The mudroom. It’s easy to think the name says it all, that it is simply the place where shoes and boots are quarantined to keep your floors safe from muddy tracks. For many, it’s where hats, coats, mittens, scarves and the rest of winter’s accessories are heaped in mismatched piles — or, sadder yet, where the single mittens go to linger on in the hopes that one day you’ll find its missing mate.
For many Granite Staters and fellow New England homeowners, mudrooms are a must. Once the place where farmers kicked off boots muddy from the field or stored frozen goods in the winter (many were never heated), they’ve evolved into a catchall for a family’s outerwear, school bags, shoes, sports equipment and any number of things no one wants lying around the rest of the house.
The mudroom is functional, but that’s no reason it can’t be elegant. Homeowner Amy Favat and her family took the time to really plan a mudroom that both serves their needs and reflects the design of the rest of their home. She wanted a space that kept the feeling of an old barn — not too pristine or clean — while still serving as a segue into the rest of the house.
“We didn’t want to buy anything new,” says Favat. “We wanted something that felt right. We looked pretty high and low, and tried to be really thoughtful.”
The accessories in the room, she explains, each had a past life. The chalkboard is from an old schoolroom, the bench for taking off boots and shoes was once a welder’s bench, decorating the walls are lights from a tractor dug up on the property (once a farm) and the lockers, found at an antique fair, once hung in a bakery. With a little work and cleaning, their antique finds gave the mudroom the exact feel Favat was looking for.
“We wanted it to look like a working barn area with an industrial feel,” says Favat. Underneath the lockers the carpenters built shelves for the large metal baskets that now hold hats, mittens and other outdoor clothing. Every inch of space is used thoughtfully and fits with the overall design theme.
The end result is a room that reflects the tone and feel of the house, but is still, as Favat says, “the family dumping ground.” With two teenagers who walk through the backyard and over a creek to and from the bus and two parents who garden, a mudroom was a must.
Included in the mudroom is a half bath, tiny kitchenette with a sink and a little secret door under the stairs — perfect for hiding their cats’ litter box.
The outside door is at ground level, plus with a door leading to the garage, the room is easily accessible. Though the mudroom is really at basement level, natural light still gives it a more open feeling.
“The window over the stairs gives really great light even though it’s in the basement of the house,” says Favat. “We definitely thought of that — we didn’t want it to look like a fortress.”
In Bow, designer Lisa Dougherty of Soca Designs was challenged to
create a mudroom that would fit with the rest of this nearly million dollar home. .
“It’s not very often that we do a house that doesn’t have a mudroom,” says Dougherty. “It’s just important living in New England — it’s also nice in general to have the extra space.”
To give the room a warmer look, Dougherty raised the beadboard up fairly high, added crown molding and included framed art on the walls. The fabric on the custom built-in bench matches some of the fabrics in the kitchen.
Though the room is a great segue into the home as far as design is concerned, it can’t be seen from any other room, making sure any clutter of coats and boots stays in its rightful place.
The mudroom is elegant, but it was also meant to be used. A tiled floor with radiant heat (always a wise choice for tiled floors, adds Dougherty), cubbies, shelves and the bench all make the room as functional as it is beautiful.
“The whole thing just came out really nice,” says Dougherty. “We really did it up, and it lends itself to the rest of the house — it’s very much in keeping with everything else in the home.” NH
This article appears in the March 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine