98. Maximising utility

Our utility room is almost complete

11th January 2016

Our ground floor utility room, at the front of the building, measures only 2.5 metres by 1.5 metres. As it’s so small, we used plywood rather than plasterboard to line the walls in order that we could easily fix lots of shelves and cabinets to the walls once the room was finished. After all, every home needs somewhere to stash tools, balls of string and all those unruly half-finished cans of goo.

Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. In one corner there is a big floor-to-ceiling cupboard, currently without a door, occupied by our modest (70 litre) hot water tank, the inverter for our solar panels and a bank of isolator switches for our appliances. But instead of hanging shelves and cabinets from the plywood walls, now painted with lime paint, we have hung pictures instead. This might be a small room but we will be in it quite often – it contains a washing machine, clothes airer, freezer, wash basin and our ground floor toilet – so we have decided to make it delightful as well as practical. All those cans of goo can find another home.

The pictures are mostly abstracts, including three by our neighbour, Janet Williamson, once known as the Bridget Riley of Goldsmiths. There’s also a piece of cross-stich by my mum, advice from Akbar and Jeff that dates back 21 years to our wedding, and a rather gorgeous piece of glass in front of the window, backlit by the morning light.

So you see this is a utility room in the Benthamite sense: it
is designed not only to facilitate getting household chores done but also to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. We will therefore encourage all our guests to spend as much time in there as they possibly can.


  1. Blimey. Your 'utility room' is worthy of an admission fee. Stunning.

    1. Not a bad idea, Janet. Perhaps we should put a box on the wall and encourage people to spend a penny!

  2. I won't need much encouragement :-D
    And I've always loved that poster.

  3. This is so inspiring. Bringing beauty and harmony to the most basic tasks or our lives. This must be my favourite of all the 'Building the Orchard' posts!

  4. Consider that entire room idea stolen!