Starting a new year, season, month, and even a new week are all linked to higher rates of productivity and motivation. We are wired to seek out inspiration and aspirations that move us to the next level in our mindset and better habits. It’s fascinating! Of course, there’s never more talk about change and resolutions than at the beginning of a new year.
What better time to share inspiring pantries, laundry spaces and mudrooms than the start of a new year when we want to create more function, practicality and beauty in our spaces?
Mudrooms see their share of well…mud. They are the safety net of the entire home, keeping dirt, water and grime from outdoor activities contained. They also provide incredible storage for the items that we need right before we leave the house but don’t want strewn about the main living area.
A well designed mudroom will have open storage, hidden storage and easy to clean flooring.
Open storage allows items that are constantly used in sight and in reach. Jackets and bags need a drop zone but don’t necessary need to be stored away, especially for a quick stop at home in between the work day or errands. A surface (especially one bench height) is perfect for setting things down and hooks are essential for hanging coats and jackets up on the fly.
Closed storage is a game changer in a mudroom because it keeps extra shoes, coats, gloves and outdoor gear easy to access without overwhelming the room. Closed storage can be tall cabinets, a coat closet, cabinet doors and drawers, and/or baskets. A combination of these elements is especially helpful for organizing different categories of outdoor clothing and accessories.
Easy to clean flooring (we prefer to use tile in these spaces) is a game changer. Being able to do a quick mop or steam of dirty floors without much effort keeps these spaces looking their best, even when they are handling a rainy day or a lot of foot traffic. Try to minimize grout lines as much as possible to make things a breeze to wipe down.
DESIGN TIP: A functional mudroom is really what you need but a beautiful one will help encourage everyone in the home to keep it picked up and looking its best. Choosing beautiful wall treatments like wallpaper or bead board add visual interest without the need of decorating surfaces or hanging art. Interesting hooks and hardware add personality to a practical part of the room. Getting bold with paint colors or tile patterns liven up a space that could feel relatively boring. Have fun with the functional elements in your mudroom and the design will really sing!
Laundry is a never-ending part of our lives. And the larger our families and the broader our activities, the more clothing piles up to be washed. Creating an inspiring, hardworking space in the laundry room keeps this monotonous task from being too mundane.
To design an efficient wash room, a few things are imperative: the correct appliance orientation for your home, sensible storage, and space for folding, hanging and ironing.
How your household lives as well as the spatial constraints of your laundry room point to the ultimate laundry appliance configuration for your home. If counter space for folding is at a minimum, choose front loading appliance to sit side-by-side. You can then add a folding surface over the laundry machines. If your laundry room has ample space, consider raising your appliances on pedestals. This gives your back a break as well as adding storage for detergents or cleaning supplies. Stacking appliances can be a way to work around existing windows and minimal empty wall space.
Instead of having stain remover, steamers and mending kits set out on the counter, a laundry room needs easy-to-access and well organized storage. This can look like a built-in nook for a hamper, shelves and cubbies with baskets, as well as cabinetry with doors and drawers for laundry supplies. Some laundry rooms double as whole home cleaning storage. In that case, a tall broom closet with an electrical outlet inside for charging wireless or robotic vacuums is something to consider. Think about what products are used on a weekly and monthly basis in your laundry room and plan storage around those needs.
It wouldn’t be a functional laundry space without a designated place to fold, hang, steam and iron. Standard counter height of 36” is a great ergonomic level to fold clothes. However, if the only counter available is over 39” appliances, a counter height of 42” will also get the job done. Consider a rod for hanging air-dry only clothing or a retractable clothing rack. A hook on the wall is a great place to hang a garnet for steaming and a counter ironing board or a full-size one stored near an outlet for easy use are helpful. As much clothing-related work can be regulated to the laundry room, the better!
DESIGN TIP: Don’t forget about finishes in this room. Between picking appliance colors, to adding useful and unique storage solutions, there are ways to beautify each decision into a cohesive design. Backsplash tiles, painted cabinets, exciting light fixtures and even wallpaper on the ceiling can give a utilitarian space the finesse you add to the rest of your home.
For homes that do a lot of entertaining, a butler’s pantry can be transformative. At one point, kitchens were not a gathering space. They were a utility room, meant for solely meal prep. Now that our homes have embraced the kitchen as a common ground and gathering spot, the mess of preparing for a party stays in sight. That is unless you’re a lucky one with a butler’s pantry off of the kitchen.
Each butler’s pantry is different in scale and set up but three main elements we like to incorporate in our designs are extensive, floor to ceiling custom cabinetry, integrated appliances and food prep surfaces.
A pantry’s main function should be overflow storage for food, serving ware and small appliances. When designing these spaces, we love to give full height cabinets with pull-outs for food, spices and ingredients. It’s an efficient way to see everything all at once and open as few doors/drawers as possible. For serving ware (and for aesthetics) we love to mix up cabinet door materials and add in a row of glass front doors for display. Glass fronts also make a small space feel bigger. Other cabinetry that is nice to have are a mix deep drawers and doors on base cabinets for seldomly used appliances that don’t necessary fit in the main kitchen. Think pressure cookers, air fryers and items that need a home but don’t need to be accessed often.
Wall ovens and microwaves are our most incorporated major appliances in the butler’s pantries we design. Extra ovens and cookers make preparing a large meal like Thanksgiving dinner so much easier. In fact, we love a pantry microwave so much that we often encourage our clients to only have a microwave in the pantry and keep it out of the kitchen all together. For the homes with extra space in the pantry, a second refrigerator can be a wonderful addition for storing platters of food during a party or using as a drink fridge on a daily basis. Other considerations for integrated and built-in appliances are an ice maker and wine refrigeration.
A butler’s pantry is really a prep space whether that’s doing some last minute cooking during an event or having all the food ready to go but staging it behind the scenes before it’s time to come to the kitchen or dining room. In either case, countertop surface is essential to make a practical butler’s pantry. Choose a hardy, easy to clean material so that if something happens in a frenzy and can’t be attended to until later, there won’t be any staining.
DESIGN TIP: While it can feel appealing to save money on this hidden away room, it flows best when it feels cohesive to the kitchen. It doesn’t have to exactly match the materials used in the kitchen but cabinetry vs. wire shelves will absolutely make a difference in the functionality and upkeep of the butler’s pantry. Save money by choosing finishes and products that don’t cost as much as the kitchen but still fit in the aesthetic.
Every house and utility room is different but I hope these tips and examples inspire your next utility room overhaul! And don’t hesitate if you need design assistance on these projects!