Reassigning a Room: From Toilet to Utility

Most homes these days have a downstairs toilet, even if there are only two bedrooms upstairs. Many two bedroomed homes are occupied by just one person or a couple without children and the need for a downstairs toilet is much less important than the extra space which can be gained by using that space as a utility room.

Many people might be put off the idea of removing a toilet and reassigning a rooms use for a utility room, but it is easier than you might think. It will also be possible to replace the toilet in the future when the time comes to sell the house. But think of the extra space gained in the kitchen by simply removing the washer and dryer. Well worth a couple of days hard work, we think.

Measure and design

Take the measurements of both your washer and dryer to ensure they will fit inside the cloakroom. They can be stacked or placed at either end depending on the shape of the room. Ensure there is space at the back and sides for pipe work and electrical sockets.

Now design the layout and take note of the items required. Wood will be needed to make a shelf like structure for the units to slot into or if you prefer you could buy some kitchen appliance units with doors to hide everything from view. Buy suitable waterproof flooring and plumbing items. (more on that later)

Remove the toilet

  • Isolate the water supply by closing the valve under the cistern. Flush the toilet to remove the water and check it does not refill. Remove the cistern lid and soak up any excess water with a sponge.
  • Remove the bolts at the back of the toilet to remove it from the cistern and disconnect the water inlet pipe. Lift off the cistern and remove it.
  • Undo the toilet from the floor and slide it forward. The soil pipe will be revealed. Place rags into the pipe to hide the smell if it is unpleasant.

Remove the sink

  • Shut off the water and undo the plumbing fixtures and taps. Be aware that there is likely to be some leakage of water which is sitting in the pipes, so have some rags or a bowl handy.
  • Use a utility knife to loosen the sealant around the edges of the sink and crawl underneath to find the wall screws. Undo these and lift the sink away.
  • You can leave the sink in place if you want somewhere to wash your hands, but the fittings for the washing machine will need to come off this hot and cold feed as well.

Reroute the plumbing if required

Depending on how your new room is to be configured, you may need to reroute the plumbing. If you can put the washing machine where the hot and cold feeds of the sink were, then great, but if not then some basic pipe work may be in order. The soil pipe can be used for the washing machine waste, but a special fitting will be required for this.

  • The correct fitting for a washing machine can be bought off the shelf. It is also possible to buy a longer flexible hose pipe so moving pipes is less of an issue.
  • Push fit fittings are the easiest to use. Buy a pipe cutter to cut the pipe work to the size required before attaching the fittings.
  • Both a hot and cold feed will be required in most cases.
  • The washing machine waste pipe will need to be attached the pipe trap, which in turn will go into the soil pipe. For this to be easily attached you will need to buy a waste adapter. A plumbing store will be able to advise on this.

Get an electrician in

Before installing any appliances, new electrical sockets will need to be put in place. Due to capacity issues they may need to be on a new circuit. An electrician will have to do this for you, but it is the only part of the job you can't do yourself.

Make a hole for the dryer exhaust/vent

Unless you have a condenser dryer, you will need somewhere for the dryer to vent to. Some people are happy to simply place the tube out the window, but the other option is to simply drill a hole in the wall to the outside of the house and vent it through there. Obviously this will require fixing should the room be changed back.

Lay the flooring

Before bringing the appliances in, lay the flooring. Take into account the fact that accidents happen and washing machines can overflow. So ensure the flooring is water tight and easy to clean. For such a small space, it should be inexpensive to put down good quality flooring.

Build the structure for the washing machine and dryer

If you are stacking the washing machine and dryer, then it is a good idea to build the housing for them. Either that or buy suitable kitchen cupboards suitable for the space. If choosing to do it yourself then a simple shelving structure should be sturdy enough. It can be slotted into the space and attached to the walls via brackets for extra stability. Add a lip to the top shelf to prevent the dryer making its way forward and falling off the shelf.

Add cupboards if there is space

The room probably still has space for more cupboards. The space to the side of the washing machine can be used for an ironing board and a cupboard or shelving for cleaning products can be placed on an opposite wall. This entirely depends on how much time you have and your carpentry skills. Many off the shelf products will work well in the space, but measure carefully to ensure they fit.

Install the appliances

Simply move them into place as you would in any other space. It may be tight to get them in and longer hoses may be required for the washing machine.

Decorate

The fun bit. You may choose to paint before the appliances are in place and certainly some small amounts of filling may be required for where the sink and toilet were removed. For the most part this will be hidden though. This room can be a basic as you wish or completely fitted, like a kitchen.

Now enjoy working our what you are going to do with the space you have liberated from the kitchen. New cupboard space is the simple answer. Another is to add a couple of bar stools and use the area as a breakfast bar with a space to kick your legs.

Yes, visitors may think it is strange to have to go upstairs to use the loo, but they will certainly admire your new utility room and wish they had thought of it too.

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