While it’s certainly not the most glamorous part of the house, as the designated space for life’s day-to-day messes, the mudroom deserves careful consideration. To help us reassess these often unsung areas—and transform them into places of organization, function, and even a little fun—we reached out to Amanda Swaringen of Carolina Design Associates in Charlotte, North Carolina, for advice. Here, she shares tips for improving the mudroom, whether you’re interested in a total overhaul or much-needed minor revamp.
Focus on flooring. According to Swaringen, this is one of the most important elements to consider when designing—or redoing—your mudroom. Natural stone or porcelain tile, which can range in all kinds, are top choices for their functionality and durability; for a natural and practical look, two of her favorite materials to use in this area are limestone or bluestone. Depending on the location, hardwood flooring is another option, but if you go that route remember that putting down an indoor/outdoor rug to protect the surface is key.
Make sure your walls are wipeable. Whether you choose to keep your mudroom wall color cohesive with the rest of the house or inject a little flair into the space, you’ll want to make sure you can easily clean off any scuffs or splatters. Wallpaper has become an increasingly popular choice in these areas, and should you decide to go that route, Swaringen recommends selecting a Vinyl option, which will be easily wipeable and durable. If you opt for paint, a semi-gloss or satin finish will be the easiest to maintain.
Assess your storage needs and style. First and foremost, your mudroom needs to be functional, and in large part that comes down to having proper storage. In terms of evaluating your storage capacity needs, Swaringen says key factors are the number of members in the family (including the four-legged ones—see below for more on this) and the types of activities they engage in. It’s also important to assess whether closed, locker-type storage or open cubbies will best suit your space and lifestyle (Swaringen feels both have their pros and cons). With exposed storage, it’s easier to grab items and stay organized because you can see the contents, but you’ll have to make some effort to keep the area looking tidy. Closed storage will reduce visual clutter, but it does take slightly more effort to open doors and put things away.
Consider incorporating lower drawers or cubbies. According to Swaringen, if you’re building out your mudroom, adding drawers or cubbies under cabinets can be a great storage solution and space-saver. “Pull-out drawers are perfect for anything from goggles to beach towels to shoes,” she says. This can help you keep your space looking tidy, and allows you to group items that are commonly used together.
Don’t forget about the extra design elements. If there’s room in your mudroom layout, Swaringen always thinks it’s a good idea to add cabinetry and countertops—having more storage is always a plus, and pretty countertops can add a nice design element. She also recommends that clients consider adding a charging station, especially if the location of your mudroom makes it easy to grab necessary electronics on the way out the door.
Budget space for your four-legged housemates. If pets are a part of your household, mudrooms are a great place to house food and water bowls and store extra food, pet supplies, and even a litter box. If you do your grooming at home, or have a pet that frequently comes inside with muddy paws, you might want to consider adding a washing station as well.
Go ahead and make it pretty. Just because it’s a utilitarian area doesn’t mean your mudroom can’t be welcoming and design-minded. Swaringen likes to soften up the space by introducing Roman shades, pillows on benches, and indoor/outdoor rugs. If you have a sink, you can get creative with your backsplash tile. For lighting, smaller can lights can feel clean and modern, or depending on the room size and ceiling height, you can add character and style with a fixture.
Undertake a seasonal edit. Your mudroom does not need to house all your outerwear all year long. Swaringen advises only keeping on hand what you need for everyday basics and putting the rest in storage elsewhere. Following this advice will ensure that your space stays tidy all year round.
No mudroom? No problem. If your home doesn’t have a mudroom and adding one isn’t in the cards any time soon, don’t worry—you don’t have to have a totally dedicated or enclosed space to still enjoy the main functions of the area. “We have many clients who just outfit a bench with indoor/outdoor fabric and put hooks above,” Swaringen says. Simply add some baskets underneath the bench to store shoes and you’ll be organized and ready to go on your way.
Featured image by Dustin Peck Photography. TSG Tip 374 from Amanda Swaringen, CEO of Carolina Design Associates, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Carolina Design Associates is featured in The Scout Guide Charlotte.