You arrive home, arms overflowing with work papers, groceries, kids and dry cleaning, only to crash land at the nearest available counter with all of the day’s paraphernalia. Rather than allowing your kitchen, living room, or dining room to become a catchall for such chaos, wouldn’t it be nice to welcome organization and efficiency into an intermediate space?
After all, when you step through your back door, you’re shedding more than just jackets, briefcases and backpacks. You need to be able to let go of the outside world and step into a comfort zone.
With a simple design checklist, your mudroom — be it a slim hallway or full-size utility room — can offer a smooth transition into your home, as well as serve as a functional send-off when you’re ready to head back out the door.
1. Hang ‘Em Up
Unless you are a stickler for spotlessness, chances are you’re not going to open a closet door and place your coat on a hanger each time you walk through the door. Instead, provide easy-to-access hooks for everyone in the family (at least one for each person’s jacket and backpack/purse), and remember to install them at a user-friendly height.
It’s also nice to include a wall shelf above the hooks where you can place decorative items, a mail organizer and a tray for keys.
2. Have a Seat
Shallow bench seating provides a perch for slipping on shoes as well as a landing spot for shopping bags when your hands are full. It’s ideal if your bench opens underneath so that you can stow shoes or organizational baskets below. Low on space?
A small wooden chair will also do the trick. Got room to spare? Consider pulling the bench away from the wall to create an island seat in your mudroom’s center.
3. Step Out
Whether it’s tucked under a seat or situated below the wall hooks, you’ll want to include a small rug, sturdy tray or shallow basket for corralling shoes and boots. Need additional space for stowing pairs? Incorporate shoebox-sized cubbies along one wall.
4. Contain It
A series of baskets or bins gives you the opportunity to implement an organizational system for loose items. Group objects by user or category (think winter warmers like gloves, scarves, and hats; backyard playthings such as bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and baseball mitts; lotions and potions including sunscreen and bug spray; and pet gear like leashes, brushes, and tennis balls).
5. Open & Shut
Cabinets and closets grant you the ability to hide items that aren’t used every day, like sports equipment, winter gear (sleds and heavy coats), and summer stuff (pool toys and beach towels).
Go vertical with upper-level cabinetry to maximize space — just be sure to keep a stepladder handy. Don’t have the funds or square footage for built-ins? Repurpose a bedroom dresser and use deep drawers for storing small and medium-sized goods.
If you have the freedom, these five elements can be combined into an extra-large “über-unit” that stretches from floor to ceiling. Such a multifaceted piece can provide open locker storage outfitted with several hooks, lower-level cubbies or drawers for shoes or school supplies, and upper-level cabinets for housing rarely used items.
What organization tips and tools have you used to help transform your mudroom into a do-it-all design?
Jessica Johnson works for www.extraspace.com and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.