Mudrooms - Is it possible to keep the dirt of life out?

I admit that for many years I envied pretty much anyone with a mudroom.

This envy started in my teens during long ski weekends in Vermont. I loved the way each of us had a neat compartment in which to stow boots, wet mittens, skis, poles, etc., "apres ski."

That particular mudroom was built out of rough cedar, and I doubt I'll ever forget the way it looked and the smell of damp wood mixed with the smell of crackling fire. The overall message that particular mudroom gave was: "Come on in, warm up and lighten your load!"

In my 30s, my taste for mudrooms became more refined. I preferred designs that were architecturally interesting, tucked away in difficult spaces, were naturally lit and painted so that the pretty wood trim stood out. There were lovely hooks and door pulls on each cabinet door, typically. The overall impression those mudrooms gave were: "We're pretty and organized!"

It didn't matter how large the house or cabin was, you see. When a friend was "buying a house with a mudroom" or was "putting in a mudroom" I always felt at a loss, like my plans to have fun and be organized and protect my family from the _ _ _ _ of life were somehow less evolved since I couldn't seem to get the mudroom plan together.

Deep down, I believed that my friends were playing a better offense game against life's dirt -- and I don't mean soil. I mean the really tough-staining, life changing messes like disease, disability, even death and dying. ...

I was naive (it's adorable, no?) to suppose on some unconscious level that with just enough "citrus sunshine" color painted onto clean wood trim and ample storage space to tuck in the kid biz of the day--the lunch boxes, backpacks, gear, etc. -- we'd be safely armed against the chaos and heartbreak of life.

As for my own plans for a mudroom: I'm making do with two stainless steel hooks off the back door. Sure, it would be great to have a mudroom. I'd make it pretty, and welcoming. I'd feel good about it for sure. But I also know that I'd still have to learn to live with the messes life can offer.

No need for cubbies or cupboards labeled: "Life" or "Ups and Downs" or "Stuff I Don't Even Know How to Handle Yet." These items are better stored in plain sight. That way, we can practice living with them, no?

What would be your favorite cubby label? Instead of "Inbox," would you label your secret stowaways "In-law" or "Kids Homework Hassles" or "Orphaned Tupperware?"


  1. How was the skiing? We did that last weekend. The "mudroom" was most of my front room. Before I could regroup at home after a long day, I made sure to get all the crap back in it's "proper" place (skis to the basement, boots and cold weather gear to the attic, snacks repacked into the kitchen, and so on). I too have mudroom-lust but am making do with what I've got - which is good times and happy memories.


  2. Skiing was cold, the friendship warm! Thanks for posting. Do you have a secret cubby to name for us, Anonymous? Mondays are great for laughing!