Sure, it might not be the most Instagrammable location in my house, but I can honestly say it’s one of the most important spaces: the mudroom. With a few kids, a dog and a whole lot of winter boots, the mudroom has become indispensable as a catch-all for everything from homework to flip flops. Over the years, the mudroom has become the most common entry point for my kids, which meant I needed to do more to make it more functional. By making a few tweaks, you can get the most out of your mudroom. Who knows? It might just become one of your favorite spaces, too.

Make sure the mudroom is in the right place. Image: pics721/Shutterstock

Location, location, location

The most common mistake made in planning mudrooms is simply that they’re not in the right spot. A mudroom is great, but not if it’s rarely used because of where it is. Rather than making it some dark, unused corner of your home, take the time to think about how you’ll use your mudroom. For me, that meant imagining walking from the garage with an armload of groceries or having kids come in and out of the house in the summer. Keeping that in mind, it made sense to put the mudroom adjacent the kitchen with its own outside access.

Imagine yourself using your mudroom. What are its most important functions? What are some of your current pain points? You might even be able to re-purpose another space as a mudroom if it’s in a better location. Making sure your mudroom is accessible and convenient means it becomes a total workhorse for your home.

Double up

Your mudroom is meant to be the place your family stashes their stuff, but you can do more. Double up on your mudroom’s purpose and your home can become even more functional. Maybe you don’t have a ton of space, but a mudroom works as a great place for:

  • Homework space. Set up a desk and a computer in the corner, since kids will probably bring their homework there anyway.
  • Laundry room. Our mudroom doubles as a laundry room and I love being able to toss coats and gloves directly into the wash.
  • Message center. If you’re most likely to bring mail and other important stuff through the mudroom, create a space for it. A bulletin board, calendar and mail sorter can help you stay organized.
  • Pet area. Hate having your pet’s stuff all over the house? A mudroom makes for a makeshift pet bedroom when you add a comfy cushion, dishes and a couple of toys.
  • Craft room. If you love to craft but hate the clutter, your mudroom can make for a great space. Add a comfortable chair, desk and plenty of storage.

Make sure your mudroom has ample storage. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Assign storage

With multiple people using the space at once, it can get messy fast. And I find that when the mudroom is a mess, my kids are more likely to bring their stuff into the rest of the house. Solution? Assign storage spaces to each family member. Whether you use labels or color-coded hangers, everyone should know exactly where to stash their stuff. When everyone has assigned space, I can easily see who needs a clutter clean-out and whose backpack is whose. It’s an easy way to simplify and cut down on clutter in the mudroom — and everywhere else.

Think seasonal

If your biggest complaint about your mudroom is that it’s always cluttered, there’s a good chance it’s due to seasonal stuff. Tripping over winter boots in June or digging through pool toys in December can have you feeling like your mudroom is disorganized and dysfunctional.

It’s important to do a complete mudroom declutter at the beginning of each season. Grab a few plastic totes and store anything that can’t be used in the next three or four months. In the spring, you’ll probably rotate winter gear out and sports equipment in. Summer means making sure kids have easy access to towels and flip flops, while fall might mean more school supplies. This way, you only need to declutter four times a year and it’ll make your home more functional year-round.

Make sure storage is easily accessible. Image: New Africa/Shutterstock

Opt for accessible storage

When I designed my home, storage was the first priority. In addition to storage lockers and drawers, there is a full bank of cabinets on one wall to keep everything from laundry soap to swimming goggles stashed away. Still, I would end up with sports gear on the floor and jackets stuffed in drawers. What did I do wrong?

In creating a room full of storage solutions, I’d forgotten to make everything accessible. Opening and closing cabinets and drawers was fine for stashing stuff, but the things we used every day usually ended up on the floor. After all, we’d just be getting them back out again. It wasn’t until I had a row of hooks installed on the wall that my mudroom stayed organized. My kids find it way easier to hang their coats and backpacks on their hooks, rather than putting them away in cupboards. My takeaway? Make sure you have easy, accessible storage for the things you use most.

Your mudroom might not be the first room you show off to guests, but it could be the space that has the most influence on the rest of your home. Mine is a laundry room, storage space, landing area and even dog bedroom, which means it takes the burden off of other areas of the home. By creating a mudroom that makes sense for you and your family, you can turn something unused into one of your favorite spaces.