A place for ev­ery­thing

The ideal boot room of­fers be­spoke stor­age for ev­ery out­door pur­suit, from muddy dog walks to gar­den­ing, rid­ing and shoot­ing

Country Life Every Week - - INTERIORS -

1. Boot stor­age

Deep pull-out trays built into cab­i­netry not only al­low for stor­age of boots of all shapes and sizes, they also make find­ing the right pair in­fin­itely eas­ier than when they’re stored in cup­boards. A wipe-clean base makes for straight­for­ward main­te­nance.

2. La­bels

If opt­ing for apothe­cary-style draw­ers, la­belling is es­sen­tial. Cre­at­ing as many draw­ers as pos­si­ble al­lows for ded­i­cated stor­age for even the small­est items such as gloves, shoe­clean­ing equip­ment, leads and dog whis­tles.

3. Glass cab­i­nets

Draw­ers with glass fronts trans­form the some­times time-con­sum­ing busi­ness of iden­ti­fy­ing larger items, such as head­gear, from hats and caps to rid­ing and cricket hel­mets.

4. Seat­ing

It’s es­sen­tial that a boot room of­fers plenty of space for putting on and re­mov­ing shoes and boots. This three-sided bench seat not only cre­ates ad­di­tional stor­age for foot­ware, but is also handy for stash­ing um­brel­las and walk­ing sticks.

How has the de­sign of boot rooms changed?

As well as boots, these spa­ces used to ac­com­mo­date lit­tle more than a boiler, a dog bed and a few rather thread­bare tow­els. To­day, things have moved on. The boot room—or, as the Amer­i­cans call it, the ‘mud room’—has be­come a key part of the house. It’s a de­com­pres­sion space where the fam­ily can di­vest them­selves of wet clothes and muddy rugby boots and wash down dirty dogs.

One of our spe­cial­i­ties at Ar­ti­choke is work­ing on the do­mes­tic back rooms of a coun­try house to make sure the me­chan­ics of a build­ing work for the fam­ily. The boot room is a key part of that and, al­though it’s hardly a glam­orous space, it does present a good va­ri­ety of de­sign chal­lenges.

Ap­pear­ance vs func­tion

The look and feel of a boot room will de­pend on its lo­ca­tion. Some clients want a smart, so­phis­ti­cated space be­cause it forms part of the en­trance to the house, but oth­ers want a wa­ter­proof room that can be fully hosed down. It should, how­ever, be both stylish and prac­ti­cal.

De­sign es­sen­tials

It’s im­por­tant to make sure the ma­te­ri­als used in boot rooms are ro­bust. This is a space that’s likely to see a lot of traf­fic and will get kicked about to a cer­tain ex­tent, so the sub­struc­ture of each piece needs to be strong. That starts with us­ing solid wood for all cab­i­netry—mdf is not al­lowed in my work­shop! The boot room is essen­tially about stor­age; along­side deep draw­ers and cab­i­nets, we’ve also de­signed hid­den spa­ces for ten­nis rac­quets that are housed on a shop rack be­hind a tra­di­tional door.

We’ll of­ten make space for a util­ity cup­board to hold a mop, broom and hand­held vac­uum cleaner. Where pos­si­ble, we like to in­clude a sink in a boot room— where the bud­get al­lows, a solid-stone sink is as ro­bust as you can get, but, oth­er­wise, Kohler’s un­der-mounted stain­less-steel sinks also work well. They’re use­ful for hand-wash­ing gar­ments as well as hos­ing down small dogs re­turn­ing from muddy walks.

Think about the taps, too: we of­ten favour swan-neck mod­els as they give a good height for fill­ing tall vases. Per­rin & Rowe’s Aquitaine sink mixer with a pull-down rinse is a good choice (01708 526361; www.per­ri­nandrowe.co.uk).

Dry­ing out

Un­der­floor heat­ing or ra­di­a­tors will be ne­c­es­sary to keep a boot room from smelling of damp. Where pos­si­ble, we like to put in a stone bench hous­ing a ra­di­a­tor un­der­neath and with holes at the back. Cats find these es­pe­cially at­trac­tive and our lo­cal Som­er­set Blue Lias stone works well.

Floor­ing

It’s crit­i­cal to use a re­sis­tant ma­te­rial, so we of­ten spec­ify clay tiles or re­claimed flag­stone as they can be mopped eas­ily and, con­trary to what one might as­sume, it is pos­si­ble to have un­der­floor heat­ing laid un­der them, too. Vinyl is a good al­ter­na­tive if looks come sec­ond to prac­ti­cal­ity. In some houses, we’ve put a drain in the mid­dle of a stone floor and stone skirt­ing to all the fur­ni­ture so that ev­ery­thing can be eas­ily mopped down.

Dec­o­ra­tive de­tails

To cre­ate pe­riod au­then­tic­ity in our de­signs, we of­ten use iron­mon­gery cre­ated us­ing the lost-wax process, which was in wide­spread use in the UK un­til the early 19th cen­tury. Devon-based Op­ti­mum Brasses makes faith­ful copies of orig­i­nals and has an archive of thou­sands of moulds (01398 331515; http://op­ti­mum­brasses. co.uk).

When it comes to paint colours, Far­row & Ball’s Point­ing is an ex­cel­lent white wall shade to pair with tra­di­tional colours, in par­tic­u­lar ones with dark tim­ber de­tail­ing (01202 876141; www.far­row­ball.com). Lit­tle Greene’s French Grey is a good choice for painted fur­ni­ture (020– 7935 8844; www.lit­tle­greene.com). Ar­ti­choke (www.ar­ti­choke-ltd.com; 01934 745270)

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Tra­di­tional bath­room mixer from Per­rin & Rowe

Bruce Hodg­son of­fers his ad­vice on cre­at­ing the per­fect boot room

Clock­wise from above left: A boot room de­sign by Ar­ti­choke; Lit­tle Greene’s French Grey and Far­row & Balls’s Point­ing; and a coathook and card hold­ers from Op­ti­mum brasses

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