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Designing and planning

Can you feel it? There’s definitely a nip in the air now – a signal that autumn is on its way. It’s at this time of year we often discover that the wonderful open-plan kitchen diner, open to the garden via bi-fold doors, is not necessarily the best idea as the nights draw in and become colder. While in summer it’s the perfect answer to family living, in the winter it could easily turn into one long round of floor mopping as pets, children and even careless adults trudge dirt through the kitchen, discarding soggy coats hats and scarves in their wake.

So, if you’re planning a multi-functional room, as a growing number of us are these days, then what’s the answer to the ‘rainy day conundrum’?

Planning a separate room or entrance from the rear of the house that leads into a vestibule of sorts is the perfect solution. That could just be something as simple as a place to hang hats and coats when you come in for the garden or it could be a fully-fitted boot and utility room with space for a sink to wash the mud off the dog and even children before they rampage through the house. Adding in laundry appliances will also mean washing is always out of sight, too. Remember to plan in a tumble dryer if you can as it will be worth its weight in gold on days when it’s pouring down and drying outside is just not possible. 

Whether you opt for a simpler boot room or a fully fledged utility room will obviously depend on if you have the space and how great your need is. If you just require somewhere to store outside clothing, shoes and coats and maybe the odd scooter then a boot room would be a better use of space. While those with heaps of family pets – especially adventurous dogs – and children would do well to keep the clutter and mess contained in a dedicated utility room.

Boot room design

Bench seating, with storage for shoes below makes for an efficient boot room. Consider adding in shelves with peg racks above a unit with drawers so each family member has a dedicated space for their things. While a Shaker style peg rack is an attractive option, if you prefer to keep things completely out of sight, a tall fitted cupboard with doors will help to keep things tidy. Fit it inside with pegs for coats and racks for shoes. Adding ventilation holes in the doors will ensure that air circulates around damp clothing helping to mitigate smells and help things to dry. Adding underfloor heating might seem like an extravagance but if you’re fitting it in the rest of the kitchen space, then it is definitely worth the extra money. It will be much more comfortable underfoot when you’re taking your boots off on a cold winter day and it will also help to dry out wet coats and shoes. If you can, try to squeeze in a sink. Fitted with a spray tap it can be super useful allowing you, for instance, to wash dirty dogs before they scamper all over your clean floors. 

Utility rooms

If you’re planning an open- or broke-plan space and are concerned about the twin horrors of clutter and noise then a utility room is a clever solution, meaning you can separate baskets of laundry and the noise and distraction of a wash load on spin going full-throttle from your living-dining space. It’s a good idea at the planning stage to consider the room you’ll need for both appliances – washers and dryers – and the storage space you’ll need for laundry products including somewhere to put baskets of clean or dirty washing. Plan in a sink, too, as it will be super useful for hand washing or soaking. Make sure it’s a decent size though, a butler or Belfast sink is a good option. For the cabinets, you could create continuity by fitting cabinetry to match your kitchen but add good quality laminate worktops instead of stone or composite to keep costs down. Remember to think about the plumbing and electrics at the planning stage, too. Don’t just think about what you’ll need for your washing machine and sink, though. If you’ve planned in a venting tumble dryer you’ll need to work out where that will vent to. 

If you’re blessed with lots of room then an extra tall cupboard to house the ironing board and a space to use it will mean you’re not moving piles of clothes from place to place. As with a simple boot room, underfloor heating just adds an extra degree of comfort and warmth, particularly if you’re likely to spend some time in there ironing. Finally, don’t forget to plan in plenty of plug points, particularly for a tablet or phone to keep you company while you work!

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