If you’re building or renovating a home, a mudroom may not be at the top of your priority list when it comes to allocating money and materials.

Maybe it should be. Because your mudroom is often the first room in your home to be seen by visitors, it may be the basis of their first impressions. On the other hand, the aesthetics of a mudroom often come second to its functionality; for better or worse, they tend to act as year-round repositories for backpacks, briefcases, outdoor gear and other regularly used family belongings.

That utility angle may be doubly important in Minnesota, where the nature of outdoor gear can change drastically each season.

“Similar to kitchens and bathrooms, mudrooms started out simply fulfilling an unglamorous need,” notes designer Stephanie Brick in the Washington Post. “But now they are one of the most egressed, dual-function rooms in a household, and rapidly increasing in popularity. Though smaller than most other occupied areas of the home, the mudroom is the ultimate multipurpose room, often designed to double as an activity landing zone, specialized storage space and even natural disaster shelter.”

If you’re mulling a mudroom that can capably welcome guests and family members while storing a hodgepodge of gear, consider the following suggestions.

  • Settle on a function. The term “mudroom” can be used interchangeably to describe everything from a sparse and elegant foyer to a utility room that houses everything from laundry equipment to a utility sink to gardening tools. Decide which usage best fits your needs before starting your design.
  • Prioritize storage. The goal should be to hide away clutter so the room isn’t visually overwhelming. At a minimum, you’ll need a small coat closet. But you may also wish to create an attractive space in which to stow bulk foods, cleaning supplies, sporting equipment, pet gear, backpacks, purses, shoes, etc. Consider a large, custom-fitted closet or customize a mix of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, lockers, cubbies, drawers, shelves, bins, baskets, hooks, etc. Add a bench with a lift-up top where people can put on shoes.
  • Think about creating a safe room. Check into which fortifications would be necessary to create a space that could protect your family from extreme weather and/or home invasions. The ceiling must be reinforced concrete and the walls must be bolted into a reinforced concrete slab, among other modifications.
  • Choose low-maintenance flooring. Put down tile, brick, laminate, vinyl flooring or another surface that’s hardy and easy to clean. You can always add easy-to-wash rugs, rubber matting and/or drip trays to cushion feet and counter tracked-in water and dirt. Minnesotans may also wish to consider radiant flooring for those colder months.
  • Feature bright lighting. Family members will need it as they enter and exit your home. You might also install extra outlets for charging phones and electrical devices.
  • Add an info center. Consider where you might place a calendar, whiteboard and mail/homework/note bins that can keep your busy family organized.

Looking for more ideas? Talk to the experts at Titus Contracting to learn about making your new mudroom both beautiful and functional.