Weekend Warrior: Upgrade Your Mudroom
This story is found in the Spring 2019 edition of Park City Home.
A mudroom is meant to help keep the rest of a home’s interior clean and uncluttered. Sometimes, though, this transition space between indoors and out can become such a repository of cast-aside clothing and abandoned sports gear that the prospect of digging through it would seem agreeable to almost no one but an archaeologist. Here are some suggestions for making a mudroom organized and inviting.
Know the basics
Whether it’s a tiny space tucked away near a side entry or an actual room big enough to house the sports gear of a family of multi-seasonal athletes, every mudroom should have three essentials: a place to sit when wrestling with shoes and boots; sturdy hooks for keeping sometimes bulky, sometimes wet items from cascading onto the floor; and as much compartmentalized storage as is practical, some of it set aside for each family member (including canines).
Mudroom seating can be as simple as a stool with a bit of space underneath for storing footwear. Most commonly, though, the seating is a bench, usually one that’s part of a larger multipurpose unit, either standalone or built-in, that includes garment hooks as well as cabinets and open cubbies for everything from hats and scarves to ski equipment. Built-ins are the work of a professional cabinetmaker, but prefabricated units, which are available from many sources, can often be assembled in short order by a homeowner, and can make a mudroom look as stylish as any room in the house.
Update the storage
Storage is typically divided between cabinets, which do a better job of hiding clutter, and open shelving, which allows for better air circulation. In either case, the key to organization is to compartmentalize, either with vertical separators that divide the space into cubbies or by using storage bins. Wicker bins can allow for a bit of decorative style (and air circulation), while clear plastic containers make it easier to identify what’s inside without having to pull the container out. Bins can be labeled by contents, sport, season, or individual name, the latter especially useful for keeping track of small, frequently used items such as gloves, sunglasses, car keys, ear buds, and dog leashes.
Install serious hooks
Hooks should be heavy enough so that bulky coats won’t slip off of them and gear-laden bags won’t pull them out of the wall. For extra strength, attach the hooks to a wooden backing rail that can be screwed into a wall’s studs. For ease of installation, rails can often be found with pre-mounted hooks. Attach the hooks high enough so that even long garments can hang free, but also consider a lower row so that children will have one less excuse for tossing their things onto the floor. Related to hooks, pegs and wall-mounted racks are excellent for storing skis.
Think about a washer and dryer
If you’ve got room for them, and aren’t overly worried about who might trail past your dirty laundry, a mudroom washer and dryer can be a major help in keeping wet, muddy clothes out of the rest of the house. To save space, stackable units usually work best. Or expand even further by adding a sink and a counter and turning the space into a combination mud/laundry room.
Invest in the floors
Porcelain tile, because it is durable, water resistant, and easy to clean, may be the best choice for mudroom flooring. Natural stone works well, too, as long as it is sealed. Depending on your level of skill, laying down even a modest area of tile may be beyond the scope of a weekend project. If it is, a small rug laid on top of the current flooring can add a touch of color. For longevity, use indoor-outdoor carpet, which stands up to foot traffic and is easy to clean.
Paint the space
Paint can transform a mudroom from looking like a ransacked dungeon to a contributing element in a home’s overall design scheme. Keep in mind that just about every mudroom surface is exposed to dirt, moisture, and an all-around hard life. So for durability, use paint with a hard-surfaced semi-gloss or gloss finish. And remember that lighter colors, while helping make a small space look bigger, will more easily show the signs of everyday mudroom wear and tear.
Hang a mirror
The need for hooks and other means of vertical storage put mudroom wall space at such a premium that finding a place to hang a mirror can be difficult. But if there’s room for it, a mirror not only helps make a mudroom seem larger but also gives you a chance for last minute adjustment to scarves and hats before stepping out to face the world, or arranging hair and collars before making a grand entrance.
Consider the dogs
If you have a dog in the family, it is likely to spend a fair amount of time standing at the mudroom door, either impatient for you to clip in its leash or waiting to hear the first sounds of your return. Make the wait easier by finding space for a doggie bed and food and water bowls.
For more stories from this edition, visit the Park City Home special section.