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How to Keep a Tidy Mudroom

Hide, control, and get rid of clutter in your home’s trouble spots—all by design.

This mudroom by Barnes Vanze Architects features a heated floor: Lay out wet shoes or coats and they’re dry by morning. Photograph by Hoachlander Davis Photography.

When a Bethesda family with three children hired Barnes Vanze Architects to build a house, an effective mudroom was one of its key components. Calling it the home’s “nerve center”—it had to store mail, coats, bookbags, sports equipment, and cell phones—the owner says, “I wanted a space that could stay organized.”

Barnes Vanze’s Ankie Barnes designed a mudroom that has something for everyone. In the center is a small counter where the owners sort their mail every day, placing important letters and bills in slots above and recycling the junk into a large pullout bin below. Cell phones can be charged at outlets over the counter.

The kids can sit on the benches to put on and take off shoes—and throw coats and bags on the hooks above. (“Kids will not hang anything on a hanger,” Barnes says.) The overhead baskets offer immediate access to seasonal necessities, such as gloves and scarves, while the off-season items are stored in the top cabinets.

A bonus is the radiant-heat stone floor: Lay shoes and snowsuits out on rainy or snowy days, Barnes says, and by morning they’re dry.

Meanwhile, a coat closet (not shown) stores the bulk of the coats, and Barnes installed a laundry chute within it so dirty socks and muddy jeans could be shed immediately when children enter the house.

“We are in the mudroom all the time,” the owner says. “It’s a really effective, well-used, well-organized space. It’s a good balance of closed and open storage.”

Mudroom Tips

  • Use cubbies or baskets, making orderly storage as easy as tossing a ball.
  • Designate a bin for “sticks”—hockey sticks, baseball bats, golf clubs—and balls. It’s a good way to use a dead corner in a closet.
  • Hooks, hooks, and more hooks. When Mom, Dad, and the kids are trooping through the door, who’s going to take time to find a hanger, much less put a coat on it?
  • Make sure each member of the family has his or her own drawer, basket, or shelf. “Give people a repository,” architect Ankie Barnes says, for whatever it is that would otherwise land on the kitchen counter.
  • A designated electrical outlet for each family member is key. See that everyone has a place to recharge electronics.

More Home Organization Tips ››

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