When it comes to packing in lots of function, very few spaces beat a mudroom. But many homeowners don’t have a dedicated space for a mudroom.
Or they may think they don’t have enough square footage to create a useful go-to spot for their families.
But a few clever design ideas and some maxed-out storage can help you carve out a super-functional mudroom. Here’s what to consider.
No matter their size, all mudrooms require several things. They include:
A place to hang items
Think coats, backpacks, dog leashes and scarves.
A hiding spot
Lots of the detritus of daily life doesn’t need a place in the spotlight. Gloves, hats and even small sporting items benefit from an out-of-the-way spot to store them.
What’s the last thing you do before you leave? For most of us — especially little kids — it’s put on our shoes. Having a spot to sit that isn’t the floor increases the comfort and usefulness of a small mudroom.
Designing and outfitting a mudroom means thinking outside generally accepted uses for entry nooks and crannies. Once you start to evaluate what you have, you’ll find much more usable space than you might have once considered.
Implement these ideas, or use them as inspiration for your own solutions:
The fronts and backs of doors
Solid doors offer plenty of vertical space for hooks, while doors with windows up top can be outfitted with hanging items on the bottom.
Very narrow widths of walls
The inch-deep space of a wall isn’t room enough for a shelf, but it is a perfect spot for a narrow magnetic board or calendar.
Wide window surrounds are also perfect for hooks. Bonus: These lower-to-the-ground spaces are accessible for little ones to reach on their own.
Above and around doors and windows
Narrow shelves can be good spots for long-term storage of seasonal items such as winter gloves and summertime hats.
Accessories that move or adapt are perfect partners for mudrooms. Think: a small bench on wheels with shelves underneath.
Narrow cubbies and drawers
If you can, divide small mudroom storage into smaller cubbies and drawers, and assign them to different people in your family. Take storage all the way down to the floor, too, to capture the usually ignored space under traditional cabinets.
Tips for designing a mudroom
Just because a space is small doesn’t mean that it should be boring. Inject color and pattern for a quick entryway pick-me-up that will boost the overall appeal of your home.
Keep it durable
Choose materials that withstand daily traffic and dirt, and are easily cleaned — tile floors, for example, or outdoor fabric for a cushion.
Pay attention to the details
Small space doesn’t equal throwaway space. Pretty hardware, inventive paint, focal-point wallpaper and interesting light fixtures are all ways to decorate your small mudroom and tie the space into the rest of the home.
10 items in your garage you can toss right now
Broken or duplicate tools
You probably don’t need five hammers, and that broken drill is just collecting dust on a shelf. Take stock of your tool collection, and consolidate so you don’t have an overflowing toolbox (or too many bulky bins filled with tools).
Chances are you have no use for that old clunky computer printer and fax machine from the early ’90s. “If it’s in the garage, there’s a 90% chance that your old CPU is not worth the time it would take you to bring it back up to speed for day-to-day use,” says organizing and storing expert Emma Gordon of Clutter.com. “It’s better to find a recycling program that can take it off your hands.”
Old newspapers, magazines and catalogs
“You’re not going to read these again,” says Gordon. “If they’ve been banished from the house to the garage, they need to go.” If you can’t part with all of them, allow yourself to keep a few special editions or issues. Donate or recycle the rest.
Plastic planter trays
“It’s tempting to keep the trays after popping our spring blooms,” says Gordon. “Unless you’re a regular gardener, there’s no reason to keep these trays after transplanting. Clear them out so you don’t have to deal with spiders or other garage critters that will make a home in them.”
Old paint cans
Face it: You’re not going to use that hideous color of paint anywhere in your house. If you think you might need to touch up any of the rooms in your house, figure out which can of paint goes with which room, and label it with the room (dining room) and color (linen white). Remember that you can’t throw away full (or partially full) paint cans, so you’ll either need to find a hazardous-waste collection site or pour clean kitty litter in the can to dry up any remaining paint before disposing of the kitty litter and paint, and recycling the can.
Unused DIY project materials
While you’re clearing cans from old home-improvement projects, toss out old materials from DIY projects. “Almost every garage in America has a flimsy aluminum paint tray coated in house paint, with a matching roller in a crumpled grocery bag,” Gordon says. “As homeowners, we like to think we’re going to get more than one use out of our paint brushes, trays and other DIY tools, but it’s more likely we’ll forget and buy these items again anyway. The only reason to save otherwise disposable DIY tools would be if you have a project in mind that you plan to tackle soon.”
Old sports equipment
“Toss out balls if they don’t hold air anymore,” says Gordon. Same goes for broken tennis rackets, skis, helmets and more. If one of your kids no longer plays a sport, donate the used gear to a thrift store that accepts sports equipment.
Old shoes and clothes
“I promise you won’t miss the clothes and shoes you’re storing in the garage,” says Gordon. “These are the items that you don’t even have in your weekly outfit rotation, and if they haven’t been kept in an airtight container, they will require a lot of laundering to nix the garage fumes and dust.”
Sadly, your beloved tape collection is now obsolete. “Remember the static or flipping over to the ‘B-side’? Compared to streaming services, these outdated forms of entertainment require a lot of fussing,” says Gordon. “Make a quick list of the albums and movies you consider staples for your household, and plan to purchase in digital format.”
Bring that old chair you’ve been meaning to reupholster for years, or those old and outdated holiday decorations, to the thrift store or a donation center. If you can’t imagine placing them back inside your house anytime soon, you should say goodbye to those pieces.