I love it when I can feel a series of blog posts starting and I feel this one has legs.
I’ve been very lucky over the last year working for a US company producing drawings for architectural projects in the US.
Click HERE for details on the work I can provide as an Architect using Vectorworks
And during the course of this work there are a few key differences that differentiate US residential buildings from that in the UK or Ireland; this is the first post (of which I think there may be a few) that illustrate a few departures…
Utility vs Mud Rooms
Every house I’ve worked on in Ireland has a Utility Room. Wikiepedia has the following description of a Utility Room:
“The utility room has several uses but typically functions as an area to do laundry. This room contains laundry equipment such as a washing machine, tumble dryer, ironing boards and clothes iron. The room is also used for closet organization and storage. The room would normally contain a second coat closet which is used to store seasonal clothing such as winter coats or clothing which are no longer used daily.Storage spaces would contain other appliances which would generally be in the kitchen if it was in usage daily. Furnaces and the water heater are sometime incorporated to the room as well. Shelving and trash may sometimes be seen at this area as not to congest the other parts of the house.”
Traditionally the Utility Room has been at the back of the house to give easier access to clothes-lines etc… What’s peculiarly interesting of Irish house plans is that very frequently the front door is hardly used (used by strangers to the house such as travelling salesmen etc…) and that the back door is the normal access point for people that know the family. This access is frequently through the Utility room or a small hall that leads to the Utility Room (not ideal).
Effectively the Utility Room in Ireland has become the ‘Mud Room’ of the US. Let’s compare the Wikipedia entry for a Mud Room:
Many suburban American houses have a mud room, a casual, generally secondary entryway intended as an area to remove and store footwear, outerwear, and wet clothing before entering the main house. As well as providing storage space, a mud room serves to increase the cleanliness of a house proper.
What’s interesting is that this purpose-made room to ‘remove and store’ isn’t cluttered up with other items such as sinks, heat-pumps and the like. What’s even more interesting is that the concept of a Mud Room would be perfect in rural Ireland; a dedicated room to take off wellies, winter coats, hats and to store them before entering the ‘clean-side’ of the house. In fact I may even start a campaign ‘More mud-rooms for Ireland!’.
Let me know what you think, does your house have a mudroom?
Oh, yeah; if you’d like a mud-room (or a new utility room for your house (either new or extension)) then why not CONTACT ME…
5 thoughts on “The Americans are like us, but there are differences: #1 Utility vs Mud Rooms”
I don’t recall which happened first.
Learning about mud rooms on a project or entering someone’s home via the mud room.
The concept made sense to me when I learned about it when I first worked on a residential project. It was a foreign concept to me as I did not grow up with people who lived in houses with a mud room.
I also remember realizing that the way we would entered my BF’s sister-in-law’s house was not the main entrance and in fact it is the mudroom. Their mudroom had everything as you described – laundry machines, boots, outwear, and as you described, it was the entrance for people familiar with the homeowner. I must admit that I did think it was strange that family entered from what I considered as the “back entrance”.
Nice comment, good to hear its similar!
I would also say that there are regional differences in the US- in some places it’s very common to put the laundry in the mud room.
Interesting, thought as much; lots of cross-overs