Pinterest-worthy mudrooms score high on the looks scale but often get failing marks for practicality. Designing a better, more efficient space can help the area stay clean and welcoming. Family members often enter through the mudroom area. Encountering – or encouraging – a mess when first returning home can be disheartening. Keeping it organized and tidy is essential.
A mudroom or drop-off space is an area in the home where family and friends can shed outside gear. A mudroom helps keep the house clean and less cluttered as it gives us a place to set down outdoor gear like keys, backpacks and umbrellas. The most recent trend of incorporating cubbies and lockers is often cited as a way of increasing the sale value of your home. Realty specialists in the suburbs especially like to see a mudroom in a home on the market.
It’s tempting to flip through the gorgeous mudroom pictures online for ideas, but keep in mind that some designs work better than others. Everyday use of a mudroom lends some insight into what really works.
Flat floor cubbies
The majority of mudroom examples have a raised base. The bottom row of cubbies, meant for storing shoes, is composed of a wide shelf installed atop the existing flooring. Boots and shoes track in grime making that surface in need of regular cleaning. A more efficient design is one where the floor serves as the bottom of the lower cubby so a mop can easily slide in and out of the space.
Using the floor as the base of the cubbies will make cleaning easier, and it makes the space look larger. The floor tiles extending to the wall shows the room’s true width. The floor tiles can be light or dark hues. Light hues would be great in shore homes that see a lot of sand enter the house. Dark hues would be better in natural settings with rainy seasons. Porcelain pavers sound delicate but they can hold a car. Porcelain pavers (like Lastra) come in wood, marble and travertine textures and colors. Because they can be used indoors and out, they are a great option for a transition space like a garage and mudroom.
As kids get older, their backpacks get heavier. The length and strength of the screws securing hooks to the mudroom cubby wall are often not sufficient for the task. The load limit of the hardware that often comes with mudroom cubby kits is not enough for the repeated hanging of heavy book bags. Usually those hooks are meant for coats only. Kids can learn to set down their packs instead of hanging them, or stronger hardware should be installed. Often stronger hardware isn’t as decorative as typical coat hooks. Shop around for hardware that will work, or you’ll be patching holes and hoping the new screw anchors will work.
Good hook and cubby heights
Kids grow quickly. The little-kid sized cubbies are cute, but those mini-lockers become obsolete in a few years. Few teens will want to bend over to neatly store their things in miniature cubbies. A better idea is to install adult-sized cubbies and vary the hook height as the kids grow. This will get the homeowner the most value out of the mudroom installation.
Wicker baskets add a rustic charm to any space. Meant for catching small accessories like winter hats and gloves, the cute wicker basket is ubiquitous in mudroom spreads. The problem is, wicker and knits don’t often get along. The rough edges of the basket often catch the fibers of the knits. Look for canvas-lined baskets. Canvas is a sturdy fabric that can be spot-cleaned easily (gloves get muddy too, sometimes). A fabric lining that covers the top lip of the basket is the best way to keep those knits in tact.
A good mudroom locker system is one that actually doesn’t hold too much stuff. A mudroom cubby is meant to be a drop-off area, not a closet. It should sit empty when the user is out of the house. Each cubby should comfortably hold a coat, a scarf, a hat and mittens, a backpack or purse and a pair of shoes and a pair of boots. 5 coats and a pile of scarves in each cubby is not a good look. Smaller spaces encourages a daily editing of gear. As the seasons change, so should the items stored in the mudroom area.
Mudrooms add a ton of convenience, but if they aren’t well designed for practicality as well as aesthetics, they can add a ton of headache. By thinking through how your mudroom will be used now and later, you’ll create a space that enhances your life and adds value to your home.