laundry room worktop, helping to keep your kitchen clutter-free.

9. Use under the stairs

Understairs cupboard with washing machine

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Provided you have plumbing in place, the space under your stairs can make a compact yet practical laundry room. Ask a joiner to make a cupboard where you can conceal your washing machine, with space in neighbouring cupboards used for your ironing board and clothes airer.

Choose pretty essentials that look stylish when in use, such as a ticking stripe laundry bag, an old-fashioned wooden clothes airer and a pastel-coloured ironing board – they’ll look good if left out if visitors call unexpectedly.

10. Create a laundry shelfie

Open airing cupboard with labelled laundry baskets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

No room for a dedicated laundry room? What about a laundry, utility – or airing – shelfie set? A few floating shelves will give you space to store your spare linens and sort through the folding pile. Keep a stool close by where you can fold to your inner Marie Kondo’s content.

Label two laundry bins – one for darks and one for lights – making washday easier.

What’s the smallest a laundry room can be?

‘Laundry rooms come in all shapes and sizes, but you’d be amazed at how compact a laundry can be if needed. Ideally, a laundry room should be a minimum of 1.8m x 2m,’ says Al Bruce, Founder of Olive & Barr. ‘Providing there’s enough space to move freely, with a washing machine, sink area and worktop space, you’re all set.’

‘The core items required in a laundry room are a washing machine and a dryer along with a space for stowing away detergents,’ says Jo Jackson, market product manager UK & Ireland at Fisher & Paykel. ‘Try sourcing appliances from the same brand as a washing machine and tumble dryer can be configured to stack on one another utilising even less space in city-dwelling apartments.’

How do you maximise space in a small laundry room?

‘Maximise available space by stacking the dryer on top of the washer,’ says Jo. ‘Another design tricks includes installing a pocket door rather than one that needs to swing into the room.’ Jo also says to look at bespoke: ‘Having custom-built cupboards, allows you to create cabinets that are tailored to your needs, while floor-to-ceiling units give you ample amount of storage,’ says Jo.

Make use of the walls, with shelves and peg rails where you can’t fit in wall units, while baskets and tubs are a small laundry room’s best friend.

Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is an award-winning editor, writer and stylist, with over 25 years’ experience writing, styling and editing home interest magazines. Jennifer was the deputy editor of Ideal Home from 2008-2010, before launching Ideal Home’s sister title, Style at Home in 2010. Jennifer went on to launch several craft magazines and websites, before going freelance in 2016, with a client list that includes John Lewis, Dunlem and Nordic House. Today, she writes for Ideal Home, Real Homes, Waitrose, Woman & Home, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Homes & Gardens. But it was during lockdown that Jennifer realised her dream of publishing her own magazine – Simply Scandi.