Utility rooms are becoming increasingly popular in modern homes. Owners want a separate space where they can keep all their appliances, freeing up room in other parts of the house, particularly the kitchen.
Utility rooms, though, have a bit of a bad rap. In the olden days, it was essentially a thin strip at the back of the house with just enough space to walk in sideways and unload dirty laundry into the machine. The roof was often a lean-to, and you tried to get in and out as quickly as you could.
Today, though, the situation is dramatically different. Homeowners no longer see their utility rooms as purely functional spaces, but also as rooms in their own right, adding to the experience of living in their homes.
How Utility Rooms Complement Kitchens
Utility rooms and kitchens closely relate to each other. When designing your home, you have a choice between putting all your bulky appliances in the kitchen, or siphoning them off to a separate space somewhere else.
Having all appliances in the kitchen saves you money because you don’t have to go to the expense of building a new utility room. But it also makes the kitchen more cluttered.
By contrast, if you do have a utility room, it makes it easier to make the kitchen “the heart of the home.” It opens up space by transferring all the things that don’t directly relate to preparing and eating meals to another place.
Think about the amount of space you sacrifice when you cram everything into your kitchen. You would like to have cabinet space for all your culinary accessories. But when your kitchen is your utility room, most of your “cupboards” are just fronts for your dryers and washing machines. Often the appliances aren’t hidden at all, destroying the aesthetics of the space.
Extensions Versus Partitions
How any utility room you install affects your kitchen, however, depends on the form it takes.
Imagine this: you have a large kitchen-diner open-plan living room in your home which includes space for all your household appliances. You then decide that you need a separate utility room for your washer and dryer, partitioned from the rest of the space. In this case, the new room is good because it helps remove appliances from the kitchen. But it also reduces the volume of your open-plan living area, which could make your interiors feel more crowded.
Now consider what would happen if your utility room occupied a stand-alone extension. This approach would let you maintain the feel of your interiors while also removing any ugly clutter from your living space.
Naturally, there are upsides and downsides to both these approaches. For instance, the partition approach is less expensive than extending, but it requires dividing up existing space. By contrast, the extension approach gives you more room to work with, but it also costs substantially more.
How To Lay Out Your Utility Room
Utility rooms – sometimes called “mud rooms” – come in many different guises. Some provide just enough space for your washing machine and dryer, while others include a sink and prep space for added utility.
You should approach the layout of a utility room in much the same way as you might a kitchen. You need cupboards to neatly store your appliances and worktops for doing chores.
A classical utility room, therefore is a square room with the following features:
- Storage cupboard: The cupboard offers attractive housing for the washing machine, tumble dryer, and freezer unit. The back of the cupboard offers plumbing and electrical attachments
- Sink: Many utility rooms use an entire wall for a sink and accompanying counter. If you have space, this can be the sole feature of the wall. Or you can combine it with appliances, placing storage cupboards below the counter, as in the kitchen.
- Counter space: Finally, you might want to include some regular counter space for folding clothes.
In high-end utility rooms, homeowners place each of these four elements on opposing walls. Quality utility rooms also leave space in the centre for things like ironing, avoiding the need to carry ironing boards in and out.
Does A Utility Room Add Value In The UK?
If you don’t have a utility room already, adding one can seem like a big risk. What if it doesn’t add value to your home? Then what?
Good news: data suggests that adding functional rooms increase the sale price of the average home. Figures, for instance, indicate that increasing the usable footprint of your property by 10 percent increases its value between 5 and 7 percent.
Critically, though, values only increase if the space is functional, so adding a media room or home cinema, for instance, won’t do much for the value of your property. By contrast, adding rooms like conservatories and utility rooms which do provide function helps to push up the price.
Having said this, you still need to be careful that your new utility room does not eat away at your existing space. If you take the partitioning approach, you’ll often wind up eating into usable space elsewhere in the home, usually the kitchen. And that can have the unfortunate effect of reducing the value of your property. The extension approach, however, is different. It allows you to preserve your existing interiors, preventing you from cannibalising any of your existing space.
What about the return on investment of a utility room? Is it high?
Well, again, it depends. Usually, you will get some money back on adding a utility room to your home. However, spending £25,000 on one and then expecting it to push up the value of your home by an equal amount is unrealistic. A property worth £250,000 before the extension is unlikely to be worth £275,000 afterwards.
Ultimately, though, it’s not all about the money. It’s also about the improvements in quality of life that a separate utility room offers. And those can be substantial.
Not sure whether a utility room is worth the hassle or how it could effect your kitchen layout? Then just talk to one our expert kitchen designers & we’ll use our wealth of experience to find out what’s right for you. Contact us here if you want to chat.