I’m pretty sure most family psychology experts will concur that the advent of the mudroom is the best thing to happen to Moms since electricity, sliced bread, and if you are in my family, ketchup. Listen, I’ve been mudroom-less my whole life and I didn’t starve, instead, I had a thriving rainy childhood in Oregon full of secure attachments and a high school diploma. So having a mudroom is not a necessity nor an indicator of adult “success”. But BOY, when you live in particular climates, this room quickly becomes one of the more useful, functional, and thus coveted rooms in your home. I wrote even more about it in my book, The New Design Rules. Living in a rental in Portland for the last 7 months with the only exterior entrance/exit opening directly into the living/dining room has created a huge coat, shoe, and dog mud issue that has become my #1 priority in life to solve. As a disclaimer – our new farmhouse is a major renovation job, where rooms could get moved, and privilege abounds – so my goal today isn’t to show you all fancy stuff we are doing for fun, it’s hopefully to offer some clever, helpful solutions if you are thinking about going the mudroom route, too (should you need one) or if you have a space you can carve out to solve some problems. We wrote about ‘the mudroom-less entry’ in our last house, as well as some great storage solutions in our small laundry/mudroom in LA. But today is all about THE FARM…(if you are new, head to this post about how we bought a little farm in Portland during the pandemic and moved back home to Oregon)
The Original Mudroom Placement
Let’s go back 1 year shall we? The original placement of the mudroom (seen here) was the most ideal for the function of that room and at times I regret it still not being there. The kids would come home from the car/school through that back door, drop their garbage and it would be out of sight of the living room. Their soccer clothes would be peeled off and immediately thrown in the washer/dryer (ha). But we realized that we were giving this mudroom the best natural light in the whole house, starving the kitchen and living room of that precious resource that we are irrationally obsessed with. So we moved the kitchen back to that corner which meant that the mudroom had to be relocated (and y’all the kitchen is DREAMY AF so I’m glad we did it).
Then Our Mudroom Became A Pantry
Version 2 (or maybe 92). Next, we decided to move the kitchen back in that corner and add a “mudroom door” in that tiny little area, sharing it with a pantry. Would that have worked? Sure! But look at the size of our bedroom!! I mean…absolutely unnecessarily huge. So we reconfigured it one more time. The level of indecision was high because the problem is that in the Pacific Northwest every entrance or exit needs a drop zone in which to de-shoe (a mini-mudroom so to speak). We struggled to decide which is more important – the entrance to the car/path for every day in and out, or to the backyard where they will be playing and stomping through alpaca poop. Ultimately we decided on…
Our Mudroom Location Now
We put the mudroom on the wing of the house, exiting to the backyard. We have a tiny drop-zone in the kitchen under the big window where the kid’s daily pair of shoes, coats, and bags will likely still sit but the rest of the clutter will be in the mudroom. This is because the mudroom isn’t just a dropzone, it’s the dog washing station/drying zone and the laundry room. This room is going to be EPIC. Now, I realized about a month ago that what would have even been potentially better is swapping the locations of the mudroom and the main bathroom (where the 1960s laundry room was – hahaha). It’s all good, but I suppose if I could go back in time that would make the most sense – the kids would just hop over one entrance to the mudroom when they come in, leaving the kitchen clutter-free. My plan is to use the time-tested mom strategy of “keeping the door locked” so that they have to walk around. Can such habits be formed? What if I literally put a piece of candy on the doormat every day until they have the Pavlovian response and automatically come through the mudroom? Moms have done much worse, right?…
So now you know where we are in the house and OH MY GOSH IT’S DREAMY. The drywall is up and the natural light with the skylights, double doors, and windows make the room this insanely bright, gorgeous space already. Sadly there are still 3 months of work to be done in here…
Cabinetry Designed For Our Needs
As you can see we didn’t just “order cabinets”. No. We worked with Unique Kitchens and Bath to customize for our needs. Do you need to go to this extent? Only if you are doing custom cabinetry like we are. If you are going the more readymade (IKEA, Lowes, etc) then ignore this section. But when in Rome.
Smart Vaccum Storage
Pullout Pet Food Storage
I avoided getting dogs for a while because they create such a mess and are so hard on your home. I don’t know whose idea it was to get TWO LONGHAIRED dogs before we moved to Oregon, but I’ll find out and they’ll be fired. So when designing the cabinets we figured we’d put in a pull-out cabinet “drawer” for a dog food bin in the hopes of not having it just floating in the room.
Dog Washing Station
I would prioritize this dog washing station over our kids shower at this point – or perhaps the kids could just bathe in here? I need to show you what those mutts look like after 5 minutes of running around outside so you’ll understand the importance of this dog washing station. The faucet has changed and we are doing more stone detail, but you get the idea. We even measured our dogs to make sure that they’ll fit, at one point putting them inside our farmhouse sink to see how much extra space we would need. I mean if you are going to customize a whole DOG WASHING BATHTUB you sure as hell better make it as functional and useful as possible. To be clear, it is also our utility sink for mops and filling flower buckets for arranging. It’s going to get USED as we think we’ll need to do nightly baths if we let them outside. While I still plan on walking them 3-5 miles a day, which I do right now as we are sans-yard, they miss chasing each other around and we can’t live on a farm and deprive them of that joy). FYI they are the sweetest pups in the world which makes it very much worth it:)
Shaker Pegs For Coats And Leashes
Still leaning into the shaker farmhouse vibe, we have this room lined at coat hook height with peg rails both for function and style. Leashes, coats, hats, sweet little handmade artisanal brooms that we never use…all will abound these cute little pegs. OH, the color scheme is wrong here. The floors and wood cabinets are right, but the paint colors are wrong (and we aren’t wrapping the beam – just painting white).
Heated Floors To Warm The Space And Dry The Dogs And Boots
This is something we’ve gone back and forth on a million times. I believe that if you are remodeling putting in radiant heating under your tile in rooms that are typically cold or where you are typically barefoot is a good move. But this room? Is it necessary? Last Thursday we made the final call to do it. It was a cold and rainy day and we walked through the future day to day motions – the kids would come in from school, immediately take off their raincoat and boots, left in thin little socks to walk through the mudroom into the family room. And you know what they say about kids who suffer cold toes in the winter as children? They turn out to be unlovable psychopaths. Well, that can’t be! Then we pictured our nightly bathing off of the mud pups…all wet and shivering…OOF. We seriously considered putting in a commercial-style hairdryer like they have at groomers (I’m not kidding – my brother kept sending me models that were affordable). We figured that having the floor be warm, to dry their little tummies would be a good thing. As I’m writing this I’m annoyed at myself for how spoiled we are all going to be. But when it’s been pouring rain and cold for 6 months, and your contractor turns to you and says, “for an extra day of labor and $1500 – $2k you can have warm toes year-round? eh?” You find yourself saying, “just do it” with both enthusiasm and shame.
*By the way, radiant heat flooring has come a long long way, and it is so much easier and cheaper than it used to be – definitely something to consider if your climate warrants it. We installed it in two bathrooms at the mountain house and while you barely noticed that it was on (just that you were comfortable), you sure as hell felt the freezing cold tile when you stepped into the guest bathrooms where we didn’t do it. We had to put more bath rugs in there because our stone tile felt like ice in the winter and our guests were politely putting towels on the floor for their middle-of-the-night trips.
Open And Closed Storage For Often Used Coats And Less Often Used Coats
Now back to the approachable practical ideas … Visually I love closed cabinet storage, but we all know that kids don’t (1.) open up a cabinet (2.) pull out a hanger (3.) hang their coats on said hanger and then (4.) reach up and (5.) hang the coat. If they could do that I wouldn’t waste my time being a designer, I’d send them to Oxford to become astrophysicists!! The talent and sheer intellect of such a storage sport surpass any testing they could do at school. Nay. Our special little humans need easy-to-reach hooks or baskets. So as you can see we have a closet for closed storage (our less used coats) but Brian planned out our jacket usage and it’s anywhere between 2-4 a day depending on the weather, which does change all day long. 1. Cold morning walk to school = fleece, 2. A brisk power walk with dogs = slim down parka. 3. A mid-day walk in the rain = rain jacket, and 4. Afternoon basketball session = hoodie or windbreaker. Once he broke it down to me I realized he was right – that we needed hooks galore. So the closed cabinetry is for winter coats or less used cute jackets and the double set of hooks is for everyday in and out use. I actually think we are doing shaker pegs there but I’m not totally sure. Sometimes jackets don’t hang on pegs as well as we’d like them to so we might do double hooks like you see in the rendering to make sure our intense coat and jacket consumption can be accommodated.
Affordable Curtain To Cover Washer And Dryer
You know I love a sweet little curtain and this is the perfect opportunity to sew one up from one of the million vintage yards of fabric I’ve been collecting since birth. There’s enough that I can switch it out all the time like a crazy stylist – my spring floral, my fall plaid, my holiday skirt, my easter skirt? You get it. We’ll use a slim little brass rod, install it somehow (assuming to the wood on top that the stone will sit on), and attached clips to it, maybe with pleats, maybe not. But if you have an exposed washer dryer anywhere, know that the skirt is in fashion and is extremely affordable to rig up. I love to comb thrift stores for vintage tablecloths or even weird patterned sheets. Or get some great deadstock fabric yardage on Etsy 🙂
Seating With Shoe Storage Nearby
Lastly, we incorporated a bench under the coats that just floats with open shoe storage below. Again, I love closed storage, but when it comes to shoes, if you want the kids to not complain about not being able to find them, then design them to be easily found. You could say that this is coddling, but I prefer to frame it as ” causing fewer battles and less daily nagging”. Why set yourself up for a rough morning just to have a slightly more beautiful mudroom? Make it easy on them (and you) with open shoe and open coat storage.
My level of excitement about this room is palpable, the dopamine is rushing through me as I write this. I hope some of these tips are at all helpful to you. When you see it styled out you’ll see some of the other smart features we put in here (inside the cabinetry and some laundry ideas).
I’m feeling incredibly grateful that we will eventually get to use it and that maybe our children and pups won’t bring all of the mud from the farm into the house.
Cabinetry – Unique Kitchens and Bath (in natural white oak)
Windows – Sierra Pacific Simulated Divided Lites in Aspen – primed ready for paint.
Paint – Sherwin Williams – colors TBD
Lighting – Rejuvenation – this one over the dog washing station and these as hanging pendants.
Skylights – 3 from Velux that are EPIC!
Tile – Pratt + Larson (custom color and pattern I can’t wait to show you).
Build Team – ARCIFORM