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Make a Mudroom That Works for You

7 versatile drop-spots for coats, bags, and shoes, each packed with space-saving and clutter-busting ideas to help tidy up your entry

Customize and Organize

Photo by Helen Norman

Prized for organizing all manner of gear, from backpacks to tennis rackets, mudrooms also double as spaces for chores as diverse as doing laundry and potting plants. What's more, they act as an intermediary between the dirt and germs that reside outside the house and the freshly swept and dusted surfaces inside.

To get the most out of your mudroom—whether you're adding a new one or reworking the one you already have—carefully consider how you'll use it and how much square footage you can realistically allocate for it. If you just need to stow a few coats and a laptop bag, a tidy row of hooks behind the entry door will suffice. For families with kids, more spacious digs decked out with shelves for stashing school supplies and sports equipment off a side or back door may be in order.

The finishing materials you choose and extras you add also play a role in how the mudroom looks and functions over the long haul. Its highly trafficked floors, for instance, should be easy to mop and able to take a beating. And seating, whether built-in or freestanding, should be sized for all members of the house, ensuring comfortable shoe changing for adults and children.

Follow along for mudroom options to suit various floor plans, plus smart ideas and features to help you maximize your drop-spot.

Storage-Packed Stair Landing

Photo by Nathan Kirkman

Shoehorned in an 8-foot-wide-by-3½-foot-deep stair landing off a basement-level back door, this space-challenged mudroom cleverly corrals coats in an unexpected place.

Recessed Built-In

An open, 18-inch-deep “closet” is carved out of the stair wall leading to the kitchen/living space. The bottom shelf, which overhangs the built-in by 2 inches, doubles as a seat and pit stop for grocery bags. The upper shelf stows hats, plus items the homeowners wish to keep out of reach of their small children.

Beadboard Paneling

Wood sheathing finished with easy-to-clean semigloss enamel safeguards the inside of the built-in and surrounding walls from dents and dings.

TIP: Hide a radiator in a wood cover to create a shelf for sunglasses and keys; stock models from $100.

Storage-Packed Stair Landing

Photo by Nathan Kirkman

Woven Bins

These natural-fiber baskets with easy-to-grab handles slide out from floor-level cubbies for stashing shoes and pet accessories.

Slate Tile Floor

Rather than continuing with the same wood used for the stairs, the landing's floor is tiled for easier upkeep and protection against mucky boots.

Function-Filled for Less

Photo by John Granen

Every well-thought-out mudroom has five essential features. Here, one family worked the details to effectively and inexpensively bring order to what had been a toy- and school-supply-strewn back-door entry off their kitchen.

Function-Filled for Less

Photo by John Granen

Storage

There's no easier—or thriftier—way to add multiple levels of stowaway space than with a wall-mounted unit like this one made from metal standards, adjustable brackets, and shelves fashioned from salvaged school bleachers (you can substitute ready-made shelves). Expect to pay about $175 for a similar DIY setup using stock parts from the home center.

Walls

To guard against wear, sheathe drywall in wood paneling painted with a heavy-duty semigloss. Mimic the rustic look of this horizontal treatment by stacking tongue-and-groove floor planks.

Function-Filled for Less

Photo by John Granen

Seating

Make your own shoe-changing bench by pairing two shelves or lengths of reclaimed wood, such as these bleachers, one beside the other on beefy brackets. Two 12-by-48-inch-long laminate shelves that hold up to 200 pounds each, $20 total; homedepot.com

Accessories

Rubber tubs at floor level are good for grab-and-go items like shoes and toys. Lidded containers on upper shelves can keep art supplies dust free. Tubs, $16 each; tubtrugs.com. Multipacks of clear containers, $8-$10; officedepot.com

Flooring

Protect wood floors with a rug that'll also warm up bare feet. The busy design of this wool one hides dirt. A 3-by-5-foot rug, similar to shown, $228; garnethill.com. If you plan to add new flooring, consider vinyl. ASI Organic Vinyl Collection tiles are made with recycled materials and go down with a low-VOC adhesive. $5 per square foot uninstalled; archsystems.com

Multipurpose Pantry

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Cleaning up before coming in for dinner—or snagging a snack—is easy at this house, where the back door opens into a combined mudroom and kitchen pantry.

Multipurpose Pantry

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

Hand-Washing Station

In addition to a tall gooseneck spigot, the sink has a drinking fountain so that kids can rehydrate without tracking outside dirt into the house.

Stainless-Steel Counter

This seamless germ-repelling surface is easy to wipe down after making messy art projects.

Open Shelving

An easy-access alternative to closed cabinetry, shelves along the back wall and below the counter hold baskets loaded with snacks and hand towels.

Message Board

Glue-in-place cork sheeting transforms this sliding door into a family communications center holding phone numbers, grocery lists, and kids' drawings.

TIP: Wall-mount a light that can swing out of the way when not in use. Pulley sconce, about $290.

Multipurpose Pantry

Photo by Laurey W. Glenn

River Rock Floor

Backed with mesh and grouted in place, tumbled rocks install like ceramic mosaic tile but lend more slip resistance.

Boot Bench

Topped with a moisture-resistant fabric cushion, the seat provides a comfy spot to remove shoes and kneel while jotting a quick note at the counter. Storage underneath gets footwear off the floor for sweeping and tidying up.

TIP: Oversize bar pulls, $20 each, make accessing under-sink storage a cinch.

Open and Airy Enclosed Porch

Photo by Tria Giovan

A summer cottage's sleeping porch multitasks as a catchall for sandy flip-flops and damp towels. Folding chairs offer comfy spots to put on sandals or pack a tote before heading outside.

Open and Airy Enclosed Porch

Photo by Tria Giovan

Freestanding Cupboard

Providing as much storage as a pricey built-in, a vintage furniture piece handily holds towels to grab on the way to the beach or to clean off dirty dog paws.

Drying Rack

Towels or wet clothes hang to dry on this vintage wall-mount rack. Find similar ones for about $25 at rubylane.com.

TIP: Make a wall-hung first-aid kit out of a vintage lunch box. Get one on eBay for as little as $3.

Open and Airy Enclosed Porch

Photo by Tria Giovan

Boot Tray

A galvanized-steel container resists rust and keeps water from pooling on the floor beneath wet shoes.

Window-Crank Hooks

Rather than mount a peg rack, the homeowners use casement cranks to hang baseball caps and keys on lanyards.

TIP: Finish wood floors with scuff-resistant porch enamel; about $35 per gallon.

Well-Ordered Main Entry

Photo by Helen Norman

This mudroom off the back door serves as the home's primary entrance for a family of four. A built-in with graceful arches and curves makes the area dressy enough for guests, too.

Tall Coat Cubbies

A 10-foot-long-by-18-inch-deep storage unit is divided into open “lockers.” Hooks inside keep coats out of direct view—and out of the thoroughfare. High-up shelves stow occasional-use items, while ones down low keep everyday stuff within easy reach. A bottom lip creates a seat for shoe changes.

Well-Ordered Main Entry

Photo by Helen Norman

Rugged Runner

A blue sisal rug protects the painted wood floors and can be swept or shaken clean outside.

Well-Ordered Main Entry

Photo by Helen Norman

Screen Door

This classic bug blocker also provides essential ventilation and sunlight to reduce humidity and prevent mildew, and helps dry out wet garments.

Well-Ordered Main Entry

Photo by Helen Norman

Oversize Basket

A movable storage bin holds lacrosse sticks and umbrellas that are too unwieldy for cubbies.

Triple-Duty Laundry Area

Photo by Mark Samu

A half wall between the kitchen and back door partitions off this 6-by-12-foot combination laundry room, potting area, and mudroom. The homeowners can peel off soiled garden togs and toss them in the washer on their way into the house.

TIP: Keep clothes hangers handy by installing a $1 dowel between the wall and the washer.

Triple-Duty Laundry Area

Photo by Mark Samu

Granite Counter

A surface for folding clothes and potting plants, seamless granite is easy to wipe clean, without the soil-catching grout lines associated with tile tops.

Plant Ledge

The half wall is capped with a polyurethaned wood shelf. Potted blooms on top get plenty of light and help screen views of the utility area from the kitchen.

Triple-Duty Laundry Area

Photo by Mark Samu

Slate Floor

This indoor/outdoor paver is a good option for wet areas. Unlike polished stone tiles, which can get slick, slate's textured matte surface provides traction.

Rustic Wood Bench

A thrift-store find provides charming seating and a drop-off point for mail, gardening supplies, and laundry detergent.

Kid- and Pet-Friendly, Back-Door Entry

Photo by Casey Dunn

Located at the rear entrance, this mudroom provides a place for kids to shed drippy coats after dashing from the car to the house, as well as an out-of-the-way feeding spot for the family dog.

Kid- and Pet-Friendly, Back-Door Entry

Photo by Casey Dunn

Mosaic Tile Floor

A quick pass with a mop removes muddy paw prints from these black and white ceramic hexagons.

Wall Hooks

Mounted at a child-accessible level, hooks encourage little ones to hang jackets and bags instead of tossing them on the floor.

Wood Bench

Turned legs raise this seat high enough to place wicker storage bins underneath for holding balls and frisbees.

TIP: Fake wainscoting by painting with scrubbable semigloss enamel halfway up the wall; $35 per gallon.

Kid- and Pet-Friendly, Back-Door Entry

Photo by Casey Dunn

Hat Rack

Hung between the back door and the entry to a crafts room, this vintage mirrored rack gives adults a chance to primp one last time before heading out for the day.