How to Design a Stylish (but Still Functional) Mudroom
Architect James Crisp elevates the lowly mudroom to star status by using wood paneling, slate floors, and other quality materials
Stylish and utilitarian, a well-designed mudroom provides an ideal spot to stow coats, shoes, and outdoor gear. With multiple hooks and ample drawer space, this sunny entryway tames would-be clutter. “This family has small children and needed a place to collect all their gloves and scarves,” says Crisp. “The shelves and drawers are painted maple wood, and the floor is thin-cut real brick in a herringbone pattern”
Photographs by Rob Karosis
Living in the Hudson Valley, you either have a mudroom per se, or a muddy front hallway,” notes James Crisp of Millbrook-based Crisp Architects. Crisp, whose own home includes a micro farm, says that when he and his family walk up the hill to feed their animals, they return with “dirty boots and big coats that you have to put somewhere.” Their mudroom comes to the rescue.
Even if you don’t live on a farm, this cozy vestibule acts as a barrier between Mother Nature and a freshly vacuumed living room. It can also do double duty as a dumping ground for the likes of gardening gloves, bicycles, and soiled lawn toys. Although mudrooms are traditionally located at the front of the home, those found off back and side entrances help keep clutter out of sight.
Over his 29-year career, Crisp has crafted myriad mudrooms for his clients; he points out that the key to any addition or renovation is determining the homeowner’s needs. “If it’s just for a couple, that’s one level; if they have five kids, that’s something else,” he explains. “Is it a semiformal entry where you might have guests take off their shoes? Are you storing tennis rackets and cross-country skis? Is this the place to wash the dogs and so you need a drain to hose them off?”
Selecting the right materials should also take priority. For example, wood is a natural choice for mudroom floors — hard ones like oak, maple, and chestnut are Crisp’s top picks — “but you’re coming in with muddy and snowy boots, and therefore it’s important to have a good, durable floor — preferably made of slate, bluestone, or brick — that can handle getting wet.”
Closets, umbrella stands, wicker baskets, and cubbies are all effective storage-saving features; for oversized mudrooms, though, Crisp suggests extras like a sink and washer and dryer. Integrating much-welcome seating into a mudroom can be as easy as sourcing a bench from an antiques store or building one into the wall — a wall protected by a robust, bang-proof material like bead and V-groove boards that are impervious to getting wet. Just like kitchens and bathrooms, Crisp says the pricing of revamped and newly built mudrooms varies, but typically falls between $300-$400 per square foot. Don’t fret over budget, however: A serviceable mudroom can be comprised of a simple row of hooks, which can be purchased anywhere from “junk shops to Restoration Hardware,” Crisp points out. “Just make sure they’re sturdy.”
No two country-chic mudrooms look alike. Here, Crisp weighs in on some of his projects:
“We renovated this Sears, Roebuck-style house. The owners wanted a mudroom on a formal but small scale, so we used green V-board wainscoting. The painted maple bench creates a place to sit, and the drawers underneath it provide storage.”
“This is a historic farmhouse that we renovated. There are no paved areas around the house; it’s all grass, dirt roads, and garden. This isn’t the front door, but an entry where the family comes and goes and where they put coats when people come visit. It’s a catchall space with painted poplar cubbies, hooks, benches on both sides, and an oak floor. The sunflowers brighten the room, matching the bucolic setting.”
“This is a large home, and the family likes to ride horses, swim, and play tennis. The mudroom has deep, painted maple shelves to store all their equipment with cabinets above. The floor is slate, and the Dutch door is fun — you can keep the dog in and at the same time look outside.”