By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon

It is more than just the calendar that marks the beginning of fall. The trail of coats, books, backpacks and dirty footprints across the floor gives it away.

The kids have barely been back to school a month, but if you are already tired of cleaning up the messy trails every day, then maybe it’s time to create or renovate a mudroom.

A mudroom may not sound like an exciting home-improvement project, until you consider the time and energy you could save. A mudroom allows you to keep household items that are taken outside — shoes, outerwear, umbrellas, sports equipment, backpacks, briefcases and so forth — near the entry most used by the home’s inhabitants.

Mudrooms make sense1

A thoughtful design can yield a practical and attractive mudroom.

This provides three advantages. First, it keeps your home cleaner. Dirty or wet shoes, and outer clothing can be shed and stored in a mudroom, meaning dirt and water won’t make it into the rest of your house.

Second, a mudroom can help you be more organized. No more running around the house searching for mittens, coats, schoolbooks or even car keys — they’re always right where you stored them in the mudroom. Completed homework assignments, lunches and other items can also be placed in the mudroom, so you don’t forget them on your way out the door.

Finally, a mudroom allows you to contain messes or clutter in one out-of-the-way room. Whether unexpected guests drop in or you just don’t want to look at a mess that you don’t have time to clean right away, no problem. Just close the door.

When designing your mudroom, first think about its location. It should be the first space the family passes through when returning home and the last space they go through when leaving — typically the back door or entry to the garage.

You’ll also want to place it so it is away from entries or areas that guests use. Mudrooms can be combined with laundry rooms or can stand on their own.

Next, consider what you need to include in your mudroom. You’ll want a bench or seat to sit on when donning or removing shoes and boots. You’ll need a closet or hooks for hanging coats, sweaters and so forth. A locker or cubby for each household member to store their personal outdoor gear and belongings may also be desirable.

Custom cabinetry can be tailored to your needs, but it is also expensive. Stock lockers, benches and so forth can also work, saving you money.

Flooring materials should be resistant to water and dirt (remember, it’s called a mudroom for a reason), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive. Stained concrete, vinyl composition tiles, ceramic tile and rubber flooring are your best bets.

So, next time your kids come home from school on a rainy day, you can be rest assured the muddy trail will end in the mudroom, sparing the rest of your house. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at

Mudrooms make sense