Photo by Chipper Hatter

Back door basics: We’ve got expert tips for mastering your mudroom

We’ve all been there before—already late for work or school, frantically trying to find our keys, left shoe, and phone charger before sprinting out the door. Throw a child or spouse into the mix and the misplaced items only seem to multiply—unless a mudroom comes into play.

Photo by Brian Baiamonte. Interior design by Jillian Freiberg, architecture by Kevin Harris, building by Jeff Patin.

Architect Kevin Harris refers to the mudroom as a “dropzone”—a fitting title for a place where you literally drop all your stuff before launching from point A to point B—and we knew we needed his expertise on just how to arrange, organize and design this crucial area of a busy home.

“I think it’s critical,” says Harris. “If you have children, the kids come in from school and they begin dropping things all through the house. Shoes, socks, books, toys—you name it, it’s all over the house.” 

But creating a solution isn’t as hard as you’d think. The key is to create designated spots where each family member’s things belong. “Instead of leaving everything around the house, each child should have a designated locker where they store all of their belongings,” Harris says. “If they are playing sports or doing art, a great solution is creating big drawers or shelves to store soccer balls or markers and paints.”

Photo by Chipper Hatter

According to Harris, the mudroom should ideally function as a less sophisticated coat closet. Instead of being by the formal entrance collecting your guests’ coats and purses, it should be near the garage or wherever the family most commonly enters and exits the house. “To have a spot where you come into the house to drop everything is very convenient,” says Harris. “It is even better if you can get your dropzone by your laundry room.”

After all, we don’t want the mud, dirt and grime of the day tracking into the house.

Photo by Chipper Hatter

“Typically the harder surfaces like brick and tile are the easiest to clean. Absolutely stay away from carpet and the cork flooring,” says Harris. Any flooring that is susceptible to water damage, he adds, should be avoided completely. 

For more messy situations, like a dog who’s found a mud hole, a bare-bones shower may be something to look into. “A curbless shower is really just a drain in the floor with a shower or a handheld nozzle where you can clean your dog, or kids, right then and there,” says Harris.

In terms of aesthetics, you can really make your mudroom beautiful—with a little bit of organizing. A window bench seat can double as a place to store shoes, golf clubs or even suitcases, turning a storage solution into a design element. “By that same token, storing rain jackets or overcoats on hooks by the door is a prime grab-and-go location,” says Harris. In this digital world we now live in, with kids taking electronics to school, it could also be beneficial to add a charging station to the area. And of course, a mirror by the door for taking one last glance before you enter the outside world is, in our opinion, a must.

For more on Kevin Harris’ projects, visit his website here. And don’t forget to check out Harris’ tips in action in this “Steal the Scene” mudroom from 2020.