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November 29, 2021

Mudrooms: The Hardest-Working Room


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We like to say that the mudroom is the hardest-working room in the house. It's also a New England home essential. This is particularly true at this time of year—during the coldest and wettest months of the year—when snow gear and layers need a place to live. From an architectural and functionality standpoint, the mudroom acts as a transition between inside and outside, both physically and mentally. It provides an area to shed the layers or bags you may be carrying with you, and to take a pause or a breath before stepping into the home. It's a place where family gathers before and after a trip out, and it is often one of the first places guests are greeted.

Although a mudroom does its best work in harsh exterior climate conditions (think: low temperatures, wind, rain, snow, dirt, mud, grime), a successful mudroom feels warm and welcoming in every season.

Our clients with large and active families benefit the most from having a dedicated mudroom to house all their gear for all their adventures. The smaller and more efficiently planned a home, the greater the need for a high-performance mudroom to avoid overflow into spaces not meant for or designed to accommodate this function.

When we design mudrooms, we like to site them on an axis between arrival by car and arrival by lake or beach. In this way it allows the space to capture sand, wet feet, and towels, as well as grocery bags, keys, and boots. There's often a direct relationship between the kitchen and the mudroom, and we typically like the kitchen on the East for morning and first light.

The mudroom operates as another family room in a way, and is typically the smallest space that everyone in the family is in at once within a home, particularly while everyone is trying to get out the door. Ultimately people are looking for their boots, gloves, or hats; sitting to put them on; and waiting for others to be ready to leave. For that reason, efficiency is key, as is the consideration of how people will move around each other in the space.

Lighting in a mudroom is important because the sun goes down so early during  winter in the Northeast. Windows and natural light are key to helping  this space transition from outside to inside. Many of our mudroom  designs feel almost porch-like.

Mudrooms and the materials used in them need to be durable and age gracefully under sometimes harsh use. Tile is a typical go-to for flooring as well as multipurpose built-ins to store it all. We design mudrooms in line with the Wabi-Sabi notion noted in Loon Lake Retreat's description: "in the hopes that the house — like us — will age gracefully, developing a patina and gaining wisdom as it does."

A well-designed mudroom has a generous bench, a warm floor to dry out the muddy boots, plenty of hangers and hooks for everyone's coats and scarves, shelves, drawers, and cubbies for all kinds of hats and gloves, a place for all the keys, chargers, and outlets for cell phones, and a notepad for messages. It has plenty of daylight, good ventilation, and durable finishes. Welcome home.


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