Choose Durable Mudroom Materials
Designing a mudroom that is organized, attractive and durable requires a realistic assessment of your needs, habits and maintenance expectations. Before gathering the first basket, hook or bench, come up with a plan that is made to withstand the wear and tear specific to your home. "Everyone has their own needs," says interior designer Molly Quinn. "One family may have hockey equipment, another may have dogs, another may want to set aside some room for gardening equipment."
In other words, regardless of the space you're working with, consider who will be using it and how it can best serve everyone. Someone who plans to store sports gear in their mudroom will have different durability needs than someone who just needs a place to hang a duffel bag or park a pair of boots.
Location, Location, Location
"It's practical to consider the mudroom as a transition zone between a garage and the main house," says interior designer Molly Quinn. "And since people frequently use their back entrances as their main entrance/exit, it's helpful to consider what areas guests will walk through before arriving at their destination." For a tailored mudroom with plenty of storage, Quinn included a wool Oushak runner, which she says is naturally durable. Photo courtesy of Molly Quinn Design
No more hunting around for items in the back of a dense shelf. A pretty space for hats, scarves and bags is made even more functional by the cabinet that slides out to reveal an organization system complete with hooks and wire shelving for easy access to cleaning supplies and household tools. Photo courtesy of Houseplans.co; photography by Bob Greenspan
A wall unit by California Closets includes lots of cubbies and even rods for hanging jackets and coats. "Look at the space as a blank palette," advises Ginny Snook Scott of California Closets. "And consider it not only from left to right, but from floor to ceiling. You’ll find a lot of storage space by going up as high as possible."
An easy solution is to park a wall unit near an entry, keeping guesswork to a minimum. If possible, factor in a cubby for each family member and some drawers or baskets to keep some things out of view. Photo courtesy of Ballard Designs
Equipment Drop Zone
As anyone who lives near a beach can attest, transitional zones are a necessity for trapping the residuals of fun in the sun. A sand-room unit includes a spot for the surfboard and plenty of beach towels. Photo courtesy of California Closets
A Mudroom Wall for All
A custom mudroom wall includes a cubby and locker for each family member. "Because I needed to use every inch of the space and I wanted everyone to have their own spot, I had this locker unit custom-made," says interior designer Traci Zeller. "That way I could give each person the largest and deepest locker possible in the limited space we had. Going the custom route was the best option and rather comparable in price to a prefabricated unit." Design by Traci Zeller; photography by Dustin Peck Photography
No need to grab a stepstool. Stairway cubbies can be fitted at the right height for children; the top surface can be used for display or decorative baskets, bins or bags. Photo courtesy of California Closets
Mail Filing System
This mudroom's desk makes the space even more practical, with mail slots, drawers and shelving. The black-painted wall behind the desk makes a subtle distinction between this contemplative space and the rest of the hard-working mudroom. Photo courtesy of Houseplans.co; photography by Bob Greenspan
Double-Duty Craft Room
This mudroom doubles as a craft room, where a dropped counter at desk height accommodates a sewing machine. Though doors and drawers hide wrapping paper, ribbon, tape and scissors, countertops are the perfect place for wrapping gifts. Coordinating materials used in the room differentiate spaces for different tasks: white for tasks and crafts, polished wood for household storage, olive green for personal things. Photo courtesy of Houseplans.co; photography by Bob Greenspan
Room for Seasonal Items
"We advise people to rotate their gear with the season," says Scott. "You can move items from one area to another, placing out-of-season items up high or behind cabinet doors so they’re still really easy to find." A wall unit makes the most of vertical and horizontal space. Photo courtesy of California Closets
Using antique accents and earthy materials, HGTV host Sarah Richardson designed a stylish entryway that maintains the welcoming character of a century-old farmhouse. To add a touch of charm into your mudroom, skip the custom storage systems and incorporate sentimental furnishings.
Balance Durability With Decor
It's important to have a place for everything and have everything in its place, as the saying goes. "You don't want to have to clean around the same bunch of items over and over again," says designer Eric Schnell of Alan Mascord Design Associates Inc. "That being said, space for displaying decorative items is also important. What gets displayed adds color, texture and interest."
Plan to display decorative items at eye level and out of the way to maximize their impact while minimizing clutter chaos. The more streamlined the space is, the quicker and easier it is to get in and out of it without a lot of fuss, and it goes a long way toward keeping cleanups to a minimum.
A lot of items in mudrooms are far from decorative and get shuffled about. As far as what to show and what to stow, assess your own habits. "Open shelving works better for those who ultimately won't go to the trouble to open a cabinet door," says professional organizer Ruthann Betz-Essinger, "whereas for someone who likes everything neat and tidy, the doors provide a satisfying sense of order."
Materials Made to Last
Think about the location of your mudroom, the aesthetic you're aiming for, and how dirty you realistically think things could get. For a mudroom off a garage, steel locker units or inexpensive shelving with welded steel frames and a black, textured finish might fit the bill. For a more polished mudroom that's off the main living space, shelving or cabinetry that goes with the rest of the house is probably more appropriate.
If you’re going to the trouble of installing cabinetry, make sure the investment is made to last. "You want something that's going to be very easy to wipe down," says Ginny Snook Scott of California Closets. "We like laminated materials because they're easy to work with. If you put a wet umbrella on it, it's not going to hurt the finish."
Choose storage and mudroom materials that are going to be satisfying over the long haul and durable for daily use. "True locker units, made of steel, hold up wonderfully, but unless the room has an industrial vibe, I prefer the warmth of painted units," says interior designer Traci Zeller.
For mudrooms with a more eclectic vibe, a priceless antique is rarely a good idea. But if you want to give a new lease on life to a vintage bamboo stand or a quirky chest of drawers that promises to rise to the occasion, by all means, go for it. Just be realistic.
Look for paint that can withstand an occasional cleaning and hide imperfections. Photo courtesy of Plain and Fancy Cabinetry
Paint Options and Finishes
Make sure you choose paint colors and finishes that can stand up to the inevitable wear and tear. Though we may fantasize about a pristine white space where everything is neat and tidy, we know that a pair of muddy boots or a wet dog will come through eventually. Unless you want to drive yourself nuts with all the cleaning, polishing and touching up that comes with a high-maintenance space, make a few concessions beforehand to save your sanity and your budget.
Zeller says that while she loves the look of steel lockers, she prefers the warmth of painted wood. Her advice is to choose a distressed finish and then a little extra distressing won't bother you so much.
If you expect your walls will take a bit of a beating, choose durable wall materials and look for a paint finish that can withstand an occasional cleaning and hide imperfections. Semigloss finishes can be easy to wipe down, but their reflectivity causes them to magnify subtle nicks and bumps, whereas satin, eggshell and flat finishes can camouflage them to varying degrees. "Beadboard or other types of wainscoting can protect walls from bumps and scrapes," Zeller says. "But otherwise I just use flat paint and plan to touch up the walls every so often."
Practicality doesn't have to keep you from achieving the style you're going for. You can still use whites and creams and the clean look of neutrals — just in the appropriate locations. "For lockers and cabinetry, a painted finish in a darker neutral works great because it hides dirt well," says Quinn. "A white painted finish is probably not ideal, but a lot of people desire the clean look, so I recommend reserving the light color for the upper cabinets or shelves and keeping the base cabinets or bench in a darker paint or stain."