Today I’m sharing how we setup a functional mudroom in a small space – a tiny alcove off our garage door entrance.
Welcome to Week 3 of the 10 Week Organizing Challenge! This week we are tackling the mudroom and laundry room.
Both the mudroom and laundry area are two very well-used but small areas in our home: our tiny mudroom / entry space as well as our laundry area.
Unless you have a huge, modern, new dream home then it is quite likely that you don’t have a large space dedicated to a mudroom or entry. You are likely working with a small, or even tiny, area that you can dedicate to shoe/coat/accessory storage as well as to moving yourself in and out of the house on a daily basis. Setting up your family entrance area so that is functions well and is organized and an efficient use of space is a great way to simplify your life. Today I’m sharing how we did just that…
We moved from our previous (subdivision style) home with a small mudroom/laundry room combo (see the organizational makeover here) to a 70’s style house with a minuscule front entry. We also removed the coat closet that was located at the top of our stairs as part of the bathroom renovation (see that here), which left us with just a small area by our back/garage door entrance to dedicate to shoe and coat storage.
You can see this part of our home (prior to this organizational makeover) in these pics below…
BEFORE / THE PROBLEMS…
We come in through an exterior door from the garage straight into a long hallway with a tiny alcove that we have turned into our “mud room” space. Please excuse these poor quality pictures – it is a really dark space and I took these quickly with my phone before I started ripping into tackling this project!
If you come in our front entry and look down the half set of stairs, you can see a small landing ahead…
You walk down the stairs and through that small landing (which has a door to my office on the one side and a door to the kid’s rec room on the other side), and straight ahead there is a three piece bathroom. You turn right and see the door that leads to the garage.
This is the door that we enter through as a family. There is a small alcove to the left of the door in the picture below that we turned into a mudroom space…
When we first moved in there wasn’t anything in this space and I said “what a perfect space for a mudroom!”. But once we got in here we realized that it is actually a pretty tight squeeze, especially once we added the coat cabinet and our shoe shelves.
We also hung coat hooks running along the one side of the wall, which is necessary since we only have a small 30″ cabinet to store coats, as you can see below…
We purchased the coat cabinet when we moved in, as well as the small bench. We had the two shoe racks from our previous house (they used to live in our garage as we didn’t have room for any shoe storage inside the house in our old home).
This had been rearranged a few times, and was never functional no matter what I tried. The shoe cabinets just weren’t cutting it (we didn’t have enough storage) and it always felt really tight and awkward in this area (especially when 3 or 4 of us were trying to get out the door at the same time!).
I had previously brought my extra bags and purses down from my bedroom so that I would have easier access to them when I am getting ready to head out the door, but they were just stacked on top of the shelf (that we had added). We were constantly using the top of the shoe cabinet and bench to drop things and it was constantly a cluttered mess in this already tiny space!
The shoes were always a disaster as we didn’t have enough space to accommodate them properly in the two shoe cabinets. And the bins and storage inside the bench and coat cupboard were both cluttered and disorganized.
So much disorganization! It was painful to get ready and try and get out the door and also painful to walk in to this cluttered mess.
Time to Get Organized!
What do you need? What can you get rid of? If you don’t ever wear or use it, don’t like it, or it’s torn or ruined then toss or donate it.
The first thing that I did was go through all of the coats, shoes, and accessories (winter gear, hats, gloves etc.) and sort it into three piles: keep, donate, or toss. We had coats and shoes that were too small as well as gloves and purses that were never used and could be donated so they went into a bag and I dropped them the next day at a thrift store. We also had old shoes that were torn and ruined so those went into the garbage. This left me with a more reasonable amount of stuff to organize.
Determine Your Storage Needs and Purchase as Needed
What pieces do you have that you can use for storage and that are functional and working for you? If you have pieces that are not working, repurpose them elsewhere or sell or donate them. Then choose new pieces (if needed) that will work better for you. Make a list of all the things you need to storage and figure out what pieces might work best for those needs. Shop online or in local big box stores to keep things affordable.
Having lived with the current arrangement of storage pieces for the past year, I knew that some of the pieces weren’t really working. We had dragged our shoe cabinets from our previous garage, and they were broken and difficult to move as they kept falling apart. My husband fixed the tall cabinet, but one of the shorter ones was completely broken, so we took it to the dump. The second shorter shelf was better suited to storage in the garage. This gave me the space to purchase a different type of unit for storing all of the boys and most of my shoes on. I purchased a shelf just like this one…
Although the new piece looks less sturdy, it was actually more functional because (1) it stores 50 pairs of shoes which is a lot more than the other two cabinets held; (2) it is more open and much narrower so it does encroach onto the tiny opening as much which gives us more room to be in this space together putting on our shoes and coats etc.
I also added a small hanging storage shelf (that you can see tucked on the wall to the left of the shoe shelf) which we use for things like umbrellas, the dog’s leash, and the hat/scarf I wear on a nearly daily basis in the winter. This piece was repurposed from the command centre in our old house. In the corner on the floor you can see a basket that we use for our re-useable shopping bags.
Sort Smaller Items and Store in Bins or Baskets
Sort and group your smaller items and store them in labeled bins or baskets.
We had a ton of random stuff to deal with! I took everything out, sorted it into piles, and then sorted it all back into like-category baskets. I also created labels for them so we actually know where to look for things!
I purchased two large rope bins to use on the shelf that hold all of my totes, purses, and bags. These live on the white wall shelf above our new shoe shelf.
Use Your Wall Space for Quick-Access Storage
Hang hooks for things you access everyday like backpacks, everyday coats, and keys.
We hung a small shelf with hooks to keep our keys on, and then I assigned everyone a couple of hooks along the wall so we all know where to hang the coat(s) that we where the most frequently.
Put Everything in it’s Place
Once you’ve got everything purged, you’ve picked your storage pieces (and assembled them as needed), and you’ve got your smaller items sorted and organized it’s time to put it all back together.
I actually decided to give our hallway a decorative freshening up at the same time as we hadn’t gotten downstairs to do any painting yet. The entire landing, hallway, mudroom alcove, and laundry alcove got three coats of white paint and we even added a fun wallpaper wall. I am not a fan of the slate-look tile but we are pretty sure that it is applied directly to the concrete, so instead of changing it all out for now we’ve decided to distract from it with some pretty area rugs and runners. I’ll be sharing more about this mini-makeover soon!
Keep On It
Just because you’ve developed a good organization system with places for everything doesn’t mean that it will stay that way without effort. Shoes don’t jump up onto shelves on their own. Coats don’t make it back into the closet without a human assistant. Random items don’t make it back to where they need to go without help. Keeping up with it takes daily effort, but having the space organized and clutter free is more than enough payback for the bit of time it takes.
I have to go in about once a week and put away coats that we aren’t using as much so that the hooks don’t become overcrowded. I also make sure to pick up the shoes, or get the boys to pick up the shoes, pretty much daily as a “couple” of us aren’t great about putting them on the shelf every time we come in.
Well, what do you think? Do you have a small space in your home that you can dedicate to creating a mini-mudroom? It’s honestly surprising how much these kinds of organization projects can contribute to your daily calm and happiness – it is so much easier to get out the door on busy mornings with everything we need in it’s place.
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I also shared my Mudroom and Laundry Room organization tips the first time I tackled the 10 Week Organizing Challenge in our previous house…
Check out my other posts in the 10 Week Organizing Challenge Series 2.0!
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