Home & Garden

7 creative ways to make a mudroom pretty and functional

From hooks to hidden cabinets

Credit: Brendon Farrell / Scout Regalia Design

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In my house, our front hallway looks like a tornado has passed through it—daily. Despite my attempts at organization with a shoe bucket and a coat tree, boots and soccer cleats pile up and obstruct the front door, and jackets and scarves get looped over the stairway posts.

I dream about having a mudroom—a separate space dedicated to kicking off muddy, wet outerwear and not caring who sees it, because no one will. While I dream simply, for many a functional mudroom must be pretty, too.

Marie Owens, a designer from Callen Construction in Wisconsin, says that in a climate with snow in the winter and mud in the spring, a transition space from the outdoors to the house is essential.

“Mudrooms are more than just a place for shucking boots and shoes,” she says. “They’re evolving into beautifully organized areas where there’s a place for everything.”

So, if you’ve got an extra room with an outside door, or you’re creating one for use as a mudroom, follow these tips to neat, clean bliss dressed to the nines.

1. Make a plan before you start

Credit: Bre Hance / InHance Interiors

Before you build a mudroom, create a plan that includes everything you'll need.

When it comes to designing a space meant to house many messy things, forethought is essential.

Lindsey Jamison, a partner and lead designer at Rumor Designs, in Colorado, says, “The first step is to sit down and figure out how you want to use your mudroom space, and then to come up with a drawing to determine how to configure it."

A mudroom can handle a wall of cabinets, cubbies, and hooks, and maybe even a bench where you can sit to take off your shoes. Enclosed storage offers a place for bulk items and overstock you don’t need right away. And, counter space serves multiple uses: namely, as a place to put groceries and as docking stations for recharging your tech items.

Bre Hance, principal of LA-based high-end residential design firm InHance Interiors, has designed many functional mudrooms.

“When creating a mudroom, there should be a place for everything,” she says. “Start by taking note of what you'll need to store, then plan it out. Go for a healthy balance of cabinets, drawers and hooks. Storage should double as a seating area when possible so you can put on your rain boots with ease.”

You also need to consider who will be using the mudroom, where you live, and what your needs are. For example, do you live in a snowy climate? Do you have kids or a dog? The basic goal of a mudroom is to prevent bringing dirt, germs, and the mess of the outdoors inside your home.

Mark Wood, the CEO of National Pool Fences across Australia, recommends adapting the space to your needs. “If you are always tracking after kids who are wet from the pool, install some lower hooks that have clean towels so they can dry off before they get off the entry mat,” he says. “Or, if you are an avid gardener, have a chic laundry hamper at the entrance for muddy clothes.”

2. Install a bench

Credit: Better Homes & Gardens

A four-cube organizer storage bench is a great addition to a mudroom—you can sit on it and store your shoes in it.

In Southern California, interior designer Megan Dufresne believes that a bench is one of the most essential items you can place in a mudroom.

“It's important to always have a bench for people to sit and take off or put on their shoes,” she says.

Not only is it a safer alternative to balancing flamingo-style while trying to pull on a boot—your guests will thank you—a bench can also act as a storage unit.

Wood says, “Use a storage bench that doubles as a place to put on shoes while discreetly hiding pool noodles, snowsuits, or other unsightly outdoor accessories.”

3. Get creative with storage options

Credit: Knoll / Bayka

In a mudroom, baskets and floating shelves serve many purposes both aesthetic and pleasing.

Speaking of furniture that hides stuff, a mudroom should boast plenty of cabinets and compartments to store items from mittens and hats to umbrellas to extra toilet paper. But, just because there is a mess of stuff in this room, doesn’t mean you need to see it.

Dufresne offers, “You can use baskets to keep shoes organized (one for sandals, one for sneakers). Drawers or a hidden cabinet help to hold umbrellas and miscellaneous items such as wallets and keys. And, if you have the space, you can create a hidden door that holds shoes. The cabinets above the niche hold taller boots.”

Wood recommends against putting all of your storage solutions on the ground. “This takes up precious real estate in smaller mudrooms,” he says. “Instead, opt for floating shelves with baskets for fresh pool towels or scarves and gloves. You can even install floating shelves for boots and shoes once they are dry.”

4. Hooks make it easy to grab and hang coats and bags

Credit: Pottery Barn

A wall hook rack is essential for hanging up coats that you wear daily, making it easy to grab on your way out.

New York artist and entrepreneur Maggie Antalek struck up an interior design business Nestia this past year and knows how to maximize space—like in a compact apartment.

“While a closet is ideal to keep a mudroom organized and looking beautiful, not every home will have enough space for that,” she says. “Utilizing a nice wall hook rack, ideally a wooden piece with metal hardware, will be essential for hanging coats and bags you can grab on your way out the door.”

Even if you do have a larger space or many people living within, hooks for hanging items are a great idea and easy to implement in quantity.

“You can use as many as you can fit across your wall if you need more than the usual 4-6 hooks that come on these racks,” Antalek says.

5. Give family members ownership of their dedicated space

Credit: Getty Images / PC Photography

Giving everyone in your household their own coat hook and cubby space keeps each person's belongings in a dedicated place.

Master gardener, interior designer, and DIY home improvement expert Jen Stark has worked on many remodeling projects in her 4,500-square-foot Victorian house. So, when it comes to organization, she has some tricks.

“One of the biggest things you can do is give everyone their own coat hook and cubby space,” she suggests. “You can even label these spaces with your family member's name. Include a coat hook for their larger coats or seasonal gear. Directly below that, give them one or two cubby spaces. These can be baskets or a simple cube organizer. Put shoes in one and bags in the other.”

Jamison says, "It’s really all about function and flow, whether that means allocating designated spaces for each child, for each activity, or even for the family dog. The idea is when it’s time to go out, you’re not running around going crazy looking for stuff. Everything should have its place."

6. A busy backdrop hides scuffs

Credit: Getty Images / whitemay / CatLane

Whether your style dictates bold colors, a painted or tiled mural, or distressed wood, having a busy background behind hooks helps hide easily acquired scuffs from jackets, hats, and bags.

When you’re swinging around umbrellas and the kids are kicking off boots, there is bound to be some wear and tear to the floor and walls of your mudroom. To keep it looking chic longer, you just have to think creatively.

Try some vinyl plank flooring, which looks great and is durable and easy to care for.

Jamison suggests, “A mudroom is a fun spot to be playful and should be considered a separate space from the rest of your home. Using really rich colors for the cabinetry is a trend. We’re seeing a lot of teal, navy, and other shades of greens and blues. It should be totally different from the kitchen and bathrooms.”

Dufresne thinks so, too. "I always recommend having a hardy surface behind the hooks like a colorful mural or tile,” she says, “ so jackets and handbags, or dirty hands, don't leave their marks on a perfectly painted wall."

7. Create a moveable divide

Credit: Maiden Steel

A sliding barn door easily opens and closes, hiding your mudroom from guests.

Given that a mudroom can sometimes be more grunge than gorge, you want the option to shield it from the rest of your home, especially when guests come over.

Jamison offers, “Barn doors can slide easily to provide access, and they look nice when closed, hiding all the mudroom clutter.”

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