How to Create a Mudroom Almost Anywhere
Like a pair of top-notch rain boots, a mudroom sounds like a luxury—until, that is, you’ve been stuck in a storm and realized it’s an absolute necessity. After all, where else can you strip off soaking-wet socks and store dirt-splattered jackets so the grit and grime isn’t spread throughout your house?
But if you are living in a square-foot-challenged home, how the heck do you fit a mudroom into your already maxed-out space? Fortunately, a serviceable yet stylish mudroom requires only a few items, some creativity, and a small area just inside the door.
Here’s how to get the job done:
Designate the Space
Choose an area near where you enter the home—often an existing foyer or hallway. Be sure the space is large enough to accommodate most, if not all, mudroom essentials: a few hooks, a shelf or small table, a place to stash shoes (more on that later), and a place to sit down so you can more easily put on and remove shoes and boots.
Next, consider what baskets, bins, cubbies, or bags you will need to keep the area tidy. Before you hit the store, Rebecca Gitana Torres of LifeStyle Remix recommends “taking note of all the items that wind up on your floor or that you search for each morning. Then, incorporate storage pieces to keep those everyday items at hand.”
Shoe Storage: Sturdy, Spacious, Simple
If you’ve ever tried to organize your entryway, you know nothing is harder to tame than a mountain of kicked-off sneakers, boots, and sandals. To prevent your brand-new mudroom from meeting a similar fate, choose shoe storage that’s sturdy and spacious enough for your entire household. A small rubber or plastic tray, an over-the-door holder, a storage ottoman, a large basket, or a shoe rack on the floor are all good options, especially if you are strapped for space.
To make sure people actually use your storage options, keep them simple. “Don’t try to overcomplicate by setting unrealistic expectations,” says Laurie Palau, founder and CEO of simply B organized. “For example, instead of individual shoe cubbies, have open storage under a bench that will mask shoes from being all over the floor. Kids are more likely to stick with a program if it doesn’t require several steps.”
Install Hooks—Lots of Them
When it comes to hooks, you’ll need more than you think. “Most people have more than one jacket,” points out professional organizer Nancy Haworth of On Task Organizing. Her family of three uses eight hooks. And, “If you have small children, include low-hanging coat hooks so they can easily hang up jackets and bags,” she says. “Designate certain hooks for each item, and add labels, if you’d like.”
Palau agrees that hanging hooks at varying levels is a must. “Most people only add hooks at eye height and miss out on valuable storage space,” she says. “Instead, stagger rows and use the lower hooks for things like umbrellas, purses, reusable bags, or backpacks.” She also suggests assigning hooks for each member of your family and restricting the number of bulky coats to two per hook.
Think Outside the Storage Box
Not flush with space? Make like New York City’s skyline and go tall and thin instead of wide and deep. Floating shelves with small trays for keys and knickknacks can replace a console table. Hooks can fill in for a bulky coat rack. And traditional storage containers can be used in nontraditional ways: “If you’re only using shelves up high, lay square bins on their side with the opening facing you to create ‘cubbies’ to hold larger items that have some structure to them,” suggests Leticia Pfeiffer, organizing stylist and president of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. “Flimsy items like gloves, hats, or scarves should be in bins stored upright.”
Prep the Space for Heavy Traffic
By design, a mudroom is built for heavy-duty use. To keep from stressing over every ding, scuff mark, and scratch, use durable materials. Robin Wilson, CEO of Robin Wilson Home and author of “Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle,” recommends choosing surfaces that can’t be scratched easily and flooring that’s tough as nails and a cinch to clean. “Harwood is an excellent choice, as is tile or stone,” she says. “If you opt for carpet, area rugs, or a floor mat, select styles that can be easily cleaned.” Indoor/outdoor rugs are often made of easy-to-clean polypropylene.
Keep It Organized
Now, the hard part: maintaining order. Torres has a strategy: “Once a week, preferably on Sunday, put items away that you won’t need for your upcoming week,” she says. “Remember, your doorway sets the tone for your entire home, so you want to make sure you’re periodically clearing and revamping this environment. Go through bags that have piled up, and get rid of laundry and garbage, too. Doing this at the start of the week brings both organization and a fresh feeling to your days.”