It's finally getting cooler! As we begin to drag out jackets, rain boots and hats, this is the perfect time of year to think about revamping your mudroom or creating one. In homes located in cold climates, this vestibule-like space is sometimes used not only as a place to store dirty outdoor gear but also as a barrier against extreme cold. In addition to well-built homes, you will even notice such spaces in commercial buildings, such as restaurants, cafes or retail shops. I am partially enamored with mudrooms because they are not common where I live, for the climate is more temperate. Yet a mudroom seems like one of the most practical spaces to have in a family home regardless of local weather.
Originally, mudrooms were designed to be the informal entrance to a home. They are often located at the back of a house, either near the kitchen or laundry room, and are rarely situated at the front of the house. Common especially in regions with wet, snowy, muddy winters, this specialized room can be useful for keeping a house clean. There are generally multiple hooks on the walls to hang coats and hats. Often, there is a drawer, shelf or cubby for shoes. Some people like closed storage drawers or cabinets to hide those items from sight.
Nowadays, the mudroom is also a popular spot for the family information center, for example, a place to hang a large calendar and schedules for sporting events, school activities and special events. Many families use the space as a charging station for family laptops, iPads and smartphones. Keys and security fobs can reliably be kept here, as well. You are less apt to lose your keys if you always put them in the same spot!
If your mudroom is truly a separate room, make sure that the floor is a very forgiving material that's easy to clean. Ceramic or porcelain tile, vinyl flooring and linoleum are wise choices. Wood can be practical if the surface is rustic and will not scratch easily. You will want to avoid anything that is very shiny and smooth, as it will get damaged and be slippery when wet. If you choose tile, it should have some degree of slip-resistant surface for safety. It is ideal to have the flooring flow right into the adjacent room, in order to expand the sense of space.
In terms of design, some fun considerations are painting the walls a bright color or hanging whimsical wallpaper. Since the room is casual and practical, it's acceptable to create a mood that's completely different than the rest of the house. This is also a fine spot for trompe l'oeil, or art that deceives the eye. Maybe you incorporate an art piece that's a view of an orchard, a dog with a bone or a faux window to the backyard. It is also the perfect spot for wooden word signs, letters and informal accessories. Include a clock and a mirror, too.
This example is a European model produced in the United Kingdom. It has a kind of built-in modern look and might be useful in a home or apartment that doesn't have a separate mudroom. Such a unit could be placed in a front entryway or even a corner of the living room. Using this concept, you could transform your hallway with a made-to-order wood cabinet with hidden coat racks, shoe cabinets, glove compartments and flush-fitting coat hooks. Add a mirror to the cabinet door, and you'll complete the perfect out-the-door stop.
Christine Brun's weekly column, "Small Spaces," can be found at creators.com.