Ah, the mudroom: If you're lucky enough to have a space in your home dedicated to storing those muddy boots, outdoor accessories, and seasonal must-haves, you might suspect that organizational skills are second nature. However, there's more to a well-functioning mudroom than meets the eye. While there's no debate that having this handy extra room can make it much easier to keep things in the rest of the home neat and tidy, this space can come with its own challenges as a dumping ground for all manner of things.
"[Mudrooms] epitomize form and function," says interior designer Whittney Parkinson. "During the design process, I ask a lot of questions to my clients pertaining to what exactly they store in these spaces to make it unique to them."
Meet the Expert
Whittney Parkinson is the principal and interior architectural designer behind Whittney Parkinson Design based in Indianapolis.
Luckily, these inspiring in-between spaces show us just what a mudroom should be—clean and organized, and optimally arranged for dashing out the door in any season. After a few tips from these top-notch mudrooms, you might find that this small room becomes the hardest-working (and most essential) one in your house.
Keep scrolling to see Parkinson's top tips and clever mudroom designs that are keeping homeowners organized all year round.
Create a Command Center
For all you Type As, may we present: the mudroom command center. "Creating a bureau is a must in all of my mudroom spaces for charging, mail, and key storage as well as a way to organize family daily planning," Parkinson says.
With a functional and attractive bulletin board for displaying your calendar and important papers, a vessel for collecting keys, and a drawer or basket for organizing mail, you can streamline your entry flow and keep the entire family organized in one fell swoop.
Hide the Clutter
Trying to turn a hallway into a mudroom stand-in space? Substantial and stylish cabinets can be just the solution for providing some separation in a formerly open space.
"I always take cabinetry to the ceiling to optimize as much storage as possible," advises Parkinson. Opt for a bench with drawers underneath for a little extra storage and a perch for putting on your shoes before heading out the door.
It's far from uncommon for mudrooms to have shoe cubbies, but this chic take on the established style is stealing our hearts for another reason—the deep drawers that surround the bench.
But before you plan, "Think about the functionality of all drawers," suggests Parkinson. "I always install secret charging stations for iPads, phones, smart watches, etc., as well as animal feeding bowls in toe kicks that can easily be concealed." Talk about genius.
While our love of drawers is well-documented, a little open shelving never hurt—especially when it can be used as display space. With all your most reached-for items tucked away and organized in drawers, use open shelving as an opportunity to display some beloved treasures and add a chic, sophisticated touch to your mudroom. After all, it's part of your home, too.
Stay on Track
If you've ever dreamt of having a dramatic library ladder at home (à la Beauty and the Beast), now's your chance. This functional addition makes sense in a mudroom, where out-of-season pieces can be stored high above when not in use. Perk things up with some chic tile and cabinet hardware, and you've got the makings of a dream come true.
Complement a Closet
While a mudroom may be a little hard to come by, most of us can at least claim we have a coat closet. But something you may never have considered is how simple it would be to capitalize on that closet. Add a bench nearby with space for shoe baskets underneath, hang a few hooks, and pat yourself on the back for creating your very own mudroom.
Try a Levitation Trick
Take note: A floating bench is nothing short of genius when it comes to your mudroom. Not only does it making vacuuming this high-traffic area a breeze (goodbye, dust bunnies!), but it also lets you tuck boots and shoes out of the path of foot traffic once you arrive home.
Not able to spring for a custom-built solution? Look for a freestanding bench with a wide lip and set-back legs to achieve a similar effect.
Shed a Little Light
Take a dedicated bench nook a step further with a pair of sconces. We love how this symmetrical scheme shines an ambient glow on an otherwise dark and moody storage space. Cozy throw pillows and a cushion round out the inviting look.
Go Back to School
We love this take on mudroom cabinets that features locker-style fronts. The perforated doors pull double duty, adding visual interest and letting the contents inside breathe, which is especially helpful in the case of raincoats.
Vintage lovers may even consider scouring Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for a row of genuine lockers.
Customize Prefab Pieces
The hard truth is that custom cabinetry may not be in the budget for all of us, but that doesn't mean we can't still have the functional mudroom of our dreams. Make use of prefabricated pieces from big box stores but give them your own twist. Swap out hardware, give it a stone top, add organizers and dividers—anything to amp up the style and functionality.
Do you dream of dramatic interiors and over-the-top spaces but always chicken out when it comes to decorating? We think it's time for that to change.
"Mudrooms are a great place to go bold with cabinetry color or introduce fun floor patterns that you typically wouldn’t be brave enough to do in more public areas of your home," says Parkinson. And who knows, maybe once you've let your creativity run free, you won't be able to bottle it back up.
Up the Contrast
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Contrast is king. Just look how beautiful warm, gray-brown wood looks against a dusty dark blue in this form-meets-function mudroom. As if that weren't enough, brass hardware further contrasts with the up-top portion to take things a step further. We're smitten.
Go With the Grain
Another take on the well-loved cubby look, this mudroom goes the rustic route with gorgeous reclaimed wood and a custom bench seat to match.
"Staining bench seats versus painting them cuts down on scratches," points out Parkinson. "It also adds a warm wood tone in the space." Contrasting with bright white shelves keeps everything feeling clean and airy. Joanna Gaines would most certainly approve.
Don't Be Afraid of Color
Because of its small size, a mudroom is the perfect place to try out a bold color scheme. (Just think of it as an experiment-friendly zone, like a powder room.) We love how this utilitarian space is made over with a luxe feel in an unexpectedly rich eggplant hue and herringbone brick tile—the perfect way to perk yourself up before heading out the door.
Master the Moody Vibe
Just because it's practical doesn't mean it needs to be straight-laced. This glam mudroom masters several of our favorite design trends—from the textural chevron motif of the wood to the dark and dramatic paint color to the elegant yet understated brass hooks. There's plenty of personality built into this high-function area.
Give It a Formal Feel
With the return in popularity of traditional interiors, we felt obligated to share what can happen when you incorporate the classic aesthetic into your mudroom. From top to bottom, schoolhouse lights, wall-height cabinets, paneling, and checkered stone floors nod to traditional design, especially when framed by a gorgeous feature arch. Swoon.
Don't Sacrifice Style
When it comes to mudrooms, it can be really easy to forget that first word of "form and function." But we'd urge you to approach this space with a mindset of keeping the two elements equal. Chic cabinets and shelves, modern flooring, and metallic accents can ensure you don't lose sight of either.
Parkinson has another suggestion to add a little oomph: "If you’ll be exiting the house via the mudroom, use cabinet fronts for an opportunity to use mirrors."
Invest in Statement Lighting
A mudroom without adequate lighting can hardly call itself functional, wouldn't you agree? Make sure your space has plenty of light and insane amounts of style in one fell swoop by installing a statement light fixture, fulfilling the very definition of form and function.
Make Use of Bins and Baskets
When it comes to mudroom cubbies, we primarily see one of two things: drawers or open space. There are merits to both options, so we can understand if you're stumped on which direction to go in. Enter the third option—baskets or bins that slide into the open space.
"Don’t be afraid to mix in exposed baskets for texture and to break up full walls of cabinetry," says Parkinson. They look stylish plus act as drawers that can be quickly removed to free up space.
Bring in Blooms
A mudroom needn't be purely utilitarian, of course—given the right proximity to light, the mudroom can be a great place for an impromptu sunroom for your plants. While it also houses plenty of space for storage and essentials, you can transform it into a dreamy escape disguised as the most functional space in any home.
Pile on the Pillows
Throw pillows continue to earn their place at the top of the low-cost, high-impact design elements list. Bring some into the mudroom for an affordable and comfortable dose of visual interest. You can keep it simple with two to three or go all out and bring in as many as will fit on your bench—either way they're guaranteed to make a graphic impact.
The best thing about throw pillows? It's so easy and affordable to swap out pillow covers for a simple room refresh.
Include the Pets
There's so much we want to copy in this space. First off, the contrasting cubbies and cabinets are ultra-appealing—the on-trend deep sage is striking, while the white cubbies opposite keep the space from feeling claustrophobic. But most of all, we like the idea of giving Fido his own space for dinnertime that keeps the splash zone contained with a stately tray and dedicated leash hook that makes the zone feel even more personal for man's best friend.
Convert a Corner
"Making use of every inch of square footage in mudrooms is vital due to their typically limited floor plans," says Parkinson. And in the unfortunate circumstance that you have nary even a coat closet in your home, fret not, there's a solution. Set aside a corner or nook for a makeshift mudroom. With a couple of shelves, a bench, and some hooks, you'll have the perfect drop-in spot for when you're coming and going.
Carve Out a Space
Along the same vein but a solution all its own, the designer of this space created a mudroom virtually out of thin air. With a couple of deep, floor-to-ceiling cabinets set side by side and a contrasting wood-lined nook for frequently used items, some previously blank wall space was transformed into a standalone mudroom that we're still shaking our heads at—pure genius.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
When space is really at a premium, even the smallest of entryways can make for a chic replacement. Fake your own mudroom in the simplest way possible with a dedicated space for shoes (as well as a bench to help you put them on), a few hooks, and a landing pad for mail and other must-haves. Then, dial up the style with a mirror and a touch of green and voilá—instant mudroom.