TV presenter, architect & Grand Designs Live ambassador George Clarke shares his views on utility rooms.
It's fascinating how our attitudes to rooms in a house seem to change from one generation to the next. We give certain rooms different levels of importance depending on fashions and trends of the time. The domestic kitchen is a prime example; once a room that was a purely functional space, hidden away from view and separate from the living areas, it is now one of the rooms we show off most.
Now the domestic utility room has become one of the most important places in modern properties. You'd be amazed at how many design hours are spent discussing its layout at client meetings. This is because a well-designed utility room takes the pressure off so many other spaces in the home. A utility room is the functional hub that, if well designed, allows the rest of the home to breathe. The list of items to include can be pretty extensive, but certain things should be given priority: laundry baskets, a washing machine and tumble dryer, along with some storage for clothes, a vacuum cleaner and cleaning products. Even a small utility room allows the washer-dryer to be taken out of your kitchen, which makes a noticeable difference to how your kitchen feels.
Larger utility areas are high on the wish list for today's family homes. They not only containthe usual essentials, but can also become anironing hub. If you have the room to fit a basin, space for the boiler and hot water tank, as well as storage for towels and sheets, it can even operate more like a traditional airing cupboard. The location of your utility room is important, too. Siting it next to the kitchen is the most common choice, but I have converted many cellar spaces and small basements to create an area that's completely out of the way. I recently designed a utility room with an integrated sound system and small flat-screen TV to keep the owner entertained while doing the ironing. It's gradually becoming more common to have a utility room or laundry room on the upper floors of the house, a trend that began in the USA, which makes sense as you then don't have to transport clothes and sheets up and down
the stairs for cleaning.
No matter how big or small your utility room is, ensure that you make the best use of every square inch of available space in order to free up the rest of the house, as well as concentrating on making it a well designed and attractive area. You never know, you might actually end up enjoying doing the ironing for a change.