Having small children is chaos, there’s no way around it. And what you don’t need added to the tornado of family life is missing keys, wallets, or backpacks, muddy boots and wet coats slopping through your living spaces, and piles of mail cluttering up your kitchen counter. My strategy for keeping things clean and crisis-free at home is a well-appointed mudroom. Just shy of 60-square-feet, although my mudroom is small, it is easily the hardest working room in our home. Here’s a little tour of our space, including my guide to mudroom essentials for busy moms:
- Hooks. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard regarding keeping one’s home in order is to “make it hard to do wrong.” I know that when I walk in the door after a long day I want to unload and unwind, and quickly. Hanging coats, bags, umbrellas, dog leashes and the like on hooks is so easy, it’s almost harder to throw things on the floor or drape over the back of a chair. I crammed as many hooks as I could into our tiny space, including some at kid-level so my children can easily hang up their coats and backpacks on their own. My coat rack is modeled after one I saw on Pinterest, that my handy husband recreated in his shop to fit our space.
- Key Catchall. This lovely little mirror from Pottery Barn is my first stop when coming home, and last stop when I head out. It conveniently holds my keys, wallet, sunglasses, and outgoing mail, not to mention that I can take a quick peak in the mirror on my way out the door to make sure my hair’s not on fire. It has done wonders for preventing the morning wild goose chase for my daily essentials. And while my specific version is no longer available on Pottery Barn, and quick web search can find you several good options that will fit your specific space and needs.
- Mail Drop. I know most folks enter their home in the evening with a pile of mail in hand, which can easily find itself thrown in a pile, cluttering up your entryway or kitchen counter. That’s why it’s important to design a designated home for mail right when you walk in the door. The solution I found was this letter bin, also from Pottery Barn, which has a slot for both mail and catalogs. Unless it’s something that looks time sensitive, I go through them twice a month (on pay day), and throw the catalogs of interest in my purse to leaf through during swim lessons or sports practices.
- Baskets or Boxes for Seasonal Essentials. Similar to hooks, having designated baskets or boxes to quickly and easily corral your everyday essentials is key to a tidy home. I purchased three narrow boxes from Ikea to fit atop our coat rack that are filled with seasonal essentials such as gloves, hats, sunscreen, and even a lint roller or two. Floor baskets quickly corral shoes, while keeping visual clutter at bay.
- Washer/Dryer (if you can squeeze it in). Having a washer and dryer in our mudroom wasn’t originally in our remodel plans, but when a brand-new, small-scale model popped up on Craigslist for a steal, we jumped on it (and stole a few feet from our panty to fit it in). And boy, has it proved to be convenient for family life, especially country living where we spend a ton of time outdoors. We use this petite washer and dryer to essentially filter out those things too dirty to make it past the mudroom door. Sports attire, beach and swim gear, dog towels, and kitchen/cleaning linens. And we were lucky enough to have a little space next to it to store all our cleaning supplies, which are now out of reach of little hands.
- Waterproof Boot Tray. Shoes, like your worries, should be left at the door. A dirty home isn’t good for your health or happiness, and the world out there, my friends, is a dirty place. My boot tray is from Ballard Designs, and I’ve been pretty happy with it as it fits our space well and is super durable. I’ve bought metal boot trays in the past and don’t recommend them as they tend to rust. In my family we all typically rotate between two or three pairs of shoes any given season, but I do have to edit these trays every few weeks, making sure only the heaviest used and muddiest shoes live here permanently (let’s be honest, I’m a girl, I do have more than three pairs of shoes).
- A Little Beauty to Boot. Every room in a home deserves have a little charm and beauty. Even though our guests rarely see this room (I can conveniently shut the door when entertaining), we see it all the time. I chose a single piece of art to highlight in this room, “Ewe Crazy” by Frida Clements. I bought it for my husband as an anniversary gift just after we purchased our home, which not only was another in a long line of crazy fixer uppers, but also came with two sheep! Because this room is small with a lot of light, I chose Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore for the walls, which might be my favorite paint color of all time (and can also be found in our powder room). I’m a big believer that large rooms should be painted light colors, especially if you’re working with an open floor plan, and small spaces lend themselves to more drama with darker colors or even wallpaper. We also added a beautiful flush-mount light fixture from Rejuvenation to match the kitchen pendants that hang in the adjoining room.
Well, that wraps it up for my tiny, but much-loved mudroom. I know everyone doesn’t have the luxury of a mudroom, tiny or not, but luckily many of these essentials can find their way into a well-appointed entryway as well. And if your designing a new home or renovation, don’t forget to carve out a little (or better yet, a lot!) of space for a mudroom. I promise you’ll never regret it!
All Photos by Marla Smith Photography