I recently designed a utility where I pulled several small space tricks to achieve a super-functional and practical space, so I thought it would make a great case study to show how a small room can become a very hardworking and indispensable space in your home.
A garage conversion created two rooms, one of which was turned into a utility. I worked with the clients from the start of the planning to ensure the utility space would be able to accommodate all their requirements.
This was the clients’ brief:
- Separate washing machine and tumble dryer, both behind closed doors
- A good amount of laundry drying space
- A sink
- Counter space for folding clothes, potting etc
- A basket for each family member (x4)
- Tall storage for vacuum cleaner / broom / mop
- General storage which included sockets for charging things like handheld vaccuums
- Housing the boiler
- Hiding a meter
- Boxing in some existing pipework that couldn’t be moved
- Space for some pretty things like plants
and this was the space that needed to fit it all:
So how does a small space fit so much?
The biggest tip for rooms where floor space is limited is to make the most of the height of the room. In this room:
- A pulley clothes airer lifts the laundry out of the way while it’s drying.
- Appliances are stacked in a tall cupboard where we incorporated a practical drawer between the appliances and a pull out rack at the top for extra drying capacity when needed.
- Opposite the sink run are full height storage cupboards which house the boiler, cleaning things etc.
- The left side wall has a meter so we built out the wall to hide it and added shallow tall storage into that wall, disguising the doors as tongue and groove cladding to avoid them feeling imposing.
BALANCE OF OPEN AND CLOSED STORAGE
Cabinetry is essential for bringing calm by keeping utilitarian things behind closed doors, but try to avoid wall cabinets above the main working area counter as they close in a space and can make it feel claustrophobic. Instead, a peg rail with a shelf provides pretty and practical storage for things like a feather duster, a tea towel, a watering can etc, while keeping the area feeling open and airy.
COLOUR AND MATERIALS
A small space trick that I use regularly is colour-drenching. Carrying the same colour throughout the space means fewer visual interruptions, resulting in the illusion of a larger space. Slightly reflective finishes help to bounce light, and using a receding colour such as blue or green also makes a surface appear further than it is, adding to the spacious feeling. Avoid advancing colours such as red, orange or yellow in a small space as they can make the walls look like they’re closing in on you.
It’s a misnomer than small spaces should be furnished with small things. Opting for fewer, larger pieces instead of several smaller items makes a space feel more generous and less cluttered. In this case, a full sized Belfast sink, large baskets, a good sized clothes airer and an uninterrupted length of shelf all make the space feel roomy.
Personally, I feel a room isn’t a proper room without natural light. Besides a pantry, every room in a home should be worked out in a way that allows at least some natural light, even if it’s via roof lights. Here, a solid external back door was replaced with a fully glazed door (out of shot in the photos) and the natural light this brings makes the room glow!
So there you have it – a classic utility that’s as beautiful as it is practical, and one that I wish I could transplant into my own home! 😍 It’s wonderful to see the difference it has made to my clients’ home. This is what they say:
“How is the smallest room in our house the most stylish AND most functional? Because Meera designed it!
Meera has helped us turn our cold, dark, unloved integral garage into the utility room of dreams and we couldn’t be happier. From beautiful quartz and panelling, to underfloor heating and hidden airers, no attention to detail was spared. The result: style and function all at the same time and we could not have done it without Meera.”
This utility is one of the 10 most popular utility rooms of the year on Houzz!
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