A mudroom makeover: Entryway storage now essential in floorplans of modern homesThe mudroom has evolved. It used to be the concrete-floored laundry room where Dad would hang his overalls. But today’s version features custom-built storage, special recharging stations for electronics and lockers for individual family members.
The mudroom has evolved.
It used to be the concrete-floored laundry room where Dad would hang his overalls.
But today’s version features custom-built storage, special recharging stations for electronics and lockers for individual family members.
And, by the way, it’s no longer considered a “mudroom.”
“I have a hard time calling it a mudroom,” says Lute Simley, co-owner of Paula Rae Homes in Fargo-Moorhead. “To me, a mudroom is something that should be on a farm site.”
He prefers the term “owner’s entry,” as this staging area is often built right off the garage, where it’s most used by family members.
Regardless of what you call it, this space is now as important as ever. The room is used to corral pets, organize kids’ sports gear, store outdoor clothing, recharge electronics and, yes, control the amount of snow and mud tracked throughout the house.
“In short, mudrooms bring order to the most used entry to your home,” writes Leslie Plummer Clagett for www.thisoldhouse.com.
Simley and Tyrone Leslie, president and owner of Heritage Homes in Fargo, agree that almost all new homeowners seem to want some updated version of a mudroom.
Leslie says today’s incarnation of that space is built with meticulous planning and an eye toward creating a low-stress environment.
He says research showed the old-school “mudroom” – basically an oversized laundry room – would trigger a spike in blood pressure among women as soon as they entered their homes. One look at the piles of dirty laundry next to the washer and the mishmash of kids’ coats and wet boots and their stress levels would go through the roof.
So Heritage Homes now designs the former mudroom – which they call a “rear entry” – to fit an individual homeowner’s needs. If the family has kids who play different sports, they may want to stow their equipment in lockers. A working mom might ask for a mail-sorting station so she doesn’t have to stow paperwork on the kitchen island. And if the homeowner still wants the laundry room by the rear entry, it’s typically located in a separate room, where it can be closed off with a pocket door, Leslie says.
Simley typically builds an owner’s entry that is about 6 by 8 feet. “It doesn’t have to be an overly huge area,” he says. “It’s just enough so that if you have a family, there’s enough room for three or four people in there at a time.”
While builders often find a room located right off the garage functions well for homeowners, those who live in older homes may not have that option.
“In the older-style homes, you don’t have that luxury. You walk in from the garage, and you’re in the kitchen,” Leslie says.
That means you may have to turn a corner inside a tiny entryway or a small front hallway into your staging area.
The location of your mudroom will influence how you finish it. By the back door where family members tramp from hall to yard, experts from thisoldhouse.com recommend a utilitarian, compact approach involving plastic storage bins or modular shelving.
If the room is off the kitchen, consider using the similar cabinets and countertops, which will make the area seem larger and more cohesive. Inside the front door, where company will enter, a more formal look works best. “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,” Plummer Clagett writes.
Homebuilders and designers typically assess the following factors when building a new mudroom:
Because a mudroom is subjected to everything from dirty paws and slushy boots to soccer cleats, its floor should be sturdy and slip-resistant. Concrete, laminates and vinyl are sturdy but can be slick when wet, according to www.thisoldhouse.com.
Other options are textured rubber ($5 per square foot), and ceramic or unpolished stone tile ($5 to $25 per square foot). Tile is highly durable, although some homeowners don’t like cleaning grout, Leslie says.
Also consider the floor’s color, as darker materials will camouflage dirt.
Sturdy doormats – a bristle or rubber one to brush off dirt stationed outside and an absorbent one inside – will help curb tracking of dirt, writes Plummer Clagett.
If space allows, it’s important to provide a sturdy bench or stool for pulling off shoes and boots. If at all possible, avoid “people jams” by locating the seating area off the path that leads to the rest of the house and is clear of the door swing area, according to “This Old House.”
A built-in bench or window seat, hinged at the top, can provide added storage. But try not to store things like boots and outerwear here because kids won’t be able to access it when someone’s sitting there.
Room for storage
In her book “Not So Big Solutions for Your Home,” small-space expert Sarah Susanka stresses one cardinal rule: “Whenever you’re designing for children, it’s critical to remember that if something isn’t really obvious and in the line of motion, it won’t get used.”
In general, most kids will hang a coat on a wall hook before they’ll open a closet to hang the wrap on a hanger. So Susanka recommends placing wooden shaker pegs or coat hooks at two levels to accommodate kids of all ages. (When estimating wall space, remember that bulky winter gear will need more room.)
Other points to consider:
- Horizontal staging area where adults can place cell phones, laptops, briefcases and purses.
- A footwear station. Without a designated spot, shoes and boots wind up everywhere. Even worse, wet footwear can cause puddles to form, damaging certain floor finishes and creating dangerous conditions.
Circumvent this problem by designating a waterproof area, such as a large, plastic drip tray, underneath a bench or wall hooks. In limited space, wall pegs can even be installed to hold boots upside down to dry, although you’ll still want to position a drip tray beneath them.
- Sports cupboard. If you have the real estate and kids who play a lot of sports, consider a designated cupboard for sports gear.
- Cubbies (color-coded or labeled for each family member) for storing purses, backpacks, mittens and hats.
- Personal lockers. Due to their experiences at school, “kids can certainly relate to lockers,” Leslie says.
- A closet for adult coats and off-season storage – for instance, windbreakers in wintertime.
- Pet centers. With 70 percent of American homes sharing space with some kind of pet, Leslie says this is the next big trend in the modernized mudroom. His latest idea homes will include a “pet center,” complete with space for food storage, kennels, beds, leashes and even a pet shower.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525