Now British homeowners are 100% behind the idea of a second toilet, it was only a matter of time before the utility room popped onto the radar. OK, they have been a staple of every new build family home for a few decades, but there are still millions of homes in the UK built before the Great Utility Enlightenment of the 1980s.
One thing homeowners quickly realize when they convert a room into a utility area is that space becomes a little more pressed. We thought it would be a good idea to have a few FAQs to address space usage along with some super utility room ideas.
Is a Utility Room a Good Idea?
A utility room is a very good idea, especially in comparison to having a washing machine and tumble dryer in the kitchen. Not only are you keeping dirty clothes away from your work surfaces where you’re prepping food, you’re also freeing up space for extra storage, kitchen appliances and decoration.
Once you’ve got a dedicated laundry space, you’ll find your kitchen seems to grow now it’s free of temporary laundry baskets and cleaning products, as well as the machinery that goes with it. If you’re minimizing your tumble dryer usage for environmental reasons, you can use the floor space in the utility room for storage, so all your washing and drying is out of sight, if not out of mind.
How Do I Get the Most of a Small Utility Room?
The surest way to maximize space in a small utility room is to think in 3D. That means using the wall space for open shelving, and perhaps hanging a pulley-operated drying rack from the ceiling. It’s not a room you’ll spend much time in, so you need few creature comforts.
If the room is really small, that is, with just enough room for the washing machine door to open, you’ll probably have to think about using another room for air drying clothes. It’s one thing to squeeze more space out of it, but it shouldn’t be a struggle. Get a light ironing board that you can easily move into another room to tackle the pile rather than doing the task in the utility room.
How Do I Organize My Utility Room?
Your room design should always be focused on what you’re planning to use it for – nothing more, nothing less. If it’s going to double as a boot room, design it around the laundry and the boot rack, with anything else a bonus.
It’s always handy to look up laundry room ideas online too; Pinterest and Instagram are full of ingenious storage ideas and clever hacks. There’s bound to be something you’ve overlooked, and you might see uses for the room that you’d never thought of, whether it's something aesthetic or a splendid space-saving solution.
What Should Be Kept in a Utility Room?
Utility rooms are notorious for becoming dumping grounds for household clutter, but too much of it can take away the main purpose of the room: utility. You need discipline here, but setting a rule that only laundry-related paraphernalia is allowed in the room certainly helps.
If you are planning to combine the utility room with storage, make sure that secondary use is planned in advance, and include custom storage units, pegs and shelves to accommodate it. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your laundry activities, you’ll be happy. It would be a shame to waste space, after all, but the golden rule is that storage itself needs to be accessible and organized, so make sure you’ve got all the appropriate furniture for the task.
Does a Utility Room Add Value to a Property?
In most cases, a dedicated utility room will add value to a property, just like an extension, loft conversion or conservatory will. When people are looking for homes, they will visualize their lifestyle in the property, and anything that makes life easier will make it more attractive.
There are occasions when this might not be the case, however. A badly designed utility room that has been built into a property can actually detract from the value. Potential buyers might reasonably wonder if it’s totally necessary, and plan to remove it as a priority. They will, of course, weigh up the cost of doing that, and might see it as grounds for a lower offer.
It’s particularly important in smaller properties, which is what the majority of the UK’s dwellings are – terraces, small semis, and flats. If you’re planning a utility room project in a smaller home, just make sure it’s no bigger than it needs to be and that all the plumbing is logically placed – no loose water pipes running from the kitchen, please.
What Is the Smallest Size for a Utility Room?
Some people successfully create a utility room under the stairs, either by stacking the washer and the dryer, buying a combo washer/dryer or not having a dryer at all. That way, it can literally be as small as about 80cm wide and 2m deep.
It’s debatable, of course, whether that would technically count as a utility room, or a utility cupboard. For most people, a utility room isn’t just a place for the washing machine. It’s where you throw your worn clothes and do the drying, ironing, folding, and hand washing too. The more tasks you plan to do in there, the bigger it will have to be. Work surfaces for folding can take up a lot of floor space, for example, and an ironing board will easily need a 2×1m rectangle of floor space if it’s to be practicable.
A Host of Benefits – If You Use the Space Well
From separating food and washing to giving your property a valuation boost, the humble utility room serves a number of purposes beyond simply having a space to wash. If you’ve got the space, it can become a general storage room alongside your laundry needs, but pared down to its absolute minimum, you can keep it strictly for the washer and dryer.
Now all you need to do is make sure it’s actually usable by filling it with all the accouterments of a happy laundry life. And there’s no reason to scrimp on style just because it has “utility” in the name. Keep it looking fresh and being totally functional by filling it with the essentials of utility chic like drainers, dryers, ladders, and designer storage. With a splash of personality, you can make a utility room into a youtility room.