Designing Luxurious Utility Spaces

Today’s generation is rapidly re-inventing the definition of home. Once called our “castle,” the space we struggled to keep pristine yet impractical is now our “haven.” It’s a place we enjoy, where we live and love with family and friends to the fullest. We are transforming our homes into personal spaces where we regularly indulge in experiences that, at one time, brought us outside our homes . Along with this transformation comes the demand that each space performs its function to the best of its ability, all while looking as striking as possible. In my view, this is the hottest trend today – lifestyle trend, that is. Fashion trends come and go but lifestyle trends stand the test of time.

One room that is bursting at the performance seams is the mud room / laundry room. This hybrid room has always had a huge demand on its utilities, yet we always insist on making one room out of two – one collective space that has never delivered function or form. When designing spaces, I first look at the purpose of a space and I try to determine how I can possibly make the most out of its performance. Ungrouping the spaces is the first thing that must happen, as each should be a room of its own. The mud room is the transition from the outside to the inside of the home. It is a dedicated highway for the entire family, including pets. This is where we shed the winter wear, the dirty boots, the sports equipment and even the grime the dog drags in. The layout is your first challenge -make a list of all your demands and create a plan that delivers. Some elements we add include: specialized storage spaces, cell phone charging stations, utility sink, dog wash, stand-up dryers and much more. The floor must be waterproof and withstand tremendous foot traffic; porcelain tiles, quartz surfaces, and even ceramics today offer a beautiful look with outstanding durability. When selecting floor materials, look for textures that don’t allow dirt to gather. Natural materials can develop a unique and attractive patina over time but may require ongoing maintenance. Installing in-floor heating will add a luxurious feel while keeping the floors dry and free of mildew. I even like to heat the floor of the dog wash to eliminate any lingering dampness – make sure to treat this feature just like any other shower. The membrane-type waterproofing systems offered by companies such as Schluter are superior methods of waterproofing and should be considered in all wet areas, including this one.

Your mudroom needs to be efficiently designed and include the best in storage solutions. With everything in its place, this helps the entire home operate smoothly. I prefer to utilize cabinetry for coat and shoe storage instead of framed closets with doors. Framed-in closets takes up valuable real estate with their wall thicknesses, and regular swing doors provide inadequate access to the interior. Drawers are an important element of organization, so it’s important to properly plan the size of drawers required. The style and colour you select for the cabinetry sets the tone for this space – it is important to note that light cabinetry gets tremendous abuse and will quickly show wear and tear.

Designing the perfect laundry room depends entirely on the amount of space you can dedicate. Some laundry rooms get as much use as the kitchen, and, because most of us have a specific process by which we accomplish our laundering tasks, efficiency is vital. It doesn’t really matter where you locate it, although my preference is always on the second level of a home. There are certain key elements to consider first, such as machine size and configuration. If your machines are stackable, you can maximize your storage. If you prefer to place your machines side by side, a counter over the top will provide an additional work surface. Make sure, however, to select machines with front-mounted control panels for proper access. You can go as far as installing pocket-style doors to cover the machines for a finished look when they are not in use. Create a flow within your laundry room that accommodates the order in which you work. I find that it’s always more effective to utilize individual rolling hampers and create open cubby spaces amongst the cabinetry for them to tuck into. Place hampers close to the machines and make sure the doors on the machines open to allow easy loading. Design your cabinetry to accommodate sizes of specific items like detergent bottles. Use fewer drawers in this space to accommodate additional linen and towel storage.

Your floor should be a waterproof material with a drain in the centre of the room – especially if your space is located on the upper levels of your home. The same waterproofing as previously mentioned should be made since the potential for leaks exists in this wet area. Sheet flooring, such as Armstrong Marmoleum, provides a seamless water-resistant surface with endless design possibilities. Also, consider installing a unit like the Intelliflow automatic shut-off valve by Watts; it opens the water lines when it senses an electrical draw from the machine, letting it know that the machine is in operation.

Since the laundry room is no longer an all-purpose room, the sink and faucet should be selected to be more stylish and effective for the specific uses at hand. Whether it’s a deep stainless steel sink or a colourful apron front sink (like the new Jonathan Adler collection from Kohler), you’ll love being in this space! All counter surfaces should be highly durable because this room will surely see its share of chemicals and cleaning supplies – installing a Quartz countertop provides a resilient, elegant and stain proof surface.

Whether you love to iron or simply do it because you have to, make sure you accommodate well for this task. You need an area that is well-lit with a dedicated power source and enough room to manoeuvre around the ironing table. Most irons require water and therefore you should have reasonable proximity to a sink for filling. I prefer to have a place to tuck away the ironing board and iron when they’re not in use, and, if space allows, utilize an all-in-one unit that fits into the wall cavity.

Finally, if your space is a little tight, consider installing a pocket door to eliminate crowding. Select colours that are bright and fresh! Don’t be afraid to bring a touch of personality to your spaces!


Ramsin Khachi

Ramsin Khachi
From real estate sales, commercial design / construction to building custom homes, Ramsin’s experience has brought to fruition a once small, one-man construction company, into a full service Design/Build firm.
A leader in his field, Ramsin's unparalleled integrity for quality and his knowledge of construction has made him prominent member of the design community. Ramsin frequently lectures at public forums and to professional organizations such as “The Ontario Home Builders Association” and “The Canadian Home Builders Association.”
In the media, Ramsin shares his wisdom in design construction and décor on the Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Along with his many other public appearances, Ramsin has also been seen on CityTv’s, “CityLine” as their in house design expert for over a decade. Known for his vivacious personality and distinctive style, he educates the viewers on design trends, innovative products & the latest in techie gadgets.
A born problem solver, a truthful design advocate, and a purist for excellence; these are the characteristics of Ramsin Khachi, Principal.