The re-emergence of service rooms
The English country house is a fascinating example of an ongoing work in progress which now spans centuries: some ideas endure and others are discarded by subsequent generations. For those building new country properties, or renovating older houses, it can be interesting to see how some commonly found features which had fallen fell out of favour relatively recently, can in fact be of great use today.
The re-emergence of service rooms is a case in point. It seems that country house owners are again coming to appreciate the advantages of their practical uses, and wish to create appealing, and integrated, service rooms within into their property.
Of course, by the 17th century all traditional large country houses were built with service rooms, but 20th century owners making their own mark tended to consider find them unfashionable and rip them out in favour of larger ground floor spaces.
At the same time, new properties weren’t designed with these spaces in mind and service rooms went out of the vocabulary of the country house for a short time – until it was found that they still fulfill a genuine function, whether or not a house supports a large staff.
Now a new generation is now discovering these service rooms are the best way to keep a house running efficiently, and at Yiangou Architects we have noticed a trend in clients who are receptive to building them into their plans, and more than happy to budget to make them attractive.
The classic service room is usually considered to be the boot room – where the family and their guests enter after a day shooting or riding, to discard their things, from riding boots to wet dogs. It can be quite an informal space, but also well-ordered; many clients also require a separate gun room, if the house has a shoot.
Other popular service rooms I’ve recently worked on include walk-in larders for chilled food (kept cool with air from outside) and china storerooms located off the kitchen or dining room.