For those of us tired of tripping over muddy boots, dog leashes and jackets cast aside at the back door, a mudroom can provide a convenient area for corralling all the accessories of a busy family.
In fact, whether it's new construction or remodeling an existing structure, many families are making room for this handy catch-all space.
"Most of our room additions are the family room, kitchen and the mudroom. It's a key ingredient in that whole triangle," said Rob Hundley, a partner at Back Construction, a Lexington company that specializes in home remodeling. "It gets integrated into quite a few of our additions and remodels."
Think of your lifestyle, said Hundley, and your daily needs. Maybe a utility sink for rinsing off muddy boots or a floor drain for cleaning muddy dog paws. He said some frequently requested design elements include "built-in cubbies for the kids and even chargers for iPhones and iPads. Having a seat to sit down and put your shoes on."
There are plenty of do-it-yourself options out there. Depending on your budget and needs, this area can be as simple as a Shaker-style pegboard for hanging coats and hats or built-in cabinets for storing items.
Wire baskets can hold sweaty or rain-soaked hats, and coats and bins can be labeled with names for easy access on the way out the door. Containers can be anything from galvanized pails to woven baskets.
Home improvement stores including Lowe's and Home Depot offer versatile shelving that is freestanding or attaches to a wall. Options include drawers, cabinets and hooks.
Lowe's, which offers tips on its website, Lowes.com, and in stores suggests carving out a spot in the garage for your mudroom or combining it with a laundry room. Add a non-slip bristle rug for wiping off shoes, and install shelves or hooks to keep items off the floor.
But before the first sliding metal bin has been hung or the boot trays and benches arranged, Hundley suggests a little planning. List your needs and keep in mind a budget when visualizing your finished room.
"I would say that the best thing they can do is to start gathering ideas," he said, either by clipping pages from a magazine or newspaper or going online for inspiration, "Look at websites and gather ideas and develop them for what you want."