Interior designer Sophie Paterson has always been happy to invite her 414k (and growing!) Instagram followers into her perfectly designed home with regular inspirational images and design tutorials but, until recently, there was one room she didn’t feel too comfortable sharing – her utility room.
The designer had left her utility room to the very last and was somewhat uninspired by it – especially as a now very busy mum to daughter Ava. What transpired was a complete overhaul of the space to create the most well-thought-out luxury utility room there ever was. Here, Sophie shares her process and offers her stylish utility room ideas.
I think utility rooms are the new kitchen. Now that kitchens are such a sociable and generally open-plan area, you need a hardworking utility room where you can store cleaning products, the hoover, ironing board, laundry, washing machine [and] tumble dryer.
Our utility room gets used just as much as the kitchen. I think people are now realising that it is not worth skimping on your utility room. For many, they will spend more time in here than any other room in their house. A good kitchen is now a given when developing properties, so a great utility room really catches people’s eyes and helps them visualise living in that property – it’s a good investment.
On a personal level, I had grown frustrated with my own utility room. It was the last room in our house that I still hadn’t given much attention to and we spent so much time in it, so I decided to create the ultimate in luxury utility rooms. I had seen some beautiful kitchens and utility rooms by Hayburn and it was my dream to have a completely bespoke utility room created by them.
I shared the whole process on Instagram (you can see it on my story highlights and #sputilityroom) and it went viral. I think it caught people’s imagination because it took what was generally considered a very basic room and showed what you can do to make it a special space that you would want to spend more time in. Now, when I have guests over, they all want a tour of the utility room!
I like to use wicker baskets for storage, some vases, maybe some glass containers with washing powders displayed artfully and some rustic chic accessories such as crackle glaze pots and jugs. I also decided to lean a small oil painting on one of the shelves. Adding unexpected items, such as a painting, in a typically utilitarian room elevates it and adds personality.
I maximised storage in the room by having dedicated solutions for everything we use in here. For example, I have a pull-out bin with three sections: one for hand wash items, one for standard laundry and one for dry cleaning.
I used spice racks on the inside of cabinet doors so that you can clearly see all the items in my cleaning product cupboard and my candle cupboard, which are much more user-friendly than deeper shelves where you can’t see items at the back. I even had a pull-out drawer cabinet with an integrated nappy bin. It is all about the planning stage and really taking the time to think about how you use the room and what features will enhance your day-to-day life whilst in that room.
If your utility room is small, I would use wall lights and tall cabinets to enhance the feeling of space and add a focal point. By adding the cornice detail to the top of the cabinets, Hayburn really enhanced the feeling of space and height in my utility room, as it draws your eye up.
Utility rooms don’t need to be large, but you can make them feel larger by adding more cabinets. Similarly, lighting can help create drama and depth to a room. The ones I used by Hector Finch are quite simple, but very effective.
If you can, I would recommend going bespoke – this way you can get the most from your room. For example, Hayburn designed a custom air-drying cabinet for a very shallow space behind the door that was previously empty. I also had a flower arranging pantry made because I love arranging flowers and it’s a much more functional way of doing it, especially when you can sweep the debris straight into a bin with a cut-out in the worktop.
The most luxurious are the hand-cast, hand-finished taps by Waterworks. They were made in the US and this particular design – the RW Atlas – is an iconic design of theirs. I had them in an antique brass finish which adds a luxurious edge to their industrial style. The cabinets are all handmade in Ireland by Hayburn and I chose elegant Art Deco-inspired handles by Armac Martin in an antique brass finish to add further glamour.
Anything you regularly touch in a room should always be of the highest quality as you can instantly tell when something is well-made or not when you feel it. I also opted for a man-made quartz worktop by Cambria as, for me, practicality is just as important as aesthetics and I didn’t want to have to worry about staining.
Hayburn integrated LED strip lighting into the flower cupboard for my late-night flower arranging sessions! I also have two washing machines and two tumble dryers from Miele which is a luxury, but also a necessity in a busy household like mine.
What suggestions would you make to a client who is looking to improve the design/feel of their utility room?
The utility room is becoming the home ‘atelier’ – a room for craftsmanship and creativity – so spend time with a designer and think about how you want to use the space. Do you want an integrated dog bed? How many machines do you need? What do you need to store in there? Have a think about the finishes. Is it a dark or light room? What kind of ambience do you want in here? My final tip would be to ensure that the insides of the cabinets are equally luxurious, as the cupboards are constantly in use and being opened.