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Is a Utility Room Worthwhile?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Utility Room Washing Machine Tumble

If you're trying to make a large, modern open plan combined kitchen and living room, perhaps while you're extending, it doesn't quite make sense to lose any of that space to a utility room. Or does it?

What is a Utility Room?

Let's decide what a utility room is and what goes into it first. There are no hard and fast rules, of course, but generally it's things to do with cleaning and laundry.

Often a utility room is used as overflow storage for boots and other outdoor clothing. If you have a growing family, a few hooks in the hall soon get overloaded. Then there are all those other items that don't quite seem to fit in anywhere else.

Open Plan Versus Stashing it all Away

The problem with an open plan design is that you have to find places to hide the things that you don't particularly want on display. There's also a potential noise nuisance from a noisy washing machine or tumble dryer going in the background.

If you've gone the whole hog and made downstairs one huge room, then you won't want that interfering with your surround sound cinema experience on your 52" plasma TV.

Containing Muck

Then there's the mess too. If you have a utility room that acts as a barrier between the back door and the open plan family room then some of the muck and dirt can be contained. Mucky wellies can be taken off and left out on newspaper, wet coats can be hung out to dry. All without disturbing the harmony of the living area.

The same applies to football kit and others kids sporting gear. They come in the back door, you strip them off, get the dirty clothes straight in the washing machine, then send the kids off to get cleaned up and changed.

In fact that's one of the reasons that downstairs shower rooms have gained in popularity, because you can clean the children up too. If you've got the room, a utility room and downstairs shower can become a godsend to hardworking parents with active kids.

Planning for a Utility Room

So if you decide that you should stick with a utility room, what should go in it? Plumbing and electricity for the washing machine and tumble drier, if you have one, for a start. That means getting hot and cold water and waste pipes into the room so you might as well put a sink in too.

A sink can be a boon for cleaning football boots and other mucky items that would cause too much of a mess in the proper kitchen. If this is part of a larger building or extension project then take the opportunity to install an outside tap as well, if the wall comes out to the side or the back of the house.

Storage in a Utility Room

Storage is a must. Install racks, shelving or cupboards, depending on your preference. Remember to have at least one cupboard that's quite tall. This will take the mops, brooms and other long household cleaning equipment, upright vacuum cleaners, for example.

Use the whole height of the room, installing shelves or cupboards right to the top, and put less frequently used items at the higher levels. If these are hard to reach, get a small stepladder or hop-up. Consider a clothes rail too. It can be used to store coats and also to air dry washing that you don't want to put in the tumble dryer. A collapsible clothes horse is good for that too.

What if I Don't Want One?

A utility room is very useful but it's not a must. If you can't put one in, or if you don't want to lose the space, it's not a problem. Just remember all the things that a utility room can cope with when you are planning your kitchen and work with them.

Allocate space for the cleaning and laundry items when you're planning the kitchen layout. Make sure you have cabinets that are large enough for cleaning equipment. And make sure that the washing machine and tumble dryer are as far away along a run of kitchen cabinets as possible.

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