1 of 2
Daniel Barton, Renovation Design Group
While remodeling a laundry room for this couple, we were able to "borrow" 18 inches of space to add a mud area to this hallway where they enter their house from the garage.

Busy families with school-age children have most likely spent the last few weeks buying school clothes and supplies to prepare for the new school year.

As we say goodbye to summer, it is time for us to gear up for the busy fall season. Now that everyone is finished vacationing, many will again be thinking about how their homes will handle this school year and the coming holiday rush. That remodeling project you have been contemplating for years may actually move up your list of priorities, and this may be the year that you actually do something about it.

Now is a great time to think about how your home functions as we approach weather that will keep us all indoors and holidays that will gather our families and friends around. With the children back in school, it is a good time to review what works in your house and what doesn’t. This analytical process in architectural design is called "programming."

For instance, your lack of storage space may be more evident than ever as the daily string of coats, shoes and book bags begin to line the entry hall. Think how glorious it would be to have a separate space to contain and organize the physical equipment common to our daily lives.

Mudrooms are high on the wish lists of clients with children still at home or those with a steady stream of visiting grandchildren. Instead of having to add space onto your house, consider how you can repurpose space in your home for a mudroom. It may just take adding or removing a wall or two and supplying some cabinetry and counter space to create a functioning mudroom.

We like mudrooms because, when designed properly, they directly and positively impact our clients’ lives. A mudroom impacts a client’s life and gives them three main things:

  1. A cleaner house, which creates a more serene family atmosphere;
  2. More organized storage, which saves time and avoids frantic searches for missing items; and
  3. A space to temporarily contain messes and clutter when life gets away from us.

Clients who create new mudrooms boast of a cleaner house, especially in the fall and winter months. Muddy or wet shoes and outer clothing are shed and stored in the mudroom; therefore, dirt and water inadvertently brought inside won’t make it past this room into the rest of your house.

By nature, a mudroom is designed to help you be more organized. Mudrooms are typically equipped with storage lockers or cubbies for each member of the family. Mudrooms are designed to store anything that will go outside with you the next day. No more running around the house searching for mittens, coats, schoolbooks or even car keys — they're always right where you stored them in the mudroom. Completed homework assignments, lunches and other items that need to be taken outside the home can also be placed in advance in the backpacks hanging in the mudroom, where you won't forget them on your way out the door.

The third benefit of a mudroom is the fact that even if your mudroom isn’t always clean and organized, you can shut the door. The mudroom contains your family’s messes or clutter in one out-of-the-way room. Whether unexpected guests drop in or you just don't want to look at a mess that you don't have time to clean up right away, that door is your new best friend.

In designing a mudroom that works for you, first think about its location. It should be adjacent to the entry that members of your household use the most — typically the back door or entry to the garage — so that it's the first space the family passes through when returning home and the last space they go through when leaving.

Next, consider what you need to include in your mudroom. You will probably want a bench or seat to sit on when donning or removing shoes and boots. You'll need a closet or hooks for hanging coats, sweaters and backpacks. A locker or cubby for each household member in which they can store their personal outdoor gear and belongings is also desirable.

Cabinetry for your mudroom can range from custom designed to pre-manufactured units from a big box store. Free-standing furniture such as lockers, benches and shelving can also work.

Lastly, flooring materials should be resistant to water and dirt. (Remember, it's called a "mudroom" for a reason.) Fortunately in this day and age, sturdy flooring can also be attractive. Stained concrete, vinyl composition tiles, ceramic tile and rubber flooring are your best bets.

As you are planning your mudroom, a little professional organizational guidance may come in handy. You can find a professional organizer at the National Association of Professional Organizer's website, napo.net. As for help in the design department, use another professional — an architect — to help you locate the perfect spot and consider all the details for your new mudroom.

This is a room that will definitely change your life for the better.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com