Mudroom Ideas: 10 Elements of a Functional, Organized Space
Mudrooms play a vital role in your family’s daily life. While you may not log hours in the room each day, as the main point of entry or exit from your home, a lot happens in the time you do spend there.
How do you get the most out of your family’s mudroom? We sat down with Corinne Acampora, Founder and Principal Designer here at Acampora Interiors, to gather her ideas for creating a fully optimized mudroom.
What Is a Mudroom?
What distinguishes a mudroom from other entryways in your home?
The first is its location. The formal entryway is typically located at the front of the house; a mudroom is usually situated off a side entrance.
The formal entryway serves guests arriving at your home. By contrast, the mudroom is how your family comes and goes on your way to school, work or wherever else the day takes you.
The Essential Elements of a Functional Mudroom
Because mudrooms are a high-traffic, compact, transitional space in your home, they have very distinct needs in terms of design. Practicality reigns supreme in mudroom design. “It’s all about function,” says Acampora.
1. A Mudroom Tailored To Your Family Life
Acampora notes that every family is different. Your family’s lifestyle and the activities you enjoy will shape what you need from your mudroom space.
That’s why Acampora likes to start the design process by asking clients a series of questions. These prompts give both designer and family a better sense of what they need from the space. The foundational questions include:
- How many people live in your home?
- What sorts of extracurricular activities do you each participate in?
- Do you have any regular visitors or guests who would benefit from having dedicated space in your mudroom?
- Do you have any pets?
Armed with a clearer understanding of the kind of traffic the mudroom will see, you can begin to design a functional layout from floor to ceiling.
2. Bottom-Up Mudroom Design
When it comes to planning through the elements of your mudroom design, Acampora walks us through a visual scan, from floor to ceiling, of what the space will include.
“If you’re thinking about a typical mudroom from the ground up, there are shoes, there’s a bench, there are hooks with cubbies,” she says. “Then above that, there’s usually some kind of closed storage–a cabinet or another open cubby with a basket–and that’s for extra, off-season items.”
Visualizing the needs of your space can help you home in on the best storage solutions.
3. A Variety of Mudroom Storage Options
What is the key to creating functional mudroom storage? Acampora notes, “We want to make sure that each person has a dedicated spot so that they always know where to find their belongings.”
This organization helps streamline comings and goings and makes the family’s life more manageable. “The more organized they can be,” she says, “the more efficient they can be with their schedules.”
Because mudrooms are a catch-all space for a family’s items, designing specific storage solutions is crucial.
4. Shoe Storage
Shoes can be a challenge to store. They come in all shapes and sizes–from clunky winter boots to strappy dress sandals–and when they’re strewn about your space, they can create visual chaos.
However, it’s not always easy to coax all family members to stow them diligently.
“If you have little kids, shoes never actually end up getting into drawers or cabinets,” says Acampora. “Somebody’s cleaning them up in the end. So, sometimes people want open storage for their shoes, or they can just kick them off underneath the bench.”
If clean visual lines are important, you may opt for closed storage and more stringent house rules. Add tidying the mudroom floor to your children’s chore chart, and enjoy a clutter-free floor when you enter your mudroom.
5. Mudroom Bench
Acampora notes that benches are another vital component of mudroom design. Benches are a perfect multi-purpose piece in a busy room.
Benches are also an ideal place to hide shoe storage. While completely closed-off shoe storage is rarely a functional choice for busy families, open storage under a bench reduces visual clutter and makes shoe storage a less onerous task.
When thinking about the bench itself, Acampora notes that it must be sturdy.
“For a full built-in mudroom, we usually do painted cabinets for cost savings; it’s a lot of millwork, and stain-grade wood is significantly more expensive than paint-grade,” she says. “But we do stain-grade wood where it’s going to get the most wear and tear, which is on the bench.”
As for upholstery, Acampora says this is a personal choice: “It depends on your lifestyle and how fussy you want to be.”
While an upholstered cushion can look elegant, mudrooms can also be attractive with a simple wood bench. “If we opt to add an upholstered cushion, it has to be super kid friendly and stand up to a significant amount of wear and tear,” Acampora notes.
Selecting a durable fabric and stain-treating it before installation is key to its longevity. Ensure the cushion has a cover that can be removed and tossed in the washing machine when it gets soiled.
6. Mudroom Lockers or Cubbies
Above the bench comes additional storage. While shoes are accounted for underneath the bench, there is still plenty of outwear to house in your mudroom.
That’s why Acampora recommends creating dedicated storage for each family member in the form of mudroom cubbies or lockers.
There are nearly endless storage options. When it comes to narrowing the field, she notes, “It really depends on how much money you want to spend.”
Some brands offer modular solutions, like this three-piece bench and cubby set from Pottery Barn, where you can add or subtract elements to best suit your lifestyle and needs.
Acampora adds that flexibility is a benefit to selecting a modular retail unit. “If something changes, or you need more or less space–kids going off to college, or you have more kids–you can adjust as needed,” she says.
The alternative is to create a custom built-in for your mudroom. “It’s always really nice to have a solidly-built custom piece,” Acampora says. “It just needs to be highly programmed to make sure that it’s meeting all of your requirements.”
To that end, Acampora and the team typically opt for a cubby or locker with hanging space immediately above the bench. This is where families leave outerwear, while the cubby design allows children to stow a field hockey stick or tennis racket against the back wall.
Then there is additional storage above the cubby–Acampora prefers a basket or cabinet–for off-season items.
7. Mudroom Closet
What if you’re renovating a mudroom that already has closet space? Acampora shares that traditional closets can be limiting in a mudroom. That’s why the trend of removing the doors and creating open cubbies has taken off.
“We did this recently for a family with four kids. They had a fairly narrow hallway with a couple of giant closets,” she says.
“The closets had these big doors that obstructed the hallway. And with young school-aged kids that need to get up and out the door quickly, the closets really did not suit their lifestyle.”
After removing the doors, Acampora and the team created an open and functional storage space with individualized cubbies–one for each family member–featuring additional overhead storage.
Removing closet doors makes the storage easier to access. But because the storage still nests within the recessed closet area, the items are hidden from view. All of this combines to make the whole space feel much larger.
8. Tech Storage
Today’s families don’t just enter the house with backpacks, scarves and sneakers; our tech also goes everywhere with us. From school iPads to smartphones, there are many devices your family might need to charge upon returning home.
Acampora says charging stations are becoming increasingly popular in modern mudroom renovations. She notes, “It’s like a drop zone or command center area.”
Incorporating charging stations into your mudroom design means items can be powered up as soon as you enter the home. There’s no danger you’ll put your nearly-dead phone down on a side table and realize tomorrow morning it’s all out of juice.
9. Pet Storage
When creating dedicated storage spaces for each household member, don’t forget about your furry family!
Dogs often have just as much gear as we humans do, so our team creates storage for pets as well. “We’ll have a section for leashes, treats, collars–that kind of thing,” says Acampora.
There’s nothing worse than searching for a lead when your pup is excited about a walk. A dedicated basket for dog items in your mudroom means their things will always be right where you need them.
10. Mudroom-Laundry Room Hybrid
Some homes require mudrooms to do double duty, serving as both an entrance and laundry room.
Fortunately, the thoughtful approach to storage that makes a mudroom space functional also enhances laundry rooms.
Acampora says, “In laundry rooms, the main thing you want to avoid is tons of clothes on the floor. So, similar to a mudroom, you want a dedicated space for everything.”
Combining open and closed storage on deep shelving helps camouflage laundry while encouraging organization. “It’s always that interplay between what you want to see and what you don’t want to see,” Acampora says.
She suggests stowing items like detergent and fabric softener in closed cabinets while housing sorting baskets in deep, open shelves that encourage your family to put dirty clothes there.
While the layout of a hybrid mudroom-laundry room will be dictated partly by venting and water hookup requirements, creating a division between the mudroom and laundry room portions can create further visual calm.
Simply designating half of the room for outerwear storage and the other half for laundry accouterments can achieve that. Or, a pocket door that separates the laundry room from the entryway can be a space-saving way to create a visual and physical divide.
Small Mudroom Ideas
When it comes to small mudrooms, Acampora says it’s all about communal storage: “For small spaces, we leave out the individual cubbies.”
Instead, Acampora recommends seating with shared storage underneath or inside. A bench that opens up can stow sporting equipment, mittens and other accessories.
Instead of lockers or cubbies above the bench, Acampora opts for adding as many hooks as the space will allow.
“For tighter mudrooms, what works well is two rows of hooks or pegs that go across the entire space. The first row is for hats, and then the second row is for jackets,” she says.
A little creativity can go a long way in a small space like a mudroom. Start by addressing your family’s needs; then, you can add design flourishes to make the room uniquely yours.