5 Killer Strategies to Make Sure Your Mudroom Isn’t a Disaster
Does your mudroom resemble these statements?
- Book bags thrown anywhere and everywhere on the floor.
- Shoes discarded into haphazard piles as you come in from the garage. You’re waiting for the next time you spill out a bag of groceries after tripping over this shoe graveyard.
- SO many coats draped over SO few hooks. How long will it take to find your favorite raincoat on a dreary Columbus day?
- Your son’s dirty JV football uniform dropped in the corner waiting for you to clean these ‘tasty morsels.’
- Your vacuum, stacks of extra waters for lunches and paper towels jammed into the corner of the room with no place to go.
If your mudroom resembles these remarks – you can take SOME comfort in the fact, you’re not alone.
Most mudrooms are a disaster. I’ve seen quite of few before they were ‘resurrected’ with mudroom storage systems (note – if I shared any of these ‘before’ pictures with you, the owners of these improved mudrooms might have an APB out for my arrest!).
Let’s face it, most entryways are the perfect ‘chuck it and forget it’ zone for your son, your daughter and your spouse. However, for you this ‘room’ (or crazy corridor) is a different experience. It’s a source of stress. It’s a source of frustration. It’s an embarrassment you hope none of your friends, family or (God forbid) Mother in Law takes a gander at!
The challenge is how do you gain control over this seemingly hopeless, yet constantly used, passageway to the main living areas of your home? Why should the area right off your beautiful gourmet kitchen always look like an explosion of coats, hats, bookbags, packages and supplies?
A disorganized mudroom doesn’t have to be your reality. For any of you who were Seinfeld fans you know the goal is to gain some ‘hand’ (i.e. to have the upper hand) when it comes to organizing your mudroom. You need to gain as much confidence over your disorganized mudroom as George Costanza expressed to Jerry Seinfeld when he said (referring to his confidence in having the upper hand in his relationships),
“Jerry, let me tell you something, a man without hand is not a man. I got so much hand I’m coming out of my gloves.” — George Costanza
To gain some ‘hand’ (AKA gaining the upper hand) over the disorganization which is your mudroom today, will require killer strategies (this space is no simple organization task). In this article I’ll present 5 ideas I’ve seen help desperately-trying-to-get-organized families gain control over their mudrooms. At the end, let me know which of these strategies you think will work for you – or comment with other problems you still need to get your arms around. Now, let’s check out these 5 ideas.
Killer Mudroom Organization Idea #1 – Fly against conventional mudroom construction approaches. Do not build your mudroom cabinetry from painted wood. Use laminate instead.
Painted wood cabinetry looks SO nice when it’s completed…initially. It’s sparkling white. The fresh smell of paint is wonderful (at least most people love it).
Here’s the problem with the ‘initially.’ As time progresses you come to the ‘eventually.’ Eventually, the nicely painted wood is kicked, nicked up, scratched, warped from the exposure to the cold and even drawn on by young children. When all this happens whose job is it to maintain it? It’s either yours or you take time out of your crazy two-income-earning, 3 kid-a-raising schedule, to hire the neighborhood handyman to come sand and paint it. Your beautiful mudroom of yesteryear becomes the maintenance hassle of today.
You may be asking, is there a better way? The answer is – yes.
The better way is to use durable, decorative laminate covered mudroom storage system. Laminates are no longer the drab, smooth tops Grandma used to have on her kitchen countertops back in the day. Laminates have grown up just like you. Now using a process called EIR (which stands for Embossed in Register) laminates can have a textured surface you’ll swear are wood. These decorative laminates not only are available in classic white with hot design styles like 5-piece Shaker door fronts, but also in a wide variety of wood colors. These laminate systems can also have holes drilled in the side, so your shelving is adjustable. They won’t nick, scratch, get dented or need repainted.
Killer Mudroom Organization Idea #2 – Design in “BOGO” functionality
Mudrooms aren’t exactly the most expansive rooms in the house. If we’re keeping it real, many entryways are glorified, slightly wider, hallways between the garage and the main living area. So, how can you turn this ugly duckling tight space into a swan?
One key is to make it multipurpose. Yes – you could drill in a few hooks on a wall or buy cheap wire shelving at your local home center store and you’ll have a place to hang a few things up, but still you still won’t have an effective place to store your shoes or to sit down to take them off.
When it comes to mudroom cabinetry design, the smartest thing you can do is to design the space with BOGO (buy one, get one free) functionality. One uber-popular way to do this is to combine a mudroom bench with storage underneath. If you have one wall which is 19″ to 24″ deep create a mudroom bench seat which doubles with concealed drawer storage below. This is smart and efficient.
Killer Mudroom Organization Idea #3 – Zone in and get crystal-clear on a design which fits your space and budget
As my wife Rose would tell you when we went to put our first home up for sale I had delusions of grandeur. I thought we were going to get our $149,000 asking price, even though its layout lived like a 2-bedroom ranch and we had an ‘occasional’ small area by our sump pump which would leak at the most inopportune times (like when we had a home showing).
When it comes to mudrooms I’ve seen prospective customers have the same glazed-over, zoned-out thinking I had trying to sell our first home. They have vision of “Pinterest and Houzz-esque” mudrooms in massive homes dancing in their heads. I’m the ‘lucky’ guy who gets to burst their bubble when the size of their space doesn’t fit their vision, or their pocketbook doesn’t match their design ideas.
The question becomes how can you get your design concept to match your budget and space? IMHO you need to strategize your mudroom by breaking it down into the following 3 zones (and keeping your personal ‘evil-eye’ on your budget).
- Zone 1 – The Hanging Zone – Must people want (and need) space to hang coats, sweaters and book bags in a mudroom. To keep costs down the simplest way to do this is with an open cubby design with either a series of hooks or a rod across the cabinetry. If you HATE, HATE, HATE seeing the jumbled mess of coats, storage behind doors is a wonderful option. For closed storage to work remember you’ll either need to use hook storage behind a shallower depth cabinet (14″ deep will work), or if you want to have a full closet rod you’ll need 24″ depth to allow for your clothes for a hanger to fit.
- Zone 2 – The Storage Zone (concealed or open) – Most homes are desperate for more storage. The reason homes are woefully lacking in storage is new homes are sold on features you DO notice when visiting the model (like quartz countertops and large expansive windows). Most people aren’t focused on storage …until you move in and the lack of it smacks you in the face! Mudroom storage often serves as the catch-all space for everything from packages of water bottles for kid’s lunches, to lesser used plates for Thanksgiving dinner to bulk rolls of paper towels and toilet paper. When designing a mudroom cabinetry system think if you’d like this storage to be concealed behind doors and drawers or in open cubbies. If you’re high on the OCD scale, you’ll want to add doors and drawers into your design.
- Zone 3 – The Power Zone – The power zone in your mudroom storage doesn’t refer to a basket of energy bars or a place to store your way-too-little watched yoga instructional tapes. No, this power zone refers to the effective use of electricity and lighting in a mudroom design. Since mudrooms are the first place you come to when entering from the garage, they are the perfect place for charging outlets for your I Phone, IPods and electronic devices. If you install electrical outlets inside your locker room cubbies they will eliminate nasty cords from your kitchen counters. Another power zone strategy is to add lighting since it can be a dark, dingy and windowless place in many homes. The nicest (and most expensive way) to do this is to hire an electrician and add task lighting to your organization system. A cheaper way is to use rechargeable LED motion activated lights.
Killer Mudroom Organization Idea #4 – Grab and go furniture may not be your best option
There are 2 basic strategies to improve your entryway storage. You can buy a separate mudroom cabinet, a storage shelf or bench seat and put them in the space. While this method is cheapest, here’s three problems associated with this approach.
- Problem 1 – The standard bench, cabinet or shelf may not be the right dimensions to work around your windows or outlets.
- Problem 2 – A standard shelf or cabinet can be used a ‘jungle gym’ by your young and oh-so-adventuresome boys, which could cause it to topple over.
- Problem 3 – An off the shelf mudroom cabinet will not be designed to leverage 9′ or 10′ ceilings, leaving unused storage opportunities at the top.
If you really want a mudroom storage design which leverages every nook and cranny of space – yet works around access panels, electrical outlets, heating returns, and light switches, a custom designed unit is the ticket. With a custom mudroom system, the unit is anchored into the wall – so safety will not be a concern. They can be designed with the perfect mix of doors, drawers and pull out shelves to work for your family’s needs in a style which fits with the colors and cabinetry in adjoining rooms. The best news is – you can get a Free 3D design – which won’t cost you not even ‘one thin dime’ as they would say on Broadway!
Killer Mudroom Organization Idea #5 – Design Specifically, Not Generically
Have you ever bought a dress on the Internet which looked awesome on the model? You were SO excited when the package arrived on your doorstep. You tried it on and your vision burst like a sharp needle into a thin-walled balloon.
This same – doesn’t-meet-expectations- moment can happen with a standard mudroom cabinetry design. If the shelves of the unit are 15″ wide, but your husband’s big-dog shoes are 10″ across, what good will it do to store 1 1/2 pairs of his shoes per shelves (the wasted space of the ½ pair is of no value).
If the depth of the standard cabinet is 24″ deep, but you only have 22″ of wall space to work with, Houston, you have a problem.
If a standard mudroom furniture cabinet is 6′ tall, and you have soaring 10′ ceilings it will looked dwarfed, out of place, and won’t be leveraging the height you have.
If a standard cabinet is designed for a family of 4, but you’ve got 5 people – you’re not going to send your youngest child back in a box ‘return to sender (although on some days you might want to)!’
Generic designs do nothing to help your specific storage needs and family members. If you want a killer design here’s a few things you (or a custom mudroom storage designer) should think through:
- How many storage cubbies or open storage areas you want in a design? Note I would recommend 20″ to 24″ between each cubby. This can make having a separate cubby for each person challenging if you have a big family and a small wall area to work with. In these situations, consider a larger hanging area in the middle with separate storage doors on the side.
- Would you like open cubbies or storage behind doors and drawers? If you go for closed storage, you’ll want to make sure you can open the doors and drawers without interference from interior doors which open into the space.
- If you’d like shelving, what are you going to store? Get specific when designing the shelving inside your mudroom cabinetry. Know what items you’re planning to store. Do some items (like cleaning solutions) need to be kept separate and behind a locked door if you have little ones? How big are the paper towels and Mondo rolls of toilet paper you buy at Sam’s Club and will they fit in your design?
- Do you need any electrical outlets and would lightening help the space feel better?
I hope this article has shown you, you do not have accept defeat or feel overwhelmed by too many of ‘de-shoes’ pilling up in your mudroom. To gain some ‘hand’ and organization will take a plan and design which is suited specifically to you, your family, your space and your budget.
If it’s still hard for you to get your arms around where to start on this project, don’t fret, we’re here to help. Call Innovate Home Org in Columbus or Cleveland and let our designers (or if you’re really unlucky you may get stuck with me helping you on this project) come into your space, talk through your needs and do a Free 3D mudroom design. Please call us at the numbers below.
How can I (or my team) help you with a mudroom design?
Call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland at 216-658-1290.
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