I visited a site recently where the rooms in the house were really starting to take shape and despite the wonderful extension and additional space created, the one room my client was most happy about was the 2m x 2m utility room.
This might bring a smile to your face but do not underestimate the importance of this room in a home, and I say home rather than house as it is the simple and practical things like having a space to hang washing when it’s raining or a place for the children to leave their boots and sports bags that means you are happy in your house rather than totally addled by clutter and stuff.
I’ve seen every kind of situation in homes, from washing machines in wardrobes in a master bedroom, to fridges under the stairs. This kind of thing can make day to day living incredibly difficult. But with some clever thought and a little rearranging there is often a better solution.
When I moved into my own house there was a galley style kitchen; off that there was a lobby leading to the garage. The kitchen had very poor storage and the fridge was kept under the stairs. The lobby space was totally unutilised so I turned this into a utility space creating space to take a full height fridge and provide additional storage for the kitchen. This freed up the space under the stairs which gave me a place to store the hoover, mop and create a space where the children could hang their coats and schoolbags. Without extending or reconfiguring I had almost doubled my storage capacity in this area of the house and most importantly created designated storage spaces, which are so much more valuable than general store cupboards that inevitably become a dumping ground – making it impossible to find anything.
Sometimes there is not enough space in a house to create a designated utility room – but think about stealing some space from elsewhere, like the garden. We extended a house of a family where we created a utility zone or shed to the side of the garden adjoining the house. The utility shed was formed from cedar cladding to look like a fence so that it blended with the garden and became a feature rather than an eye sore. This space provided enough room to take a washer and dryer and gave ample space to hang out clothes.
If you have the luxury of choosing where your utility room is going to go, think carefully about its location. It should be easily accessed off the kitchen and if possible have access to the outside, either from the rear or side passage if you have one. This is very handy for dealing with washing and bins. We renovated a house that did not have a side passage so opted to place the utility room at the end of the kitchen area to give access from it to the garden. Its location in this area worked to help separate the kitchen from the dining area there by defining the different zones within the room.
In another house there was a very large utility but no space to hang coats so we stole some pace from the utility to create a series of full height cupboards which could be accessed from outside the utility room giving plenty of much needed coat and bag storage for this family of six.