If you’re lucky enough to have a mudroom you know it’s hard to keep it neat, especially if you have kids. Having cabinets and plenty of storage is one thing, but setting it up for easy flow and efficiency is something else entirely. If you don’t take the time to think about how your family uses the space, it will become little more than a dumping ground for everything from muddy shoes to mountains of mail.
The first order of business is to stop calling it a mudroom. The word itself conjures up the notion of messiness, and that’s the polar opposite of what you want this room to be. Given that it’s the room you’re most likely to walk into first when you arrive home, this will always be the spot where shoes, outerwear, and sports equipment ends up, so having storage for each is key.
Whether you’re starting to design your mudroom or your goal is to spruce it up and reorganize, here are seven great ideas that’ll make your mudroom a space you’re excited to come to every day.
Hook ‘Em, or Hang ‘Em Elsewhere
If you have fewer than four members in your household and you wear a jacket or coat for at least half the year, wall hooks and peg rails are great. With both, it’s as easy for anyone to grab what they need and go as it is to hang and put away when they return.
If your family is large, however, hooks aren’t ideal because the jackets, coats, and scarves simply pile up, forming a gigantic pile of outerwear that blocks walkways and becomes a total eyesore. The fix: Use a closet or cabinet instead. If you’re customizing, request drawers, cubbies, or shelves where you can place baskets — anything that can serve as a dumping ground for hats, gloves, and scarves. If possible, assign a spot to every family member to prevent mix-ups and keep everything tidy.
Look for Storage Baskets With Tops
Cubbies and umbrella stands might make wonderful little storage units, but they’re nothing special to look at every day, especially during foul weather days. Keep those out of sight with beautiful storage baskets with lids, such as these from West Elm. Some are large enough to conceal frequently used sports equipment, too, so you’re never tripping over muddy soccer balls and baseball bats.
Work in a Double-Duty Bench
Whether you plan to build custom cabinetry or you’re adding free-standing furnishings to your mudroom, you’re going to want a spot to sit and take off your shoes. Otherwise, you’ll be tracking water and mud all over the house on rainy and snowy days. (It’s kind of what a mudroom is built for.) Choose one with closed storage underneath, like this Wayfair bench, and try to avoid open shelves. Before you know it, everyone will be tossing dirty sneakers there and the sight and smell will ruin the vibe of your space.
Use a Washable Rug or Doormat
Speaking of dirty shoes, a washable, no-slip rug such as this one from Amazon is a wonder in the mudroom. After all, this is the spot to catch dirt, grime, and moisture before it gets dragged into the house. Translation: A rug in the mudroom takes a beating. Look for a workhorse that can be scrubbed and tossed in the wash while also preventing slips.
Give the Mudroom a School Vibe With Lockers
This is a great idea if your family is large and you live in a climate where outerwear is used year round. This way everyone has a designated spot to drop everything, and there’s a door to keep it all out of sight. If you’re creating custom cabinetry made to look like lockers, use chalkboard paint on the door fronts so they’ll double as message centers.
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.