How I Transformed My Utility Room Into The Laundry Room Of My Dreams
It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally finished my utility room update. Let’s face it, it wasn’t a pleasant task. Ignored since we moved into our house four years ago, it was crammed to the hilt with beige MDF wall cupboards, an offence to the eye and a claustrophics worst nightmare. Years worth of muddied football boots stuffed into a cupboard, an array of empty cat food pouches on the work surface and lighting so bad that you needed a head torch to find your pants. Seriously, it was a shocker. Worse still, it’s the first room that you see when you walk in the back door. I can provide proof of this hellhole in the previous blog I wrote, click here to see. My eyes, my eyes.
So when it came to replanning it, the entire family was fairly excited at the prospect. The current clothes washing routine goes like this. Clothes are discarded by family members with only approximately 5% of these clothes actually making it into the washing basket. It is not uncommon for me to find a pile of clothing that looks as if someone has actually dissolved within - pants on top of trousers on top of socks.
Washing enters washing machine followed by tumble dryer. Let me say right now that I am a big fan of the tumble dryer, a fact that is often detrimental to Joe. He’s very fond of a designer t shirt and actually separates his washing from the rest in order for it to be correctly laundered as per the washing label. Unfortunately, as a woman who works full time with three children, both this action and washing label mean nothing to me. My love affair with the tumble dryer means that it’s not uncommon for his Vivienne Westwood polos to reappear small enough to be able to fit Buddy comfortably.
Clothes are then folded nicely and piled in the utility room. And this is where previously it has all started to go terribly wrong. Before too long, the children are running downstairs barely clothed every morning as they are unable to find any clean pants or socks due to the fact that the pile has evolved into Mount Vesuvius, an explosion of Victoria Secret thongs (not mine or Joe’s, I hasten to add).
Redistributing the clothes to drawers is a task that is always bottom of the list and as such, there’s more likelihood of the children doing their own washing (ie, equivalent to Hell freezing over) than this job occurring. Things had to change and I was convinced that having a utility room that sang to me was the way forward.
With my plans and dreams of a new laundry world set in place, I went to work. This is what I did.
Cleared The Decks
I started by clearing the room. Seeing as it contained pretty much my family’s entire wardrobe, plus four years worth of odd socks, it wasn’t a fun task. I took the hooks off the wall, removed the IKEA shelving unit and relocated it into the garage for storage. I sent all the shoes that were defunct to the charity shop and threw (sorry, handed) the remainder of the ones that still fitted to the children to put into their rooms. I emptied the built in cupboard of twenty years worth of unusable keys and put all the general household stuff on to the new garage shelving. The wall cupboards were full of what can only be described as a load of random shite. An alleged medicine cupboard took up a full third of the space, an area that soon revealed itself to be full of Dioralyte sachets dating back to 2006, out of date Immodium and copious empty sticky bottles of Calpol and cough medicine. I sorted everything within into charity shop and bin. Job done. I was ready to start.
Whipped Off The Wall Cupboards & Tiles
I recruited Joe to help me remove the wall cupboards, which was a fairly easy task. It was cleanly plastered behind which was good news, with tiles above the work surface. Despite initially planning to paint the tiles, I made a quick decision to remove them after taking a couple off and realising the wall beneath was in good condition. I used a paint scraper and a hammer and it took no time at all. I took the remaining tile adhesive off the wall by soaking it with a sponge and then scraping off. Immediately the space felt five times as big. An excellent start.
Got Out The Paintbrush
I had some paint left over from a previous job that I’d worked on with Dulux in Ella’s room so I used this to paint the walls in Floating Petal, an earthy pink. I painted the skirting and back of the door in the same colour. I then used (again, leftover from a previous job) Bone Black from Zoffany to do the final coat on the cupboards. I bought large THOR black leather door handles with contrasting Antique Black studs from Dowsing & Reynolds which coordinated beautifully. Did I prime the doors? Nope. But I did first of all paint them in different paint which turned out to be a very shiny gloss and looked awful, so in my mind that was the base. You know I’m slapdash. I also painted the built in cupboard in the same colours which immediately transformed it.
I really wanted to add interest to the room - it’s small so needed a bit of something unexpected - so found a wallpaper from Poodle & Blonde, Money Tree in Valentine that was perfect for the back wall. I also used this to wallpaper the inside of the painted cupboard to tie in. I did the wallpapering myself - it was really easy, the paper was an absolute dream to put up and I could not be happier with the result. Did I used a plumb line? Nope. But I kind of wish I had done as my house has very wonky walls. I used B&Q ready made wallpaper paste to paste the wall to put it up, super simple. Don’t ever be scared by wallpapering, it’s so bloody easy and also I find it hugely therapeutic. I wrote a blog about it a few years ago that you can read here.
Headed To eBay
I wanted a wood worktop and I’d seen a Pinterest photo of the look I was going for. After scouring eBay, I found two 3m lengths of beech for around £200 (seller linked here), a complete bargain compared to what I’d seen elsewhere. They scheduled the delivery date around when I could book the carpenter in to fit it - this is essential if you are having a solid wood worktop as if it’s not fitted immediately, it’s likely to warp. Kennet the carpenter fitted it for me, cutting out the space for the sink and tap to be fitted at a later date. I extended the worktop by an extra 90mm so that it reached the wall in an L shape, creating a space underneath for a drinks fridge.
Added A Sink & Tap
The current sink and tap were paint splattered and not very pleasant so I worked with the lovely people at Kohler UK on replacements. I chose the Iron Inset Sink which fitted beautifully, a one and a half bowl in white cast iron. I am absolutely delighted with it - it’s a classic style that will never date and is really spacious, perfect for a utility room where a decent sized sink is essential. The tap is sleek and effective - the Purist Pull Down Tap in chrome which has a removable head so perfect for focusing on the dirty football boots. Sorry, for Joe to focus on the dirty football boots, I meant. They’re both perfect for the space.
Added The Appliances
The idea to replan the room (aside from the fact that it was shocking) came from a partnership with ao.com, whom I worked with on both a Miele washing machine and a Miele tumble dryer. They’re touch screen technology and you can even work the washing machine from your mobile phone as it’s wifi, a fact that pleases Joe greatly. I’d previously had a Miele washing machine that was 17 years old so I was absolutely confident in the product. They haven’t let me down - they’re super efficient products. The washing machine is the Miele WWE660 8kg TwinDos which means that it has built in washing liquid, thus no need to add any additional cleaning product. You can replace it easily when it’s run out via Miele but with the machine came a voucher for six months free, an added bonus. The Miele TW520 8kg Heat Pump Condenser Tumble Dryer is super quiet and both of them can take loads of washing with no problem, an essential in a house of five. We also decided to add a cold drinks fridge for waters, juices etc, so I went online to ao.com and bought a Zanussi model. It fits under the new worktop space perfectly and it’s great not to have to cram all these larger items into my normal kitchen fridge.
Brought In The Light
There are no windows in this room and it’s truly to the detriment of the space. The light was absolutely the worst feature of this room prior to revamp. I can tell you that it’s no fun looking for matching black socks under a single low energy light bulb that has lower impact than my phone torch. I’d worked with the team at Original BTC on my kitchen lighting so this time, I chose the smaller version, the Task Short Wall Light, to go above the shelves. They’re perfect for the space and Christian the electrician added a switch next to the socket so they could be worked independently from the main ceiling light. I bought a Creyer round LED ceiling light from Amazon for the ceiling - it’s really simple, a circular flush to the ceiling and one that replicates daylight. Because the room is window free, it was essential that I incorporated a light like this. At the same time as installing these, Christian swapped the white plug socket above the work surface for a chrome one that I had removed during my kitchen revamp.
Created A Drying Area
The radiator was truly nasty so I worked with soak.com to replace it with a traditional column model in Anthracite. I’ve worked with soak.com many times before and their products are consistently brilliant. These radiators are styled like originals but are super warm and efficient, plus are comparably economical. I scoured the internet for a wooden drying rack - I considered the ceiling ones but I didn’t really have the space, so I found one on a website called Pulley Maid that was perfect as it was flat to the wall when not in use. It’s a Beadboard Drying Rack and was easy to install (I did it myself using a drill - just saying) and it can be pulled out to hang nicely over the radiator. Oh, and whilst I had the drill out I also put up the Slofia set of five black birch hooks that I’d picked up in the La Redoute Sale.
No room is complete without art so I added a print from artist Sarah Maple and a wall sign from HU2 Design (unfortunately no longer in business or if they are I can’t find them), the metal version of the Fuck It Let’s Go To New York sign that I have in my hallway. Job done.
So that’s it! I am super happy with my new laundry room and friends entering my house can no longer believe it’s the same space. There’s still some boxing in to be done in the corner but it’s in excellent working order. It wasn’t the cheapest of refits as there were jobs that I couldn’t do myself, therefore had to recruit a plumber, electrician and carpenter to help. But if you are handy with these skills then there’s no reason that these changes couldn’t be done on a budget. Right, now to place the bets on how long it will stay looking like this.