A utility room really is a necessity for most people — even if they don’t know it yet. This is a room where all the noisy, messy and smelly stuff can be kept and is even more vital for households with pets and children — particularly those located in the countryside.

A well-planned utility room should provide somewhere to house the washing machine and tumble dryer if you have one, a cleaning cupboard, some work surface, space for pet food bowls and storage for muddy boots and shoes. Pegs for outdoor clothing are useful too and, if space allows, a big sink for washing items you don’t necessarily want mixing with kitchen items — such as clothing, pet accessories etc.

Tiled utility room with large sink

Use practical materials within the utility room, such as laminate worktops, wall tiles and a hard floor covering. Image: The Baked Tile Co. 

Where is the Best Location?

Utility rooms are noisy places when in full swing. For this reason, locating them away from your relaxation and dining spaces, and not directly beneath nurseries or children’s bedrooms, makes sense.

If you can’t avoid placing the utility room near bedrooms and living spaces, opt for noise-reducing appliances. If you have a cellar or basement, these make ideal spots for locating utility rooms.

Entering the utility room through the back door is really useful, providing an easy space in which to shed coats and shoes and to towel off wet dogs and children.

Utility room with fitted units

Including space for units, shelving, a large sink and appliances within your utility room is important. Image: Bath Bespoke

A Designer’s View

Darren Bray: “They’re becoming mini kitchens”
Darren Bray is associate director of award-winning practice PAD Studio

Darren Bray of PAD Studio

The contemporary utility room is one of the key main spaces of any new home; it can be seen as the workhorse of a house.

With the kitchen becoming an ever-more minimal space, the utility is now more of a kitchen overflow. Many of the recent utility rooms we have designed are sited directly behind kitchens, so that you can reduce kitchen cupboards and storage in the kitchen and replace them simply with streamline base units beneath worktops.

It is key that these spaces have plenty of cupboards, preparation areas and general storage. Include good natural daylight and access to the outside areas too, where practical.

Planning the Layout

Plan the space out properly. You will need to make sure you have a hot and cold water supply and waste for the sink and washing machine.

You also need to bear in mind that if you have a vented tumble dryer you will need somewhere for it to vent to. If you do not have windows to the exterior, plan in an extractor to reduce moisture when air-drying clothes too.

What Appliances Should be Included?

Work out how much space you’ll need for the room to function well. In general, washing machines need around 920mm of space in front for loading and unloading.

Most washing machines measure 600x540mm deep and tend to be around 850mm high — give or take a few metres here and there. If you are short on floor space, stacking a washing machine and dryer is a good idea.

Design in Practicality

Choose a deep, sturdy sink capable of washing off muddy boots and pet bowls, opt for tiled, vinyl, rubber or engineered timber floors that are easy to mop, and low-maintenance worksurfaces that will withstand spills. If you have children, also make sure you include a lockable cupboard for chemical-based cleaners.

Give thought to shelving and units and try to squeeze in some space for drying clothes — a pulley-style dryer that can be hoisted to the ceiling is a good option for those limited on floor space.

IKEA Utility Room

Utility room by Ikea

A Designer’s View

Tony Holt: “Think carefully on location”
Tony Holt is an architectural designer and chartered architectural technologist, specialising in bespoke property design

Do you want a utility room or a laundry room? This is what I normally ask my clients before deciding on where this room should be located. A utility room is often thought of as an extension of the kitchen, while many of my clients opt to have a laundry room on the first floor, which would be for washing and drying clothes and also contain storage areas for linen.

I often ask the question: ‘why would you take your dirty laundry downstairs to wash, dry and iron, just to take it back upstairs?’ If, however, the household routine needs to allow for drying clothes outside then the best place for the laundry room tends to be on the ground floor.

When it comes to locating the laundry room next to the kitchen, it does make sense to centralise drainage and water supply, but usually the connecting door between the kitchen and utility room breaks the worktop and creates unnecessary circulation.

As the utility room is not classed as a habitable room, there is no requirement for openable windows.

Main Image: Hand-crafted cabinetry in limewood by Barnes of Ashburton

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