Utility rooms and laundry rooms in India are now emerging as the most sought-after areas to making life easier and well-organized. This space is necessarily meant for the family living together, and to make life better organized and well-managed.
Interior designers and home buyers in India are now turning to make their utility and laundry room beautiful, and a place that’s a pleasure to work-in. While a home owner’s heart will always drool over other spaces in the home, like the kitchen, living-room, bedroom or even bathrooms, the laundry and utility areas are now getting a lot of well-deserved attention.
A ‘utility room’ is basically meant for accomplishing many purposes/tasks in one room. On the other hand, a ‘laundry room’ is meant exclusively for the care of your clothing needs.
We shall dwell on these two in far greater detail in this article.
- ‘Utility’ room vs. ‘Laundry room’- a clear perspective for the Indian home buyers
- Increasing importance of ‘utility’ and ‘laundry’ room
- What’s a Utility room?
- Utility room- multiple uses, benefits and advantages
- Utility room- the ‘workhorse’ that needs to be well-designed
- What’s a Laundry room?
Increasing importance of ‘utility’ and ‘laundry’ room
The desire to have a great utility and laundry has further gained importance post the pandemic, as one needs to be prepared to stay indoors and still have all that’s required in difficult times.
The once oft-ignored utility and laundry rooms, which were considered dull and uninviting, are beginning to gain lot of attention over the last two decades globally. The functionality and aesthetic appeal matter. These room are often connected to the kitchen. It is increasingly gaining importance as a place where Indian family members are having to spend their time. With double income couples, and even children expected to do their own chores, this space give the right atmosphere to undertake laborious task.
Home related chores are no longer the exclusive domain of the housewife. All family members need to shoulder their respective responsibilities be it regarding their wardrobe, or the kitchen. A Utility area is meant to take care of multiple needs like storage, washing, ironing, keeping house-keeping items, and meeting plethora of other home needs.
This is why utility and laundry rooms are usually placed adjacent to kitchen’s neighbourhood. With more than usual time being spent there, they surely deserve the same level of planning, thought and designing as the other rooms which shine bright on the centre stage of importance.
Life can be pretty miserable unless clever designing of utility and laundry room is missed or undermined.
Let’s first understand what a utility room is, and how it differs from laundry. Also, let’s figure out if design is different for both!
What’s a Utility room?
The name says it all– a utility room is known for its usefulness, its function and its practicality in giving you a good living experience- both in good and bad times. It makes you self-reliant, especially in the post-COVID era. Since times immemorial, these rooms have been connected to the kitchen because they are an evolution of the washing and cleaning area of a home in the good old days.
Be it Europe of India, the homes beyond 70 years had a specific area which was often located closer yet a little distinct from the kitchen, and this area was used for cleaning of utensils, and also for washing of clothes. In Indian villages, people would wash and dry their utensils as well as clothes out in the open.
Later, with the more modern, post Indian-independence era, urban living became the order of the day. Lots of people migrated from villages to the cities, which in turn became cramped-up. Space became scarce in the cities, and homes became smaller. With the advent of apartments, these were earlier ignored over a few decades, but over the last two decades, the importance of ‘utility room’ has resurfaced.
Hence, a utility room that we witness today is actually an all-in-one room. These rooms are used to park/keep anything that you either don’t want or would simply NOT fit well in your kitchen.
- These secondary spaces are useful, hence the term ‘utility’. These are actually enablers to making your kitchen more efficiently. Your kitchen functions better with items kept there, be it appliances, storing of dry or wet-food items, washing-machine or dryer
- Utility room in India are used to store kitchen appliances, gas cylinders, kitchen equipment which are pulled-out only when they are to be used (idli/dosa batter maker, large utensils used sparingly etc.)
- The utility room helps you de-clutter your kitchen. You don’t want your kitchen cabinets to be storing items, and becoming a dumping-yard of items that are not used on a regular basis. Cabinet space is valuable, and NOT everything fits in. Also, we don’t use many equipment on a daily basis. The less cluttered your kitchen cabinets are, the more enjoyable is the experience of working in the kitchen.
- Small or large, a utility room helps you eliminate tasks and items that eat-up valuable kitchen space. Thus, this enabling room comes to the rescue of the kitchen as a friendly neighbour.
- Besides the kitchen material, washing, drying and ironing is also a need that must be met by the utility room. While it’s common in some India households, especially apartments to house the washing machine in the bathroom or kitchen, but this renders the bathroom or kitchen space rather ineffective or under-utilized. This is why increasingly, the architects are making utility room by the kitchen.
- By moving washing machine and tumble dryers (clothes dryer) to the utility room, away from the kitchen or bathroom helps. This way, you optimize the spaces in your kitchen or bathroom.
Utility room- multiple uses, benefits and advantages
While an all-in-one utility room that caters to ‘kitchen’, ‘laundry’ and other multi-purpose needs, but people differ in their needs and expectations. So does their view of ‘Utility’ room. Some of the uses and advantages it gives are
- In some homes, ‘utility’ could mean using it as a big-sized pantry which is filled with cabinets and open shelves to tuck-away items that you don’t use every day. This includes items like cutlery, serving dishes and serving-platters, fine-dining crockery, glassware and all types of beverage-bottles. This releases tremendous amount of space in the kitchen cabinets.
- All of the excess belongings can conveniently be parked in the utility room. A utility room with its cabinets is also used for hiding undesirable clutter like footwear, winter scarves, hats, rain-coats, umbrellas and so on. Finding and using the day to day use items becomes so much easier!
- Another way to use utility is for the clothing especially, winters, or rainy season in India. One can keep winter clothing, coats, woollen clothes etc. A beautiful washing-sink is increasingly being placed in the utility room for cleaning clothes or anything that needs to be separated from the kitchen sink. The utility room with a sink comes extremely handy when hosting meals for large number of guests.
- Yet another purpose served by the utility room is to separate the kitchen sink and bathroom, particularly storing the cleaning and pest-related equipment/additives that you want to keep out of reach of children.
Utility room- the ‘workhorse’ that needs to be well-designed
Essentially, the utility room truly serves as a workhorse, taking on the burden of all the laborious tasks. With a dedicated space, you can easily work hard without being disturbed. The tough chores and household can be done in privacy, and hidden away from the prying eyes of the other members of the home. This are lets you even enjoy your work in peace and at the fullest!
- A utility room, therefore, has a hardworking character, which has resulted in the architects and interior designers finding it very fulfilling to make it optimal. Designing a utility room is today an area of specialty requiring special attention to detail.
- As a home buyer, you need to make a list of your requirements, the weather conditions you face, the number of people who live in the house, each-one’s requirements, and then think of putting together a plan of your utility room. Unless all the requirements are met, the utility room will not be able to make everyone happy.
- The designing element must ensure that it is fully equipped with the equipment, cabinets, space-utilisation in such a way that all the tasks get fulfilled. The utility room needs to an area or a room that’s a pleasure to pass your time in!
- Hence, the design layouts, choice of cabinets, wardrobes, closets, colour schemes, the materials, the fixtures, and the finishing etc. need to be considered well to make a functional yet aesthetic utility room. The utility room is second to none, and needs to receive the same or a higher level of detailing than ever before.
- When you are designing your utility room, you could even make it ready for a dedicated role. But this is possible only if you have enough space in your home to fit-in things that are not used on a daily basis. So, if you have a huge apartment, perhaps, anything above 3500 square feet, then you could consider using your utility room for one purpose, for instance, only about cleaning. In that case, you could put your utensil washing sink or dishwasher in the utility room with the help of an extra sink. You could organize all of your cleaning agents, lotions, accessories and mopping equipment in the ‘one-use’ utility room.
- If your utility room has to do the job of a multi-tasker, then, you have to clearly demarcate zones within the utility room in a way that it’s well-organized, well-ordered, and easy to operate. Skilful design of utility is even more necessary with a multi-task concept. This can work well, especially, when you are creating one room with mini-sections in it- comprising pantry, kitchen storage, beverage-storage, grocery storage, laundry room, clothing-room, and even foot-wear room with special section for storing shoes, coats. You could also have a tiny sitting-chair or a bench for drawing out your footwear, and wearing them comfortably. This multi-task concept does break the rules of Vastu in an Indian context, but is high on utility.
- A well-designed utility room lightens up your kitchen and other wardrobes/cabinets, because all the heavy weight-lifting is done in the utility room.
Imagine having a massive party at home, and if you have a one-use utility room meant exclusively for cleaning, then you clear-up everything, and keep it in the utility room to be dealt with later.
What’s a Laundry room?
The term ‘laundry room’ strictly speaking a favourite of Americans, vis-à-vis the British version ‘utility room’. In India, the home owners, architects and builders actually prefer calling it ‘utility’, since it is an all-encompassing term, and may mean different things to different people. It is completely up to the occupants what they want to make of the room.
Clearly, unlike utility rooms which can be turned into multiple spaces to cater to multiples chores, a laundry room is focused on its single function.
- Laundry room is where you do your washing and drying of clothes. The room is usually filled with washing machine, a tumble dryer, the washing liquids/detergents, laundry baskets, an ironing board, multiple hooks, the iron. Some home builders make the laundry area closer to the bathroom for water-related inlet and outlets, and also for ironing and storing the clothes for all seasons.
- Hence, many builders even in India provide for a separate laundry room that is slightly away from the kitchen. The laundry is clearly NOT an extension of anything to do with kitchen or cooking, hence the clear demarcation is preferred by some architects and home buyers.
- However, this hasn’t always been true historically. In the olden days, before the washing machine and dryers came into being, the laundry was closer to the water inlet outlet, in and around kitchen or bathroom. In the 1970s and 80s the appliances became technologically superior and quieter. This led to the new homes being designed with separate rooms called ‘laundry room’ meant specifically for these electrical equipment.
- A laundry room is built around how practical and convenient is. Also, it about detaching the clothes from the aroma and hassles that come with a kitchen, and is located in a room that is away from the kitchen. Away from the kitchen, a laundry room makes more sense, and is clearly has a more peaceful ambience. With the right décor, a laundry room can evoke a sense of serenity and impact well-being of the family members in the home.
- With a separate space of laundry room, you cease to invade into the kitchen spaces, and are able to do daily laundry tasks much less hassle. This is why a separate demarcated small area for a washing machine, dryer, iron-board, a storage cabinet with airy shelves for storing and detergents etc. Plus, a sink for delicate hand washing has a charm of its own.
End of the day, it comes down to the amount of spaces available to you. With 2 and 3 bhk spaces sold usually in India, concept of an exclusive laundry room is a bit far-fetched, unless we look at homes above 4000 square feet in the luxury segment, where you may find both a ‘utility room’ adjacent to the kitchen, and a separate ‘laundry room’ near the bathroom.
In a nutshell, if you do have a separate room that you can spare, having a laundry room is a lovely thing to have. Plus, just like its cousin, the ‘utility room’, it ends up freeing up lots of space in the bedroom closets/wardrobes, utility-room or even the kitchen-cabinets.
Many people use the term laundry room and utility room inter-changeably. What you call it depends the role you want your room to play, if the utility a defined role centred on clothes, you call it a laundry room.
If space is not a problem in your house, then a ‘large laundry room’ can be good over and above a ‘utility-room’ adjacent to kitchen. If space is a constraint, then home buyers can choose to have with a muti-tasker utility room. After all, living a quality life is the larger goal which needs to be done with a balanced view.
The bottom line is, both ‘utility room’ and an exclusive ‘laundry room’ are good to have. It all depends on the amount of space you can afford to buy as your dream home.
With limited budgets for the average home buyer, designing a ‘multi-purpose’ utility room makes sense. It’s all about making your home easy to live in day by day, both are about storage, usefulness and daily chores.
A utility room can very well be used as a laundry room. Similarly, a laundry room can be also be made in addition to a utility room. Regardless of which one you choose, they simply need to make your life easier and pleasurable!