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