Mudroom organizing tips for the active sports family

As a parent with children involved in sports, you understand how athletic gear can clutter the home. Often dropped at the door, dirty shoes, muddy balls and other messy sports equipment can create an eyesore at the entrance.

The solution: the modern mudroom.

Once just a closet-sized space next to a side door, the mudroom has evolved into a large space that serves as central command for the active family.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, homeowners have placed increased priority on mudrooms. A 2012 survey conducted by NAHB and Better Homes and Gardens about home-buying trends and preferences, found that interest in mudrooms had risen 32 percent.

No longer simply small spaces with hooks for coats and umbrellas, or laundry rooms with a hamper, mudrooms are now larger than many bedrooms and get far more use than formal living rooms.

Cory Connor, a New Jersey-based interior designer, said more of her clients are asking for mudroom remodels. Her favorite mudroom is the one she created for her own busy family.

She has an 11-year-old daughter who plays field hockey and lacrosse and an eight-year-old son who plays baseball and ice hockey.  Throw in two fitness-conscious adults with their own gear, plus four-seasons worth of outerwear and you need more than a mere coat closet.

Mudroom Organizing Tips

That’s why Connor came up with the idea for the ultimate mudroom, complete with laundry room, pantry, built-in desk, sorting and storage areas and hidden lockers.

Before designing the mudroom, the family’s front entrance served as the dumping ground for schoolwork, mail, shoes, toys, coats and all. “It was a mess,” Connor said. “Everything used to pile up next to the front door.”

Meanwhile, their garage served for storage for everything but their cars. “The house was built in the 1930s so it came with a garage too small for the cars,” Connor said.

So they decided to incorporate a portion of the garage into the house to create a super-sized mudroom. The space is located just off the kitchen and the garage entrance.

Connor suggests locating a mudroom next to the entrance the family uses most. “If you park in a garage, the garage door entrance is perfect,” she said. “It makes no sense to locate a mudroom away from an entrance. It won’t get used and things will continue to pile up in other places.”

Because her mudroom is located near the kitchen and includes a laundry room, she stores, laundry supplies and seldom used dishes there too.

There is vertical storage for lacrosse and hockey sticks. Shelving houses, hats, shoes and gloves. There are bins for balls and hockey pucks.

Just off the storage area is a desk where they sort mail. It has a charging station for the family’s many electronic devices.

What appear to be solid walls with hooks for coats, are actually retractable doors that conceal hidden lockers for more gear.

Of course not everyone has the space or budget to create a designer mudroom. In that case, Connor recommends using furnishings in an area near the door. “I like to use console tables with space underneath,” she said. “You can add storage bins too.”

No matter how large, or small your mudroom, Richard Walsh, a Massachusetts-based realtor who blogs for the National Association of Realtors, suggests incorporating two key elements: proper flooring and seating.

Walsh recommends flooring that is water resistant and provides traction. Avoid tile and vinyl. While those materials allow for easy clean up, they are also slippery when wet. Walsh suggests textured rubber or unpolished concrete. He also recommends including a sitting area. Benches with storage are ideal.

The key is to create a space to corral the chaos. Even if it’s just a row of buckets and bins, assign homes for like items. Then, time and energy wasted on sorting and searching can be used for playing sports.

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett Follow

The bumper sticker on her car says it best: I don't have a life. My kid does crew. Besi... View Full Bio

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