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The evolution of the mudroom over the last 200 years has been like the family dog at dinner time: In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.
In rural homes over the generations, a mudroom has been essential for the menfolk who did the mucky work in the fields and barns, to shed their filthy gear and wash up before coming into the kitchen for their mid-day dinner or the evening supper.
Typically, the rural mudroom was outfitted with just a rough bench to sit on and take off their boots with a few wooden pegs on the wall to hang their muddy dungarees and jackets. Before running water, there also would have been a wash-stand with a bucket, basin and pitcher. The Mrs. would keep the bucket topped up with cold water, then would add a splash of boiling water from the stove to the pitcher when the Mr. came in so he could mix the water in the basin as warm as he liked it to have a good wash. The floor would have been rough wood or field stone, and later linoleum was the house-wife’s dream.
Even in manor homes the mudroom was a common fixture….
….although there would have been two: one very humble shed for the servants to strip out of their gear, and one for the nobility who would come in from the hunt with boots covered in horsey doo-doo. This would have been much more elegantly appointed with comfortable chairs, Oriental carpets (as they were then called), boot scrapers outside the door to get rid of the bulk of the mud…
and a Boot Jack to remove snug-fitted riding boots.
These mudrooms would also often sport gun cabinets…
…stands for umbrellas and walking sticks….
…a variety of hats and a basket or two for gloves, scarves and binoculars….for bird-watching, of course.
In the 1050’s with urban homes being increasingly packed like sardines on postage stamp-sized lots, the mudroom was lost and the family entered the front door along with the guests, which often opened right into a living room, or a small vestibule, as in the houses that the TV Clever family lived in on the show Leave It To Beaver.
In the 1980’s through to current day, vintage Mid-Century Modern homes have been knocked to the ground in favor of huge homes that are built as close to the lot line as local building authorities allow. As homes are larger and space is available, mudrooms have made a strong come-back as practical places for the family to enter, leaving the front foyer free to be elegant for guests, empty of the inevitable sea of boots, shoes, coats, jackets and backpacks of the modern family. Mudrooms are most often found between a garage and a kitchen and sometimes incorporate laundry facilities, pet showers, cubbies, shelving and cabinetry to keep the daily chaos under control.
If the home has no mudroom, the foyer often has enough space that I can incorporate some kind of practical storage…
But when whole rooms are not a possibility in the equation, on my projects, I’ll at least try to find space for cabinetry that will hide some of the debris close to a back door…
or at the very least, a shallow cabinet for a few coat hooks and pairs of shoes.
Condominiums pose special problems, since there isn’t usually enough room for a separate mudroom. In this particular project, I was lucky to be able to join two condo units together which gave me enough room to create a small mud/laundry room near the front door.
Now what woman wouldn’t kill for a closet like this (and the footwear to put in it!)?
For help designing your mudroom, foyer or any other room in your home, check out my NEW Online Design program. Now, it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, with online design, you’ll save money and time while we collaborate to make your house one that you’ll be proud to call home!
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