Utilitarian spaces like laundry rooms and mudrooms rarely receive the attention they deserve, which is unfortunate when you consider how often they’re used. A thoughtfully planned utility room can be a complete housekeeping area that simplifies your household tasks.
We’ve created several multipurpose spaces for our clients, serving a variety of needs. My favorites include a mudroom that doubles as a grooming center for the family pets and a storage room for kids’ sports gear. We have seen overhead racks in a laundry room used for drying flowers as well as clothes, and even a sink turned into a gardening center.
Leverage the Space
A mudroom is the ideal storage space for shoes, lunch bags, sports equipment, and pet essentials such as food dishes, leashes, blankets and toys. You don’t even need an entire room to reap a mudroom’s benefits. We’ve been successful in taking a narrow hall, a partial wall and even space carved out from between wall studs to maximize space and efficiency.
Instead of letting a mudroom become cluttered, take advantage of its potential. Counters, tables and benches can be storage pieces that collect and organize both day-to-day and seasonal items. I love the look of a built-in cabinet that resembles a set of lockers, allowing each family member to have his or her own space. Other essentials for the room might include an umbrella stand, boot tray, baskets, and a chalk or message board—all easy ways to organize personal items.
Here’s an example of how to make a mudroom look clean and fresh.
On a Budget
I’m often asked about cost-saving ideas. Luckily, many cost-effective storage solutions are tailored for utility spaces. You’ll find a wealth of inexpensive storage ideas, such as wall-mounted racks for boots, shelving for hats and hooks for sports gear at home centers and container stores. Our design team loves to repurpose unexpected elements to add interest to the space while still remaining within budget.
Picking the Appliances
The first and most important products you’ll decide on to fill your laundry space are sure to be your washer and dryer. Most likely, that will include choosing from an array of machines in bright colors and different sizes; I love the red versions.
Consider space-saving stackable versions or front-loading types that are easy on the back, and allow for storage below in washer-dryer pedestals, or above on countertops and in cabinets.
A full-size laundry room offers more options than just washing, drying and folding laundry. If there’s space for more than appliances and a sink, add a table or table-height shelf for folding laundry, wrapping gifts or potting plants. Add shelves and cabinets to store supplies, or run a countertop over front-loading washers and dryers—this is one of our most successful design details for families. A drying rack over the sink that folds up against the wall makes it easy to hang clothing right after you pull it out of the washing machine.
Red appliances can add a pop of color to your laundry room.
Paint the Walls
If there’s room, add a rack for hanging clothes and even an ironing board. You may spend a lot of time in this area, so make sure it’s attractive. Paint the room a vibrant color—green or blue is always a hit—that draws you in or a soothing color that calms. Wall sayings or murals are a fun way to add interest to this high-traffic space.
Laundry rooms are more functional if they’re organized. Use clear jars for clothespins, sewing items and detergent. Choose containers of various heights to add interest. A great, inexpensive design idea is to hang black-and-white photos with clothespins. Place the photos around the room as a border or on one wall for a gallery look; crisp black-and-whites create a classic backdrop when paired with colored walls.
Play Up the Cleanup
A little musical distraction always helps when I tackle chores—it truly complements the utilitarian activity of the laundry room and mudroom. Create a playlist of tunes to help make your chores less of a chore.
What steps have you taken to elevate the lowly mudroom and laundry room into more attractive spaces?
Kerrie Kelly is an award-winning interior designer who writes about home decor for Home Depot. The author of the book “Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide,” Kelly provides advice and guidance to homeowners on room design and appliances, including laundry rooms, washers and dryers. To view Home Depot’s complete selection of washers and dryers, click here.
Photos courtesy of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab and GE Appliances