Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Now have a Functional Mudroom

In the fall of 2008, we hired a semi-retired former home-builder to add a room on to our house, with the intention of it being a mudroom that would be equipped for a family of five (which we may eventually be if we're ever able to bring our Ethiopian-born children home).  Our attached garage was very large (almost a triple) that held a fair bit of wasted space, and so we decided to build a room into the garage, so that our old back vestibule area (with a small closet) could become a thoroughfare to the new mudroom.

The actual mudroom was constructed fairly quickly in the fall of 2008 and, over the next couple of months, we put the floor in, and had tile put in (along with the former back vestibule, so that the mudroom looked like part of the house, rather than an addition).  It was starting to take shape.  The old door that led to our garage became the open doorway into our new mudroom.  All that remained was the finishing of the mudroom.

I drew a lot of plans and, when we finalized what we wanted, we hired a carpenter to construct it for us.  It was supposed to be finished and ready to use in February of 2009...thirteen months ago.  Unfortunately for us, our carpenter did not have a very good winter in 2009 and, as a result, our project dragged on and dragged on; promises were made and broken, and made and broken again.  In all fairness, he really did have an awful year.  But that year had significant impact on daily lives.  Because we had converted the old back vestibule coat closet into a shelved pantry for me, we had no closet to put our coats, etc, and so we ended last winter by throwing our jackets on the floor of the new mudroom, or flung over a railing in the kitchen.  Boots, mitts and hats went pretty much everywhere, and it was a real struggle to keep order in the winter months.

At least it would be done in time for this winter, we thought...naively, as it turned out.  Again, things dragged on and on and I was starting to despair that it would ever be done.  Finally, at last, before Christmas, things started to move again and, while we were in California over Christmas, things were mostly painted.  And then, finally, between last Saturday and today, the carpenter came back to do the finishing touches and - voila - we have a mudroom!  As of today, with spring fast approaching (my window are open today for the first time, to let the lovely warmish coolish air come float through the house and refresh it - mmm, it smells great!), we have somewhere to hang our jackets, put our no-longer-needed mitts, store our boots.  Here is it...brand new!

The white-framed doorway used to be our entrance into the garage; now it is the entrance to the mudroom (the door in the background is the new garage door):

As you can see, Matthew's parka/snow pants/hoodie are hanging on the middle hook above the new bench; on either side of his hook is a hook for - guess who...the siblings yet to come.  On the left side of the bench area you'll notice five metal baskets, designed to hold each family member's mitts/scarves/hats in winter, and baseball hats, etc, in the summer.  Under the bench are five drawers - again, one for each person in the family to hold whatever paraphernalia they might want to stow in there. Below the drawers are cubbies for boots, etc. The cubbies to the right of the bench aren't actually finished - there should be seven narrowly-spaced shelves, rather than five, and they are simply meant to be shoe cubbies.  And above the bench/hooks, are five deep cupboards which will hold - I don't know what - sunscreen, picnic blankets, etc.  I plan to find five wicker baskets to sit on top of the high cupboards, which will hold off-season accessories for each person.

Opposite the entrance to the garage, around the corner from the kids' bench, is an open closet for Geoff and me to hang our stuff (with hangers!)...and cubbies above and deep ones to the side for additional storage (maybe sports bags, eventually??). Again, should I ever need additional storage, I can put baskets above the upper cubbies, too.

Moving further around the room, on the other side of the entry way to the mudroom, is a hollow little 'box' (the edges of which still need painting) that is strong enough to hold little kids sitting up there.  I had that built for two reasons.  The first purpose for it is to house what's inside the box:  the cat litter.  I wanted the cat litter here because it's just so easy to sweep up stray cat litter from little paws when it's on a hard floor (to the right of the 'box', on the floor, you'll notice one of those little vac pans, to sweep any stray litter or other floor dirt right into the central vac system).  Second, I have claimed the top of the 'box' as my own - this is where I will toss whatever needs to leave the house the next day.  I have a mirror that I want to hang over the 'box' yet...for those last minute hair checks!

Travelling to the last corner of the mudroom, to the left of the door leading to the garage, is a very deep closet (with no door knobs, as of yet!); this closet is not for clothing, but rather for the extra refrigerator and deep freeze that we have acquired over the years.  We figure it'll be great to have this on the main floor level (rather than the basement where they used to sit) when the kids are teenagers and eating us out of house and home.

Finally (as seen from the mudroom), in order to maximize the old back vestibule between the kitchen and the mudroom, I designed a simple cabinet to be attached to the wall.  The top drawer is outfitted with a spot for a power cord, and it's in there that we'll charge up our cell phones, blackberries, ipods, keep the cords out of sight (a personal peeve of mine).  The countertop is high enough for me to stand at, and the shelves above will be the hub of where I plan to keep my active files, a small bulletin board, a phone, and other stuff that we need for household maintenance.

Whew.  That's it...the full tour of the new mudroom.  I feel very thankful to have a place to finally hang our coats.  Now we just need the other two members of our family to put in an appearance and we'll really get to test it out!

Thanks for the comments (and compliments) everyone!  We're lovin' the mudroom, especially now in the muddy season...though we're still getting used to actually putting things away rather than just dumping them wherever.


  1. Wow, I love it. Too bad it took so long but it's so great. The way you made space for everyone is great. Something i'll have to keep in mind for the future.
    Good job, and congrats on finally being able to enjoy it.

  2. Wow, very nice. Looks like it was worth the wait!

  3. It's so is totally bad that I am so jealous?! We have a great house for a large family except that at the back entry (the one we use), there is a narrow space with a tiny closet and the kids literally fall over each other getting in the house. Out of necessity, on the other side of the wall, I have an ugly cupboard that houses bins with gloves, mitts, hats, snow pants, and beside the cupboard, a cardboard box filled with skates in the winter. It's the thing we hate most about our house.

    Your mudroom is beautiful and will save you so much time and headache especially WHEN you have your two other kids at home and are rushing out the door to an activity.

    Even though I am jealous, I'm happy for you!

  4. Wow, I love it! Your mudroom coat cubby system is exactly what I wanted when we built our house, but our laundry room (while it is larger than average) wasn't quie big enough to have 'mudroom status' as well.

    I think is looks great and I hope one day you will post a picture of it when it is full of wet, snowy, drippy kids coats!

  5. This is absolutely beautiful! Love you new mudroom, especially the cubbies! We live in an old house and storage - without an addition - is nonexistent. Enjoy!

  6. Hi Ruth:
    I was taking a few leisurely moments to scan some of your recent blogs and came upon this wonderful guided tour of your mudroom. It's spectacular!!! Having talked about it with you when it was a dream, and heard about the endless delays, I was delighted to see how beautifully it turned out. You were also so thoughtful about the functional elements (charging station, kitty littler, etc.) that I'm sure it will fill the bill. And having the extra fridge and freezer upstairs is brilliant. Keep these pictures, because as you move in to the space, you will never have the pristine beauty phase back.