Can a well-designed mudroom bring you joy? You bet it can.
BY CAROLYN CAMILLERI
While not every home has a mudroom, every home has a space that serves as one. It’s that drop zone at an entryway, where muddy, wet shoes and coats can be shed — a transition space that moves us from outdoor mode to indoor mode.
In most homes, the mudroom is at a secondary entrance or connected to the garage, but it can also be part of a porch. While that entryway area is often considered a minor part of a home, the functionality and efficiency of a well-designed mudroom cannot be understated or overvalued.
What makes designing a mudroom different from just the “back door”?
“It’s purposely, intentionally planning how people actually come into your home and what they do when they’re near the door,” says interior designer Sherry Willing of Make It Real Design.
While a mudroom has a clear function, it also needs some sense of esthetic.
“When we enter a space, the more we can become aware of the esthetic and keep that attuned to the people who are using the space, then we are accomplishing something great in design,” says Willing. “It makes us feel warmer. It makes us feel welcome.”
It also means being attuned to the kinds of things that happen at a casual entrance like a mudroom and making it easy to see where everything needs to go.
“If you don’t have a place for things, it creates a safety issue and also a gigantic mess,” says Willing.
While the size of your mudroom or your ability to add to your existing space will dictate some possibilities, there are some basics every mudroom needs.
Key elements in a well-planned mudroom start with having a place to sit while removing shoes and boots — no matter what your age — and especially if you have children or pets. It also creates a sense of immediate calm and mindfulness.
“I’m coming in. I’m purposely taking off my shoes. I’m slowing myself down to think about where I am going to put those shoes, where I am going to put the dog leash — all of that kind of thing,” says Willing.
Seating can be multi-purpose, with a seat that flips up to reveal a storage space — or rather one of several storage spaces.
“You need to have contained spaces,” says Willing, listing cubbies, lockers, shoe cabinets and closets, all specially designated landing places for the things we bring into our homes. “If we don’t have contained areas that are purposely either purchased or built, things are just going to end up everywhere.”
Flooring is another very important consideration.
“You need to be able to clean that space. People are coming and going all the time, so it has to stand up to everyday treatment,” she says, adding that there are some great new flooring products available.
“Some of the luxury vinyl could look very close to wood, and yet it’s really water resistant and stands up well to all kinds of scrubbing,” says Willing, adding that some of the new vinyl tile is really lovely and would be great in a space like a mudroom. “Tile also works extremely well, as long as you’re careful to purchase tile that has a good slip rating and you’re doing the grout in a dark colour.”
The paint used on the walls also needs to be durable and washable.
“A lot of builder homes have paint that’s not super easy to wash because it doesn’t have any sheen,” says Willing. “You probably want to use something with a pearl finish or an eggshell finish, because that sheen makes it easier to clean rather than some of the flatter paints.”
To add interest to those walls, Willing suggests wall murals that are durable and washable.
Lighting is important in any space, and that includes mudrooms.
“The simple bulb in the ceiling is really not the best light,” says Willing. “We need to have task light. We need to have ambient light. We also need to have some kind of décor lighting.”
Task lighting might be recessed lighting that can be angled towards specific things like a key drawer. You may also want to consider lighting inside closets and storage spaces, such as puck lights that turn on when drawers and cupboards are opened.
Consider, too, how you cover the windows. You want something that lets in light but also protects you from peering eyes — perhaps blinds or shades that can be easily opened or closed with minimal contact.
Once you have covered the basics, put some thought into more specific features. Is your recycling kept here until pickup day? Do your golf clubs/skates/skis need a special space? Willing says any time she is designing a space like this, she tries to get at least a small sink in.
“If you’re a dog owner, perhaps a shower or space you can put the dog at counter height then have the capability to spray them off and clean them up,” says Willing.
How about a place for gym clothes, wet towels and bathing suits? It could be a laundry bin or a small apartment-size laundry tower.
“For the gardeners amongst us, you know you come in covered in dirt and sometimes it’s nice just to throw that jacket directly into the washing machine, or kids’ clothes after they were playing outside,” says Willing.
Then there is the décor. “The esthetic is a really important point because this is the preamble to your home, so it’s nice to set a tone of what you’re going to be walking into,” she says.
For example, décor lighting.
“You might have a feature light that gets repeated somewhere down the hallway, as you move into the home, that sets the tone,” she says. “If you’re going French country, for example, the lighting needs to relate to that as well as the style of the cabinets.”
Choose your cabinet style carefully, especially if your mudroom and kitchen connect.
“My preference is to continue the style of the cabinetry between the two spaces,” says Willing. “For example, if you’re using a Shaker style in your kitchen, then a Shaker style in the mudroom is very appropriate and really helps to unite those two spaces.”
However, you can break it up a bit with colour.
“If you’re doing slab cupboards or cabinets, you can change colours in specific areas,” says Willing. “If you’ve got designated cabinet spaces or designated locker areas, those could be in another colour, such as lovely green while the rest of it is white.”
Colour is a way you can have fun with mudroom décor — for bench cushions or window coverings or on the walls, as well as posters or maybe a chalkboard.
“Most of us, when we’re thinking about upgrading a home or designing a new home, we are thinking some point down the road where we might resell,” she says. “That whole scenario has gotten us into the situation where we’re working with neutrals throughout most of the home, but a mudroom might be a place where you could really go to town on colour.”
Everything in its place easily, comfortably and cleanly even on the rainiest, muddiest of days — that’s a mudroom to be joyful about.