I started talking the other day about ways to transition from wintertime living rooms/family rooms to springtime ones. Today I’m taking a sweep at the Mud Room. Yes, the room has mud in its name and its function is to try to trap the dirt and grime before the mess enters the house. However, if your mud room is anything like mine, trapping dirt is just the beginning of the room’s job.
In our mudroom, we also have the washer/dryer, and a utility bathroom people are supposed to use to strip and shower when the filth is too much for the guest or master bathrooms. Clothes go right into the washer this way–at least on principle. But that only happens if everyone does his or her part. Too often, there are piles of everything all around. And the lovely cabinets and counter top I had the builder install so I had room to store clothes that needed to be put away, and fold things neatly on the Formica… Well, I let Life happen for a while and then everyone gets pulled in for another reminder that Mudroom does not equate with Catchall.
But winter and spring are particularly bad times for mud rooms, and there are a number of ways to help stem the tide of whatever rolls into your doors. Spring Cleaning is just one time of annual cleaning for this room. If you’re like me, you won’t expect perfection out of family members, but you won’t accept sheer laziness on their parts, either.
1. Like the front door waste basket I mentioned in the living room post, a waste basket tucked into a corner of the mud room saves many a mess. From dryer lint, to junk stuffed in jean pockets because a trash can wasn’t nearby, it’s just easier to get family members to actually throw trash away (instead of stacking it on the counter top or dryer) if there’s ready access to a waste basket that stays permanently in the room. A big plastic hook on the wall by the light switch tend to keep my husband’s keys from wandering off. I also keep a basket on the nearby counter top for hubby to toss his wallet into; another thing he would lose too easily otherwise.
2. If you have room in your mud area, and this is the more favored way to always exit your house, a set of sorting baskets can hold items handy when heading out the door–such as mail to post, videos, and library books–so nothing is forgotten. Large and small bins by the doorway are also great for holding shoes or seasonal items like caps and gloves. While winter accessories like gloves and hats are heavier weight and take up more space than spring caps and gardening gloves, it’s easy to recycle the same bins for whatever season the calendar says. If you don’t have bins available, and don’t want to buy new, look for heavy duty cardboard boxes and cover with wallpaper or contact paper to match the room, or discarded wooden crates you can paint, then stack or line them up near the door. When a few are kept at a low level, even small children can reach their own items and increase their independence.
3. Hooks serve many functions in a mudroom. Besides my hubby’s hook for his keys, we use hooks by the doorway for dog leashes, umbrellas, and whatever seasonal jackets we wear the most. Use lower hanging stick-on hooks, too, so little ones can hang their own things, and the hooks can be moved up as kids grow.
4. If you prefer eye hooks for keys, screw the eye hooks into a board or picture frame for easy access by a door. This also provides a space on the wood for labeling which key goes on what hook. You can hang small bins this way, too, if you don’t have cabinets in there.
5. If you don’t have a counter top in your mudroom, but you have some room, fit a table–even a small one–into the space. This not only helps in getting laundry folded and sorted, and stacked so others can help mom put it all away, but it also gives a designated space underneath for laundry baskets and hampers and storage bags. Too often, if we don’t “have a place” for something, that something ends up staying in the middle of the floor.
Create an organizing method that works for you, and stick with it for a few weeks. Soon it will be second nature for you, and everyone else will see the beauty of its efficiency. When the weather finally settles into spring temps, make it a family activity to switch out winter clothes for spring, spring for summer, etc., laundering the heavier gear and storing it away until next year. Just a change out like that can make a space look new, as the lighter fabrics and less bulky jackets send out that quiet message that better weather is here!