January 9, 2013

Next Project: Mudroom

Sometimes the success of one project (such as finally replacing a shade in a bathroom) can lead to another successful project, such as tackling a this-is-not-working mudroom.

Here's the mudroom Before:


There are hooks along the left wall, and stackable-cube-unit shelves/drawers/cubbies along the right. The door to outside is directly to the right. (The blue splotch at lower right is a bag of reusable bags hanging on the doorknob.)

This plan was good in theory: each child has a hook, and then the cubbies are used for things that don't hang on hooks (boots, bike helmets, etc.) and for things someone might need to rummage for (there's a drawer of hats, a drawer of gloves, a pile of spare lunch boxes, etc.).

The problem with this set-up was that it made the mudroom too narrow to comfortably walk in---and then there's stuff on the floor too because the children are slobs who don't listen, and that makes things even worse. And the cubbies went too close to the door, so it was awkward to go in and out. And people kept putting stuff on top of the cubbies, because that area was right there when people had their hands full. And the cubbies were mostly near the floor, which in a narrow area makes them really hard to get to. And yay, it's the first thing people see when they come into the house, so that's pleasant.

The first step was to take everything out:


I left the stuff on the hooks, because I wasn't planning to do anything with those; and I left the stuff on the windowsill, because that wasn't the day's project.

This took a million years, and revealed spiders. It also made this mess in the dining room:


I sorted things into piles as I went: a pile of boots, a pile of lunch boxes, a pile of umbrellas, etc. I also wiped down the cubby things.

I got rid of some stuff: bike helmets and sandals that didn't fit anyone anymore, a couple of semi-broken umbrellas, miscellaneous trash that had fallen behind the cubbies. I didn't try to go through the hats and gloves in the drawers, because ONE THING AT A TIME.

I relocated some stuff: bin of sandals to a downstairs closet, EXTRA extra lunch boxes to another closet, gardening/potting stuff with the rest of the gardening/potting stuff, winter boots to a couple of boot trays I'd bought recently and hadn't made anyone use yet, lightweight jackets to hangers in the coat closet.

Then I put some of the cube units back in. But I put them on the far wall instead of on the side wall, and I built them higher (three cubes high instead of two cubes high) so we wouldn't have to stoop as much to rummage in the drawers.


One downside is that now we see the contents of the cubbies head-on. That will be even more of a problem in several microseconds, when they get all jumbled/crammed instead of being tidy. But there it is: it wasn't working to have them sideways-so-we-can't-see-the-contents, because as it turned out, that meant we couldn't see the contents.

Another downside is that it's fewer cubbies. But quite a few cubbies were being used for things we didn't really need in the mudroom. Yes, it is good to have spare lunch boxes where we can find them quickly when we realize 10 minutes before the bus comes that one has been left at school, but do we need SIX spare lunch boxes within easy reach? No, we do not. Yes, it is handy to have all the sandals in one bin, but do we need them stored in the mudroom year-'round? No, we do not.

The next step will be to put more hooks on the right-hand wall. For one thing, having the cubbies at the end (even with them shoved to the right instead of centered) means that Henry's hook area is squashed. For another thing, we need more hooks: each child's hook situation has not been sufficient for each child's hook-related possessions. It would also be nice to have a hook for my own coat and purse, and another for Paul's coat, and another hook or two for guests.

31 comments:

leafyNell said...

Ooooo - nice! And now you get to pick out hooks which seems like it might be fun! Crazy animal heads or old fashioned glass knobs ... I'm hoping for a Milk-and-cookies roundup.

Sarah said...

That looks fantastic! Well done.

I have an idea that might help with the lunchbox situation. Instead of having six extra lunch boxes (which must be a space hog) wouldn't it be as effective to use a plastic grocery bag instead? It's not pretty, but it might provide some extra incentive to get those lunch boxes back home at the end of the day and it would accomplish the task of transporting lunch using something that wouldn't take up space in your mudroom (or anywhere else in the house). But then, I'm a bit of a minimalist. Clutter wears me out.

Beylit said...

The space looks more useable now. I have to admit I have never heard of a mud room before, but now I sort of wish I had something like it in my house.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

This post is so inspiring to me! It kinda makes me want to clean up/out our mudroom (aka The Black Hole.) It kinda makes me want to see about moving around some cubbies.

But more than anything, it makes me want you to be my organization guru. I get so overwhelmed by the folks with NO! STUFF! AT! ALL!

Still Playing School said...

I love posts like this! It de-stresses me as I am sitting here, holding a newborn who won't let me set him down, as the clutter builds up around us and closes in!

Lisa said...

You have plenty of room to go up, too. You could mount a couple of cabinets (cheap at Home Depot or a railroad salvage place) above the cubbies (or narrow ones above the hooks) to store things that need to be in the mudroom but are seasonal. Like in the winter, put your summery stuff there and in the summer, put your hats/gloves/scarves in there.

(Sorry if this is assvice, but I'm totally OCD and organize everyone's houses in my head! :) )

Cherie Beyond said...

Ha! When I looked at the Before picture my immediate thought was: she needs to move those cubbies to the end. Looks great!

Lisa's suggestion of going up is marvelous, and I might also humbly suggest a boot mat if there's room. I find that there is no way to keep boots looking neat in cubbies, but it is relatively easy to line them up on a mat.

Also, maybe a little umbrella bucket in the niche next to the cubbies?

Oh my god, I'm sorry. I keep making more work. Never mind. Well done, Swistle!

el-e-e said...

Ooh, good job! My mudroom is one of those projects that seems low-priority so I never do it. But it isn't really that low -- it's a pretty highly mission-critical room. (Duh.)

Maggie said...

Lovely! I am envious that you have a mudroom even if it gets cluttered. All of that crap in my house lives in the garage, the front hall, and, well all over the place. Sigh.

I also appreciate that you had a feline supervisor during the process. Our cats supervise all organizational efforts in my house as well.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

"No flat surfaces." That was my dad's mantra when we were growing up. If you have a flat surface -- the top of the cubbies, a shelf, whatever -- then people will put things on it! and never move them! so the fewer flat surfaces, the less the mess.

Unfortunately for my kids right now THE WHOLE FLOOR is a flat surface. I need to tilt my house 45 degrees.

Swistle said...

Maggie- TWO feline supervisors! (The other one is harder to see: I didn't even notice him at first.)

I'm envious of your garage! I'm so tired of scraping snow and ice off of cars!

Susie said...

Swistle! You have beautiful floors. I am drowning in envy. Also, your new improved mudroom looks nice and functional and blah blah blah LOOK AT THE FLOORS.

Amelia said...

I would put a shelf on the back wall, too - above the cubbies. For pretty things, not for useful things. Like, a nice painting set on the shelf and leaned against the wall, a small plant, etc. Because, as I am always telling my husband (in a house full of boys): prettiness matters! Functionality, good; prettiness, mom-pleasing.

Swistle said...

Susie! That flooring was nearly the death of me to choose (here's here's a post where I was narrowing it down---we got the Italian Walnut) (here's a post that shows right after we installed it), but I love it so much and it was SO CHEAP! I'm sad we only have it in the dining room and mudroom.

Leah said...

Gorgeous! I'm still reaping the benefits of last year's idea - 5 family members in a Chicago winter mean 10 mittens, 5 scarves, 5 hats, assorted extras, etc. So I ended up putting up one of these in our front closet http://www.amazon.com/Organize-It-All-Colours-53124/dp/B00313JQF8/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid1357754602&sr=1-1&keywords=sweater+bag+hanging and assigned a shelf per person. The zippers keep stuff from falling out onto the floor like with cubbies. Just in case that helps you at all, though I'm not sure it would given your lack of a bar-style hangupper. But if you do have one, that has worked wonderfuly for us.

Lawyerish said...

I am finding these project posts extremely satisfying. I suspect this is because I did not have to do anything but read about them and ooh and ahh over the final product!

Teej said...

ahaha. I love the hidden feline supervisor. Kittehs!

Liz Botts said...

It looks much better. I'm sure that was a satisfying experience. I'm doing that with my laundry room right now. And who knows maybe seeing the cubbies head on will be an incentive to keep them tidier. :)

brzeski said...

Well DONE. May I make a suggestion for the hooks? I put up two rows in our hook area - one at about 3' off the ground and one directly above it at about 6'. They work AWESOME because the kids can hang their own coats, and I doubled the number of hooks in the same area. And since more than half the people in our house are less than 4 feet tall, it's more hooks in the most needed zone. You can also get multi-level over-the-door hooks, too, but they kind of bounce around - if you can get someone to help you install more permanent hooks (I'M LOOKING AT YOU GRANDPA SWISTLE) it would be so nice.

Mrs. Irritation said...

Impressive! If only it stayed that way for more than a day.

Christina said...

You're so in my head with the little things like.. not tackling the windowsill and not going through the mittens. that's the stuff that scares me off and why I get hung up avoiding. You're so REAL about it. Not like a perfect pinterest picture of unattainable. Yours is honest and takes into account the anxieties and stresses. Love it.
Also- funny to see the cat pounce and be all "hey what's going on" and climb all in the stuff in the living room. Mine does the same.

Gigi said...

For years I pined for a mud room - I finally got one when we built this house and I loved it. Until we moved in and then those other people (otherwise known as "slobs") began to use it. Now that one of the slobs is off to college, I'm in love with it again (because it's fairly clutter-free).

Good job - I love your end product. Of course, you realize that your productivity is making me realize that I need to get off MY butt and do a few things around here!

HereWeGoAJen said...

I have about a million hooks in my laundry room (which is our mud room) and I loooove them. So helpful.

Alexicographer said...

I am contemplating a pretty major remodel to our home and if I ever get to implement it (and haven't changed it by then) it will involve a mudroom BUT I am afraid the mudroom in question is too small. How big is your mudroom?

ps I love it!

Swistle said...

Alexicographer- It's about 43 inches across, and about 93 inches deep.

d e v a n said...

It looks nice! I imagine it's hard to make a space that shape useable. Good job. :)

Heather R said...

Love it!! I have been having similar mud room issues myself. We are putting our house on the market in a few months, and the mudroom is the one area of the house I just can't seem to figure out. I like the cubby/drawer idea. Right now I have two walls of hooks. One of the walls has a long shelf with the hooks underneath. Then I placed canvas bins on top of that shelf for hats and mittens. But the kids can't reach. They also can't reach their hooks (they are 3 and 5). I will be solving that dilemma in the next house. We have a standard shoe rack on the floor with three levels and then a rubber mat thingy for recently worn/wet shoes. There is also a bench and a nice looking/covered recycling bin. All in all, it's a bit cluttered for my liking, but I am not sure how to get rid of anything. Where did you get your cubbies? I am about to go read previous comments, so if you already answered I will find it:)

Swistle said...

Heather R.- I got the cubbies at Target. They had I think three different varieties: a cube with a shelf (the cheapest, I think), a cube with drawers (the most expensive, I think), and a cube with a shelf and a door (in between the other two, price-wise, I think).

Monique said...

It looks so great! I am currently involved in clearing out our dining room that had become hoarder level stacked (seriously) due to my sleep apnea after the baby was born. I am loving the way it looks as I clear it out. One baby step at a time. Yay! Floors! Yay! A table top!

I don't know if this will work for you, but you could do curtains over the cubbies to hide the jumbled shoes. Looks like you could use the spring mounted kind of curtain rod at the top of the upper open cubbies, then buy pretty patterned or plain material. Using the heat bond hemming tape will take all sewing out of the equation. I did this when we had open shelving next to the door for shoes. It stayed open almost all the time, but if someone was coming over or I was tired of looking at it, I could just twitch the curtain closed and done!

CARRIE said...

I think it is sad that organizing posts like this are to me what porn is to a lot of sex addicts. Looks good!

Surely said...

I keep coming back to the "because that wasn't the days project"

I need that tattooed somewhere where I'll see it every day.