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How to Design a Stylishly Functional Mudroom

Get the dirt on how to make your mudroom — that hardworking drop-off and pickup spot for sneakers, boots and sporting gear — as dazzling as the rest of your home.


Stage 1: Build Out the Basics

Start by getting the room’s essential elements in place.


Before you buy any furnishings for your mudroom, think about all of the ways you’ll use it, says Sarah Barnard, an interior designer in Los Angeles. Presumably, it’ll be your family’s go-to place for putting on/pulling off jackets and shoes, but will it serve double duty, maybe as a sewing spot or the litter-box locale? Plan accordingly so everything you need fits in the space.


Your first major purchase: a bench, so there’s a place to sit while removing shoes. “Look for one with drawers or a top that lifts off to store hats, gloves — even dog leashes,” says Jeffrey Phillip, a New York City-based interior designer and professional organizer.


If your sports enthusiasts have no place to put their lacrosse sticks and tennis rackets — the floor is not an option! — get a wood or bamboo trunk that’s big enough to store all their gear but convenient enough to let them grab and go.


Where to put everyone’s footwear once it comes off? Use a simple plastic shoe tray or a stylish woven vinyl area rug, to prevent water from getting on the floor. For boots, Phillip suggests stashing them on another tray or rug in the closet. “Hiding some items will keep the space looking neat and organized,” he explains.


To ramp up the likelihood of your family hanging up their jackets and backpacks, install wall hooks. Handier than reaching into a closet for a hanger, hooks have an “in your face” quality that’s hard to ignore and a casual vibe that nicely matches a mudroom’s informality. “Be sure to use the full height of the mudroom walls by mounting a few hooks at a kid-friendly height,” says Brooke Lang, a Chicago-based interior designer.”


Stage 2: Add Embellishments

Layer in a little something extra.


Think about specialty flooring, an upgrade that’s both functional and decorative. “Porcelain tile is very durable, even more than ceramic,” explains Barnard. “It won’t stain, and it’s affordable.” The tile is made to replicate the look of stone, marble and wood. Other good flooring choices: natural stone tile and polished concrete.


But even the hardiest floor can eventually show signs of wear and tear. “Adding an indoor/outdoor style rug is a great way to extend the life of a high-traffic area like a mudroom,” Lang says. Choose a rug with a graphic pattern — a sneaky way to hide any stains — or a natural fiber, such as jute or sisal, which age beautifully, she says.


Before running out of the mudroom door to work, school or a social engagement, check yourself out in a full-length mirror, a practical item you can dress up with the right frame to add some elegance to the environment.


When does a mudroom also become the family command center? When you install a giant erasable chalkboard or whiteboard for notes and reminders (“Jack’s dentist appt. Tues. @ 4:30 pm”). To create a custom wall chalkboard, use chalk paint in a vibrant color (not black!) inside a fun shape (diamond, triangle) made with painter’s tape.


Stage 3: Giving It the Wow Factor

Load your mudroom with items that take it to the next level.


Built-ins boost a mudroom’s storage capacity and give off a streamlined look. Open-style lockers — think of them as taller cubbies for coats, backpacks, sports gear and wicker baskets — have become a mudroom favorite. “They lend themselves to being a little more functional,” says Phillip. “People can grab things and go from their designated locker.”


Dress up your mudroom’s walls with one-of-a-kind artwork created by the youngsters in your life. “Framing their artwork is a meaningful way to make a mudroom more personal,” says Barnard. Find a frame that complements both the art and the room’s décor.


Window treatments in a mudroom? Definitely! They’ll make the space look more complete, Barnard says. “If you have lots of woodwork, you could hang linen curtains; for a contemporary home, a roller shade would work well.”


As a final touch, add special lighting. Go with a style that complements the rest of your home. Popular choices: a pendant light or a drop-down chandelier in a drum shape, which are modern choices that give off a good amount of light.

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