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The Mudroom: Creating Practical Entryway Storage to Keep the Home Organized and Clean

Ideas for Mudrooms Including Adding an Entry Bench With Storage and Mudroom Lockers

Mudrooms are a modern concept with traditional roots. They go by different names depending on what part of the country you are located in, but the basic concept remains the same. A mudroom (also spelled mud room) is a more casual, secondary entryway to the home where members of the family can sit down and take off their shoes, boots, jackets and other outerwear. It is a convenient place where back packs, hats, mittens and outdoor gear that is commonly used when leaving the home is stored. Mudrooms usually include a place for boots, shoes, jackets and many other items, such as backpacks and umbrellas, that are brought in and out of the house by its occupants on a routine basis. Historically, the function of the mudroom was part of the traditional farmhouse back porch, where a boot box, boot scraper and a place to sit down to take off muddy shoes and clothing was located. It allowed the farmer a chance to do some basic clean up before entering the home and avoid tracking mud from the fields all over the house.

contemporary mud room design
Contemporary style mudroom with locker type built-ins and an integrated bench for sitting down to put your shoes on and take them off. This mudroom storage unit replaced a reach-in closet near the rear entry to the home. It sits across from the washer and dryer, making the space a complete laundry/clean up area. Shelves surround the area for coats and jackets, ensuring that their is room for the owners entire collection of shoes, along with gloves, hats and more.

Today's mudrooms take this concept a step further, and are often integrated into a complete laundry facility. Always located near the back door, the modern mudroom fills an essential role in keeping the home clean and the family organized.

contemporary mud room design
The mudroom is often integrated into the laundy room of the home, building on it's traditional function as a place to do some basic clean up before entering the house.

In recent times, old fashioned back porches have given way to decks or patios, and the mudroom has moved indoors. It is now more often of a back hall rather than a back porch, however, its functionality remains the same. Many homes include this space near the secondary/rear entry of the home where occupants can sit down, remove and store outerwear like boots and jackets before entering the main part of the home. It prevents the messier elements from Chicago's weather from getting tracked all over the house, while offering an organized space for the coats and all the other gear that is needed when leaving the home. Mudrooms are a coveted feature in Chicago areas homes, but not everyone is lucky enough to have one. It is possible, however, to create practical entryway storage through the addition of custom built-ins that keep the home organized and clean without having to do any major home additions or renovations.

The easiest ways to add new mudroom functionality to your home are by converting a reach-in closet, using space from an attached garage to build an entryway bench with storage and mudroom lockers, or by claiming an unused corner near the back door for a mudroom storage unit.


OPTION 1: Convert a Reach-In Closet to a Mudroom

The easiest way to add a mudroom to a home that doesn't already have this feature is by converting a reach-in entry closet into a mudroom space. Create an alcove for your new mudroom storage in the same space previously occupied by the reach-in closet. Ideally, this will be a closet located near the back door. Remove the doors, rods, shelves and trim from the reach-in closet. Paint and patch all the holes and you will be ready for your new mudroom area. Don't worry about losing the coat closet. You will gain more practical storage with a mudroom bench/locker set up than with a traditional reach-in closet that occupies the same amount of space. As an added bonus, children are more likely to hang up their coats and put away backpacks and shoes when there is a mudroom in place rather than a coat closet.

mud room storage space from closet
This example shows a reach in closet that has been torn out/removed to make way for a new built in mudroom storage system. The resulting holes were patched over and a fresh coat of paint added to prepare the space for it's new built-in storage system. The new unit will occupy the same footprint previously used by the old reach-in closet. However, the open design of mudroom lockers and benches will allow for a more open feeling to the space, giving the impression that the room is larger than it is. The open locker style mudroom unit will aid organization by offering spaces specifically designed to meet the homeowners needs, and can accommodate the ages of all family members, keeping everyone better organized over the long run.
mud room locker installation

To make this space as practical and usable as possible, install a large bench with shelves or cubbies for shoes underneath the seating area to stretch the length of the space. The area above the bench can be configured in several ways, but should always include hooks rather than hangers for jackets, hats and backpacks. A shared large central area with hooks for jackets, with or without shelves or cupboards on the sides for more storage, is one option. Alternately, individual coat cubbies can be constructed like lockers so that each family member has their own designated space to hang up their things.

mudroom lockers converted from reach in closet
mudroom storage unit


OPTION 2: Convert a Corner into a Mudroom

Some homes do not have a hallway or closet that separates the back door area from the rest of the house. In these instances, it is still possible to create a separate mudroom area by adding custom built-ins to an empty corner or section of wall. This type of mudroom storage should have a high quality, furniture type of feel to it. It is advisable to include crown and base moulding in the design for a very finished look. Select a color and style that will blend in with the other elements in the room. The addition of cabinet doors on some of the storage areas and over the upper shelves will give the unit an uncluttered, clean look that is very important with this type of installation.

mud room lockers
mud room corner style built in


OPTION 3: Add Mudroom Storage to an Attached Garage

If there is absolutely no place inside the home to add new mudroom storage, an attached garage can be pressed into service. Although technically outside the home, this type of mudroom is similar to how the back porch was used years ago. It can be a very convenient location if the entry from the garage is one of the main access points used to enter and exit the home. A built-in entry bench with storage and custom mud room lockers can be added near the door used to enter the home. It is important to use doors on at least some of the storage sections in this scenario, as items stored in garages tend to get dirty quickly. The plus side to having your mudroom in the garage is that mud, slush and messes are definitely kept outside the house.

mud room in garage
mud room lockers

Mudroom built-ins have many advantages over traditional closets. Creating a new mudroom through the addition of built-in storage can add enormous functionality to the home, helping to maintain organization and making it a more enjoyable place for everyone. It also aids in maintaining a clean house by keeping the messes away from the living areas. Children are much more likely to use built-in mudroom lockers with hooks than a closet with hangers which is often times out of their reach anyway. The mudroom storage unit is a good way to get kids to hang up their coats instead of throwing them on the floor when they get home from school. Shelves located at convenient heights can be used to store hats, gloves, keyes and even school papers so that they are not lost or forgotten the next day. If the mudroom is incorporated into a fist floor laundry area, the whole space can be a general clean up area. The bottom line is that storage designed to keep the mess and dirt at bay will contribute a more organized lifestyle, allowing more time for leisure and relaxation. Who couldn't use a little more of that?