How to design a useful utility room

Cassie Pryce

Get the most out of this often compact space with our round-up of practical tips and tricks for designing your utility room

Smart storage

While it’s important to make sure your utility area looks the part, this room of the house primarily serves a practical function and its design should be carefully considered to ensure it works for day-to-day living. 

Raw scaffold shelf, £65; shoe shine box, £30; washing tablets box, £18; first aid box, £30; wash up tidy, £16; long handle dustpan and brush, £25, all Garden Trading

Whatever the size of your room, you’ll want to start off by working out how to incorporate the maximum amount of storage into, what is often, a limited amount of space. This might be in the form of kitchen units, either floor or wall-mounted or a mixture of the two, open shelves or hanging space if you plan to use this room for drying clothes or as a cloakroom. 

Open-shelving offers a pretty alternative to bulky cupboards and is ideal for fitting neatly into wasted wall space but bear in mind the shelves can look messy if used to store unsightly cleaning products.

If you’re installing a new kitchen at the same time as kitting-out your utility room, keep costs down by re-using your old kitchen units in the utility space rather than splashing out on brand new cabinetry.

Rustic blue reclaimed wood-effect tiles, £19.95 per square metre, Walls & Floors

 

Practical finishes

As this room will be used for everyday tasks including laundry, washing up and cleaning, it’s important to choose fixtures and fittings that can withstand this type of wear-and-tear. Avoid wood flooring in this part of the house, as it will inevitably become water-damaged over time—vinyl, tiles or laminate are better options for this space or, if you have your heart set on wood, opt for wood-effect tiles for a water-tight alternative without the hassle. 

Farringdon umbrella stand, £65; Aldsworth welly bench, £260; Farringdon boot jack, £15; Aldsworth seat pad, £35, all Garden Trading

Similarly, wood worksurfaces are an impractical choice for this part of the house, as they can be prone to damp and require regular oiling to keep in good condition; a durable and more stain-resistant surface is preferable. Remember to protect the walls behind your utility room sink with a splashback, too.

 

Size matters

For most of us, the utility room is often a cramped space yet it has to house bulky items including washing machines and dryers. Fitting everything into this awkward space can be a challenge so look for clever way to solve this puzzle. 

Chevron wall white matt tiles, £53 per square metre; London Chelsea décor tiles, £54 per square metre, both The Baked Tile Co

Stacking your appliances on top of one another is a popular option if you’re short on space, but remember you’ll need to use a stacking kit to safely install these heavy products. A wall-mounted ironing board is another savvy idea if you have limited floor space in the utility room and nowhere to store an awkward regular board—it simply pulls up from the wall and pushes back down when you’re finished. Some designs are also suitable for mounting to the back of the door if your wall space is already filled with cupboards.

Bosse coat rack, £299.99, MY Furniture

Multi-tasking space 

When a larger utility room is doubled-up as a boot or cloakroom, it’s even more important to choose the right storage and layout for the room to maximise its potential and stop it from becoming a general dumping ground for the family. 

Housekeepers lambswool duster, £6.99; feather duster, £7; grey storage tin, £15; seagrass storage baskets, from £6; zen stripe tea towels, £6.50 for three, all Dunelm

Storage for shoes and coats should be grouped together and kept separate from the sink and appliances in the room as much as possible to create a divide within the space. A tall unit with a bench, cubby-holes and hooks is ideal for keeping boots and jackets in their correct place and help stop them spilling over onto worksurfaces in the rest of the room. 

If your utility area is also functioning as a bedroom for pets, make sure there is space for a large enough bed in a spot that is ideally tucked away and not positioned next to a noisy appliance that will cause vibrations and disturbance to napping dogs or cats.