Simple steps to corral the mudroom mess

Ann McArthur

A mudroom is a great place to collect dirty shoes, boots, coats and more. But it can easily be overwhelmed by a family’s “stuff.” Take these simple steps to ensure that your multifunctional dumping ground remains a clutter-free zone.

Designate

Find a place for everything from boots to bills and there will be less clutter in the house and in the mudroom.

"Organization is all about efficiency and less about color coding," says Monica Friel of Chicago, a professional organizer and founder of Chaos to Order. "It's vital to life to give everything a home and keep it there."

Friel, who recently gave her mudroom a makeover, says keeping frequently used items within reach will allow your entryway to stay organized. And before tackling an entryway overhaul, it's best to decide what functions you expect out of the room, then plan the space with that focus in mind.

Get hooked

Using hooks and pegs will not only keep clothes off the floor, they’re also a great way to keep track of keys and pet leashes. And nearby boards can help with important papers that often get lost in a chaotic entryway.

Friel suggests installing a hook for each person in the household, and tailoring it to his or her height.

"Again, organization starts with efficiency," Friel says. "If the kids have their own hook, the jackets have a good chance of staying off the floor."

Hooks also make a great home for umbrellas, backpacks and grocery totes. Even if your mudroom takes up a sliver of space, hooks and organizers can be hung behind doors, on the wall and under stairs.

A mudroom is also an ideal place to hang corkboard or a simple white board (with magnets and markers) to keep track of important papers, tickets or the family’s schedule.

Mat it

One of the only ways to ensure that mud stays in the mudroom is to have a specific place to contain it, such as a mat.

If family members know there’s a designated spot to keep shoes, they will be more likely to kick them off and leave them there, Friel says, especially if there are house slippers or socks nearby to change into.

A shoe rack, a boot tray or cubbies also make good homes. Choose a rubber-grooved or metallic walk-off mat that can rid shoes of mud, snow and water even in the worst weather.

Stay current

If your mudroom looks like your closet, you've got some paring down to do.

"Try to keep all the items in your mudroom appropriate to the season, and rotate them as needed," Friel says.

If it's summer, you don't want your puffy ski jacket taking up all the space in your entryway. Keep all the items that you don't use regularly in a bedroom closet or other storage area, including that fancy scarf that you only wear to dinner on occasion.

Be a basket case

Don't be ashamed to hide clutter inside pretty baskets that fit neatly in cubbyholes or locker-style cabinets. Friel says there are endless options here, as storage can mean anything from clear plastic bins to a simple sweater box.

Whether you’re depositing gloves and hats, sports equipment or mail, it's easy to simplify life for an active family by sorting the clutter into bins. Separate them by child or hobby, Friel says, and add an extra basket or box to toss junk mail.

If possible, use the ultimate functional piece of furniture in your entryway: a bench. Benches can be used for storage and provide a place to sit to take boots on and off.