I like to think of mudrooms as holding spots. They keep the outdoors from making its way indoors. If you’re a neat nut like I am and you live in Northern Virginia, you probably know the frustration of watching your kids track dirt from their boots all across the floor as they enter the house after a weekend hike.
Northern Virginia is definitely a gorgeous place to live, and with some of the country’s most beautiful parks and trails, you can spend a great deal of time outside. But NoVA is also no stranger to inclement weather, and while this winter has been bizarre (minimal snow and 70-degree weather in January?), the region typically gets hit a lot harder. More snow means more snow boots, and more snow boots mean needing a place to properly store them.
So, if you have a mudroom that isn’t quite getting the job done, or if you’re looking to add one to your garage or laundry room, take advantage of the reprieve from winter weather by planning a redesign. When the snow finally hits, you’ll be glad of it:
Think Ahead. To design a mudroom that actually works, think about what you need as you head out the door. Backpacks, purses, and shoes are normal, but what else? (Hint: think about which items normally end up in a heap in the hallway.) Maybe you need a spot for dog leashes and harnesses. Maybe your five-year-old won’t go anywhere without her favorite stuffed animal. It’s absolutely okay to have storage for these types of items in your mudroom.
On that same note, think about what you tend to need as the seasons change. Umbrellas and rain boots might not feature prominently in your thoughts now, but just wait a few months. These factors should all be incorporated into your design.
Leave Space for Baskets. Most of my clients incorporate pull-out chrome baskets into their mudroom designs, and I get why. You might not know exactly what will go in those baskets, but you’ll definitely use them. What is often forgotten, though, is that you’ve got a lot of layout options. You can add them to the bottom of your mudroom cabinetry, but utilizing room above your cabinets is also a great option. Items in this upper space will be a little less visible, so you get extra storage without contributing to the visual clutter of your mudroom.
Don’t Forget Your Shoes. Mudrooms serve as a collection point for footwear, but rarely do we think about the best way to manage this collection. I’ve seen plenty of homes where shoes either end up in a single drawer in the mudroom (which quickly becomes a bottomless pit) or else just stay on the floor. I’d suggest incorporating shelving for each family member at the bottom of your cabinetry. If each person has an individual storage locker, the shelving can go directly underneath, or you can try adding one large bank of shoe shelves and assigning one shelf to each person.
The other thing to remember is that, unlike a closet, which generally houses flats, sneakers, and heels, this area also needs to accommodate bulkier footwear, like rain and snow boots or athletic shoes. Make sure you measure the height of your tallest pair of shoes and incorporate adjustable shelving so that everything actually fits.
Hook Your Space Up. Literally—hooks are a mudroom’s best friend. Whether you use them for backpacks, coats, purses, or hats, a hook is never lonely. I also love hooks because they give you a little freedom when you’re feeling lazy—they’re less of an effort than a coat hanger and can be easier to convince your kids to use. I’d recommend double hooks, regardless of what you’re planning to store.
No matter what design you choose, the bottom line is that, to be fully functional, your mudroom should be customized to your family’s specific needs. Peek into your current mudroom, think about what you’d like to see in that space instead, and get in touch to set up a free design consultation. The next time your family hikes the Potomac, you won’t have to worry about your carpets when you return home.
Lead image credit: Flickr user khvafl (CC BY 2.0)