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REAL ESTATE

Make Over Your Mudroom

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    Keeping mudrooms tidy with cubbies and shelves.

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    mudroom

Mudrooms are a home's workhorse -- a place for kids, dogs, and guests to transition from outdoors to indoors and leave behind all the dirt, grime, and undefinable muck they inevitably track in with them. These "way stations of the home" can also serve as an essential containment center for everything from coats to cleats, keys to cats, sometimes even your (filthy) children -- temporarily, of course.

If your entrances and exits always seem harried (or are pure unadulterated chaos), a mudroom makeover could work wonders for instilling more harmony for your home. Here's some advice to help you make the most of this space.

Pick the right place

If you have a front door that opens only a few times a year on holidays, it's far from the ideal mudroom spot. Instead, "the mudroom needs to be accessible from the most high-traffic entrance to -- and exit from -- the home," says Andy Kiener, vice president at Kinzie Real Estate Group. Kiener determines mudroom locations "based on garage access, outdoor access, or both."

Another common mudroom mistake is not making it big enough. "Two or three people may need to move around in the space at one time," says Kiener. Mudrooms should be roomy enough for a family to come and go without members smushing up against one another. Just picture three people putting on bulky winter coats at once in a closet-size room, and you'll get the idea.

Don't forget about design

Sure, it's a mudroom, not a glam room. But despite the room's dirt-inspired moniker, don't let function completely eclipse form. The first design step when planning a mudroom is to take the "homeowner's lifestyle and climate into consideration," says Stephanie Pierce, senior manager of the design studio at MasterBrand Cabinets.

Are you dealing with kids or dogs? Mudrooms with colorful cubbies for kids will (or should) look way different from that of a young couple going for a sleeker look; closed storage might look less cluttered, but it's only an option if you and your kids are willing to take the time to stash your stuff rather than toss them into open cubbies.

Once you identify the purpose of your mudroom, throw in a few simple design elements. "Hang a wall mirror as a nice focal point for the space," says Robin Wilson, founder and CEO of Robin Wilson Home. A cool chair or nice bench can make the space pop while providing a place to sit when removing shoes or boots.

Find the right flooring

You track in dirt on your shoes. Then bring in some rain or snow on a coat. To avoid messy buildups, "select flooring that can handle wear and tear and is easy to clean," Wilson says. "Hardwood is an excellent choice, as are tile and stone." If you opt for carpet, area rugs, or a floor mat, select styles that can absorb water and be cleaned easily. Finally, don't let damp clothing fester too long or you'll end up with mold.

Curb clutter with plenty of storage

Yes, a mudroom should be a clutter catchall. But that doesn't mean anarchy and disorder need to reign supreme. Instead, follow these tips from Closets by Design when planning your space:

  • First, personalize the space by giving everyone in the household a basket to store their own accessories (or else you'll face a tangled pile of random hats, scarves, and Snuggies).
  • Next, carve out an area for a built-in shoe rack or shelf to declutter the doorway. And add a special cabinet to hold bulky sports equipment.

 

Hang plenty of hooks

Mudrooms are all about grab-and-go ease, according to Elissa Morgante of Morgante Wilson Architects, a firm based in Evanston, IL. So a well-designed mudroom should give people a place to find outerwear to match the day's weather conditions lickety-split. That's why Morgante always incorporates "lots of hooks in a mudroom entry so homeowners can have the coats and jackets they wear most within easy reach. We also add a closet for coats that aren't in the regular rotation. But what's nice is they're all still in one place so you can quickly look at all your options."

Fight stains with paint

Maybe your living room walls can get by with a tasteful matte finish. But a space that sees as much action as a mudroom calls for stain-resistant paint. Glidden High Endurance Plus, Olympic Assure Interior Paint, and PPG Paints' Wonder-Tones Interior Latex Paint are a few high-quality paint options that stand up in high-traffic areas.