Mudroom Madness

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Posted by Sarah Bain on Nov. 18, 2018, midnight

It’s that time of year again when the walk-in/walk-out area of your home known as “the mudroom” really starts to earn its name. But this space doesn’t have to be a hallway to hide a mess of wet coats and dirty boots. With a little planning, it can be as functional and personalized as the rest of your home. And it can be a space that actually makes you get organized!

When planning a layout, think about materials that are durable and easily maintained. Your floor will likely see dirt, mud, water, snow and maybe a few paw prints. Some of the best surfaces for floors are tile or linoleum, even if the rest of your home has beautiful wood floors. Avoid wood or laminate floors because you might see standing water and other damaging grit and grime dragged in from the great outdoors.

Mother helping child put on shoes

Protect your walls with a treatment such as wainscoting or similar covering that will cover up part of the wall up to a certain height and won’t nick or blemish quite as noticeably as painted drywall. Easily-to-clean surfaces and glossy paints will also make your life easier here in the future.

One thing you’ll for sure want to have in your mudroom is an organized place for your stuff. There are many ways for storing things, but how you want to go about it depends a little bit on the size of your space, what kind of things you want to store and if you want items visible or hidden away.

If you don’t mind seeing some stuff, then add some attractive hooks or hanging bars for a convenient place to hang wet clothes and coats. Another good addition is a boot tray (or two) near the door, so you can remove wet or muddy footwear right away and keep them on a tray with a lip so melting snow and ice doesn’t puddle directly on the floor.

Speaking of shoes and boots, you will want a bench to make the process of removing shoes that much easier. If you’re short on space, select a bench that includes storage, either as shelves or a lift-up seat.

One clever method of storing stuff is a bit of a throwback to high school, and we love it: lockers. Get yourself a short row of lockers, and you have immediate storage that can stand the test of time. Some even include hooks for hanging hats and jackets, and everyone in the family can have their own designated storage space.

If lockers don’t fit your style, then consider shelves that can be filled with baskets, boxes, buckets or bins. Also, think about whether you want labels on these stuff-holders. One fun idea is to use wooden drawers or boxes, then paint the fronts with chalkboard paint so you can easily switch labels whenever you need to change a bin from “Timmy’s Boots” to “Sparky’s Tennis Balls.”

Dogs playing in puddles

Speaking of Sparky, don’t forget to think about what you might need in the mudroom for your pet. If you have a dog or cat coming into the house through this area, you might want to have storage for food, toys, leashes or even special outdoor clothes, bandanas or booties. Have a space to hang a towel or two for extra rainy days.

Maybe the mudroom doesn’t seem like quite the right place for it, but if you have the wall space, you might consider a well-mounted full-length mirror. One last glance at your entire self before heading out the door to see how well your outfit works after adding jackets, coats, gloves and whatever else you need to face the wintery elements can be a timesaver (as well as warn you that you have a mitten stuck to your leg).

Finally, if your family is anything like mine, you need a clearinghouse for messages and things that need to be dealt with. Hang a dry-erase board with magnets or corkboard with tacks to share of family notices, schedules, messages or honey-dos. A pocket or basket near the message board for mail or “don’t forget!” items when you leave the house can also take a load off your to-do list. Get your whole family in the habit of checking the message board and the task basket to take an edge off the family chaos.

A well-appointed mudroom can be a functional and fun part of the house. All it takes is a little planning to really make it yours.