Designing the Perfect Mudroom

March 13, 2017
Gale Steves
Designing the Perfect Mudroom
Sarah Susanka included coat hooks, built-in desk with cubbies, a
(NOTE: This post has been updated.)

Coming Through the Door

There was a time when the front door was equated with making an entrance. People rang the doorbell or hit the knocker, then a pause, and the door opened to greetings. Unless you live in a home that only has one entry, that is sadly not the case anymore.

For many homes, the back or side door, especially one leading from the garage, has become the de facto entry door for our comings and goings. Friends and family follow our lead, and they use this access as well. In fact, it seems that the only people who do use your front door are either people who do not know you well, folks trying to sell you something and the brand-new UPS or FedEx man who has not learned where you prefer your deliveries.

Walk into almost any home, and the entry foyer is still decorated as though it were a grand entrance. The path for the rear door is usually a jumble of family detritus- school bags, soggy boots, discarded scarves or coats, and maybe even the dog’s leash.

It's time to stop pretending and take control of your entry (Plan 497-46, above). Maybe a well-designed mudroom is in order to do just that. Mudroom is an old design concept, but one that is still extremely useful. According to the dictionary, it is “a room at an entrance to a house where people can leave wet or dirty shoes and clothing”. Think about the dirt that gets tracked in from sports or gardening. Let’s not even mention the pets’ coming and goings without the benefit of wiping.

Today’s mudroom should be a place of storage as well as a site for clean-up (Plan 928-13, above). The most useful ideas involve storage cubbies and hooks, but I would favor a place to sit as well as a small bathroom there (or at least a good source of water). The floor surface should be durable and easy to keep clean. And the space should be wide enough to accommodate bags of groceries or two children coming in at the same time. Ample counter space for mail, packages or even a drop zone for the recharging of electronics are ingredients of a good mudroom.

Just because the mudroom is relegated to the back of the house does not mean that it cannot be attractive. If you think of this space as your real front entrance and lavish the attention that you placed on your front hall or foyer, then coming through this door will really mean you are home.

Mudroom Planning Guide
A few ideas to help get you started with your new mudroom:
  • The ideal width of a mudroom is at least 5 feet wide. This allows two people to enter the house together or one person and some pets. Even though the rear door is 3 feet wide, the space should not feel crowded
  • The other important measurement is the minimum length of the mudroom. That is 11 feet. This allows for storage and more storage: cabinets, lockers or closets, shelves, cubbies, a bench, and an umbrella stand. Often forgotten in the thoughts about storage is enough space to allow wet garments or boots to dry.
  • If possible, plan on creating a shallow powder room.  This prevents tracking through the house to use the bathroom. If space does not permit, consider installing a corner slop sink for washing off muddy or wet boots, feet or paws. These are available through commercial plumbing supply stores. Alternate idea is a small corner shower pan with a lower faucet to handle wet needs.
  • Think through the direction of the door swing. Do you need a pet door attached to the door? Also make sure that the threshold height is high enough so the door does not fight with the door mat or rug when opened.
  • Allow for an abundance of electrical outlets. Here is one space where there can never be enough. A strip of outlets on the counter can handle the recharging of electronics. Think of electrical needs for automatic pet feeder, boot dryer, vacuum cleaner that are often housed here.
  • Surfaces should be easy to keep clean. The choice of flooring is wide but think non-slip and easy to maintain. If using tile, find grout the same color as tile so it too will not look dingy from heavy wear. Walls need heavy-duty paint for the same reasons.
  • A mudroom could also incorporate the washer and dryer; either stacked in a closet or side-by-side under a counter.
Layout Ideas

To see the mudroom layout for the Sarah Susanka design shown at the top of this post, click Plan 454-12:

Here's a floor plan that incorporates the washer and dryer and pantry off the back porch, Plan 48-572:

And here's one that's a larger laundry-utility room, Plan 132-221:

For a collection of Laundry/Mud Room plans click here.

Gale Steves is
Chief Creative Officer at Open House Productions, Writing and Editing Consultant, Author of the best selling Right-Sizing Your Home, and former Editor-in-Chief of Home Magazine.