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Utility Rooms: The Engine of the Home

Whether you’re renovating your home, planning an extension, or designing a new kitchen, it is worth considering a utility room as an addition to your home. As we demand more and more from our kitchens as a multifunctional space, there has been an increasing call for separate utility spaces designed to liberate the kitchen from certain day to day practical functions and tasks.

As non-social spaces, utility rooms & areas are often forgotten or designed as an afterthought. However, when a utility space has been designed with both function and style in mind the space transforms from simply a home for the laundry into a beautiful space, making chores more bearable.

At KCA, many of our kitchen projects include utility rooms. Utilities come in all shapes and sizes and vary depending on the tasks they need to facilitate. In this blog, we delve into the benefits of a utility room and share ideas and considerations to help you to get the most from yours.

 

What is a utility room?

The consensus is that utility rooms act as the engine room of the home, a space for tasks that would otherwise create disruption, mess, and clutter in other areas. By creating a dedicated space for specific tasks, you can restrict clutter to a private area, ensuring that the more social and front-facing rooms look their best. As such, there are no hard and fast rules for how to design your utility room, and your kitchen designer can tailor it to your exact needs.

 

Do utility rooms offer a good return on investment?

Additional square footage means more value in today’s housing market, but only if you use that extra space wisely and a practical utility room ticks many boxes. Although a utility room won’t add the same value as an additional bedroom, the practical use of space and the long-term benefits of having one certainly make a home more appealing.

How to Plan Your Utility Room

When considering your utility room’s design, the process begins by understanding your lifestyle and looking at your home in its entirety. Think of your new utility room as a solution to some of the problems with how your home functions. For instance, any chores or hobbies that take over other areas of the home can be given a dedicated place.

Read on to learn some of the key considerations when designing and planning your utility room.

A Space for Laundry

One of the most popular ways to use a utility room is for laundry. If you don’t have a dedicated laundry space, the washing machine and dryer appliances will be in your kitchen. These noisier appliances can disrupt the atmosphere of your kitchen. As many kitchens today are open plan, the noise of your washing cycle and dryer can interrupt family meals or entertaining friends. What’s more, without a dedicated place to dry your laundry and do the ironing, you will need to temporarily erect the ironing board in the kitchen or another spare room, and your laundry drying rack will most likely occupy a guest bedroom.

At KCA, many of the utility rooms we design relocate the laundry appliances from the kitchen. Aside from the benefits we have already mentioned, this frees up valuable storage space in the kitchen.

An alternative is to create a separate room specifically for laundry in addition to a utility connected to the kitchen. Some people choose to keep their laundry room on the ground floor, usually near the utility and kitchen. For those that use an outdoor washing line, creating direct access to the garden is a must. However, there has been an increase in people positioning their laundry room upstairs in recent years, removing the need to carry laundry up and down the stairs. With a laundry room on the first floor, clothes and bedding can be taken directly from the bedrooms, making it easier and more convenient.

Considerations for your laundry utility space:

  • Storage, storage and more storage! You will require at least one tall cupboard for your hoover, mop and broom (unless these are stored elsewhere). If you have a rechargeable hoover, you might also consider installing power sockets inside the cupboard. Cupboards with adjustable height shelves will make your storage more flexible, while drawers are great for those odd bits and bobs such as lightbulbs, batteries and radiator keys.

  • Open shelving is practical and can make a room feel more spacious. Open shelves can also be a striking design feature by emphasising the room’s utilitarian aesthetic. After all, who doesn’t love seeing open shelving with neatly folded matching towels? Consider open shelving for items that look good on display, such as bed linen and towels, combined with plenty of storage cupboards and drawers for the more unsightly odds and ends.

  • Washing machine/dryer or separate appliances. Having a separate washer and dryer saves time when doing the laundry. If your utility room has a smaller footprint, you could consider arranging the washer and dryer on top of one another. You might also consider positioning your appliances at a higher level, reducing the need to bend down while doing the laundry.
  • A good size sink is essential for handwashing or soaking clothes, washing off muddy boots or other messier DIY tasks that you would prefer not to do in your kitchen.

  • Space for multiple laundry baskets.

  • A permanent home for your ironing board and iron in a place that makes it as easy as possible to use it and put it away each time. Consider where to position your ironing board that will cause the least disruption to the room, and then ensure that there will be power sockets in the appropriate position.

  • A fixed means of drying clothes, such as a hanging drying rack, will prove helpful. The rack could be designed on a pulley to take advantage of additional ceiling height.

  • Laundry and ironing create a lot of heat, so it’s important to consider ventilation to avoid feeling like you’re in a steam room. At least one opening window is preferred to allow good air circulation, and it will also allow natural light to enter, making the space more enjoyable to spend time in.

  • Often a utility will be a compact space that joins directly to other rooms. Whilst the rooms could connect by a doorway opening, having a door will help keep the zones separate, reduce noise and hide mess out of sight. Ensure that your door is hinged the correct way to maximise usable space, or consider a sliding door.
 

A Space for Food Prep

If you love to cook and entertain but want to keep the disruption away from the kitchen, you may wish for a utility space that functions as a prep kitchen. Food prep kitchens support the kitchen, acting as the working space whilst concealing food prep mess, odours and additional kitchen appliances. When designing a prep kitchen, the focus should be on practical design solutions such as counter space, a large sink, extra food storage and tailored kitchen appliances/equipment to meet the cooking needs of the homeowner.

If you like to bake, a pantry within your utility room can house ingredients, equipment and larger worktop appliances. Many of the utility rooms we design for our clients also feature additional refrigeration perfect for storing batch cooked meals, wine and party drinks that would otherwise take up space in the main fridge.

A Home for Your Furry Companions

Utility rooms often end up being a place for your pets. They are perfect for grooming your pet(s) and a space to store their toys and food. If you have dogs, you’ll know the challenge of keeping your home clean, especially in open-plan kitchens that open out onto the garden. For those wet winter months, a utility room with dedicated space for your four-legged friend will help you to avoid muddy paw prints through the kitchen. A utility can also create a peaceful place for your pet to retreat when entertaining or the family noise becomes too much. You may like to consider a cubby underneath your worktop for your dog’s bed, creating a comfortable space for them.

When it comes to grooming, you can often do this in the large utility room sink. However, you might consider a dedicated dog shower. These are usually positioned at a low level to offer easy access. There are many ways that your utility room can become a home for your pets, so be sure to inform your kitchen designer so they can factor this into your design.

Boot Rooms

When planning your utility room, we recommend considering a boot room too. Boot rooms are growing in popularity, offering space to store coats, wellies, sports kits, bags, and equipment. What’s more, with direct access from outside, your family can remove muddy wellingtons or sports kit before walking through the rest of the house – particularly important during the wet English Autumns and Winters.

Boot rooms should feature multiple accessible coat hooks. If you have younger children, it is worth considering installing some hooks at a low level so that they can hang their coats themselves. A bench to sit and comfortably remove shoes is always a welcome addition to a boot room, doubling as a storage bench for shoes or bags. Above your coat hooks, you could install cupboards for hats or other items, or you could keep these exposed on open shelving for easy access.

If space allows, you may consider a separate utility and boot room, keeping laundry and cooking confined to the utility and the messier, outdoorsy elements to the boot room. However, many utility rooms will incorporate all of these elements into one space very successfully. If your utility room serves all of these functions, consider zoning the design to create laundry, boot room and kitchen overflow areas. 

Practicality Doesn’t Mean Compromising on Style

Although your utility room won’t be a front-facing or social space, it will be an incredibly well-used room. Therefore, it is crucial to allow the budget to invest in hard-wearing materials, quality cabinetry and appliances that will withstand heavy daily use.

At KCA, we aim to produce beautiful utility room designs that don’t compromise on style whilst offering all of the necessary functionality and practicality. Your utility room can be designed to complement your kitchen, creating a flow and connection between the spaces to result in a cohesive look and feel. Through thoughtful, stylish design and clever choices of cost-effective and hard-wearing materials, your utility room can be a beautiful space that you enjoy spending time in and will continue to look its best for many years to come.

As you can see, there are so many possibilities when designing a utility, laundry or boot room and we hope that you have enjoyed this brief insight from our designers. If you would like to discuss your project with a designer, please contact our showroom and a member of our team will be delighted to assist you.

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