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All Hail The Utility Room

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

Almost at the very top of my “must have” list when searching for our forever family home was a utility room. Or at least the ability to create one fairly sharpish in whichever house we decided to purchase.

Yes this is a post about a utility room. And later on in this post I’m going to be asking you about brands of washing machine – seriously, I am the most fascinating blogger to ever grace the internet. And you all missed out if you didn’t see my post on bins over on Rock My Family last year…

In our previous property, an Edwardian semi, we had a large “cupboard” of sorts, it housed a washing machine and we put up shelves which provided storage for exciting and sexy items like the iron. And my vanish stain removal stick. There was no room for hanging clothes to dry due to the boiler on the wall and the door which opened into the downstairs loo.

Once Mabel was born, the whole washing/drying thing drove both my husband and I bonkers. There just seemed to be dirty laundry or clean/un-ironed garments in every room. Either piled up or semi-sorted out or just flung in a corner due to the sleep deprivation and cloudy confusion that comes hand in hand with parenthood.

I vowed that one day. One day. We would have a room where all of our clothing could be stored and sorted in an orderly fashion. Ahem. Or at least somewhere we could throw it all and close the door.

Our new house has a utility room (hooray!) but it’s admittedly a fairly awkward narrow space and sort of on its own at the front of the property rather than anywhere near the kitchen. There is adequate cupboard storage, a sink and a gap for our washer/dryer (we bought a Hotpoint number in a panic when our old machine died a sudden death one inconvenient Saturday morning). But again, it doesn’t really have the right area to plonk one of those stand up drying maiden things. So I’m trying to think outside of the box with regards hanging options. I’ve seen this extending clothes dryer from Cox & Cox but I’m not sure the wall could take the weight if I’m honest. I quite fancy one of those hang-from-the-ceiling airer pulley-maid type contraptions but I’m not convinced one of those alone will offer the room we need for multiple wash loads.

We’ve already painted the beige laminate cupboards in Farrow & Ball’s “Downpipe” and it’s looking significantly more swish than it did before. I was going to add some kitsch/feminine accessories but it all went a bit twee and not very “me” at all. (Perhaps it’s going over board considering the decor of your utility room but I’ve waited a long time to own one so I’m bloody well going to walk into it and think “Yay what a lovely room to wash my husband’s pants in”).

I found my mojo recently when I discovered a selection of black and copper storage boxes at John Lewis and it’s going very masculine and well…..copper. We’ve also put up some industrial looking shelves and I plan on growing some herbs and whatnot as I think it’ll be a fun thing to do with Mabel – and hopefully boost my current lack of motivation when it comes to cooking.

I’ll of course share all of the results as soon as it’s finished. First though I have some questions for you all (apologies for the boring subject matter in advance).

Do you have any small space clever clothes hanging ideas/solutions that I can steal?

What is the best washing machine?! I can’t stand using ours as a dryer – the whole house smells of burning. And I’m not convinced it does as good a job as our old model at actually getting garments gleaming. I need something that has a hand wash cycle and a quick wash option but apart from that I’m really not fussy.

Do let me know of any other utility related advice and renovation experiences in the comments box below.

P.S THIS utility makeover is amazing.

P.P.S How immense is the “casual boot room” in the header image above?! One can dream!


Header Images via and Jenna Sue Design

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea

60 thoughts on “All Hail The Utility Room

  1. A utility room is the DREAM. I’m instantly envious of anyone who has one.

    The day we extend this house will make me so unbelievably happy. Saying that, your post on kitchen bins was also a highlight so I think we’re on a similar level when it comes to domestic delights.

    Now, I know you’ve said you’re not keen on a washer-dryer, but I’ve just bought a new Bosch model and it’s brilliant. Great performance, no ‘hot’ smell and quiet as a mouse. I was dubious about getting a combined washer-dryer too, but my alternative was a tumble dryer in the garage & I’m just too lazy for that. We desperately needed one – because, you know, toddlers – so I did a ton of research before taking the plunge.

    When it comes to having space to dry clothes, my Dad tells me off all the time. Apparently drying clothes indoors gives you mould on the walls and respiratory problems. I’m afraid that doesn’t stop me draping every single radiator with my smalls though!

    Looking forward to seeing your results Charlotte! xx

    1. I wanted to have some form of rack in our walk-in utility cupboard but was worried about condensation and mould as it’s only a teeny space so we finally bought a tumble dryer yesterday. Is it wrong that I’m super excited about doing the first load?!

    2. Snap Karen. We have a version of the Bosch washer dryer too and love it. ( We swapped our separate washer and dryer for it last year and I love it. It is sooooo quiet. I do find the dryer takes longer than when we had a separate one but I try not to tumble dry too much so I don’t mind. I also knew about that drying indoors. I long for warmer days when the washing can go outside as I hate constantly having an airing rack stuck in the snug. We had been tempted to get one of those electric heated ones from Lakeland. If I had a fancy utility room all would be good with the world!! Loving the domesticated chatter! x

    3. Oh loving the Bosch! I know what you mean about drying clothes indoors, but the weather is just so rubbish so often? I’m looking forward to when it gets a bit warmer and my garden can be littered with clothes rather than my house 🙂 x

      1. Separate tumble drier is the only way! Combi washer driers don’t dry properly and take ages, and don’t get wrinkles out of clothes, plus you can wash and dry at same time.

        It’s not an exaggeration to say getting a separate tumble drier is one of the best things that ever happened to me! The laundry mess was driving me insane.

        It’s the only way trust me!

  2. I can’t wait for my washing machine to break as I don’t like our current one. It came with the house and it’s a large American style top loader. It cleans my clothes in no time at all, but it’s size and style is a nuisance! It’s massive and being a toploader you can’t have a worktop. It takes up so much room in our utility room too. I long for sleek lines and matching appliances.

    If I were you, I’d definitely go for the Victorian pulley. We have one and it’s amazing. Once it’s full, you raise it up and it’s out of the way. You then have space to use the room. If you get the extended dryer from Cox & Cox (which is gorgeous), it would take up so much space whilst being used. I’d also be wary if you hung towels on it. Saying that, I’ve just discovered umbrella screws. They enable you to hang heavy items, up to 40kg, on hollow plasterboard walls.

    Please keep sending pics. I love a gorgeous utility room. I’m trying to convince my husband that we need a porch extension on our utility room.

    1. Hi Gemma! May I ask which Victorian pulley you have? I found so many online – some looked more complicated than others x

      1. It looks identical to the one you’ve pinned. It’s a simple 2 wheel pulley with cast iron ends. Not complicated at all. Though, you need to have had your weetabix when lifting it full of blankets and towels. We also have a flat radiator high up in the wall, horizontally. Therefore, it’s right next to the damp washing. I hope this helps. Our downstairs loo is at the end of our utility space so we had to have a pulley. x

  3. Morning Charlotte, I couldn’t agree with you more, I would LOVE a utility room. What rock stars we are. I don’t know if this would work in your utility room due to the layout but for drying clothes I have a rail (much like your new fancy one) in the spare room. At least I can pretend I’m a cool and organised laying out my clothes for the week when really I’m just drying my husband’s work shirts…It also doesn’t solve the drying-underwear problem but I just tend to chuck that in the tumble dryer! I don’t think this is any help at all. Have a lovely day! 🙂

    1. Hi Nancy! I am thinking about adding a sort of rail for shirts, I’ve ordered this shelf that kind of has an industrial pipe (?) underneath, I figured I can hang at least 5 shirts from it and also the shelf surface itself would be useful x

  4. I’m also currently considering a utility room. We’re hoping to build an extension but keep it very small. It would house a utility room and downstairs loo and a bit extra in the kitchen allowing us to get a bigger dining table. I’m wondering how small I can go and still have useable spaces. Our house already has what was called a ‘utility area’ by the estate agent, but it’s actually a few outbuildings with the walls removed and a door to the house. It’s basically a shed attached to my house – mouldy and horrible. It’s the entire depth of my house with the washing machine at one end and the door the other. It’s so narrow that it’s an empty corridor leading to a washing machine. Such a waste of space! I’m considering the ceiling type airer in my future room. I saw one online which was quite narrow but had extending poles. Would you be drying multiple loads on there anyway? I use the line outside if the weather is nice. If not, a mixture of tumble dryer and airers, so the airers never have to take entire loads.

    Is there any chance of a photo or drawing of your utility room layout and size? I’m desperate for ideas!

    1. Hi Jade! I will definitely take some ASAP and try and give an idea of what our utility room looks like. Don’t you just love Estate agents?! Our old house apparently came with a utility “room” – i.e. a large cupboard. In the past I have tended to try and do multiple loads on a Saturday/Sunday so I have everything clean for Monday, but perhaps that just isn’t very practical. I also need to buy an outside line – we moved in in October so there hasn’t been the need for one yet really x

      1. Can’t wait to see the photos! I am so into utility rooms and everybody looks at me like I’m crazy when I talk about my plans. I’ll have the last laugh when their clothes are draped all over the house and I can shut the door and pretend the mess doesn’t exist. Well, laundry mess at least ? I’m thinking of getting a humidity controlled extractor fan put in to keep on top of the damp. I think there was a time I manage to condense my laundry like that. It all changed when the second baby came along AND he had horrendous reflux. I was already doing a minimum of 2 loads a day but managed 9 on a particularly sicky day. Had to buy a tumble dryer pretty sharpish!

  5. I also dream of a utility room! One of my favourite things in the world is the Lakeland heated drying rack – it was expensive (around £90 from memory), but worth every penny. We no longer have a tumble dryer as the rack drys a whole load in about 6 hours or so – and you can lie knitwear and delicates flat. I can’t recommend it enough! OK, I officially need to get out more…

    1. Kate, I need this in my life. Edd tried to buy me one this winter (thankfully not as my birthday present!!) but for some reason I resisted. I think it is definitely on my purchase list for this year given the amount of washing we have in this house! x

      1. My sister-in-law has a heated rack as she lives in a top floor flat with no garden. It’s a nifty bit of kit! x

          1. OMG THE LAKELAND HEATED DRYER IS INCREDIBLE. You definitely need it and I’m gutted someone beat me to suggesting it. Though also happy I am not the only one obsessed with it. It folds flat so easy to store and drys loads of washing so quickly. Lottie – mine was a Christmas present 2 years ago…. “but you have been saying you want one for ages?” x

              1. I’m loving the drying rack love! I got mine on a 20% off day, they do them quite often so it’s worth keeping an eye out. I bought mine for myself but after seeing mine a good few friends and family put them on their Christmas lists!

  6. My first bosch washing machine was the bomb, lasted 10 years and was very efficient. The next was pants, lasted only about 3 years and was going to be more expensive to fix than buying a new one. I really wanted a Meile but couldn’t afford it at the time so we to a cheap samsung and its brilliant…quiet, all the programme I need, and gets everything clean on a eco/ cheap cold 30min cycle!

    1. Oh and on the clothes drying. We have tumble dryer but only use it for towels and school/ work uniform. Hubby banned the airer from every room I tried to put it in as he hates how it looks so its ended up in my dressing room where he never goes!! Makes putting my clothes away easy at least.

      A utility room is still the dream though!

      1. Yes my Miele is 17 years old, is on every day, often more than once and has just had a repair. It is one of the few machines that is worth repairing, most end up in landfill.

  7. We had a “rack” , aka a hang from the air contraption when we were growing up – it was the best and I kind of want one of these now….rather than an awkward airer in the way!

    Love a utility room – just rennovating a new home and it has a utility room, cannot wait to get the washing machine / dryer out of the kitchen!

  8. Oh my how I love this post ????. I want a utility room so much, it’s actually top of my list and my husband thought I was joking. He was like, do you want detached, downstairs study, large garden…? No. All of that are nice to haves, but I HAVE to have a utility room.

    We’ve been having a look at some new builds and what struck me is how many had “laundry rooms” on the first floor. Charlotte you mentioned yours is nowhere near the kitchen but I’ve totes come to the conclusion a utility room doesn’t need to be. My Australian friend couldn’t understand why our washing machine was in our kitchen and I didn’t know what to say, there isn’t actually any link between laundry and cooking! The first floor laundry rooms are actually pretty clever, it means you don’t have to lug clothes up and down stairs and they were always positioned next to the bathroom so it wouldn’t be too noisy at night.
    The house we are looking at doesn’t have a utility room but it’s got a v long garage with one end being used as a utility area at the moment so we are planning to block it off, a purpose built utility room of my dreams ❤. Like that one in the post (except about 1% as stylish and cool) x

    1. Kate you are right you know, at least ur utility is (almost) at the bottom of the stairs. It’s funny how it’s sort of become a “thing” to wash stuff on the ground floor when essentially everything (towels, bed linen, clothes) pretty much lives upstairs once it’s clean.

      We are also doing an extension in the next 18 months and were going to build a bigger utility room, but now I just think we’ll stick with what we’ve got and try and make the space work better. Good luck with the house hunting! x

      1. Ooh that’s exciting about the extension and bigger utility – I hope it’ll be documented on RMS. ?

        Thanks, the house hunting is going okay, it’s the house selling which I’m sick to the back teeth with! Dream of my utility room are keeping me going though. ?

      1. It so does when you sit back and think about it, Lauren – I think we are so conditioned to having them in or near the kitchen but there’s no logical reason why they should be!

  9. As others have said Bosch!! My mum has a model that has a 15 minute quick wash cycle which is AMAZING for quickly freshening things up and for lightly soiled bits.

    Also, the Lakeland heated thing is a total saviour- we no longer use the drier as it’s so good.

  10. I love your posts on house stuff, still trying to convince my husband we need the Joseph joseph bin! Our utility room doubles as a downstairs shower room and toilet but still so useful having a separate place for washing machine, cleaning stuff and the mop! We are lucky to have an outbuilding with power we can house our tumble dryer in. After years of everything smelling kind of mouldy from our old washer dryer, I was determined to invest in a decent washing machine with a new baby coming. I love our Samsung Ecobubble, didn’t think I could have such strong feelings for an appliance! It has every setting I could wish for, can fit a whole washing basket of clothes in and I’ve washed tons of dry clean only stuff on delicate with no issues.
    Love the combination of downpipe with copper accents! x

    1. I am also trying to convince my husband that we need that joseph joseph bin…..

      our tumble dryer is out in the ‘garage’, a term I use very loosely to describe the original asbestoluxe building in our garden, which is full of spiders and general crap ( I am 100% sure I disturbed 2 spiders ‘getting it on’ last spring….. I just have to be brave to go out to the dryer and not look left or right in case I see a spider! A utility attached to the house would be a dream…

      Friends who lived in France used to have their washer and dryer in the family bathroom which is quite normal (and makes sense as thats where our laundry bin is!)

      1. Vicky I’m exactly the same! I won’t go out there after dark, definitely a job for the husband! I never look up in case there’s something lurking above me and there’s a hole where the outflow for the outside toilet must have once been so I’m sure there will be a rat sitting on top of it one day! x

        1. Charlotte H, If I have to go out to it after dark (usually if my husband is working away) I have to take a torch and my mobile phone and make sure I set off our security light. I also tend to run there and back like a child!!

  11. What a lovely utility room inspiration. Our utility room is tiny – essentially a side passage into our garden and shed with a cupboard big enough for a washing machine and dryer stacked on top of each other. I have the cox and cox extending rack and while I love it, it definitely won’t take a full load (unless you’re washing twice a day). It takes up a fair bit of room when fully extended but as we use our tumble dryer mainly in the winter we don’t really need to walk through the room so that’s ok. It’s good for all the bits I don’t like to put in the tumble dryer – knits, delicates, shirts… which I hang on coat hangers to dry. I’m definitely one for drying outside as I don’t like the smell of the clothes from the tumble dryer – it’s not a burning smell or anything too awful but just not as fresh as I’d like – if anybody found a solution to this one I’d love to hear it. We have a Miele washing machine we bought with the house for £50 – an absolute bargain it’s at least 8 years old and never had any problems with it.

    1. Have you tried dryer sheets? They help with the musty smell. There’s also a whole YouTube world devoted to dryer sheet ‘hacks/uses’. X

  12. I love a domestic post like this one! We own a Bosch too and I am very happy with it. We also have a separate tumble dryer that “lives” in our guestroom. That’s where I keep my airer rack too ( It’s light, but sturdy and folds up small (which I never do, since I hang new washing as soon as I take the dry one down.
    However yesterday was the first day this year that I could hang the bed linen outside! They just needed a little more drying when we took them inside, but could put them back on in the evening. I just love crawling into bed at night with fresh linen. It just smeels differently when it’s been outside!

  13. Love this post! My utility room is currently being built as we speak!! We are in the throws on extending our home to the side to house a larger hallway & downstairs WC with a utility at the back which you access via the kitchen. The kitchen (which I am UBER excited about!!!!!) will all be knocked through to create one big kitchen/dining/family room 🙂 With our baby due in June & two muddy low-riding sausage dogs, the utility room will be a life saver!!!! Would love to see photos of your utility room Charlotte x

  14. I commented this on your instagram but I’ll say it again here – a Utility room is essential. Especially if you have young children!! The cavern of washing just never seems to end! Coming from New Zealand where virtually every house has one, to the UK where you have your washing machines in the kitchen (ugh, so dirty, don’t even get me started!). Obviously there are historic reasons why houses are like this but for a new house it boggles my mind that you’re still putting washing machines in the kitchen! Our current rental has the washing machine in the kitchen which I dislike intensely but there is nothing I can do about it. :/ We do have a little utility/storage room upstairs where I can keep all the mops, brooms, and other cleaning paraphenalia. It also houses our suitcases and few bit of other stuff. I’d never though about drying laundry in there though (currently that the spare room domain, so as you say I can just shut the door on it!)…I rather like that Cox and Cox extending number (but not really the cost!!). I’d actually never heard of C&C before and looking at the website now I rather wish you hadn’t introduced me 😉 so many nice things…

    1. It is funny where different nations keep their washing machines. In the czech republic it’s generally the bathroom (a utility room is a luxury in most homes still) so I was completely bewildered to find them in the kitchens over here. I’ve managed to snap the extending rack from for £80 pounds last year so it’s worth waiting for offers. I think I was able to combine a couple of offers at the time and it’s a bit cheaper than from cox and cox to start with.

  15. Damn I love this post! But it also makes me a little envious as I long for a utility room – we have an open plan kitchen / dining room which has to double up as the ‘drying washing room’ in winter. I am forever falling over my two massive unsturdy clothes airers. I have suggested a utilty room extension to my husband so we’ll see!

    The washer/dryer thing I can help with though…. We have a Samsung Eco Bubble and it is awesome. No burning smell when drying and a handy 15 minute quick wash setting (comes in handy for the 2 year old). It also plays a little tune when it finishes the cycle!
    K X

  16. We also have the Cox & Cox extending dryer and I love it. We put it high enough up on the wall that I can just about walk under it when it has clothes on, and I just use my big girl step stool to load it up! Like Kat said though, it definitely doesn’t take a full load, more like 8ish of my tops or trousers (or 4 of my husband’s massive ones) – obviously you’d fit more little person clothes! I use it for clothes I don’t like to tumble dry, and the tumble dryer being on in the utility makes it nice and warm to speed up the hanging clothes drying.

  17. We rennovated our house last year and created a utility. We have our washing machine – and newly acquired tumble dryer in there (love the tumble but do not use for everything). Our utility is in a part of the house that was extended by previous owners and the walls are not very insulated meaning that it can feel cold in there. For that reason, I’ve chosen not to actually air dry clothes in there and do that upstairs in spare room. We use the utility for all the cleaning products etc – but also all our shoes (except fancy/delicate ones) and bulky coats – it’s very useful as they’re close to the front door. Although am tempted to try one of the ceiling/pully contraptions. Our utility finally came together over Xmas – and I actually spent most of new years day organising and sorting it out – extremely satisfying!!

  18. 1. I absolutely love the washing machine that we bought from our house’s previous owners. It is a Beko machine with about an million different programmes, including that necessary hand wash. I think it might be this one:
    2. Drying laundry outside, which we did a lot of last summer (now that we have a usable outdoor space), was something of a revelation, and I am currently hating that anything that can’t go in the dryer is often hanging around on the rack for days before I’m convinced it is completely dry.
    3. When we get round to actually building our planned extension we too shall have a utility/laundry room. I am incredibly excited about this, because having a space where you can dry, sort and fold laundry so that it can be so easily put away is indeed the dream. And also I hate having the washing machine in the kitchen, it has no business being there.

  19. I love that we have a utility but it could definitely be bigger. It has the washing machine in, a storage cupboard with some drawers and shelves which is super useful and a sink with an under sink cupbaord, again very useful. And back door leads straight into it which is great with wellies on etc. But it is SO UGLY. I need to do something about it as it makes me cross every day!x

  20. We have a rather narrow kitchen that gets even narrower with the washing machine at the end, which just fits with a little breathing space! With a baby, the washing was driving me bonkers, especially with cloth nappies, until my mother-in-law bought us some of those plastic hanging things with loads of pegs attached! A bit like this
    We then put up some narrow shelves with ikea kitchen rails screwed on the bottom and we can hang three of these underneath. Absolutely brilliant for nappies and underwear plus we can hang shirts/towels etc from hangers. The ones we have are black and more rectangular so they look a bit smarter and work a treat. (They were also £1 each!!) I was so unconvinced when she brought them and now I love them!

  21. I live for the day I have a utility room! Currently in a top floor flat, with a washing machine taking up potential cupboard space in a teeny tiny kitchen (the joys of London renting!) We’ve always had problems with damp and mould and I suspect that it’s partly down to having to dry everything indoors (and partly to do with the old building that is completely riddled with damp to begin with). My mum always comments on it when she visits, as if we’ve got any other option ?

    I dream of a tumble dryer, even though I would probably just use it for sheets and towels (as I’d prefer to air-dry everything else outside where possible). Also an airing cupboard – mainly just got extra storage but it’s just part of my epic dream house plans lol.

  22. I LOVE how many comments there are on utility rooms! Brilliant!! We have the pulley thing from, it is FANTASTIC! Keeps things out of the way and frees up floor/worktop space. We have more of a utility “cupboard” in our kitchen, London houses being shoe boxes and all. But it is wonderful, I love it. We have basically extended the kitchen run beyond a steel pillar and covered it with folding doors. It houses the washing machine and dryer (both Miele, brilliant but pricey…), two cupboards of cleaning stuff out of the way of small hands, and the aforementioned pulley dryer, with space for the ironing board, hoover, steam cleaner etc underneath. I still marvel at how much we can hide in such a tiny space. Looking forward to seeing your finished masterpiece. x

  23. Oh my word… that utility makeover! I die! *hearteyes*! I can’t wait for us to start our extension in a couple of years (perhaps better finish the current renovations and move in first!!), a utility will be top of the list! We’ve also decided on a Samsung Ecobubble, but one with an Add Wash drawer where you can chuck in stuff mid-wash – I’m forever sticking on a load only to find a rogue sock lying around so I’m stupidly excited about this!

  24. The hanging racks are called Sheila’s Maids. You can all thank my mum for that snippet of factual info ?. We currently have her old, beautiful cast iron one awaiting fixing to the ceiling in our utility which, quite frankly, had me drooling over our house before I’d even viewed it. It used to be the bathroom in the house before they created one upstairs so it’s fairly big and has a downstairs loo, not bad for a little two bed cottage! We recently ‘did’ ours with intentions similar to the Pinterest type pictures above, but reality kicked in when the costs came out and we had a word with ourselves about spending so much money on the place where you wash your pants and keep the mop ?. That said, some new flooring, light, paint and removing a huge old cupboard and having both a washer and dryer (total game changer) and loads of shelving above, plus this contraption that keeps anything with a long handle off the floor and hung on the wall, is bloody wonderful, I love it! I can’t wait until later this year when we have our kitchen work tops replaced with oak and use an off-cut to complete the utility and make a proper worktop over the machines. Hoping it’ll look entirely Pinterest worthy at that point.
    Our tumble dryer has a light that comes on inside when you open the door (gasp!), it collects all those annoying bits of tissue in the filter not your clothes when you leave one in your pocket, and the best bit? Since we got it and I started washing all my clothes on a totally cold wash to offset the cost, our electricity bill had gone DOWN by £5 a month. Actual amazeballs. Also, because it was a bathroom it still has a towel radiator thingy, which I use to hang all the stuff that can’t go in the dryer when I’m transferring a loads from washer to dryer. If you’re planning a utility, this is genius, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to instal one.

    This all being said, nothing makes me happier than seeing washing on a clothes line, fresh white bedsheets blowing in the sun is life affirming stuff for me. I’m a laundry weirdo.

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