Remember that episode in Friends where the fastidiously perfect Monica is revealed to have a messy closet, containing all of the junk and clutter that doesn’t belong in her beautifully curated apartment?

Well, here’s a confession; I have one too.  But it’s not a closet, it’s an entire room…

The utility room is tucked away in a dark, far corner of our rambling house, and is a place I could always be confident no visitor would discover.  It became the repository for all our household junk and for ancient, rattling appliances.  As a small child, Harry called it ‘the sad room’, and it’s hard to argue with the apt description.  In the peak of lockdown, I decided in a blur of cabin fever and adrenalin that Something Must Be Done about this and that it needed an urgent makeover.

The problem was not time but resources; there was nowhere to buy paint or flooring, few options for cabinets without several months of lead time…so we got creative and unearthed all of the leftover bits of everything from years of DIY, and here’s what we managed…

We pulled up the old, sticky laminate flooring and used leftover limestone tiles from our hallway to lay a new, smooth floor.  They had been mitred in the corners for accent cabouchons (which we didn’t have), so I improvised by using stone drinks coasters to fill the gaps (each one is different, if you look closely!).  The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball Shaded White, which we used in the kitchen and master bedroom, scraping out several old tins to eke it out around the walls.  They’d previously been stained by emissions from an old freezer and pocked with years of screws and picture hooks, so the simple act of filling and repainting made a world of difference.

Miraculously, Ikea offered a two-week delivery service so I ordered a basic run of grey units, sink and worktop and then painted the unit doors in the same colour as our (much more expensive!) kitchen cabinets.  The offcut from the worktop provided a floating shelf, and I used leftover pieces of tongue and groove board from our snug renovation to make a splashback run along the wall.

Our appliances had previously sat on either side of the doorway, necessitating lots of stooping and the need to call out whenever someone approached, lest they exuberantly flung open the door and broke your nose.  Time for a change; we stacked them and used another Ikea cabinet to house them, extending the back slightly and using batons either side of the door to mask the fact that we’d added width.  With a lick of the same paint, it hides the DIY extensions and the fact that it was from a different range entirely!

We moved the base of an old dresser in to the laundry room for storage and to provide a surface for folding and sorting clothes, and added a gorgeous country-style airing rack for drying (flowers as well as clothes!).

It now has the kind of calming, zen air that makes me gravitate towards it and actually seek out opportunities to wash, fold and sort (I can hear my mother snorting with laughter at this unlikely image). It has a cool glow in the early morning light, fading to a golden warmth by the afternoon…

Even the smallest family members have taken quite a shine to it…

Here’s a list of what we used…

  • Paint colours; Farrow and Ball Shaded White (walls); Paint and Paper Library in ‘Stone I’ and ‘Tartalan’ for the cabinets and splash-back
  • Easipanel stick-on panelling for the splashback
  • Drying rack from here
  • Ikea units, worktop and sink

Have a great week wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!