Down and dirty mudroom solutions

Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Build a mudroom.”

2013DecJan DownAndDirty
Illustration by Santiago Uceda

Front entryways are usually designed to make an impression. There’s nothing wrong with a little razzle-dazzle to welcome guests, but for everyday access, most homeowners lean toward the practical, and there is nothing so sensible as a good mudroom.

Those little spaces are the places for dropping boots and hanging damp coats before traipsing through the rest of the house. They offer a weather buffer between the indoors and the not-always-so-great outdoors. They give the family dog room to let the fur fly, so to speak.

Traditionally, the mudroom was to a house what “and” is to a sentence, useful for connecting things but not particularly memorable. Instead, think of it as multipurpose entry-way that may include laundry, utilities or even a home office. Kirk Linder, project manager with remodel/contract company Mac-Bo in Portland, offered these design tips to consider when creating a mudroom:

  • Conceal the washer/dryer behind cabinets with clever hinged doors that swing open and can also slide back, like pocket doors, beside the machines to maximize workspace.
  • If concealing appliances, consider removable toe kicks attached with magnetic closures that easily pop off to access machines for repairs.
  • Put a countertop or shelf near the door, because the first thing most people want to do upon entering is set down keys, packages, bags, etc.
  • Make certain the threshold sits high enough to allow room beneath for doormats.
  • Know your surfaces. Detergent and bleach might damage granite. Don’t be afraid to mix countertop materials; use less porous quartz or manmade surfaces for durability where needed. Look for different but harmonious colors to designate different areas of use. When done right, the mix makes a strong design element and might save you money if you can shop remnants.

 Mudroom gear

  • Exposed hooks allow damp outerwear to dry. Sophisticated designs include a flip-hook rack that keeps five brushed nickel prongs flush to a mounted wood rack when not in use; $28, at Storables (locations in Portland and Tigard). Add a touch of character with a solid brass money hook, $13, or brass fleur-de-lis, $7, from Rejuvenation (Portland). Hook them with humor with a hook in the shape of a dog’s back end, $3 at Ikea Portland.
  • A chair or bench are useful for sitting to remove boots. Good bets include a Craftsman-style Olivia bench with cubbies for shoes and miscellany, $500, at Pottery Barn (in Eugene, Portland, Tigard); and a sleek Kuba Crescent bench in patchwork upholstery, $400, at West Elm (Portland). Check out multitier boot and shoe racks, $35-$57, at Storables. A simple wood bootjack, $9, at Portland Outdoor Store makes removing boots a breeze.
  • In the rainy parts of the state, you’d think umbrella stands would be at every door. Check out the whimsical ceramic boot-shaped stand, $80, at Z Gallerie at Bridgeport Village in Tigard. For modern interiors, Blomus offers a few stainless-steel cylinder styles, $100-$130, at Furnish in Eugene.
  • What better place to stow sports equipment than stainless-steel lockers? There are several styles available from $150 at F.E. Bennett Co. in Portland.