More in Mudrooms

Making a Mudroom

Even if it's small, a well-organized entry gives you a place to wipe your feet and store your outdoor gear.

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Like most homes, yours probably does not have a mudroom — but it could probably use one. Strictly speaking, mudrooms are found in snowy, damp northern climates and are used as a spot to shed heavy outdoor clothing. But if you think of mudrooms as a cross between a utility room and a walk-in closet, they belong in any climate. They're a place to stow outerwear, boots, sports gear and anything else you need when you go outside. In short, mudrooms bring order to the most used entry to your home. You can create a good mudroom even in a tight space — a well-designed corner inside a doorway will work fine. Mikki Lesowitz, owner of Divine Order, an organizing company in Los Angeles, says the design of the area is dictated by who uses it. "A mudroom for a couple would be used very differently than one for a family with kids," she says. This influences not only what kind of storage is incorporated into the area but also its size (Must it be large enough for a wheelchair? A gaggle of kids?) and detailing (adults generally don't need coat hooks 40 inches off the floor). The location of your mudroom will determine how it is finished. By the back door, where mostly family members trek in from the yard, take a simple, utilitarian approach: Tough plastic storage bins and modular shelving will do. If it's off the kitchen, consider using components of the same cabinetry and counters. This will make the mudroom appear to be part of the kitchen and make both spaces seem larger. Inside the front door, something a little more formal is called for; it needs to put on a welcoming face for company as well as stand up to soccer cleats. Top-quality decorative hardware and freestanding furniture, such as a coat rack, console table or hall tree, can add a touch of elegance without skimping on function. No matter if your mudroom is dressed up or down, there are five elements common to every room. Here are some hints on how to bring order to your entryway.
Like most homes, yours probably does not have a mudroom — but it could probably use one. Strictly speaking, mudrooms are found in snowy, damp northern climates and are used as a spot to shed heavy outdoor clothing. But if you think of mudrooms as a cross between a utility room and a walk-in closet, they belong in any climate. They're a place to stow outerwear, boots, sports gear and anything else you need when you go outside. In short, mudrooms bring order to the most used entry to your home. You can create a good mudroom even in a tight space — a well-designed corner inside a doorway will work fine. Mikki Lesowitz, owner of Divine Order, an organizing company in Los Angeles, says the design of the area is dictated by who uses it. "A mudroom for a couple would be used very differently than one for a family with kids," she says. This influences not only what kind of storage is incorporated into the area but also its size (Must it be large enough for a wheelchair? A gaggle of kids?) and detailing (adults generally don't need coat hooks 40 inches off the floor). The location of your mudroom will determine how it is finished. By the back door, where mostly family members trek in from the yard, take a simple, utilitarian approach: Tough plastic storage bins and modular shelving will do. If it's off the kitchen, consider using components of the same cabinetry and counters. This will make the mudroom appear to be part of the kitchen and make both spaces seem larger. Inside the front door, something a little more formal is called for; it needs to put on a welcoming face for company as well as stand up to soccer cleats. Top-quality decorative hardware and freestanding furniture, such as a coat rack, console table or hall tree, can add a touch of elegance without skimping on function. No matter if your mudroom is dressed up or down, there are five elements common to every room. Here are some hints on how to bring order to your entryway.
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Flooring

 

Flooring

Even a cramped entry hall can benefit from basic storage ideas. In this backdoor entry, a tall, narrow bookcase makes the most of vertical space. Two tiers of clothing pegs double the hanging capacity of the wall.
Even a cramped entry hall can benefit from basic storage ideas. In this backdoor entry, a tall, narrow bookcase makes the most of vertical space. Two tiers of clothing pegs double the hanging capacity of the wall.
Because it will be taking a beating on a daily basis, the floor should be a durable material and, for safety's sake, it should also be slip-resistant. Concrete, laminates and vinyl withstand wear and tear but tend to be slick when wet. Wood requires a lot of upkeep, especially in damp conditions. Look at what's available in textured rubber ($5 per square foot and up, installed) or ceramic or (unpolished) stone tile ($5 to $25 per square foot). Choosing a dark color for the floor will help camouflage dirt. Whatever the material, a couple of doormats — a bristle or rubber one to brush off dirt stationed outside and a water-absorbing one inside — can minimize the amount of dirt that gets tracked into the house. In a new-construction home where heavy use is anticipated, consider installing a central drain, which allows you to hose down the floor. A practical compromise for existing spaces breaks the cleaning process into two steps: Use a garden hose near the door to rinse off equipment and your pet(s), then towel dry inside the mudroom. Walls When it comes to wallcoverings, the pros have different opinions. Some swear by vinyl wallpaper ($10 per roll and up). It's easy to sponge clean, provides some protection for the wallboard and can add color or a pattern to a room. Others opt for a high-gloss paint, accepting the fact that walls will get dinged up and will need regular repainting. Wainscoting offers effective, good-looking protection. For baseboards, vinyl cove is the low-maintenance, economical choice for a room that gets mopped frequently, but traditional wood molding is nicer.
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Seating

 

Seating

Durable floors of textured tile or stone stand up to all sorts of foot traffic.
Durable floors of textured tile or stone stand up to all sorts of foot traffic.
A comfortable, sturdy place to sit while pulling off shoes or inline skates is important. Benches and stools are more stable than chairs. To avoid entryway bottlenecks, seating should be located off the path that leads to the rest of the house and clear of the door swing area. A built-in bench or window seat, hinged at the top, can help keep clutter under wraps. Rubbermaid makes a patio bench ($100) with underseat storage.
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Storage

 

Storage

A slate boot tray from Vermont Natural Stoneworks ($50 to $110) is a handy landing spot for muddy shoes.
A slate boot tray from Vermont Natural Stoneworks ($50 to $110) is a handy landing spot for muddy shoes.
Again, determine what type of storage is needed based upon who uses the room and how they use it. Kids need quick and easy access. The afterschool blitz can be managed with child-height coat hooks and open cubbies, bins or baskets for books and backpacks. Color-coding storage areas for each member of the family will keep things in order. "Adults bearing cell phones, purses and briefcases need a 'staging area' — a shelf that's out of a youngster's reach — to drop off small things," says designer Molly Korb, of MK Designs in Newcastle, California. Clothing can require a range of seasonal storage solutions. Bulky winter gear takes up lots more room than summer clothes, a factor to remember when estimating wall space. Wooden Shaker pegs and coat hooks are convenient in areas with limited floor space, but they aren't good for long-term storage; garments will stretch out of shape. Another caution comes from Jean Chene, of California Closets, who notes some drawbacks to wire shelving. "Small items may fall through them, and the grid pattern may leave impressions on soft clothes," she says. A lightweight, clear-plastic liner on the tray or shelf bottom solves both problems. Without a place of their own, shoes tend to end up everywhere. Designate a waterproof area for them. A drip tray/scraper topped by a removable grate can be invaluable; Mats, Inc., based in Stoughton, Massachusetts, makes a range of aluminum grids (about $32 per square foot for the Ultra Scrape style) that can be set in a level bed or a recessed pan. Barbara Schmit, of Room by Room in Northbrook, Illinois, has another tip for footwear. "In tight spaces, pegs on the wall can be placed close enough to hold boots upside down while they dry," she explains. Organizing Accessories.
These are the inexpensive, extra touches that can really help the area work to its fullest potential. Specialized bins and hangers for sports gear ($25 to $50) collect oddly shaped equipment like racquets and mitts. Keep pet leashes from tangling by stringing them from ordinary cup hooks. Hung on the wall, cork- or chalkboards can help organize information. A mudroom is a logical spot for a key rack and, stationed by the door, a newspaper recycling center ($10 and up) keeps papers, scissors and twine in one convenient place.
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Where to Find It:

 

Where to Find It:

A heating vent does double duty in this window seat, which conceals a slatted shelf that's just right for drying wet socks and gloves out of sight.
A heating vent does double duty in this window seat, which conceals a slatted shelf that's just right for drying wet socks and gloves out of sight.
California Closets
800-274-6754
www.calclosets.com
ClosetMaid
Box 4400
Ocala, FL 34478-4400
www.closetmaid.com
800-874-0008
Web site features calculator for closet shelving systems.
Montage
2982 Cleveland Ave.
Roseville, MN 55113
800-577-8778, ext. 70
Free brochure on using Command adhesive self-stick hooks and clips.
Divine Order
1247 N. Sweetzer Ave. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90069
[email protected]
323-654-4565
MK Designs
Molly Korb
5835 Ravine Ct.

Newcastle, CA 95658
916-663-3412
Mats, Inc.
Box 839
37 Shurman Ave.
Stoughton, MA 02072
www.matsinc.com
800-628-7462
Aluminum grids. Merillat Industries
Box 1946
Adrian, MI 49221
www.merillat.com
800-575-8763
Room by Room
907 Midway Rd.
Northbrook, IL 60062
[email protected]
847-714-1819
Rubbermaid
1147 Akron Rd.
Wooster, OH 4469-6000
www.rubbermaid.com
Stacks and Stacks
www.stacksandstacks.com
877-278-2257
Sports equipment racks and other storage accessories.
Vermont Natural Stoneworks
Box 275
Depot St.
Fair Haven, VT 05743
www.vermontstone.com
888-786-6390
Slate flooring, boot mats, and other products.
 
 

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