Mudrooms make organization, storage more possible for busy homeowners

Mudrooms can serve as the unofficial entryway into a home, in addition to being a much-needed drop-off zone for shoes, coats, backpacks, sports equipment and all kinds of daily essentials.

“Mudrooms have become the hardest-working room in the house,” said Theresa Minkoff, an interior designer with Moda Floors and Interiors in West Midtown.

Everything from shoes and backpacks to dog bowls, cell phone chargers and mail are destined for mudrooms these days.

Cynthia Karegeannes, a Norcross-based architect and owner of Your Home Architect, said almost all of her clients, from intown communities such as Candler Park and Buckhead, to suburban spots areas as Peachtree Corners and Marietta request some type of a mudroom. Active families, baby boomers and other homeowners now are seeking either a dedicated mudroom or a niche off the garage, kitchen, main foyer or side entry to organize - and even hide – all of those items adults and kids lug into the home.

“They can be organized as they come and go,” Karegeannes said.

A mudroom doesn’t need to be a chaotic space, with these tips from builders and architects.

Elements of an effective mudroom

Whether or not you have space for a separate mudroom, or are trying to carve room out of an entryway, a few elements are found in most mudrooms, architects and builders say.

• Clean and durable flooring (see sidebar)

• Cubbies for shoes

• Hooks for backpacks and coats

• Bench for removing and putting on shoes and jackets

• Storage for sports equipment, umbrellas, pet supplies and other bulky items

• Bulletin board, wipe board or chalkboard for notes, reminders, calendars, etc.

Consider the potential need for counter space as well, to hold keys, mail or a charging station for smartphones and other devices.

Cabinetry can be open or hidden. Some homeowners prefer open cabinetry so they can see their coats and shoes and make sure no items are forgotten when leaving the house, Karegeannes says.

Off-the-shelf cabinets and benches (from stores such as Pottery Barn, IKEA and are an option. However, a mudroom’s size may require cabinets and other storage spaces to be custom-made, which can add to the cost of the project.

The minimum space for a mudroom would be about 6 feet wide and 8 feet across, with at least two doors, estimates Rick Goldstein, an architect, co-founder and co-owner of Mosaic Group, an Atlanta-based design/build firm. Although mudrooms often are part of a larger renovation project, a modest mudroom addition can start out at $7,000. Costs could rise, depending on cabinetry, storage and shelving, he said.

In a Sandy Springs home, Mosaic Group added back a mudroom that had been lost in a kitchen renovation. The mudroom linked the back of the house, which led to the backyard and pool, to the kitchen.

Some mudrooms have a specific purpose, such as a place for pets. A dog mudroom in a new home in Suwanee’s The River Club included cabinets with cubbies underneath for three King Charles Spaniels to sleep. The mudroom, which also had a laundry sink to wash the dogs, was located off a hallway leading to a side porch and a fenced-in area, said custom home builder Bob Wilkins, owner of Robert Wilkins LLC, based in Alpharetta.

Planning for now - and in the future

Just buying a cabinet and bench isn’t the best step to take when incorporating a mudroom into your home. Instead, think about what you typically bring into the home and what items are with you when you leave for work, school, sports activities, religious functions and other activities.

Younger families want and need a mudroom to serve as a landing zone for their kids, Goldstein said.

“Otherwise the kids tend to come in and just drop things anywhere,” he said.

Atlanta architect Karen Soorikian typically will ask homeowners: What’s the daily routine? Who is coming in the door? What items do they need to store?

Also, consider changes throughout the year and the difference between your summer and winter gear, Karegeannes said. She also encourages homeowners also to think about a mudroom as more than a place to drop off items, but as an organization hub.

“You could actually utilize some of that space for other things, like batteries and light bulbs and dog food,” she said.

In an existing home, fitting in a mudroom can be a challenge, especially in a smaller home that is trying to conserve space. It’s best to tuck a mudroom near an entrance to give access when leaving or arriving, Wilkins said.

“People can live without them, but if they had their choice, they would rather have them,” he said.

In an Atlanta home, Soorikian enclosed a covered porch entryway to create the mudroom that was about 9 feet, 5 inches wide by about 9 feet, 8 inches deep, and the space above the mudroom became second-level reading nook off the stair landing. Some of her mudrooms have been smaller, such as 6 feet, 8 inches wide by about 9 feet deep.

Soorikian added a mudroom as part of a kitchen renovation, in another local project. French doors set off the mudroom from a rear parking area, and transom windows above the cabinets brought additional light into the room.

Families with young kids should think about how their needs will change as their children age. In one recent home, Karegeannes left the cubbies open, but designed them so doors could be added for other storage when the kids grow up.

“This space is going to evolve with your family. What you need now for a 2-year-old you won’t need for a 17-year-old,” Karegeannes said. “Things get bigger. Coats get longer. Shoes get bigger. Then eventually you might not have kids in that house, too. That’s hard for a lot of people to kind of embrace, but it’s worth as least saying, ‘Think about how else you can use that space.’”

Focus on the Floors

As an entrance that homeowners might use even more than the front door, mudroom floors have to be equipped to handle the wear and tear of shoes, cleats, boots and other items. Hardwood floors, for example, could stain with water and moisture, said Theresa Minkoff, an interior designer with Moda Floors and Interiors.

The best options are tile, stone or luxury vinyl tiles, depending on your price range, she said.

Porcelain tile is easiest to clean and also is made in such a way that there’s a smaller chance of someone sliding across the floor if they enter with wet feet, Minkoff said. The best stone option is slate, which also is not slippery or slick, she said.

One new luxury vinyl tile option is COREtec Plus, a product by US Floors that can be installed on top of other floors, Minkoff said. The core of the engineered vinyl plank floor is waterproof, and it is not supposed to swell when exposed to water.

In addition to the vinyl tiles, Mosaic Group, an Atlanta-based design/build firm, also has used recycled brick.

“The flooring has to be very resilient,” said Rick Goldstein, an architect, co-founder and co-owner of Mosaic Group.