The utility room in a home is often overcrowded. The space has a unique combination of uses – storing items that hardly ever get used, but which become exceedingly important when they are required; and storing large white good sites such as washing machines and tumble dryers, whose frequent use can often overtake the rest of the area – for example with clothes baskets, clothes horses and other drying arrangements.

For an area essentially given over to two disparate functions, appropriate shelving is the only way to keep things in order. With the right amount and design of shelf units, the home owner can ensure that his or her important tools, screws and other home maintenance items don’t fade into the conglomerate mess that some utility spaces can devolve to; while still keeping a solid area free for doing the daily tasks the room requires.

Different items require different kinds of storage. Some tools are best hung on a board, where they can be easily accessed by removing from their pegs. Other items, including manuals and other household paperwork, may be stored in a racking unit, where the individual shelves are actually drawers that slide in and out when required.

There are two basic types of storage – the “off the shelf” or shop bought storage unit, and the bespoke unit. Both have a place in the home, and the utility room may support one or the other: though the normally simple nature of the space means that it supports a shop bought storage unit potentially better than anywhere else in the house.

The utility room is normally of a uniform size – which can render the bespoke requirements of somewhere like a loft or attic space less important. In spaces that don’t have a uniform shape, or which have hard to reach corners and recesses, spending the extra money on having bespoke units built can make a large difference to the amount of stuff you can store and the efficacy with which it can be stored.

The utility room, of course, is not the only place where shelf type storage is required. There are plenty of other home situations where the neatness of built in or installed storage can help the home owner keep on top of necessarily strode items – from racks full of basket drawers for keeping shoes in order; to book shelves; to a full home office setup designed to separate important paper and machinery from less frequently used items.

Take the storage away from a room in a home and it becomes an empty box. The location of that box may define its purpose; while the shape of the box frequently dictates the nature of the furniture items and storage facilities that may be included in the room’s final design.

In any room where storage is a requirement, it may be necessary to give that storage requirement a prominent place within the design – by this it is meant that the placement of other necessary furniture items may have to be altered to accommodate the storage traditionally associated with a room. In a bedroom, for instance, the size and shape of a wardrobe may necessitate putting the bed in a place other than that which was at first intended.

In a home office, the shelving and desk units, in shape and size, may dictate the placement of the rest of the furniture.

Leah Benjamin is an interior designer. She has recently been researching built in racking solutions.