Making Sense of the Mudroom Drop Zone

A little planning can help you keep kids' belongings and other clutter from taking over.
Contemporary Mudroom With Blue Tile Floors and Wood Shelving Unit

Contemporary Mudroom With Blue Tile Floors and Wood Shelving Unit

Blue tiled floors add a colorful, vibrant touch to this contemporary mudroom. A wood shelving unit features a variety of cubbies, cabinets, coat hooks and wire baskets, keeping this space clean and organized.

Photo by: Photographer: Chris Constantine

Photographer: Chris Constantine

By: Gina Hannah

If you have children, you know that the area just inside your home's entrance or mudroom can be one of the most challenging places to keep tidy and organized. Even if you have a mudroom designed to hold school bags, sports equipment and jackets, this drop zone can quickly end up looking like a landfill. How do you tame all of the stuff?

CI-California-Closets-white-mudroom-stairs_s4x3

CI-California-Closets-white-mudroom-stairs_s4x3

"A lot of this depends on the age of the child," says Amy Trager, CPO, a Chicago-based professional organizer and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. The place where a child is expected to place their things should be easily accessible. "Think about what the child can reach on his or her own," she says. "It also shouldn't be overly complicated. Have a bag ready to go for each after school activity. Grab it and go."

While jackets and sports equipment should go in one place, school papers should have a drop zone that Mom or Dad will see, Trager says. This will probably not be in the mudroom, but a designated spot on a desk or countertop.

8 Marvelously Functional Mudrooms

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Antique Charm

This gorgeously outfitted mudroom by Frederick & Frederick Architects blends seamlessly into the home's traditional decor. Boots and shoes are tucked unobtrusively beneath the window seat, flanked by storage cabinets that have the look of freestanding furniture. Antique heart pine floors, countertops and transoms lend a sense of age and patina, and hold up to wear and tear. Antique window glass in the transoms, plus reclaimed siding on the walls, completes the look. 

Functional Focal Point

In this mudroom from Tanya Collins Design, an antique pine armoire, painted teal, boosts storage and creates a focal point that enlivens the otherwise neutral scheme. The built-in cabinets near the door, big enough to house bulky items, are painted the same shade as the walls so that they blend into the background. A framed chalkboard-paint wall serves as a central spot for memos and messages.

Wraparound Storage

Although most mudrooms are linear, this one by Anthony James Construction makes great use of an odd corner near the entrances to the home's garage and backyard. A wraparound bench seat features ample storage underneath, while hooks stand ready for purses, jackets, backpacks and more. The 1970s Dutch door adds a nostalgic top note.

Photo By: Anthony James Construction; photo by: Adam Kane Macchia

Sleek Design

Thanks to LDa Architecture & Interiors’ stylish surfaces and clever design, this mudroom doesn’t look like a mudroom at all. Blond wood veneer covers the storage cabinets and bench; the flooring and kilim rug keep the look from feeling too stark.

Clean and Classic

The Lakeshore Designs team gave this mudroom a crisp, tailored feel while still making it ultra-functional. Baskets inside high cubbies conceal loose items such as gloves, while drawers keep footwear and other gear hidden away. Even coats and bags hanging from the hooks won't look untidy, thanks to the clean backdrop. Throw pillows and a cheery rug make the space feel polished.

Handy Kitchen Niche

This simple mudroom area, also from Lakeshore Designs, takes advantage of an awkward kitchen niche and draws the eye to what otherwise would have been dead space. It’s small, but there’s plenty of room to sit and tug off boots or transfer items between purses. As a bonus, it can double as a place for guests to perch and chat with the cook.

Photo By: Lakeshore Designs

Mini Mudroom

If you can afford to give up a closet, take a cue from Röm Architecture and transform it into a mini mudroom. Divided cubbies are sized for different footwear types so that they don't end up in a heap. There's even room for school notebooks or library books that need to be toted in and out of the house.

Simple Shelving

Add two simple reclaimed-wood slabs, and presto! This recessed niche, just inside the backyard door, becomes a mudroom. Barker Freeman Design Office architects needed little more than the shelving and a few hooks to create an ideal setup for removing shoes and stashing flotsam. Keeping the wall color the same as in the rest of the room allows for continuity, but the paler hue on the surrounding wall helps to define the space.

Photo By: Barker Freeman Design Office

"There should be a designated spot to drop permission slips or other papers to come home. There should also be a stash of supplies for homework — paper, pencils, calculator," she says. "Organize by how your child approaches the work. Is it by due date? Or is it by subject? Keep like items together. This way, homework lands in and is worked on all in the same place. It decreases the chances of forgetting something."

When designing your mudroom drop zone, consider shelves or cubbies for shoes topped by a seat, which make it easy for family members to pull off rain boots or muddy cleats. Make sure hooks for jackets and other outerwear are within easy reach of little ones. You might want to install a charging station or two for personal electronics, especially if your drop zone is a landing place not just for kid stuff, but also for the adults in your household.

White Mudroom With Built-In Drawers and Cubbies

White Mudroom With Built-In Drawers and Cubbies

The Lakeshore Designs team gave this mudroom a crisp, tailored feel while still making it ultra-functional. Baskets inside high cubbies conceal loose items such as gloves, while drawers keep footwear and other gear hidden away. Even coats and bags hanging from the hooks won't look untidy, thanks to the clean backdrop. Throw pillows and a cheery rug make the space feel polished.

Photo by: Lakeshore Designs

Lakeshore Designs

When it comes to keeping grown-ups' things in order, the same guidelines apply, Trager says. "Keep like items together, and try to limit it to items entering and exiting the house. Have one spot for keys, wallets, sunglasses," she says. "As is the case with the kids' drop zone, make sure this area is in a place everyone can easily access that won't be in the way of kids or guests using the entrance."

Once you have your mudroom storage system in place, you'll need help from the entire family to maintain it and keep clutter from accumulating. To give kids an incentive, have their afternoon snack ready after they put all of the things, including their school papers, in the proper place. Then be sure to go through school papers to ensure that homework, permission slips and other details are covered and ready to return. Having a routine will help mornings go more smoothly, whether you’re running school carpool or heading out to a weekend ball game. 

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