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How to Avoid Design Flaws – Mud Room

Mud rooms are really about storage and transition - a place to put things that otherwise might be spread out in a number of other places and a means to move from the snow, wind and rain into the comfort of your home. It is an entryway or room into the house used for messy entrances, sports gear, umbrellas, rain coats, back packs, keys, extra sweaters, hats, gloves, mitts, scarves etc.

A mud room done right is a room with a large task and it is also a dumping ground if it isn’t equipped with the right design features.

Should be a simple space to design…right?

You come in the door. Close the door. Take off coats and boots 7-8 months of the year in SK than go in to your home. Run it in reverse when leaving. How hard could it be to design this important room in your home?

People often accept and live with bad design until they see great design. Than everything changes for the better. Their life becomes easier and they find themselves with extra time.

A few days ago I was out looking at show homes and frankly I found myself dismayed more times than not. Not only by the mud room but other spaces, details and functions as well. Why should this surprise me because when you can’t even get the simple mud room right why expect other areas to do better?

Design Brief For A Mud Room

There’s no standard for a mud room design and the best mud room ideas are the ones that work best for your unique family. The key to making a mud room an able space is to do a bit of thinking about how you and your family lives before having any designs drawn up.

When I start a design project there are a number of questions that are talked about before I start. I am aware that a house built on speculation misses this important step and becomes generic. However this is no excuse for bad design.

What I found at the show home is summed up as not good

Mud Room by Home Builder

The back door is of decent size and opens inward. A teacher passed on the benefit of his wisdom to me long ago. Wind works hard to blow a door open and away from the door seal. When the door and weather-stripping are new this is not a problem but as the two age the air leakage gets to be a greater concern. Again this is not a problem if there is a good outward swinging storm door. Guess what, no storm door. The second point is that a door that opens inward is easier to force open with repeated blows. If the door swung outward the thief would need to not only break the frame at the latch but he would have to overcome the door stop itself. Pulling the door open is more difficult than pushing. A good deadbolt on the storm door if there is one goes a long way towards beating the weakness of an in swinging door.

There is no place to sit. They provided a standard closet useful only for storing clothing on hangers and a hat shelf out of reach for many. And the real kicker, the closet doors swing into the exterior door. In a short time both the closet door and exterior entry door are going to be bruised and dinted. The builders information sheet - the one with the floor plans and coloured renderings played this fact down by only showing the closet doors partially open.

What I Would Do

Regardless of the mud room size everyone benefits from a well placed perch, coat hooks, shelving etc. Unless you enjoy hopping around on one foot while dealing with footwear. This not only gives people a place to sit but also provides a spot to store clothes and other stuff. Whether it’s a standalone bench or a built-in, having a place to sit is a main mud room element that shouldn’t be left out.

One of the points for having a mud room in the first place is to stash away the things like coats, boots, umbrellas, sports equipment and related gear. Cabinets, storage benches, cubbies, baskets and lockers are all tools of the trade for helping to store these items. They also clear up the floor space and help avoid a tripping hazard that results when everything is strewn on the floor.

What I Would do

By removing the walls around the builder standard closet I am able to claim back some space. Here is how that works. The closet 24″ deep and the wall 4″ for a total of 28″ is replaced by an 18″ wardrobe. The 10″ by 6′ – 10″ floor space gained back give that extra space for when there is another person in the mud room. Also, visually the space is going to feel larger because the ceiling flows through.

A Privacy Door

Everybody (well, most everyone) likes a well-kept, clean home but some spaces in a home are meant to ‘do the dirty work’. If you plan on a mud room don’t get the notion that it has to be spotless 100% of the time. On the contrary, think of it as the bank of the mess that might in any other way be in more easily seen places in your house, places where you’d rather not have it.

Most of the time our mud room is to a small extent messy. Lots of shoes, cleats, jackets and dirty socks adorn the space. Sure, we clean it up once a week or so but the great thing about it is that we can just close the door and the mess fades away for a short time. A door that can close off the mud room from the rest of the house works well when you want to hide a cluttered (or smelly) mud room from the next-door room. Pocket doors that slide into the wall work well as do standard swing-doors if you have the space. Just remember that even if you have a lot of mud room storage space, there will probably be times when it’s a mess. That’s when you’ll want to close it off and conceal it from the guests.

Brooms, Mops, Vacuum Cleaner or Sports Equipment

A mud room is a good place to store cleaning tools for your home, including the vacuum cleaner. I have shown a separate smaller closet that can be used for this purpose. This is a small mud room and there is not space for everything. This for some families may be the perfect sports locker for instance.

Space For Hanging Clothes To Dry

Having a place to hang-dry clothing is a handy feature and can be as simple as the installation of a small closet rod between two wall partitions or the end of a cabinet and a wall. In this particular mud room I would place coat hooks both behind the sitting space and on the wall opposite to the wardrobe. Having an open air place to hang wet or snowy jackets is a nice feature. Wet clothing stuffed into a closet ends up making the closet and the rest of its contents less than fresh smelling.

Wire shelves are handy as drying racks for wet items.

Plenty Of Hooks For Coats

This might seem obvious to some but for others who like a tidier mud room, hooks might be an afterthought. But they’re a great way to actually keep a mud room tidy, particularly if you have kids who don’t seem to learn how to properly hang up their garments until they’re 30 years old. Hooks placed on several levels make it easy for them to quickly hang their jacket or backpack, rather than dumping them on the floor.

End Notes

There are many more tasks that may be includes in a well designed custom mud room. An ideal situation in my mind is to combine a mud room with the laundry. Or at least group them in the same spot in the home. Custom designs often include items like a mirror, charging station, recycling space, radiant floor heating, message centre, key drop, and even a pet washing station.

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