De­sign a func­tional yet stylish mud­room

De­sign­ing a func­tional yet stylish mud­room

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Ray­worth

Mu­d­rooms have been a sta­ple of large houses, es­pe­cially in cli­mates with plenty of rain and snow. But in­creas­ingly, a mud­room has be­come a de­sign es­sen­tial even for apart­ment dwellers and those with small homes.

“Just like the kitchen has be­come so cen­tral to how ev­ery­body uses their home and lives their lives, a mud­room has be­come an ex­pec­ta­tion,” says de­signer Vern Yip, an HGTV host and au­thor of the new book “Vern Yip’s De­sign Wise” (Run­ning Press).

In­te­rior de­signer Ben­nett Leifer agrees, and of­ten helps clients in New York City apart­ments cre­ate a proper mud­room.

“Peo­ple try and find space where they can do that, whether they have a large fam­ily or whether it’s just for them­selves,” Leifer says.

Some tips for de­sign­ing a func­tional, durable and even stylish mud­room, even in the small­est of homes:

An­a­lyze how you re­ally come and go

“Think about how your fam­ily uses the space,” says Yip, and be hon­est about how much clut­ter you’re likely to cre­ate. Peo­ple of­ten want to see them­selves as neater than they are, which leads them to cre­ate a mud­room en­trance that is soon chaotic.

Will ev­ery­one take their shoes off there each day, for in­stance, or only when they’re wet or muddy?

“We run an Asian house­hold,” Yip says. “Take off your shoes when you come in the door.”

So his mud­room in­cludes am­ple shoe stor­age, plus a spot to sit while putting shoes on.

Lots of sports equip­ment means more large stor­age. And those who’ll want to charge the whole fam­ily’s dig­i­tal de­vices for easy grab­bing when ev­ery­one leaves the house in the morn­ing should put in counter space or shelves with plenty of power strips or elec­tri­cal out­lets nearby.

In your de­sign, Yip ad­vises, in­clude about 10 per­cent to 15 per­cent more stor­age than you ex­pect to need.

Your best drop zone

The mud­room is your daily “drop zone,” says de­signer Sarah Fish­burne, di­rec­tor of trend and de­sign for The Home De­pot. So choose the mix of closed stor­age, hooks, shelves and coun­ter­tops that serves your needs.

Cus­tom, built-in stor­age is pop­u­lar in mu­d­rooms, but there are also many units avail­able in a range of styles and prices.

Leifer points out that built-ins can work well in small or awk­ward spaces. He’s seen Man­hat­tan apart­ment dwellers build around a garbage chute or wall sof­fit in the ser­vice en­trance to turn that space into a mud­room. Built-ins also of­fer sta­bil­ity: Un­like free­stand­ing fur­ni­ture, they can’t be knocked over by kids rush­ing by with back­packs.

Open lock­ers and cub­bies are pop­u­lar, mim­ick­ing the style of an ath­letic locker room, but Yip re­minds clients that closed stor­age and hooks tucked away be­hind doors will help keep your mud­room from look­ing clut­tered.

How­ever you de­sign your stor­age, de­lin­eate one ver­ti­cal space for each fam­ily mem­ber.


Mu­d­rooms should be lit like kitchens, with plenty of over­head and task light, Fish­burne says. This may be the first place a skinned knee gets at­ten­tion, or the last place searched at night for a miss­ing text­book.

And be­cause you might come home on dark fall and win­ter nights, the mud­room’s a great place to put at least one light on a timer.

In­clude light­bulbs such as LEDs that il­lu­mi­nate with no de­lay to cre­ate “a bright

place to walk into that you feel safe,” says Fish­burne.

Light­ing also can beau­tify this oth­er­wise very prac­ti­cal space: Yip points out that a ceil­ing fix­ture can be “re­ally stylish, re­ally del­i­cate and re­ally frag­ile,” but re­main pro­tected from dam­age be­cause it’s hung out of reach.

In­fus­ing your style

Other items that can “vis­ually soften the space” and ex­press your style in­clude art­work (safely framed) and win­dow treat­ments that don’t ex­tend to the floor, Yip says.

Leifer adds floor­ing to that list: Mu­d­rooms need durable, wa­ter-friendly floor­ing, but are great places to try bold col­ors or fa­vorite pat­terns. He sug­gests FLOR

car­pet squares, which come in a range of de­signs and are eas­ily wash­able or re­place­able, or wo­ven vinyl floor cov­er­ing from the Swedish com­pany Bolon.

And don’t for­get the ceil­ing: Con­sider dreamy cloud wall­pa­per or other whim­si­cal styles, Leifer says, or go so­phis­ti­cated with a high­end wall cov­er­ing from Cole and Sons. The cost may be sur­pris­ingly rea­son­able if your mud­room isn’t large.

Other par­tic­u­lars

Will this be a fam­ily com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­ter? If so, in­clude cork boards or mag­netic boards, and per­haps a coun­ter­top or small desk where you can fill out school forms.

Pets? Many pet own­ers in­clude a pet bed or dog crate in the mud­room, and a spot for hang­ing leashes.

Yip sug­gests one more use­ful ad­di­tion: a sink and van­ity.

One wall can be enough

If you don’t have a mud­room or foyer space, th­ese ideas can be pared down into an area just a few feet wide along one wall.

Start by de­lin­eat­ing that sec­tion of wall vis­ually with paint, wall­pa­per or tile. Or add board-and-batten pan­el­ing half­way up the wall, Fish­burne says.

Once the area is marked, as­sign a nar­row space within it for each fam­ily mem­ber. Add hooks, and a bench with cub­bies or bas­kets un­der­neath.

Above, add a shelv­ing unit with ad­di­tional cub­bies. Then hang a rec­tan­gle of gal­va­nized steel (make sure it’s mag­ne­tized) for each per­son to tack up items, plus a bit of chalk­board or white­board paint around it for jot­ting down notes or ap­point­ments.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by The Home De­pot shows a cabi­net serv­ing as stor­age in the foyer of a home. One por­tion of an open foyer can func­tion as a mud­room with help from a cabi­net, like the one shown here, that com­bines closed stor­age, hang­ing space, shelv­ing and seat­ing.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by The Home De­pot shows a padded bench in­side a home with or­ga­nized stor­age un­der­neath. Benches like this one avail­able at Home De­pot, helps keep a mud­room or­ga­nized and of­fers space for putting on or tak­ing off shoes.

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