Though they are referred to as mudrooms, if designed correctly, these small spaces can serve multiple purposes. Architect George Myers says that any family with children knows how coats and toys and books can accumulate throughout the house. “Even when people have a limited amount of square footage, I tell them they should not shortchange the mudroom,” he says. To get clients to dedicate space, Myers asks them to observe how often their daily activities revolve around entering and exiting the house. “If you don't do it right, it will bug you,” he tells them.
In Minneapolis, Minn., mudrooms are useful for several reasons, says remodeler John Sylvestre of Sylvestre Construction. First, in the frosty climate, residents need storage for large and bulky outerwear. Second, the room acts as a weather buffer by preventing cold air from entering the main part of the house. And, finally, because children often scatter their belongings throughout the house, “the goal of the mudroom,” Sylvestre says, “is to stop that stuff from spreading.”
Myers stresses the importance of durability. “These rooms get completely abused,” he points out. When installing hooks, he uses a lot of blocking in the wall. Drywall is not durable enough for the walls, so Myers suggests lining them with beadboard. Sylvestre adds that using durable products and providing a place to remove and store shoes protects the more expensive floors in the rest of the house.
Mudroom Features Sylvestre suggests finding out how clients will use the room and what they need to store there. “Ask if they want open storage or if they want it hidden behind a door. Do they need deeper closets for bulky clothes? Do they need storage for sports gear?” If clients only have a small space or a short expanse of wall, Myers suggests an upper row of hooks for coats and a lower row for backpacks.
If clients have more space, he recommends lockers for each member of the family. “If you have 8 feet of wall space, you can divide that into 2-foot lockers,” he says.
Some cabinet manufacturers offer products for the mudroom, but Myers points out that lockers and benches can also be custom-built. He sometimes combines the two by using upper cabinets from manufacturers with custom site-built storage below. Sylvestre has found that closet storage companies offer more storage solutions than cabinet manufacturers.
Adding a utility sink to the floor of a mudroom makes it even more practical for tasks such as cleaning up pets or boots. This utility sink from Kohler offers flexible installation as a floor sink or a countertop basin. The Oceanview cast iron fixture requires a wall or counter-mounted faucet to complete the installation. It measures 8 by 25 inches and is 6 3/8 inches deep. Optional accessories include a steel or wood grate.
Design Tips The staff at plumbing wholesale company Keidel in Cincinnati offers these tips for designing and installing mudrooms. For more information, visit www.keidel.com.
- Provide clear traffic routes in and out of the mudroom. Exterior doors should be 36 inches wide.
- Include a chair or bench for removing shoes and boots.
- A doormat is essential, and the bigger the better. Whenever possible, recess the mat into the floor. A recessed mat is safer and tidier than floor mats. This is easier if the floor is tiled, but it can even be done on an existing board floor.
- Provide a mail center with a bulletin board to help the family keep track of their schedules. Consider either a countertop to organize and sort mail or wall-hung letter bins.
- A bathroom with a shower located next to the mudroom is not only practical, but recommended.
- A laundry room adjacent to or that is part of the mudroom is a viable option. The utility sink can be used for laundry or to clean up dirt and grime. For small spaces (less than 4 by 9 feet) choose a small wall-hung sink.
- If the mudroom is off the kitchen, using the same cabinetry and counters will make the mudroom appear to be part of the kitchen and will make both spaces feel larger.
- Consider installing a mirror, and a series of hooks to hold spare keys.