Before and After: A “Bootility Space” Hides a Boiler and Adds a Bench for $615

published Nov 8, 2023
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There are lots of cool DIY projects out there that hide home eyesores, big and small. A curtain can hide under-sink pipes, for example, or a built-in cabinet can conceal a cat litter box

This “Bootility” room project from Gemma Goodhead (@_houseonthemeadow) serves as both a boot room and a utility room, thanks to a $615 storage unit. Before, the room was a bit of an awkward space with one large boiler in the corner. “We had to have our boiler relocated as part of a renovation project, and it became quite an eyesore in the room,” Gemma says. “My husband suggested we have a cupboard built to hide it, but we would have still been left with a big, blank wall in our utility.”

Gemma wanted to maximize the space. “It didn’t feel like a proper room in our home; it was a bit of a dead space for us,” she says. “It was just a plain room, painted in white emulsion, and we hadn’t given this room any love or attention. Therefore, I came up with the idea for a ‘bootility’ space which would give us the extra storage we craved as a family of four and will also look beautiful and stylish.”

The solution? A built-in cupboard.

Gemma hired a professional to build a unit that wraps around the boiler on the left side, has overhead storage in the middle, and has a matching cabinet for storage on the right. “But if you were competent with DIY, I think you could achieve this yourself,” she says. “I spent a lot of time researching how I wanted this space to look and made sure that the unit we wanted to build was practical as well as aesthetically pleasing.”

Her one takeaway for anyone doing a similar project is to plan around whatever storage baskets you might want to display in a unit like this so everything looks intentional and custom. “Otherwise, you could potentially build a unit and not be able to source any storage baskets to fit,” Gemma says. 

Her storage baskets are from Wovenhill, and the unit is painted a chalky grayish white (Farrow & Ball’s Hardwick White.) “This is such a useful space for us in our family home and is used daily to store school bags, hats, and scarves — as well as the additional cupboard space to store our belongings,” Gemma says. “We are also pleased that this unit now acts as an indoor log store for our log burner, and I love the rustic, country look of storing our logs underneath the bench seat.”

Next came the bench underneath. 

After the pro built the framework, Gemma added the beadboard backing (it’s beaded MDF paneling similar to this) and the bench seating with some help from the carpenter.

“Once the unit was built, it took us some time to source the right piece of timber to create a bench seat,” Gemma says. “We visited many reclamation yards but we were unsuccessful. Eventually, our carpenter suggested a piece of timber he had in his workshop, and it was perfect and achieved just the look I was after!”

Gemma says the scrap piece from her carpenter was extremely wallet-friendly and that “it’s always worth scouring reclamation yards or Facebook Marketplace for off-cuts.” She has some other budget-savvy advice for anyone looking to do a similar build: “We sourced cheaper MDF timber to build this unit, which then allowed us to paint it to our own taste,” she says. “Plus this also gave us the option that we could paint it again in the future if we wanted to change the decor.”

Speaking of decor, Gemma finished off the addition with some aged brass coat hooks, a faux fur, and some throw pillows, and it now looks like a complete room instead of an abandoned corner. “It’s given this room character and purpose,” she says. “We wouldn’t change a thing! We are well and truly smitten with our new storage space! I just wish we’d done it sooner!”

For more game-changing entryway and mudroom storage projects, check out this $600 DIY bench, this gorgeous $43 IKEA hack, and this clutter-busting BILLY project.