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Is a Utility Room Worthwhile?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 3 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Utility Room Kitchen Open Plan

All the interior design magazines and television programmes have been promoting the idea of open plan living as fitting the modern family, particularly with kitchens. So we are all being persuaded to knock down walls and create these large open plan areas where the whole family can communicate while cooking, eating or relaxing.

Is the Utility Room on the Way Out?

Does that mean that the humble utility room should be consumed into the all-in-one room, being treated as that valuable commodity: space? Will the utility room go the way of the pantry and disappear from our homes? Or is there a point to keeping or even creating a utility room as part of a home renovation?

Well, as usual, the answer is: it depends. It depends on the layout of your home, the way your family interact with each other, the amount of space you have and of course the finances you can throw at the renovation. Let's take a look at what the utility room can offer and then you can decide whether you need on e or not.

The utility room offers three main benefits:

  • somewhere to put noisy appliances
  • a dirt barrier between the inside and the outside
  • somewhere to store cleaning stuff and other odds and ends
Of course this is dependent on the size of your utility room and a small room may not be able to do all of it. Let's look at these points in turn.

Dealing with Noisy Appliances

Appliances like washing machines and tumble dryers can be loud. You might not notice in a kitchen when you're cooking but if you're all sitting twenty feet away trying to watch the 3D version of Avatar on DVD, even a 5.1 surround system won't keep out the noise of a 1200 rpm spin.

Note that whether you have a utility room or not, a dishwasher should probably stay in the kitchen. Otherwise you'll be taking pots, pans and cutlery back and forth two or three times a day. If possible put it at the end of a run of units away from the leisure area or behind an island to mask the noise.

Dirt and Cleaning

The utility room can act as a dirt barrier, particularly if the main route from the kitchen to the garden goes through it. You can have practical but ugly door mats and cupboards for boots and shoes, put newspaper out on wet blustery days, all without spoiling the clean minimalist lines of your sleek new kitchen.

And that, of course, brings us on to our third bullet point. You can keep all the cleaning products for mopping up the utility room floor and cleaning off the boots out of site in a utility room. If you have space for a sink you can use it to deal with things like washing freshly lifted vegetables and brushing the mud of kids sports kit. Again this keeps it off your nice new kitchen sink.

Plan Other Spaces

Then again, you might have other places where you can do all of these things, in which case you may not need or want a utility room. If there's ample space for cleaning products and other storage in an understairs cupboard,, or even in your new spacious kitchen, then that's ok.

And you might be able to put the noisy appliances in a garage, or even in the kitchen, but run them overnight or during the daytime when people aren't trying to relax. And when it comes to a boundary between indoor and outdoor, a porch could do the job just as well.

Make the Right Choice

So make the choice that fits your home, your family and the way you want to live. If you decide not to have a utility room just make sure that you plan spaces for the functions you will be losing.

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