A well-planned mud room can actually help you enjoy the rest of your home more. If you have designated places in your mud room for everything from bills to boots, then that clutter won’t overflow into your living spaces. “The biggest
problem many people have is they don’t have a place to put their stuff when they walk in the door and so it ends up on the kitchen counter or dining room table,” says professional organizer Niki Bell of Minneapolis, founder of De-Clutter Club!®. “They end up not using their table at all and eating on the couch instead. They’re not able to entertain because they’re embarrassed.”
Once seen mainly in high-end homes, mud rooms are making their way into homes in the middle price ranges, says Betty Schmal, product manager for the closet category of Rubbermaid based in Huntersville, N.C. Many mud rooms continue to double as laundry rooms and have doors that can be closed to hide a mess. But more homes are being designed with the laundry room upstairs, leaving a mud room or entry room downstairs.
“Often a transition room doesn’t have a door so it’s even more important that room be neat and orderly,” Schmal says. The keys to organizing your mud room are keeping systems simple and making sure often-used items are within easy reach. For example, it’s more complicated to put the mail, car keys or permission slips into a drawer than into an open cubby or mail slot. “Easy is good,” says professional organizer Jeri Dansky of Half Moon Bay, Calif. “A cubby is easier than a cabinet.”
Think about the open mailbox system in many offices and translate that concept to your home. Label slots for permission slips, bills to pay, papers to file, kids’ activities, credit card statements and whatever else you’ll need to file. For kids, pictures work well for labels. “Kids love to see their own faces,” Bell says. “Take a picture and put the child’s name where his or her stuff is supposed to go.”
Another way to keep paper under control is to include a recycling bin or trash can by the door for junk mail and other paperwork you don’t need to save.
Storage for kids should be easy for them to reach. “Kids are always in a hurry,” Schmal says. “If they can shove their stuff on a shelf as they’re running in and out the door, you have a much better chance of keeping your mud room neat.” Hooks for kids’ coats, backpacks and sports bags should also be at their level.
You may have room for a higher row of hooks and/or cubbies for adult gear, paperwork and out of season items. “When it’s not dancing season, my kids’ dance bags go up high,” Bell says. “Then the swimsuits and goggles come down.”
Don’t forget pet items. Plan a spot with hooks for leashes and waste pickup and cleanup supplies near the door so you’ll be prepared when it’s time to walk the dog, Danksy says.
Pay attention to the way doors swing. If the open door blocks your storage space, you’ll have trouble grabbing items to go and putting them away when you return, Bell says. “If your storage is on the wrong side of the door, it may deter you from maximizing that potential,” Bell says.
Ideally, any storage container including closets, bins and cubbies should be no more than 75 percent full. If your main coat closet is too crowded, thin it out by adding a coat rack or hooks for the coats you wear most often.
Your walls can yield more storage space. “People forget to use their walls,” Dansky says. Use wall units for mail and paperwork. Hang coats, purses, backpacks and umbrellas on hooks.
The first defense to contain mud is to have a shoes-off home, Danksy and Bell say. Shoe racks will store shoes you don’t need until you’re ready to walk out the door and house slippers or socks for when you come home. A rubber grooved or metallic walk-off mat can rid shoes of mud, snow and water even in the worst climates, says Chris Davis, president and chief executive officer of the World Floor Covering Association in Anaheim, Calif.
Choosing the right flooring will make a big difference in keeping your mud room clean. “You want to get away from any floor that’s going to be difficult to clean or doesn’t like water, especially if you’re in an area where it rains or snows a l
ot,” Davis says. Tile might sound like an obvious choice, but it’s cold on bare feet. “If you’re in a mud room where you’ll take your boots off, you don’t want that kind of coldness underfoot,” he says. A high-end vinyl floor is warmer, easy to clean and can blend in with the flooring in the rest of your home. “If you have a home that has wood floors, go with a vinyl product in a plank or sheet that looks like wood,” Davis says. “There are some incredible vinyl products that you can’t tell aren’t wood. You can get a luxury vinyl product that looks like tile or like anything and yet it’s easy to clean.” Cleaning a vinyl floor is as easy as using a damp mop or rag.
With the right mud room setup, you’ll be ready for spring showers, winter blizzards and the flood of papers that comes in your door every day.
Credit: Renovate with Tommy Mac