We asked Rheinberg. Melissa Cooley, Senior Interior Design Specialist at Case Architects & Remodelers in Bethesda; and Jessica Parker Wachel, Senior Associate at GTM Architects in Bethesda, for advice on the trend. All three responded via email, and their comments have been edited for brevity.
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What should homeowners consider when they want to turn a frontal space like a porch or indoor room into a mudroom?
RheinbergWhen converting a frontal space like a porch (outside) into a mudroom (inside), it’s important to consider the overall design. The goal is to improve the aesthetics of the exterior while creating a sense of cohesion inside the home. There should be a sense of comfort upon entering, as if you have entered a new foyer or room, versus the feeling of entering a space that has been discarded for additional storage. The strategic use of windows generates an abundance of natural light and prevents the cubicles from appearing as a wall of shelves.
collie: If you live in a home where your entry door connects directly to your living room, which leaves very little flexibility for the drop area for everyday essentials, consider using a closet nearby in your entryway or creating small closets in your garage or down Your entrance is a ladder. Keep these spaces in mind because they sometimes contain square footage that may not be used. If you transform a closet just outside the main entrance, consider incorporating a similar style that blends in with the rest of your home. Include items that add visual interest, style, and comfort. Make it fun by adding custom baskets, color, or even wallpaper, but also think of ways you might encourage your family to keep it tidy and organized. Create a space tailored to your family’s needs.
Quail: In a new custom home, I recommend using closed storage cabinets so the space doesn’t feel cluttered. If possible, consider designing custom cabinets to blend in with adjacent wall finishes, such as baseboards, paint colors, etc. To take advantage of an existing front space, such as a front porch, this can be as simple as installing some hooks on the wall above the bench. Shoes can be stored in boxes under the seat.
What are some front mud chamber pros and cons?
colliePros and cons: Having a mudroom or perhaps a landing area in the lobby area might have some pros and cons. If the mudroom at the direct entrance to the house is disorganized, this may encourage family members to create several landing areas in the house, causing clutter and dysfunction. If not designed properly with carefully defined areas, it could be a dumping area for all kinds of things. Organized with a calendar, to-do list, areas for keys, a charging station, and dedicated shoe and coat storage, this area can be one of the most important and functional work areas in the home.
QuailPros: If the front door is your main entry point, this would be the perfect space to drop shoes and coats, to avoid walking the house into a separate mudroom. When guests come, you can easily hang up their jackets and provide a place to leave shoes.
Cons: Mud yards can get cluttered, so try to focus on enclosed storage options. The mudroom should also be primarily for jackets and shoes that are currently in season. Jackets and additional gear can be stored in a closet to avoid cluttering the space.
What materials work best in an anterior mud chamber?
Rheinberg: Attractive and functional luxury vinyl plank (LVP) for mudroom. It gives a warm look and insulates the floor. LVP is very durable, retains its appearance despite a lot of abuse and foot traffic and is effective in areas with wet boots, boots, and umbrellas. If something falls on the LVP floors, there’s a good chance the body won’t break.
collie: Any floor tile, such as porcelain, ceramic, cement, or limestone tile with a matte finish, would be suitable for a terracotta area or even luxury vinyl flooring, as they are all durable materials. Refrain from installing polished tiles as they are slippery and can be dangerous. You can also use hardwood floors in clay; However, consider carpeting on hardwood floors as moisture and liquid from outer clothing may eventually cause the floor to discolor. Consider having shelves close at hand to avoid items tipping over and falling.
QuailTile floors are great in the mud area for easy cleaning from wet or muddy shoes. Wainscoting or other panels mounted behind wall hooks will be more durable for hanging jackets than drywall. Be sure to include a bench or chair in the space so that people have a place to sit when putting on and taking off shoes.
Does this type of project require a design/build firm or an architect? Or can a handyman do a space transformation like this?
collie: Depending on the size and organization needed for your mudroom project, consider seeking help from a handyman service, if the project is on the smaller side. You may also find it helpful to consider a design builder company if the project is on the larger side and involves remodeling other areas of the home.
Rheinberg: It depends on what you hope to achieve. If the desire is to create a new space with aesthetic appeal that is designed to look and function consistent with the original home, a design builder company is the best route. However, if the space is completely utilitarian, an experienced handyman can be used for the project. It is also important to know the permitting process and new materials and products.