Compact, simple and often badly lit, the utility room has long been the room that style forgot.
Home to the washing machine, ironing board and overflow supplies of pet food, it’s fair to say no one was sharing photos of them on social media.
How times have changed. Gone is the Victorian sink and rickety drying rack. In their place are sleek appliances hidden behind bespoke wooden panelling in elegant Farrow & Ball shades.
Statement wallpaper, gold taps, parquet flooring, Oriental rugs and floor tiles that might look more at home in a boutique hotel are now the order of the day.
The place to be: Sarah Beeny likes spending time in her specially designed utility
So long utility room; hello beaut-ility room. Jools Oliver is the latest to share hers on social media, having transformed the old lamp room in the country pile she shares with husband Jamie and their five children into a showstopping, yet functional, space.
Before, it was a purely spartan area with whitewashed brick walls and everything from her mop to her washing machine out on show.
But a makeover by interior designers Gemma Lilly and Charlotte Reddington, AKA the Style Sisters, shared on Instagram this week, has taken it to a new level.
I love the floral wallpaper, and the lush greens and delicate pinks used on the paintwork and flooring that complement it so perfectly.
Jools now has her appliances hidden behind cupboard doors and shelving that holds see-through containers, keeping everything well organised.
BEFORE: Jools Oliver is the latest to share her makeover on social media, having transformed the old lamp room in the country pile she shares with husband Jamie and their five children
AFTER: A makeover by interior designers Gemma Lilly and Charlotte Reddington, AKA the Style Sisters, shared on Instagram this week, has taken it to a new level
Rather than just being a place to tackle domestic chores, it is now a pleasant place to be.
Other celebrities to give their utilities an upgrade include Martin and Shirlie Kemp.
It’s just as well because the utility room truly is the engine of the house. As a mother of four boys, I can attest that without one your home is never going to function quite as well as it could.
That’s especially true given the modern penchant for turning our kitchens into open-plan socialising spaces, often knocking down walls to create spaces of aircraft hangar proportions.
BEFORE: The Kemps’ revamped utility features a Belfast sink and plenty of natural light flooding into the room
AFTER: Other celebrities to give their utilities an upgrade include Martin and Shirlie Kemp
No one wants to entertain guests with the washing machine rattling away in the background, or piles of laundry littering the island.
But with the addition of a utility room, the rest of your house can be freed from the worst of the domestic detritus, providing somewhere for the tumble dryer and for the children to hang up their coats, kick off their dirty shoes and give the dog a hose down.
So I’m delighted that they have become the latest must-have interiors feature. I always try to persuade anyone I work with on a home renovation project to incorporate one into their designs.
It’s brilliant to see the ways in which people have styled them. After all, just because a room has to be practical doesn’t mean it also has to be plain.
It helps that they’re often fairly small spaces, so putting some effort into the decor won’t break the bank.
Plus, utility rooms tend to be visited only by the people they belong to, so you can go to town experimenting with fancy wallpaper you might not feel brave enough to hang in other parts of the house.
When my husband Graham and I set about designing our new home in Somerset, getting the utility right was a priority.
We had our first when we extended our old house in London 17 years ago, finding it invaluable to bringing order to chaos in raising our four sons, Billy, now 17, Charlie, 15, Rafferty, 13, and Laurie, 12.
They each had their own named cupboard, with their coats, school shoes, gym kit and swimming bags stored neatly inside.
This system saved us hours of lost time — no more hunting for stray football boots or a dry swimming towel — but it also looked lovely.
And the latest utlity must-have? A doggy shower
Because a good utility room isn’t just a boot room or a dumping ground. In our new home, ours is a lovely, streamlined and supremely organised space that flows on from the kitchen with cupboard doors that match.
It’s a room I want to spend time in. So if you have one, and haven’t given it a good spruce-up, do. You will find inspiration aplenty on Instagram, in design magazines or on interiors shows.
And if you don’t have one but are renovating, consider adding a new wall to create a beautiful utility. Your kitchen might end up a shade smaller but your life will be so much richer.