A utility doesn’t have to be utilitarian. For a room that is mainly to do with mundane but necessary daily chores, it was important for me to make my utility a pretty room that made me smile rather than die a little inside every time I needed to do laundry. I also needed to optimise the usefulness of the narrow space that it is. I love how all the details have come together and now pottering about in here is never a chore. 🙂
I have worked with some fantastic brands on my project and as such, this post includes some gifted (denoted by *) and discounted (denoted by **) products as part of these collaborations.
LAYOUT & DESIGN
The utility is a long narrow space off the kitchen, in the new side extension that we built last year, as shown in the ground floor layout below.
It may only be 1.5m wide, but I wanted to keep it feeling as airy and open as possible, while also combining light and dark elements for impact.
The design comprises of a combination of tall and base cabinets, no wall units but instead a long oak floating shelf with a hanging rail, tongue-and-groove clad walls, and a bench which serves as the ‘mud room’ area (for wellies). The opposite wall has a peg rail running along the length of the wall.
Product sources are linked in the text, and there is also a full sourcelist at the end of the post.
Keeping with a modern classic style like my kitchen, I chose shaker style cabinets from DIY Kitchens with custom painted doors. The colour I chose was Kigali from Paint & Paper Library, described as a blackened denim, which I love in this space contrasted with the other pale, natural and gold finishes in the room. The tongue-and-groove cladding is painted in Little Greene’s intelligent eggshell in French Grey Mid, which beautifully picks up on the warm grey tones of the worktop.
The tall cabinets, neatly tucked into the far corner, belie the amount of modification required to fit them around the combi boiler, the underfloor heating manifold and the RSJ beam spanning the width of the room. There may have been a fair bit of under-the-breath swearing from the builder who fitted them! The cabinets are finished with gorgeous weighty black knurled button knobs.
Doing away with wall units does so much for opening up a space like this. Instead, I have a gorgeous floating oak shelf spanning the entire wall space (3.7m), with a rail hung from it, providing plenty of hanging storage.
I had initially thought of having a brass rail, but I think the black works a lot better and ties in beautifully with the cabinet hardware and black aluminium glazed door.
Along the length of the opposite wall we created a peg rail.
I love peg rails for turning any unused wall into something really useful and pretty. You can get ready-made peg rails, but unless you just want a small rail, buying several to join together can become expensive. However, with some basic DIY skills, you can create your own with a length of timber and shaker pegs. [Our method was loosely based on this tutorial by The Grit and Polish (minus the shelf part).] Alternatively, you can achieve something similar simply with hooks.
I wanted a streamlined look uninterrupted by appliances and also didn’t want to lose too much space to appliances as it’s a small room, so instead of a washing machine and a tumble dryer, I opted for an integrated washer dryer* from AO.com.
I love this machine, quietly and efficiently handling all our laundry needs while staying out of sight behind a door.
SINK & TAP
During the design stages of my kitchen and utility, I swayed a lot between contemporary and traditional sink and tap options, weighing up practicalities with aesthetics. For my kitchen where the sink is in heavy use, I decided to go with the most practical, contemporary options, while opting for the prettier, more traditional Belfast sink + gold bridge tap combination in the utility. It’s fantastic to have this extra sink in the utility for keeping messy jobs out of the kitchen like washing paint brushes or potting plants. I’ll be honest here and say that I find this tap a bit splashy so wouldn’t recommend it if you want something with more refined functionality. If I had a better budget, I’d have opted for a Perrin & Rowe tap, but this tap is fine for us in the utility for the few jobs we use it for.
Having decided on a Belfast sink for the utility, I started thinking about worktops and considered stone offcut lengths from local stonemasons, wood (but put off by the maintenance given it would get wet), ceramic and solid surface materials. As soon as I came across Mistral worktops, I knew my search had ended.
This worktop is a thing of beauty! It’s the first thing everyone notices in here. New visitors always run their hand over it wondering if it is concrete, and I get great pleasure in explaining more about this wonderful material. It is a Mistral solid surface worktop and upstand* in the Moonscape colour, which does in fact look like hand-swirled concrete. It is gorgeous! I love having the look of concrete in my utility room, but with all the benefits and practicalities of an acrylic-based resin solid surface material – durable, hygienic, stain resistant due to being non-porous, and replenishable (i.e. like wood, it can be sanded and buffed to remove general wear and tear marks that may accumulate over the years).
It can be cut on site, thus saving on expensive templating costs that stone requires. This worktop was expertly fitted by Midland Worktop Fitters – have a look at my ‘reno pt 3’ story highlights on instagram to see them in action.
I have two forms of lighting in this room – general lighting via a row of downlights and task lighting by way of a tiltable pendant light hung near the tall cabinets above the worktop as seen in the photos above. The light switch is a gorgeous brass screwless two gang toggle switch* from Elesi.
The space between the base cabinets and the back door is essentially our mud room area – a bench where wellies are put on and taken off. With the old kitchen, the back door opened into the kitchen so muddy wellies were traipsed into the house and I would have to mop the dirt off the kitchen floor often several times a day. Not any more. 🙂
For a small room, there was a lot of work and cost involved here! But to me it has been entirely worth it. This is the first time we have a utility room – a space to keep the mess out of the kitchen – and I love it so much, I never want to be without one again! Too many utility rooms are unloved and stark as people think they are just a room for chores. But isn’t that the very reason they should be pretty rooms, so chores don’t feel like chores? 🙂
Cabinetry: Stanbury bespoke painted range from DIY Kitchens
Cabinetry colour: Paint & Paper Library Kigali
Cupboard knobs from Plank Hardware
Integrated washer dryer* from AO
Mistral worktop and upstand in Moonscape colour* from Karonia Surfaces
Belfast sink from Tap Warehouse
Gold bridge tap from Aqva
Two gang brass toggle light switch* from Elesi
Aluminium glazed door from Duration Windows
Bench from IKEA
Tongue & groove cladding panels from Building Supplies Online
Woodwork paint: Little Greene’s intelligent eggshell in French Grey Mid
Shaker pegs from eBay
Floating oak shelf (made to custom length) from Oak Store Direct
Seagrass baskets from Argos