My creativity comes to life not only for furniture, fabrics, and all things pretty, but also for language. Mudroom. It’s not a pretty word, but one we use often as attention to this space gains momentum for homeowners.
Mudrooms have been a necessary and functional part of a country house for generations. Those of us who live in urban and suburban homes are beginning to see the benefit of having a proverbial “dumping ground.” As we step inside, there’s an obvious need to unload coats, shoes, backpacks, and sports equipment. On the same note, the mudroom ushers us into the world as we leave and need to quickly don a jacket and grab our things. This space doesn’t need to be a big messy pile of every family member’s things. It can be organized to accommodate more in an easy grab-and-go format.
My own mudroom was featured in Better Homes & Gardens. As when I design rooms loaded with furniture, lighting, and accessories, I planned a purposeful scheme for this space. That required tapping into our family schedules and figuring out ways to make them seamless.
1. Establish a visual point of view.
Utilitarian spaces don’t have to sacrifice sophistication to function. Stark white paint offers no snapshot of the personality throughout the rest of the house. I advise choosing an inviting color or welcoming neutral that you will be comfortable with every day. My space is, in fact, neutral. I found a light taupe that emanates warmth. The pewter color highlights all sorts of design cues that make this spacious area functional and livable too.
Before assigning square footage, think of all of the activities that might take place in your mudroom. One must-have for so many families is a place to put on and take off shoes. I had wraparound built-in benches put just inside the door, leaving no excuse to wear dirty footwear in the house. And it’s outfitted with a shelf so everyone’s various athletic shoes are accessible.
My mudroom conceals coats, hats, gloves, and all personal items behind doors with inset mirrors that reflect through the windows to the gardens. The effect is a light-filled room. And don’t forget lighting. This is your chance for something functional but sculptural and pretty. A simple gold lantern-style fixture dangles from my ceiling to illuminate the room.
2. Soften the space.
Mudrooms boast a plethora of linear elements. It’s natural when you have storage units with shelves, drawers, and doors to keep your life in tip-top shape. But those hard construction moments require a little softening. My love for fabrics and prints found an opportunity to reiterate comfort with indoor-outdoor cushions and pillows on the benches. A gray-and-white swirl pattern mingles with other geometrics in black and white, and I threw in a feminine floral too. It’s black, white, and beige coloration keeps it from becoming too sweet. Our beloved pup, Parker, often perches on her little bed covered in a durable star-and-dot motif.
3. Label and monogram.
For many families, the mudroom is the final stop before school, work, and extracurricular activities. A well-labeled system ensures that on days you are running behind (hey, it happens), it will be slightly less hectic as you easily grab what you need before pulling out of the driveway. I installed plenty of hooks for bags, jackets, scarves, and sports gear. If I’m in the mood to visit the farmers market to peruse the fresh produce for tonight’s dinner, my bags are right there. If a last-minute text comes from a friend inviting me to play tennis, I can accept the gesture without hunting down my racket.
Remember, this room is all about grab-and-go. Take it up a notch by labeling or monogramming anything you can so there are no mix-ups.
4. Contain, contain, contain.
You may have heard it before. Don’t buy containers until you know what needs containing. Make a list of everything that you want and need in your mudroom space. Then you can shop all of those good-looking boxes, canisters, and acrylic organizers designed to make life easier.
Tennis and golf are star activities in our family. We are always sure to have balls and tees in clear glass containers so we can restock our bags readily before playing. Our built-in storage unit is techy too. It’s the perfect spot to keep extra chargers, USB cords, and ear pods since those are used mostly during runs. And you know how those ideas decide to flood your brain as you are walking out the door? Write them down on a notepad that is always kept in the mudroom. You can always manage the ideas later, but remembering the idea isn’t always so easy.
5. Assign a personal spot for every family member.
There’s no need for a mix-up in an organized mudroom. Assign each person his or her own drawer or shelf. Then allow each person to decide what goes into that spot.
I rely on sunglasses not only for eye protection, but also to complete my personal look. Instead of keeping them in my bedroom closet where my outer layers don’t live, I stock all of my sunglasses in the mudroom. That way I can choose a pair that I like with my outfit. And don’t forget the four-legged members of the family. Parker gets her own drawer. I use it to store toys, treats, and dog clothes.
Kitchens may be the heart of the home, but when the day calls for school, work, soccer games, and guitar lessons, the mudroom is the hub. The way we all live today demands a home for all the stuff we come and go with regularly. Given the way these spaces have grown from catchalls for coats and shoes to beacons of function, organization, and clean design, I can hope that the mudroom earns a better name soon.