Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mini utility room

While we wait to hear more news about the house move (other than "it's progressing") and because the loft organising post is still under construction, I thought I'd do a quick(ish) post about my mini utility room.

This has probably been the room in the house that suffered the most changes and it's today a very simple little room, yet a very functional and practical space.

This is how it looked when we first moved in...

... a dark and unloved room, full of junk too!

As we only had a washing machine at the time and there was room for it in the kitchen, we didn't really do much to it initially, other than remove all the rubbish and store (read hide) a lot of random things (hoover, DIY supplies, etc).

My husband had been trying to convince me for years that we should get a dishwasher and I've always refused because as it was just the two of us, it seemed unnecessary to me. Then we had children (these events seem to be a changing point for lots of things in our lives... so that's what people meant when they said "Once you have children your lives will be very different"!). And I was fed up with washing all the little bowls and plates and cups and pureeing equipment, while I had a baby screaming/tugging at my legs/generally in the way. Then we remembered that there was plumbing in the pantry for a washing machine and we only needed to install a power plug, which turned out to be straight forward and relatively inexpensive. Doing this would free up the space in the kitchen for the dishwasher. So, we ordered the dishwasher and prepared the pantry to accommodate the washing machine.

We didn't want to spend a lot of money and time in this room, but we wanted it to be practical and a bit easier on the eye. So we, removed the plastic shelving we had put in there, smoothed the walls using Ronseal Perfect Smooth and Repair and painted them white. Then put up a few Ikea's Antonius shelves and moved the washing machine in there, which wasn't so straight forward... the door and door frame for the room are smaller than the standard, as this room is effectively a cupboard under the stairs. So we had to remove the door and part of the frame to get it in there! But, boy, was it worth the trouble!

The noisy washing machine was nicely tucked away in the utility room and we had a dishwasher in the kitchen! How I had lived all those years without one, I don't know! Dishwashers are great! Aside from the obvious (that they wash dishes), we can hide away the dirty dishes, instead of having them piled up in the sink so our kitchen always look tidy. Why did I resist the idea of having one?

This realisation only led to me re-evaluating other chores I did and asking myself if I really needed to do them or if there was a better way of doing things... That's when I decided I was going to stop ironing. Well, not completely, because there are things that really need ironing... but, did I really need to iron jeans? And towels? And sheets? And... well, most of our clothes? And this was a chore that ate up hours every week and caused a great deal of stress, in particular, when the pile of clothes waiting to be ironed got waist high! That was it! No more ironing except for work shirts and the like.As long as I took the clothes out of the machine as soon as it finished washing and shook them before hanging, then folded them properly once dry, they where in a perfectly acceptable state and hardly notice the difference, especially with the kids clothes. What a relief! And all those hours I had every week - to do other chores...

Then I took it a step further by considering having a tumble drier too! It would save me even more time (that handing the clothes to dry would take) and meant the clothes would be even less wrinkled. Yay! I know it's not very environment-friendly (to offset this fact, we got the greenest and most energy-efficient we could afford) , but it's a time- and sanity-saver! Now, where would we put it? Then I remembered seeing somewhere that you could maybe stack it on top of the washing machine... so, I did some research and found out that yes, we could, by using a universal stacking kit. So, we bought this and the drier.

As with getting the washing machine in the utility room, we had to remove the door and part of the frame (which we can easily put back as we managed to remove it in such way that the nails remained on the part that was removed and fit it back in such way you couldn't tell it had been taken out). My husband almost did his back doing this (if you want to stack these machines, make sure you have help and enough room to do it!), but we got it in there! And, it became by second best friend (after the dishwasher!).

However, because the utility room is such a small space, we had to remove the shelving system we had in there and get a free-standing shelf unit that didn't take up a lot of floor space (as I had to have enough room to load and unload the machines), but that was tall enough and flexible enough to fulfill our storage needs (as that room is where we need to store the hoover, the steam cleaner, and other bits and pieces. So, I thought I'd get an Ivar shelving unit from Ikea that was thin, but tall.

So, we ended up with this:

And this is how I organised the shelving unit:

I also added a basket for storage to the inside of the door (which I painted white as I did all the doors downstairs - more on this on another post), which is where we keep our picnic blanket and some plastic bags :

So, now it's a proper utility room (only small) which is practical and easy to keep tidy. Here are the Before & After snaps:

How such a little room can make such a difference in day-to-day life!

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