Mad for Mudrooms

An entry space involves transition – and not just the shift from outdoors to inside.  The entry is also where we shed our outside, public selves - and all the accompanying gear.  Crossing the threshold after a long day there is nothing like the sense of Ahhh… I’m home.   That is until you trip over the backpacks and see muddy footprints leading onto your new hallway carpet.

For a house to function well in the Northeast, it all begins with the mudroom.  Often if I have a client that for budget reasons must choose between a formal entry and a mudroom, I will always push for the latter, because a formal entryway just doesn’t work for kids – or anyone with muddy boots and a wet coat. 

Growing up in a town graced with many center-hall colonials, this was the drill:  dinner guests and ladies coming to luncheon got to use the front door.  Everyone else entered through the kitchen, and got yelled at for tracking mud onto Mom’s freshly washed linoleum.  People started to wise up and began closing in the back porch to create a place to catch the mess.  Now new homes built in the New England vernacular invariably include this essential space, often located between the garage and the kitchen, while the formal entry is preserved on the façade.

In more modern homes, and for those less concerned with preserving tradition (as in the vestigial front door that no one uses), I prefer one main entrance that both family and guests employ.  The trick to keeping that space looking neat is a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Whether you opt for two entries – public(guests) and private(family) – or just one, coat hooks, cubbies and closets are essential for a good working mudroom.  A bench to sit on when tying shoes will also get a lot of use. And don’t forget a counter for the mail and out-of-sight storage for sports equipment.  If planning allows, locate the mudroom adjacent to the laundry room.  That soccer uniform can go right from the sports bag into the washing machine. 

Mudrooms are useful in the summer time, too.  During warmer weather, my baskets hold gardening tools instead of mittens.  And since my Iaundry room is right off the mudroom, I often come in from an afternoon in the garden and strip down – no need to bring those nasty ticks into the rest of the house.  If you are planning a renovation or new build, a well –designed mudroom can bring order and calm into your life.  Don’t forget to include a mirror, so you can see your happy face, coming and going!