Active Home: The Dirt On Mudrooms

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Active Home: The Dirt On Mudrooms

Along with the laundry room, the mudroom is the swiss army knife of the home. -Jane Lockhart

It’s time that we came up with a better word for this hardworking space. Although its basic function is to receive all the grungy outdoor elements before they’re tracked into the rest of the house, the mudroom is now so much more.

Dating back to the early pioneers who worked this land, there was usually a space to shed muddy outdoor clothing before entering the main part of the house. Over time, many farm houses added laundry facilities to this area. By the 1950s, post-war culture ushered in a new lifestyle in the suburbs, which was set apart from the work-centred city core.


Suburban communities were touted as the best place to raise a family. Homes were being built on larger lots, but because one now had to drive to access shops and services, driveways, carports and garages were incorporated into the new house plans.

Entry through the front door was, typically, saved for visitors. For everyday use, family members were relegated to the back or side doors. Often it was just a small landing with stairs leading to the basement, or a foothold before entering the kitchen. It was here that shoes, boots and clothing were dropped. This transition space became the catchall, and couldn’t accommodate the piles of stuff waiting to be put away or moved to the laundry room, which was in the basement.


As it turned out, farmers had the right idea. The practicality of having a pre-entrance space to cast off soiled clothing and footwear made a lot of sense. The washing machine was moved to this area and, what was a shed-like structure tacked onto the house, became a part of the house. When this was done, insulation and plumbing were also required.

As house designs evolved, family rooms and eat-in kitchens were the norm, and the formal living and dining rooms were seldom used. I had a client who converted their formal living space into a laundry/ mudroom combo. When you think about it, the living room takes up prime real estate. If it’s not being used, it’s a waste of space. My clients decided to re-prioritize. They created a large, open-concept family room, dining room and kitchen. A highstyle approach was taken with the back door entry to include a functional, well-designed mudroom and laundry room.


We’re now looking at the mudroom as an opportunity to come up with clever, customized and organized solutions. Along with the laundry room, the mudroom is the Swiss Army knife of the home – with all the tools and accessories to create a systematic way of dealing with all the stuff that we accumulate.

Custom cabinets, doors, drawers and cubbies look like built-in furnishings. Tiled floors can be heated for tender tootsies, and cushioned window seats make for a comfortable reprieve when donning, or removing, outdoor gear.

This once-mundane space is now being given high priority with new home designs. With our busy lives, it makes sense to have a nice place to land when we arrive home. As I said in the beginning, the word ‘mudroom’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. As for a new name, I’m still working on it.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. Jane Lockhart Interior Design


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