News & Politics

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

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

“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

More Home Organization Tips ››