When it comes to utility room shelving, there are a wealth of styles to choose from to help streamline your space. If you’re researching other options besides built-in cabinetry, then modular wall shelves are a great place to start. ‘Utility and laundry rooms have become a desirable must-have at home, but are often compact,’ says String Furniture’s Peter Erlandsson. ‘Minimalist modular shelving is a great way to fit more storage into a small space, and avoids completely covering the wall surface so can help a room to feel bigger.’
An added bonus of shelving is its versatility. ‘Today’s utility room has to be so much more than somewhere to wash and dry clothes,’ explains interior designer Irene Gunter of Gunter & Co. ‘With the right design, it can also provide much-needed extra storage, which is particularly handy if you’re a large family,’ she adds, advocating the addition of space-enhancing features such as pull-out shelves beneath washing machines for loading and unloading laundry, high shelving with integrated hanging rails and low cubbies for pet baskets.
Whether wall-hung, fitted or freestanding, open shelving provides a flexible, and more affordable, alternative to bespoke joinery. Modular options will also allow you to customise your shelving to suit the layout of your space, and effortlessly reorganize it as your storage requirements evolve over time. We’ve compiled a few of our favourite shelving solutions below to provide some inspiration for your utility room ideas.
Utility room shelving ideas
1. Add a Hanging Rail
Utility room shelving doesn't all need to be at eye height. And in fact, sometimes it's beneficial when it isn't.
‘A high shelf with integrated hanging rail is a hugely helpful addition to a hard-working, multi-purpose utility room,’ says Humphrey Munson creative director Louisa Eggleston, referencing this elegant redesign project the brand undertook. ‘
The shelf itself provides additional utility storage and the rail offers a place to hang clothes while ironing,’ she adds. This serene space also features a generous butler sink and additional fridges integrated behind cabinetry either side of the central counter, which provides an area for folding laundry. A set of mini steps were also included as part of the design to allow easy access to the upper cabinets and shelving.
2. Pair your shelf color to the cabinets
There are always ways to add decor flair to anything in the home - even the most functional of spaces.
‘Practicality is of vital importance in a utility or laundry room, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish too,’ says Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. ‘Install a few shelves and personalise them with plants or objects that bring you joy. Decant washing powders and liquids into practical but pretty containers, and hide away cloths and cleaning products in a cupboard.’
In this compact utility space, Gunter & Co kept wall-hung storage to a minimum to avoid cramping the room. Two shelves on either side of the window have been painted to match the base units - a smart touch - and provide easily accessible storage.
3. Capitalize on Vertical Space
The great thing about utility room design is that shelving can go on almost any available space. Because this is never going to be room to entertain in, you can set about making it as useful as you need. And there are tricks to do this without making the area seem cluttered.
'Utility rooms are often tight, small or awkward spaces that also have to be Tardis-like in terms of containing clutter,’ says Simon Glanville of A Place For Everything, who created this door tidy. ‘Maximize vertical space and free up more of the floor by using the back of a door to create additional storage with racks, hooks and hanging compartments.’
Here, a single bracket from the brand’s Elfa shelving system has been fitted with slender baskets to contain laundry liquids and other household items.
4. Customize Storage with Modular Shelving
There are few modular shelving designs as refined and functional as String’s system, which was designed in 1949 by the Swedish architect Nils Strinning, and looks as good today as it did then.
‘The best thing about modular furniture is that it can be installed anywhere,’ says String Furniture’s co-owner Peter Erlandsson. ‘Just make sure your shelving is deep and tall enough to store your belongings but narrow enough that it doesn’t compromise your precious square-footage,’ he says. Ideal for narrow utility rooms, where space is a premium, Peter recommending a mix of open shelving and cabinets to create a unit that can also conceal items that you don’t want on show.
5. Get Creative with Freestanding Shelving
You know we love an IKEA hack as much as anyone, so we were delighted to find one for utility room shelving. When designer Melissa Coleman moved into her Minneapolis home, the laundry room needed a serious overhaul.
‘It was just a square of a room with a stacked washer and dryer, and all of its contents were spilling out into the house,’ remembers Melissa, who turned to Ikea’s Elvarli shelving system to help streamline her utility space.
'The laundry baskets were actually the inspiration for this room,’ explains Melissa, who configured the shelving to accommodate the height of the containers and performed a little hack by leaving out some of the horizontal bars between the supports to create more counter space.
6. Go Bespoke with Purpose-Built Cabinetry
Despite measuring just 108 square feet, this tiny Moscow apartment crams a wealth of functions into its compact floor plan. Key to its success is a central section of cabinetry, which contains a kitchen and utility area that’s packed with pull-out solutions and carefully customized shelving.
‘Precisely organized blocks have been slotted into the apartment,’ says architect Alireza Nemati of Studio Bazi. ‘I drew on product design knowledge to prototype and build each element. The oak block contains a kitchen, next which is a cabinet with a washing machine and shelves for laundry, cleaning products and clothes dryers.’
We particularly love the pull-out laundry drawer above the washer.
7. Corral Clutter with Pegboard-style Shelving
Not all utility room shelving ideas need a handyman, nor blow the budget. ‘With the help of inventive storage solutions, you can not only de-clutter your home, but also enhance the style and layout of your space,’ says Clotilde Passalacqua, Interior Design Leader at Ikea UK And Ireland. This Skådis wall storage offers flexible, budget-friendly shelving that looks great and can transform your utility room in an instant.
A sleek and contemporary take on classic pegboard, this affordable IKEA storage hack attach easily to walls and are a perfect match for narrow or awkward spaces. Add slimline trays, hooks and holders to store and organize detergents, cleaning products, tools and other household items.
8. Zone a Utility Corner with Fitted Shelving
We're all for small kitchen ideas, and apartment living often requires that you think creatively. If you don’t have the luxury of a separate utility room then a generous fitted unit, such as this model from Scavolini’s Laundry Space collection, is a great way to carve out an area in an open-plan kitchen.
‘Keep the utility area orderly with plenty of fitted storage,’ says Scavolini’s Brani Hadzhi. ‘I recommend a full-height cupboard, which saves on floor space while providing a place for items that are tricky to store, such as mops and vacuum cleaners.’
Here, two tall cabinets flow seamlessly into a capacious corner shelf with handy built-in compartments.
Tessa Pearson is an interiors and architecture journalist, formerly Homes Director at ELLE Decoration and Editor of ELLE Decoration Country. When she's not covering design and decorative trends for Livingetc, Tessa contributes to publications such as The Observer and Table Magazine, and has recently written a book on forest architecture. Based in Sussex, Tessa has a keen interest in rural and coastal life, and spends as much time as possible by the sea.
Natural gas grill vs propane: is there any difference between the two types of gas grill?
Wondering whether you should choose a natural gas grill over propane? We look at the differences in cost, convenience, and more
By Caroline Preece • Published
How do I make my kitchen minimalist? The 8 steps designers take for a perfectly relaxing space
Folding these 8 rules into your kitchen design will create the perfect minimalist space that's calming, ordered and designer-approved
By Fleur Britten • Published