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Mudroom Ideas That Work

Plan Ahead & Pick What's Best For You

There's no standard for a mudroom design and the best mudroom ideas are the ones that work best for your particular situation. That said, if you were somehow able to visit every home that has a mudroom, you'd see that there are some common elements among them.

The key to making a mudroom an efficient space is to do a bit of thinking about how you and your family lives before having any designs drawn up or buying any mudroom organizers. Consider the current stage your family's at and where you and they will be in a few years.

Then you can pick and choose from the best mudroom ideas that are out there (plus a few that you might think up on your own) to suit those needs.

Just keep in mind that your mudroom doesn't have to fit some mold or comply with a list of 'must-haves' that some TV design maven rattled off on the latest design-my-house show.

All it needs is the embodiment of a few (or more, depending on your desires) smart choices that will make your mudroom space do what you want it to do.

Let's take a look at some smart mudroom ideas to get you started.

The First Step - Some Thought & Planning

Before diving into a list of mudroom ideas it's important to first get clear on what your expectations are and what you want this room to do for you. Once that's achieved you can make better use of any 'mudroom ideas' list by being able to prioritize those ideas and pick and choose those that you want.

Stop & Think How You Live

A mudroom can be a highly functional room and it can also be a dumping ground if it isn't outfitted with right design features. You can make a good head start on what those design features should be by assessing how you and your family live and what you want to get out of the room. Take a moment to write down what it is you currently dislike about your home and how a mudroom could alleviate that pain.

Is it the lack of any transition area from the outside to the inside?

Do you need a place to store kids' sports equipment or simply their coats, boots and backpacks?

Do you have pets and need a place for a kennel or to wash them off periodically?

Publisher's Comments

For my own home the biggest gripe was the lack of any transition area between the outside and inside. With 3 kids you can imagine that there's plenty of in-and-out going on, with snowy boots in the winter and muddy shoes in the spring.

The design of our home literally brought you from the outside into a 3-foot square "landing pad" that led either to a finished basement or our main hallway just outside the kitchen. With a carpeted basement and hardwood floors in the hall and kitchen, the floors got pretty beat up given everything that was tracked in the house.

Then there was no place to put boots, let coats dry, stash the soccer cleats, etc. So when we embarked on our home remodeling adventure a mudroom that addressed those issues, that gave us that transition space (the 'drop zone'), was essential.

We also knew we didn't need some of the other amenities and mud room ideas that you'll see below, other than sufficient space. Our laundry room is in our basement so we didn't feel the need to install any cabinets or countertops. We also knew (having witnessed other families with growing boys) the proliferation of large shoes, particularly when their friends stop by. For us having enough space was paramount.

In short, my wife and I thought about what it was we didn't like and needed to fix about our house and incorporated a mudroom based on our own "needs assessment".

From Needs To Wants

Once you have a good idea what it is you want your mudroom to "fix" then think about any wants that could go along with it. You could also look at this from the perspective that your needs are non-discretionary and the wants are discretionary.

As budget and space constraints allow, take advantage of whatever amenities and mudroom ideas you can find to make the space efficient, effective and satisfying.

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A List Of Good Mudroom Ideas

To start off the mudroom design process let's get our own "listmania" going on mudroom ideas. By no means is this list the be-all and end-all of mudroom ideas and design elements. Rather, it's a way to get your own creative juices going to begin to see which mudroom ideas resonate with you. Think about how some of these ideas might gel with your plans for how you want your mudroom space to perform.

  1. Don't Skimp On Size
    This isn't an endorsement of conspicuous consumption or McMansion-sized homes but simply a call to give yourself as much room as you need, within your space and budget constraints. Stated another way: whether you're remodeling or building new, don't let the mudroom be the on the "save" side of the 'splurge-and-save' equation.

    mudroom cabinets

    You want to have enough room to take off outer garments, boots, etc., while having enough space to store all that stuff. Think about it this way -- have you ever tried to pull the boots and snowpants off a writhing toddler in a small, confined space? You get the point.

  2. Easily Maintained Floors & Walls
    Mudroom flooring should be durable and easily maintained because it'll see dirt, mud, water, possibly some snow, paw prints, and the list goes on. Good candidates are tile (porcelain is very good -- hard and durable), linoleum and vinyl. The latter two are effective because they're easily cleaned. Wood or laminate wouldn't be a good choice because of the high potential for problems due to standing water. The grit that comes into your home can also do a number on the wood and laminate floors too.

    Walls are best protected by a treatment such as wainscoting or something similar that covers a portion of the wall height. This takes the punishment better than a painted drywall surface which dents and nicks more easily. People naturally tend to lean one hand against the wall when removing shoes which ultimately leaves a trail of hand prints on the wall. Easily-cleaned surfaces and paints work well in these situations to fight off the grime.

  3. Plenty Of Light
    Depending on your specific plans a mudroom can serve many purposes, including doubling as a laundry room. Make sure the lighting design works best for the size of your mudroom as well as the other tasks that you're going to perform there. Don't forget natural light in addition to artificial lighting by incorporating windows wherever possible in the mudroom's design.
  4. A Place To Sit
    Whether it's a standalone bench or a built-in, having a place to sit is a main mudroom element that shouldn't be left out. Trying to remove shoes or boots while standing up isn't convenient or comfortable.
  5. Access To The Garage & Outdoors
    A convenient mudroom design is one that makes it the "collection point" for several entries into the house. Having two doors, one to an attached garage and one that leads directly outdoors depends on your home's layout and design but it's advantageous since it's more efficient.
  6. Ample Storage Space
    One of the reasons for having a mudroom in the first place is to stash away the things like coats, boots, umbrellas, sports equipment and other paraphernalia. Cabinets, storage benches, cubbies, baskets and lockers are all tools of the trade for helping to store these items. They also clear up the floor space and help avoid a tripping hazard that results when everything is strewn on the floor.

    mudroom storage

    A mudroom closet is another good idea if you can fit it into the design. Bifold doors are a good choice for wider closets since they minimize the amount of space taken up by the door swing.

  7. A Privacy Door
    A door that can close off the mudroom from the rest of the house works well when you want to hide a cluttered (or smelly) mudroom from the adjacent room. Pocket doors that slide into the wall work well as do standard swing-doors if you have the space. Just remember that even if you have a lot of mudroom storage space, there will probably be times when it's a mess. That's when you'll want to close it off and conceal it from the dinner guests.
  8. mudroom closet

  9. A Space For Brooms, Mops & The Vacuum Cleaner
    A mudroom is a good place to store the various cleaning implements for your home, including the vacuum cleaner. These items can be stored in a coat closet in the mudroom, a separate smaller closet made just for this purpose or a nook somewhere that will keep them out of the way but handy.
  10. A Space For Hanging Clothes To Dry
    Having a place to hang-dry clothing is a handy feature and can be as simple as the installation of a small closet rod between two wall partitions or the end of a cabinet and a wall.

    mudroom locker

    It doesn't have to be long -- 3 feet is sufficient and if you use two, one installed above the other, it can double your hang-dry space.

    Even if your mudroom won't have laundry facilities, having a place to hang wet or snowy jackets is a nice feature. Wet clothing stuffed into a closet ends up making the closet and the rest of its contents less than fresh smelling.

  11. Plenty Of Hooks For Coats
    This might seem obvious to some but for others who like a tidier mudroom, hooks might be an afterthought. But they're a great way to actually keep a mudroom tidy, particularly if you have kids who don't seem to learn how to properly hang up their garments until they're 30 years old. Hooks make it easy for them to quickly hang their jacket or backpack, rather than dumping them on the floor. This might also be true of some adults too.
  12. A Faucet & Drain
    If you have a dog that needs washing now and then, a place in the mudroom where you can soap down and rinse ol' Rusty is pretty handy. Whether it's a laundry sink or an area similar to a shower pan with a hand-held shower nozzle, having running water and a drain makes for a versatile mudroom. Even if you don't have pets, a shower pan in the mudroom is convenient for washing off gardening boots or just about anything else that needs rinsing (that you don't want to do in the kitchen sink).
  13. A Recharging Station
    If you or your family is hooked up with the latest smart phones, tablets and other gizmos, consider a location in the mudroom where you can recharge these items. You'll need electrical access with several outlets and a small countertop space to make this effective. It's particularly handy because it gets these items off the kitchen countertop which is prime real estate that you can probably put to better use.
  14. Space For A Recycling Center
    If your kitchen cabinets don't have space for recyclables, your mudroom might be the next best location. An area cordoned off with bins for various recyclables can make it easier to cart them out the door and also gets them out of the kitchen too, freeing up space there for more important kitchen-related items like food or cooking utensils.
  15. Radiant Floor Heating
    Tile flooring is a great choice for mudroom floors but it can be cold, particularly in cold climates. Radiant floor heating works well with tile, helping keep the mudroom and the floor cozy. It also can help to dry wet boots and shoes along with those wet socks that get left there too.
  16. A Mirror

    mudroom mirror

    In many instances the mudroom is the last place you'll be in your home each day before you step out into the world. Who among us doesn't take that last glance to make sure the bed hair is tamed or the lipstick hasn't congealed on your teeth? Putting a nice framed mirror or something equivalent at a location near the mudroom door can be your last checkpoint before leaving the house.
  17. Key Drop & Message Center
    Having a spot to keep the car keys helps avoid losing them since you now have a designated spot for them. A small countertop or cabinet space or a series of hooks on the wall (maybe near that mirror mentioned above??) is all that's needed.

    This could be the same spot for having a message center too. That's because the mudroom is usually the first place you see when you enter your home and the last space you're in before you leave. There are even interior doors with chalkboard panels that make a great spot for leaving messages. You could use one of these doors on the entryway from the mudroom into the rest of your home.

  18. Island Or Countertop Space
    Another purpose for a small section of cabinet-top countertop space or even a small island is for folding laundry. If your mudroom will double as a laundry room you'll want to have some space for sorting and folding. Even if you won't have a washer and dryer in the mudroom, a small amount of countertop space is handy for reasons mentioned above like leaving messages, having a place for charging electronic devices or even just a place for sorting and handling the mail.

Again, this list is meant as a series of suggestions, a memory-jogger of sorts, to help you figure out what mudroom ideas might be best suited for your particular space. If somehow you're able to incorporate them all, more power to you! However not all homes and budgets can accommodate all of these items so that's why it's best to review them against your own needs and high priority must-haves.

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A Few Additional Considerations To Think About

Mudrooms are really about storage and transition - a place to put things that otherwise might be spread out in several other places and a means to transition from the outside environment into the house.

The mudroom ideas listed above should give you a good start on designing a mudroom with the right amenities for your family. However along with those ideas, consider these points too which may help refine your overall plan as well as get the most satisfaction from it.

  • A Must-Have Design Element With Kids & Pets
    If you have children and/or pets a mudroom is really a must-have feature of a home, even above some other luxuries you might be planning. Why? Because it helps keep your house cleaner by capturing most of the dirt before it gets to the rest of the flooring in your house. Second, it helps reduce clutter because all the "stuff" gets dropped in the mudroom instead of on the kitchen counter, under the kitchen counter, in the hallway.... .
  • Try For A 5-Foot Minimal Width
    If you're tight on space (or budget) but still like the notion of having a mudroom, try to make it at least 5 feet wide. This will at least accommodate space for a standard-width hallway (36 inches) combined with about 24 inches for the depth of a seat and/or some sort of cabinets or lockers.
  • narrow mudroom

  • Dont' Be Afraid To Let It Get Messy
    Everybody (well, most everyone) likes a well-kept, clean home but some spaces in a home are meant to 'do the dirty work'. If you plan on incorporating a mudroom don't get the notion that it has to be immaculate 100% of the time. On the contrary, think of it as the repository of the mess that might otherwise be in more conspicuous places in your house, places where you'd rather not have it.

Publisher's Comments

I can't help but chime in here -- Most of the time our mudroom is moderately messy. Lots of shoes, cleats, jackets and dirty socks adorn the space. Sure, we clean it up once a week or so but the great thing about it is that we can just close the door and the mess temporarily disappears.

We've lived in this same house before it had a mudroom and I can tell you that all that stuff that our kids drop in the mudroom would literally be in the kitchen or strewn about some other place where we didn't want it. Now, with the mudroom, we have a place for those things and the rest of the house stays cleaner (let's not talk about the kids' bedrooms....). Did I say I was an advocate for a mudroom??

  • Stock Cabinets Make Handy Mudroom Fixtures
    You've probably seen the pictures of mudrooms with built-in bench seats.

    mudroom open lockers

    They look great but if a custom-built seat doesn't fit the budget or you're looking for an easier way, consider using some small stock wall cabinets for the base of the seat. You can find plans on the internet showing how to use them for making window seats but the principle is the same for a mudroom bench seat.
  • Make The Storage Fit The Users
    Whatever storage amenities you use in your mudroom should fit the users. If you have young children make sure that hooks are reachable. They can be relocated as the kids grow. Also, kids tend not to use closets and make better use of open lockers and coat hooks where they can drop and hang their stuff. On the other hand if your home only has adults a mudroom closet might provide a cleaner look. Adults usually take the time to use a closet so it's more appropriate in that situation. Think about how you live and tailor the design to meet those needs.
  • Get Flooring With Some Grip
    Mudroom flooring has a greater tendency to get wet so be sure to choose a floor that has some grip to it to avoid slips and falls. Tile flooring that mimics the natural clefts of slate provides some roughness as does any type of tile with a rougher texture. With vinyl flooring, look for patterns that have some "relief" or texture to help reduce slipperiness. At a minimum, try and avoid vinyls that have a very smooth and glossy feel. Linoleum has a more matte finish and could be less slippery than a glossy vinyl floor.
  • mudroom flooring

  • Choose Flooring Colors & Patterns That Will Mask Dirt
    Pets, kids and even fastidious adults will eventually drag dirt into your mudroom. Choosing a floor color that helps mask dirt and dust will help make it look cleaner, even if it is a bit dirty. Colors with beiges, tans, light browns and grays work well as do patterns that help camouflage dirt from the eye. Single-color, light and monochromatic flooring will tend to show dirt and footprints more easily.
  • Mudrooms Don't Have To Be A "Room"
    In the information above we talked about being able to close off the mudroom, having a place to let the mess accumulate once in a while along with sizing the room correctly. But sometimes a mudroom doesn't have to be a separate room -- In other words, make it a mudroom entryway.

    entryway mudroom   mudroom in entryway

    If a hallway or entryway suits your purposes and you can equip it with the right functionality that works for you, go for it.

    Remember that the key to good home design, whether it's just a small piece of your home or the whole thing, is that it works for you and your family.

Obviously you don't have to incorporate all these mudroom ideas in order to make your mudroom effective. Simply pick and choose the ones that are most important to you and how your family lives. Focus on the mudroom ideas that offer the greatest benefits for your situation such as better organizational features, more "hiding spots" for shoes and equipment or simply enough space to accommodate several kids and a dog.

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