Wet footprints, muddy shoes, tracked-in dirt, clinging grass—a mudroom accommodates and mitigates all of a home’s unpleasant unmentionables. By corralling coats, shoes, umbrellas, and any number of castoffs, the utilitarian space acts as a buffer between outdoor activities and indoor cleanliness.
Historically, mud areas originated in rural settings where roads were unpaved and boots perennially muddy. They were usually just a small vestibule off the kitchen on the backside of a manor or farmhouse. It wasn’t until the 1980s when the mudroom grew larger and became “formalized” into a dedicated space, notes Massachusetts-based architect Sheldon Kostelecky. Today’s mudroom is typically sited in between the garage and kitchen, where it acts as a connecting “hyphen” space, notes Kostelecky.
Determining the types of items destined for residency, and whether or not they should be hidden behind cabinet doors or neatly displayed, is the first step in designing a successful mudroom. If everything has its place, then the area can appear tidy even while brimming with an eclectic variety of odds and ends.
When Kostelecky tackles an initial layout, he begins by asking his clients how they live and what their family culture is like. “Formal versus casual, young children versus high school age, active in sports or not—most families need lots of storage bins and coat closets; sometimes we even assign each family member their own closet,” explains the architect.