Text: Robert C Martin
While seemingly not a very glamourous subject at first, mudrooms are hardworking spaces that go the distance in keeping a home running in tiptop form. Plus, their design and efficiency can be as creative and attractive as they are functional. Considering all the coats, shoes, backpacks, and other accessories that come with a growing family, such handy drop zones can quickly become indispensable.
It’s in this spirit of curtailing the clutter that interior designer Louise Johnson steers her clients in the right direction. As both owner of her own firm in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and mother of three boys, Johnson has firsthand knowledge of combining thoughtful design with practical solutions. “It just makes sense that homeowners like a convenient landing spot to put things away when they come in from work, school, or the grocery store,” she says. “Generally, these spaces are located close to the back door or garage, but they’re also suited wherever family gear tends to accumulate.”
Since storage that’s easy to maintain ranks high in these holding hubs, Johnson incorporates an optimal array of hooks, open lockers, and bins to best corral things. “I’ve found that 15 to 18 inches is a great width for cubbies to hang coats and bags,” she says. “Likewise, the top shelves of these lockers are ideal for hats and containers, while bottom drawers provide space for smaller things that tend to get lost in the shuffle.” She also prefers wood cubbies that are custom-designed and finished in darker stains, which makes them more durable to scuffs and bumps. Benches also play an important role, whether they’re built-in with the surrounding millwork or freestanding pieces of furniture that are open below for storing shoes and baskets.
Other considerations, such as electrical outlets located at key places and at manageable heights for charging phones, laptops, and other devices, make mudrooms even more in step with busy schedules. “Where space permits, I also like to add features like a desk area for sorting the mail, along with a big cork board to display school notices, children’s practice times and sporting events, along with appointments,” says Johnson.
When taking full stock of her client’s needs, Johnson never overlooks their pets. “For these areas, it’s important to choose resilient materials, as well as providing smart storage options.” For instance, tile floors stand up better from the constant traffic of both two- and four-legged friends, and low-maintenance finishes are a must. Likewise, clever ideas, like placing food and water bowls in lower drawers that can be closed when company’s expected, keep necessities under wraps. In one lucky family’s mudroom, Johnson created built-in dog crates that are outfitted with mesh screens and then covered them with a polished Quartz countertop. “I’ve also found that it’s wise to locate such crates near a door, which limits tracks from muddy paws on a rainy day,” she says.