27 Sep Makings of a fabulous Mud Room, Part 1
The great writers have said that we can never have enough love, enough of nature, enough prosperity. But for many of us, storage is just something it seems we never have enough of. Without proper storage, it can feel like we can never get organized.
When we moved into our house, we had no first floor bathroom. Having already potty trained one toddler with no first floor powder room in our old house, I decided having one was a necessity. Before we even moved in, I worked with a contractor to turn our coat closet into a petite, under-the-stairs powder room. We gained a cozy, functional bathroom, but lost any place to store coats, shoes, and vacuum cleaners (not that we had multiple vacuum cleaners).
For years, we lived with makeshift solutions, as so many of us do. Coats hung on hooks on the back of every door, shoes took up pantry space, boots and the vacuum marched up the back stairs, rendering the steps unusable.
So when it came time to renovate our kitchen, a proper storage solution was an essential part of the program. With the help of my architects, I designed a mudroom addition to the back of my house that meets all of our family’s storage needs. If you’re hoping to get mudroom design inspiration for your own project, I’m happy to walk you through mine feature by feature, and give you some insight into the interior design process.
The first two steps that are essential to any mudroom design are:
- defining the vision and
- defining the practical, or programmatic needs
In this post, I’d like to focus in on the vision. Please see part 2 (coming soon!) for the process of inventorying and accommodating the essential elements you may want to store in a mudroom of your own:
This mudroom was new construction, but I knew I wanted the space to have elements that related to the rest of the house so it looked like it belonged. In order to accomplish this, I chose a practical brick floor, which is continued to the back landings and matches in tone with our front landing. I had the brick laid in a herringbone pattern surrounded by a border at the perimeter. The vaulted ceiling is lined with oak beadboard, reminiscent of the oak floors in the rest of the house. The white cabinets reflect the cabinets in the front of the house, in the dining room (newly designed) and the living room (original). The black “soft iron” dakota hardware (click here to view collection) is identical to the hardware used in the kitchen. The black is reflected in the pendant lantern by Currey and Co. (click here to view light sourced from Lighting Direct). And, for my favorite feature: the purple doors.
Several years ago, when I started this blog, I polled my readers on my door color (view the You Be the Designer blog post here) and I’ve been living with and loving my purple door ever since. In this otherwise neutral mudroom space, I wanted to pick up that vibrant pop of color. So I had the door manufacturer factory finish the mudroom doors in Sherwin Williams Kimono Violet (Click here to view color). A little bit of purple goes a long way, and the divided lights in these doors are three dimensional, echoing the heft of the windows all over the rest of the house. They are also great, low windows for dogs to wait for their owner’s return!
A few things about the vision only became clear as the design was in progress. Although I originally wanted to expose a stone column in the kitchen, once we did demolition, it became clear that the stone in that area was not pretty enough to expose. However, the stone on what was formerly the back of the house was impeccable, and made a perfect backdrop for my mail station/pet center. The craftsmen did an unbelievable job scribing the custom cabinetry to that stone. This is the artfulness of Amish craftsmanship at its best.
The other unexpected design element that I’ve grown to love is the exposed steel beam. The opening to the mudroom was created at the site of a former window. In order to widen this opening and support the house above, the addition of a steel beam was necessary. When I saw what it looked like I knew it was just too cool to cover up. So we worked with the carpenters and cabinet makers to leave it exposed and make it a proper design element of the space.
The opening underneath this beam was also quite deep to accommodate the substantial thickness of the stone exterior walls. Once I saw the depth of this portal, I decided it would be a perfect spot for a blackboard/magnet board. These modern stainless steel refrigerators do not have magnetic fronts, but I don’t know any family who doesn’t need a place to hang school flyers, menus, and invitations. Turning this portal into a design feature that was both cool and functional was a last minute add that I’m so happy I made.
I designed the closet and cubby units so that they would be tall enough for comfortable coat storage, but decided that they would not go as high as the ceiling. This allowed me to have windows above, which let in beautiful western light. The two windows over the cubbies are operable, and give us great cross ventilation from the windows opposite on the east wall.
I’m a lover of green design elements, and we have benefitted from decreased glare in the kitchen, because the mudroom bump out blocks some of the direct southern sun that used to heat up the area at the kitchen sink. In this way, the position of our mudroom acts as a green design element, helping us to control heat gain in the kitchen. The new doors, windows, and roof are insulated in a way that is more comfortable and more efficient than what we could ever accomplish in the older parts of the house. The brick floor has a radiant heat element embedded in the concrete slab beneath. The radiant floor is switched on using a control meant exclusively for the mudroom zone, which we only turn up when we need to melt snowy boots and snow pants. And all the cabinetry was custom built by local carpenters in nearby Morgantown, PA. In these ways, our mudroom interior design is both cozy aims for environmental sensitivity.
To learn about how this mudroom interior design accommodates the functional needs of a family busting at the seams, read on! (Part 2, coming soon!)