I first learned about mudrooms in 2003 when I read Sarah Susanka's book, The Not So Big House. Even in a small, efficient house I remember her singing the praises of a well-organized mudroom. I've wanted one ever since, but also had lots of other wishes on my house wish list when we bought our current home, and a mudroom wasn't my top priority. Plus, any houses that had mudrooms already in them were way out of my price range. When we moved into this house four years ago, I knew I'd want to re-organize the entry closet to serve as a mudroom on a miniature scale. At least it could be an organized catchall for bags, coats, shoes, hats and gloves. So, why did I finally do it? Well, I was inspired by this blog entry and by my in-laws coming to town. They're handy -- both with home improvement projects and with watching the kids. Scott told me to think of a job for them, so I figured it was time to work on the closet. I pulled out a pad of graph paper (I have a few of them stashed around the house for when I need a quick place to put inspiration to paper) and started drawing.
This habit of sketching out my life on graph paper is something I learned (or maybe inherited?) from my mother. We used to cut out paper representations of furniture to scale, sketch my bedroom on graph paper, and then move the furniture around on paper before moving it around in my room. I'll never forget her excitement when she found a professional-style graph board that came with furniture in typical shapes and sizes to move around on the graph board. So, I guess what I'm saying is that I come by my graph paper obsession honestly. Unfortunately my math skills and my creativity don't often match up. Here are the plans I made for my miniature mudroom/entry closet:
Here's a photo of the closet before (although I'd already started emptying stuff from the top shelf before I thought to take a photo):
And our closet now:
I really wanted the inside to be the color of a ripe tomato but ended up with a closet the color of an almost ripe tomato or a ripe chili pepper. Fitting, I guess, since the name of the paint was chili pepper. There was no tomato-colored paint. The closest was called grenadine and, although it was only one number over on the color spectrum from chili pepper, it was too pink for me. I don't do pink if I can help it. Normally when I can't find the color I want, I mix my own paint and have the paint guy match it. But, really...this is a closet. Not worth that much effort, right?
The new closet makes much better use of space than the old one. The kids can now reach their jackets and put their shoes away in their sliding baskets. They've each got a cubby, which I'm thinking will be used for hats, gloves, scarves and other cold weather gear, but for now it's got their ballet backpacks. The cubby shelves are angled so that they come all the way to the front of the closet, making the best use of every last inch of space. The girls and I have our shoes tossed in the baskets, which works well for us. Scott's shoes are enormous, so he keeps his in our bedroom closet but was thrilled to find out he was allotted a basket to do with whatever he desired. So, his is filled with his running gear (lumbar water pack, ipod, and of course his Cleveland Sucks button pinned to the front of the basket).
Putting this closet together was a bit more labor intensive and precise than other closets we've done. We used stock Home Depot organizers on the girls' closets but I knew that I wouldn't be able to customize a stock organizer as much as I wanted to for this closet. So, we bought two sheets of MDF (only needed one, but after the inevitable screw up we were back at the Depot buying another), four lengths of 1x2, four Closetmaid sliding baskets, a metal closet rod, and a gallon of paint. I think the final cost was around $200 for the whole project...and worth every dime.