‘It’s a middle-class dream come true!’ How the utility room became the new status symbol

Once they were grim spaces to stash away the mop. Now they’re must-haves for the rich and aspirational. What’s fuelling the desire for laundry-room luxe?

I am immune to utility room envy. The only one I know – my father’s – is impossible to lust after: a spidery, grave-cold windowless room, containing only a washing machine that boils clothes, a novelty pewter tankard full of fuses, and a pile of yellowing British Telecom envelopes.

But arachnid-free, luxurious spaces for laundry and storage have become unlikely new status symbols. Celeb magazines and property supplements breathlessly showcase capacious butler’s sinks; floor-to-ceiling cabinetry; “skirtains” (weird decorative valances to hide your shelves); personalised, individual laundry baskets for each family member; and built-in dryer rails. A survey of friends reveals an ardently desired utility wish list: “a massive freezer”, “appliances hidden”, “somewhere for the bloody mop bucket” – someone even says it’s “one of the few things I would move house to have”.

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