Mudroom Makeover

A busy, on-the-go lifestyle can wreak havoc on the orderliness and tidiness of our homes, and the accumulated clutter can be overwhelming. But a bit of planning and some good design can bring a sense of order to our homes.

It all begins with a well-designed mudroom, that space in which we transition from the outdoors to the inside. It should make a great first impression. In some cases, it may be the first room your guests enter in your home. Along with a closet area, it often also includes the laundry facilities of the home.

I recently completed a mudroom and laundry room renovation myself, and I have some tips that will help you achieve orderliness and style in your own space. In order to achieve a well-designed space you must analyze your lifestyle and think about how you, and others in your home, will use the area on a day-to-day basis.

The first step in a successful mudroom renovation is to empty the space you are dealing with. Measure the area and decide on a layout. Depending on your budget, you may want to keep laundry hook ups, walls, window and doors in place and work around them. Those building a new home have the advantage of planning the most efficient layout from the start. For my own project, we made some minor plumbing changes and added some much needed insulation on the exterior walls.

Second, analyze and think about what you need from the space. Determine how much and what sort of storage you will need; closed cabinetry, open shelves, bins and or baskets may be utilized. This is where creative design and organization can go a long way. I like to use a combination of various storage options. Bins and baskets placed on open shelves allow for easy tidying of little things such a mittens, hats, dog leashes and small toys. Closed storage cabinetry is great in laundry rooms to conceal household cleaners and other such items that should be stored where children cannot easily gain access to them. I repurposed some old cabinets that I had by sanding them down, painting them Oxford White from Benjamin Moore and adding new chrome hardware. I also added some open-shelf storage between the cabinets with decorative corbels painted out in the same colour white.

Installing a countertop surface over the washing machines is a great space saving solution if the machines are front loading. It also provides a much-needed folding surface. I decided to make my own budget friendly countertop using medium density fiberboard (MDF) and painted it Willow from Benjamin Moore in a pearl finish. Wall hooks are great solutions for purses, coats and keys. They work well installed at lower heights for children to easily hang their own jackets when they come and go. It is also a good idea to have ample shoe and boot storage. If you cannot afford custom built-ins there are many affordable shoe organizers on the market these days that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Once you have decided on a layout and the storage requirements, it’s time to consider the finishes. The mudroom is a hard working area that needs to withstand daily wear and tear. It also needs frequent cleaning. For flooring, ceramic and porcelain tile are great options. Because my home is older, I didn’t want to deal with putting in a new subfloor for tile. Instead, I decided to use a Tarkett Fiber Floor in a whimsical, small scale pattern called Rich Onyx, which I fell in love with. As for paint colour, the idea of a light and bright colour on the walls is appealing for the cheerfulness factor, but darker colours may be better for concealing dirt. Whatever paint colour you choose, ensure that it can be easily washed – a higher quality paint that can withstand more wear and tear is often necessary. I chose a rich blue-grey colour from Benjamin Moore called Wolf Gray – it provided a nice contrast to the white trim.

Ensure there is adequate lighting in the space as well. Choose light fixtures that have at least 60-watt bulbs so that even in the evening the room is bright. If you have the ceiling height to allow for it, semi flush fixtures are ideal because they can be decorative but do not hang too low. I went with a combo of flush and semi flush lights with 60 and 100-watt bulbs.

Regardless of the square footage of your space, with some creative design ideas, practical storage and pretty decoration your mudroom will be fresh and fabulous. I didn’t have the luxury of a big space, but I am happy with the way it has turned out. There is a place for everything and everything goes back in its place. Save yourself time and stress, day in and day out, by making this transition space both functional and welcoming for you, your family and your guests.

This article first appeared in the Home & Cabin summer 2014 print issue