2.16.2014

My Mud Room Dream

Over a year ago this whole project began with my wish for a mudroom. I just didn't want shoes and coats in the dining room anymore. That totally ballooned into the awesome two story space we have now after we met with a few contractors who told us the big cost is in the foundation and to just go as big as we could for the best return on our investment (and I definitely eked a few more feet out since S initially wanted to go 10 feet wide and we got 16!) While the cost comparison may hold true in this market, but I'm not sure how true that rings in other parts of the country.

Today, while we're struggling to get the project as a whole finished, our dream mudroom is complete. And dare I say, it's worth the struggle?! At least it has been so far.

The front ~10 feet of the addition is dedicated to the mudroom, powder room and pantry. It's essentially all of the space that sticks out from the front of the original house, plus a few feet.
When we designed the space I asked the architect to make the hallways in the entry as narrow as possible, while still being within the normal range. I wanted to make the coat closet as wide as possible - it's eight feet wide - and jam as much storage into the space as possible. Now that we're in here, the open area and hallways feel very spacious and all the doors swing open very wide.

I began drawing sketches of mudroom cubby storage areas on the architect's plans. But I didn't really have a solid idea of how I wanted it to work until the drywall went up a few months ago. I knew I wanted hanging space below with cubbies for bins above. Initially I thought three cubbies to the left of the window would work best, but once we got in there I saw that doing so would leave a lot of wasted space to the right of the window. So we changed gears and decided to sketch out two sets of two cubbies facing each other. Since the window isn't centered in the mudroom area I added a deep bench with storage underneath to the left cubbies. Since having at 32" wide bench on the left gave us plenty of seating, we decided to make the right hand cubby unit shorter, sitting on the floor instead of on a bench. So the right side is essentially the "little guy" side and the left is the adult side.

When I finally had our ideas on paper, I handed them over to my father in law, who set to work bringing my vision to life. He and S were supposed to work on them together, but a scheduling issue and a snow storm left him doing everything except final assembly himself. Including all the painting! We owe him. Big time.

Everything is secured directly to the wall and the unit on the left is attached to the base bench too. The bottom of the bench is the wood floor, but the backs of the units are plywood so that we'd have solid wood to attach our hooks anywhere without worrying about finding studs.

We went back and forth on hook options, bought at least 50 and returned them all. We didn't want to spend more than $5 per hook and S wanted a double hook so he could hang a coat and a hat on each. We found a bent railroad nail hook that I loved, but it was out of stock until April. There was a similar hook on etsy but they were nearly $10 per hook. I searched etsy and the rainbow of colors available in different hooks caught my eye...and started a rainbow hook obsession. One seller had dock cleats available in a rainbow of colors, but they were right around $6 each. Plus, when hung vertically they only provided space to hang either a coat or a hat.

I was completely sold on rainbow hooks. All eight hooks - two for each cubby - had to be a different, bright color. So we priced out traditional coat hooks and eight cans of spray paint. But I kept going back to the chunky dock cleat look. Plus, I thought the paint would adhere better to their rough surface than to the smooth surface of a traditional hook. Then S suggested we use the cleats and do three hooks in the two taller cubbies - one on each side and one in the back - but stick with two in the shorter units just to keep costs down. So ten boat cleats it was. We ordered 4" cleats from West Marine and bought ten different cans of spray paint, plus one can of self-etching primer from the hardware store. The total cost for each hook was just over $5 after factoring in coupons and other discounts. Adding two hooks means we went just about $10 over budget. Can we call that close enough? Plus now we have 10 cans of brightly colored spray paint for other fun projects down the road. Like more hooks.

S devised a painting board for me so I could paint all the hooks and screws at once and quickly bring them back inside so they could dry in the warm air. On the first warm day when it was in the 40's, I took my boat cleat board out to the yard and go to work. The first day was just a priming day, but on day 2 I managed to get three coats of spray paint on the hooks throughout the day. All with plenty of drying time in between and without getting spray paint on myself, a curious little boy, or a dog. I did manage to give the grass quite a festive touch though.

We gave the hooks 48 hours to fully cure and then set to work choosing which hook would go where. I let Little M choose his hooks first: boo and rrrrred. S wanted blue and gold and I wanted the hot pink. The rest we arranged to equally space out the pink hooks, just in case the next family in this house has a bunch of boys or girls - we don't need any fights over who gets the "girl" cubby and we certainly don't want renters moving the hooks. So S got blue, gold and light pink. I got periwinkle, hot pink and bright green. Feeney got purple and orange. To figure out a hanging height we just took one of S's frequently worn jackets, adjusted it so it looked right and used that as the height for all the hooks.

I'm so in love with the cubbies. M loves hanging his coat on his "hoo" and points out all the other "hoo" every time he does so. They're a great way to work on colors!

I have several woven felt baskets to use above the taller, wider cubbies, but they don't fit as well on the right. So for now on the right I'm using inexpensive folding baskets that I got from Target years ago. I'm planning to either sew new cloth baskets to fit or make covers for the Target baskets. But first I need to finish sewing the rest of the nursery gift for my friend, Suz!

On the wall opposite the cubbies we have our eight foot long coat closet. Eight feet! We used to have two!

I knew I wanted to use this closet for coats and for out-of-rotation toys, so we had to make sure to use the space as efficiently as possible. I have several long coats, but not enough to fill eight feet of closet. So we decided to add a second hanging rod on the right at a height that would be high enough off the floor for my shorter jackets and low enough so S's jackets could still hang above it. After hanging all our coats and jackets we had plenty of room up top for all of S's and my coats so we're just using the lower rod for M's coats. We added a shelf above the rod and stuck a few small, lesser used things like M's car DVD player on there under our coats.

Over on the left S and I made shelves from leftover cabinet grade plywood from the dumpster that we cut to fit Little M's 3 Sprout animal toy bins.

They're over-sized shelves and we figure that they're are a good size for sports equipment later on, so they're not just useful for these specific toy bins. I love that all his toys that aren't in his little play area in the family room are stored in one, out-of-sight spot. On the top shelf I have his box of art supplies and under the lower shelf is just enough space to tuck his shoes, which he's outgrowing way too quickly! I love having a place for everything; it's such a treat. This mud room makes me feel so fortunate :)

We bought a new waterhog entry mat from LLBean to cover more of the floor space and preserve the wood floors. It's six feet long, which is just about the minimum length we need to swing the door in, let the dog in and swing the door shut without dog paws touching floors. Our old mat that used to cover the entire space in front of the side door when it entered into the kitchen is smaller than the footprint between the two cubby units! That mat used to seem so big, but it's dwarfed by the new six foot long mat. 

This area is quickly becoming my favorite spot in the house. There's a place for everything and it's totally out of sight. I love not having anything but place mats on the dining room table - even Feeney's puppy dog tail hook has a new home that's not our dining room anymore. The only thing that will make it better is having the powder room so I can take a quick peek in the mirror before heading out or wash my hands quickly after walking the dog, but that will get finished eventually. And it will be like Christmas all over again.

What elements would you have in your dream mud room? 

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