The mudroom is one of the most utilized rooms the entire house. It gets used daily by most family members, but it’s often designed only as an after thought. The mudroom is the family foyer. It’s an area where you prepare to face the day and where you’re welcomed back home. Plus, it’s a place that will serve as the entrance for more than a few guests, as they follow you from the garage into your house. So today’s episode will discuss some design features that you may not have thought about, but that you should definitely consider when planning your mudroom. Yeah, we’ll talk about cubbies and lockers but, we’ll focus on some practical and unexpected features that you can include that will make your mudroom more functional and more attractive.
Before that, let’s go over a Pro Term: Cove lighting
Cove lighting is a form of indirect lighting built into ledges and recesses in a ceiling or high on the walls of a room. Cove lighting directs light upward towards the ceiling and down onto walls. It’s often used as accent lighting. With cove lighting, the light source is usually hidden behind moldings or valences. LED strip lighting or strings of lights are what are typically used for cove lighting. Cove lighting creates a soft, moody glow.
Up next is the mini lesson.
The mudroom is the transition zone between the garage and the main house. It can be an actual room, or simply an area along a wall that serves as a pick-up and drop-off station. Since many guests will follow you into your house through your mudroom, it’s important to make it presentable, if not downright pretty. Let’s talk about 14 features that you may not have thought to include your mudroom.
1. A family coat closet
I know a mudroom is like a large, open closet, but if you have the space, include an actual closet, with a door, to store off-season coats, jackets and accessories. This will help keep your mudroom uncluttered and well-organized.
The coat closet in the main foyer of your home should be reserved for visitors. Reserve mudroom hooks and lockers for the items that you and your family will use on a day to day basis. And keep out-of-season items in the mudroom’s coat closet.
2. Fun, bold decor and colors.
Paint the walls, or the cabinetry, with fun bright colors, like bright orange or turquoise blue. Choose a whimsical wall paper. Pick a decor theme that you wouldn’t dare choose for any other part of the house. Something that makes you smile— a beachy or nautical theme, or create an homage to your favorite sports team.
Or, if you’re a crafter, or someone who has fun decorating for different holidays, you can paint the mudroom with a neutral color and add holiday themed artwork, bench cushions, pillows and rugs as you celebrate different holidays like Christmas, Halloween, and St. Patricks Day.
It’s the family foyer, have some fun with family photos, or if you have smaller children, make the mudroom their art gallery and display their artwork. The kids will feel important and their art will make you smile as you start each day.
The mudroom is typically a smaller area of the house where using fun, whimsical decor won’t be too overwhelming. Playful decor in a larger, main room of the house can sometimes come across as a bit immature, or even distasteful. But in a smaller space like a mudroom, that playful decor can be a pleasant departure from the more formal parts of your home.
3. Cabinet lighting or cove lighting.
We usually think of under cabinet, or above cabinet lighting in kitchens and bathrooms. Cove lighting is typically seen in bedrooms and living areas. But that soft, indirect lighting can be a nice addition to the mudroom. Every mudroom has some sort of overhead, general lighting, but wouldn't it be nice to come home to a softly lit mudroom? Very often during the winter months, it’s fairly dark outside when we leave for work in morning and when we come home at night. Plan for soft, lighting that runs along the floor, the ceiling or along the cabinetry. It’s both functional and attractive and adds an unexpected glow to the room. This is a fairly inexpensive extra that will make your house stand out from the rest.
4. Wall Clock
I know you wear a watch and have a clock on your phone, but it’s nice to be able to glance up at a wall clock on your way out—especially when you’re holding bags, children,and books. Add a clock near the door so you can easily check the time before you leave.
5. An Outdoor Rug
Not a delicate indoor rug that you’d hesitate to wipe your feet on, but a good, sturdy outdoor rug— one that will catch lots of the dirt from your shoes before you have a chance to track that dirt into the rest of the house. Look for a colorful rug or one with a pattern that can hide dirt. The rug in your mudroom will probably need to be replaced every year or so since it will be used very often by most members of the family. If you find a rug you really like, buy a couple of them so you always have an extra on hand.
6. School Lockers
Built-in, wooden benches, cabinets and cubbies are what we usually think of when we picture a mudroom. But built-ins can be expensive, so consider school lockers, which you can order online. School lockers can be a really be a fun addition to your mudroom if you have school aged children or if you do a sports locker room theme. Each family member could get their own locker and you can even add each person’s name onto their locker. Since lockers have doors, your mudroom will stay looking neat and tidy.
7. Open and closed storage
Even if you decide to go with built-in wood lockers, make sure you have at least some closed storage in your mudroom. Lockers with doors will let you store items completely out of sight—keeping the mudroom neat. Hooks, open lockers and open cubbies work better for those who don’t want to open a cabinet door everyday. Lockers and cubbies with doors work better for neat freaks, or those who often have visitors entering through the mudroom. If you choose to go with lockers with doors for your family, remember to place a couple of easy to find hooks along the wall for your visitors.
8. Wrapped Gifts, Ready to Go
Keep a bin or cabinet in your mudroom with a couple of wrapped gifts ready for you to grab as you walk out the door. Have one or two adult, and one or two children’s gifts or gift cards available as last minute birthday presents, hostess gifts and for other special occasions. Maybe a bottle of wine, a candle, a book or an educational toy.
9. A large Message Board or Chalkboard
A large, wall-mounted message board or chalkboard can be placed in the mudroom so family members can share their schedules and leave reminders and messages for each other. Boards can be used for running shopping lists, or for
to-do lists. You could also use chalkboard paint for the walls of your mudroom to make a giant message center.
10. Pet station
Since lots of pets like to hover around the door eagerly awaiting your return home, placing a pet bed or crate in the mudroom makes a lot of sense. You can also give the family pets their own corner of the mudroom where you can place their toys in a bin. Add a hook for a leash. If you have enough square footage, many pet lovers are opting to do a combination mudroom/pet room. You can add a dog wash or large sink with spray handle for grooming your pets. A storage cabinet for pet food and treats can go right next to your pets’ food and water dishes. You may also want to place a litter box in that area. If you do decide to put the litter box in the mudroom, consider adding an exhaust fan to remove odors.
11. “A Don’t Leave Home Without It” Spot
This “Don’t Leave Home Without It” spot could consist of wall pocket, which looks like a wall mounted magazine holder, a small open shelf, plus a hook or two. Place all these items all right beside the door, close to eye level. This spot is for items that you don’t want to forget when rushing out of the door. For example, your checkbook, mail or packages that you need to take to the post office or
Fed Ex, dry cleaning or items to return to the store.
Your keyring is probably the most important "Don’t Leave Home Without It" item, so add key hooks to this area. You’ll have a place to put your keys as soon as you walk through the door and you’ll never have to search for your keys as you are preparing to leave.
12. Full-Length Mirror
You might think to hang a small to medium sized, wall mounted mirror in your mudroom to take a glance at your face before you leave the house. But why not make sure you look your best from head to toe? A full length mirror will give you the opportunity to see your whole outfit or uniform before heading out the door.
13. Sports equipment storage
If you or your children participate in different sports, add one, or several sports equipment lockers. I suggest that the sports equipment lockers have doors on them since it can be challenging to neatly put away dirty, oddly shaped equipment. You can also include a peg board for those pieces of equipment than can be hung. A peg board is a nice option because you can arrange pegs at different heights so all family members can easily access the equipment.
14. Clothes Hamper
As the name implies, the mudroom is a place where you leave muddy shoes and clothing so you don't dirty up the rest of the house. If you decide to put your washer and dryer in the mudroom to make a combination mudroom/laundry room, you most likely already plan to have a hamper there. But, even for those of us who prefer that the washer and dryer be closer to our bedrooms, placing a hamper in the mudroom is a smart option. That way when your family members come in with muddy uniforms, they don’t have to take those dirty clothes through the house? Just toss them in the mudroom hamper.
In general, mudrooms should be decked out with durable materials that can withstand quite a bit of wear and tear. Choose wall coverings or paint that can be wiped down. And if you think your mudroom will be poked and prodded by lots of sports equipment or playful children, consider distressed bead board or shiplap on the walls. Those materials are more durable that ordinary drywall. Flooring should be non-slippery, easy to clean tile, laminate or even brick. Be cautious of using too many light colors. It’s called the mudroom for good reason. You want colors, wood tones and patterns that camouflage dirt, not highlight it.
Hopefully you got a couple of good ideas for the design of your mudroom. It's a hardworking space that helps keep your house clean and organized and your family efficient.
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Moving on to this week's quiz...
1. What is the best option for a mudroom rug? A silk, oriental rug or a outdoor rug?
The answer is the outdoor rug. Because the mudroom in indoors, many people put indoor rugs in the mudroom, but outdoor rugs are more durable so they are the better choice.
2. True or False. A mudroom coat closet is not useful because the mudroom is basically a big, open coat closet.
That’s false. At least in my opinion. If you have the space, a separate family coat closet in the the mudroom is a good place to store off season coats, hats, scarves and jackets. That way you can reserve hooks and lockers for in season outer wear, and everyday backpacks and bags.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, Building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me. Come back next week for another episode of BYHYU.