A space to contain your home's dirty debris: Mudrooms

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

There’s a name for a space in the home that can ward off the muddy madness of the latest spring downpour, keep your dog’s paws from trashing the rest of your house and contain your kid’s clutter: a mudroom.

Mudrooms -- usually located off back door or the rear of  a home -- have become the new Ground Zero in many homes today. They are spaces where messes are OK, dirty pet paws aren't a problem and there's an actual designated space for all those backpacks and jackets that seems to just multiply through the school year.

They're so popular these days, several local builders say mudrooms come standard on all of the homes they build. At least four builders with houses on this year's Parade of Homes have mudrooms included.

"It really is your most used room in the house," says Laura Adler, marketing director and closing coordinator of Mark Adler Homes in West Bloomfield Township. "You’re always coming in and out and trying to get organized. We're so busy these days. A mudroom is a way to help keep things in order."

Mudrooms are designed, often with a carpenter or custom cabinetry, to delineate space for each family member. There are cubbies or lockers for each person and bench for seating. And many now include drop zones -- counter space for electronics to be stored at night or to charge cellphones -- or space for your pet's food bowls.

Mudrooms are a great way to keep family clutter in order.

Patrick Widing of Fenton-based Patrick Widing Custom Homes said mudrooms are a popular transition space from the outside or garage area to the interior of the home.

"They are a great place for organizing outerwear, coats, shoes, bags, et cetera, a drop zone for mail and such and also charging areas for phones and tablets," said Widing. "We are also seeing accommodations for pets becoming a large part of mudrooms, food storage, built-in crates or space for crates and beds as well as 'dog showers/bath' areas."

In 2015, Widing finished a gorgeous 240-square foot mudroom for a client in Genesee County. An image of that space was named one of Houzz.com's top images of 2019 in Detroit for entryways. It has a vaulted wood ceiling, grasscloth wallpaper, a slate floor and lockers, or cubbies, custom-designed and built for the client.

When it comes to creating your own mudroom, Widing says homeowners should think about their own needs and what suits their family. In many ways, it's about how you live.

"Do they prefer the clean, neat look of everything behind closed doors or are they OK with open cubbies and hooks?" asks Widing.

And consider the size of the space that transitions from outside. And don't forget your pets, said Widing. Will you need space for food storage, crating or to bathe your pet?

"As a custom home builder we take the clients' expectations, wants and needs and offer our ideas and insight to create the perfect space," said Widing.

Standard feature

Adler of Mark Adler Homes said mudrooms have been a standard in all of the homes they build for more than five years.

But when she and husband Mark were building their own home in West Bloomfield for their family more than 23 years ago, mudrooms were a novelty. They put one in their own house because they wanted a space for each of their kids' stuff.

"We had 3 young kids," said Adler. "We did a locker area. It was a great place to keep things organized to keep less clutter in the house. It was amazing."

When the recession hit, Adler said her husband Mark started adding mudrooms to the homes he built as a way to set himself apart. And it was a hit among customers.

"It's a big selling feature," said Adler, who noted they also put the laundry room on the second floor.

Their mudrooms have a custom built area with a bench, hooks and cubbies.

"We’ve made it more of a furniture piece," said Adler.  

The reality is, Adler said, people don't go to closets to hang up their coats. That's why hooks or cubbies in a mudroom are so handy. And drop zones are ideal space for cellphones.

Makeshift mudrooms

But not everyone has the space -- or money -- for a separate mudroom. There are certainly ways to create your own version of a mudroom with hooks for backpacks or coats, a storage bench and bins.

The Home Depot offers a wide variety of Hall Trees from the Home Decorators Collection with hooks, storage and seating. They come in a variety of sizes and range in price from $499 to $1,099.

The Container Store also offers some modular mudroom options. Its Platinum Elfa Utility Mudroom, for example, can be mounted directly to the wall and is adjustable so it came be designed to meet your family's needs.

"Our Elfa System is fantastic for mudrooms," said Lara Smolinski, general Manager of The Container Store in Novi. "The system is wall mounted, but can provide drawers, hanging space for back packs, coats and umbrellas. We also have many other products that can complement the space like one of our fantastic benches that provides customers a spot to sit and put on their shoes."

So whether you decided to hire a builder to create a custom-made mudroom for your or do your own DIY version, mudrooms are a great way to reign in your family's gear so you can focus on more important things. Like summer! 


Twitter: @mfeighan