Tired of muddy footprints near the back door? Do your kids come home and drop their coats and backpacks on the floor? Hangers can be difficult for small children to use. Fix this problem for good by turning a closet into a mudroom.

A mudroom is a dedicated space in the home, usually located near the rear entrance, where you can remove your muddy boots, jackets, and other outerwear. It includes storage for these items and is often combined with either an attached garage or the home’s laundry facilities. A mudroom needs three things at a minimum: a place to hang your jacket, a place to store shoes or boots, and somewhere to sit down. It doesn’t necessarily require a lot of space. You can easily turn a closet into a mini mudroom. Doing so will make it a lot easier for your kids to put their things away. It’s a great way to help a busy family to stay organized.

How to turn a closet into a mudroom.

First, tear out the old closet.

Turning a closet into a mudroom.
Tear out the old closet first when turning a closet into a mudroom. This includes the door and its framing plus any return walls next to the door. Converting an old reach-in closet like this one near the rear entrance of the home is a popular choice. It can be made into a very effective mini mudroom, but you need to start with an empty space.

The first thing you want to do when turning a closet into a mudroom is to remove the old closet. This includes shelves and clothes rods inside the closet. It also means taking down the door and its framing. You want to open up the old closet space as much as possible. The idea is to make it into more of an alcove and less like a closet. The newly opened up space will house your mudroom organizers.

Take care of any electrical issues.

Your reach-in closet most likely comes with a single bulb or simple light fixture in the ceiling. Unless your ceilings are very high, it will probably be in the way of your upper mudroom cabinets. You should consider removing this light fixture and replacing it with a low voltage LED lighting system after your new mudroom cabinetry is in place. It’s less expensive and better for the environment energy-wise.

But you’ll still need electricity in the form of an outlet for your LED lights and transformer. Place an outlet on the back wall so that it will be about 2-inches above the top of your mudroom cabinets/shelves. For most homes that are installing 84-inch cabinets, this will put the outlet at roughly 86-inches from the floor. This way, you can run the wires for the low voltage LED lights across the top of the cabinets and hide them with a piece of crown moulding attached to the top of the cabinet. This allows the wires to remain hidden while providing easy access for maintenance.

Paint before installing new mudroom built-in organizers.

Patch and paint walls before turning a closet into a mudroom
Paint and patch the walls before installing any new mudroom built-ins.

Spackle and paint the walls as needed so that they look clean and fresh. Make certain you do this before installing any new mudroom organizers. The old closet deconstruction is sure to damage the walls. You want a nice clean and flat wall to work with. Plus it is much easier if the mudroom is painted before the new components are installed. You can always go back in for touchups if necessary.

Start your mudroom design with a bench.

Mudroom built-in bench with storage.
This custom mudroom built-in storage has a bench to put on your shoes and two shelves for storage below the seating area. One shelf includes a pull-out wire basket for keeping your gloves and scarves organized.

There are several features that a mudroom should have, and built-in seating is one of them. Start your mudroom design with a bench that includes shelves below the sitting area. The top of the bench should be about 20-21 inches from the floor and as deep as a kitchen base cabinet. Let it span the width of your back wall if necessary so that there will be room for more than one person to sit down at a time. The lower shelves can be used for shoes or boots. Small closet baskets or drawers can be included to hold gloves or other small accessories. If you use wire baskets, they can double as a drying rack for wet mittens.

Include hooks for jackets and backpacks.

Hooks on wood cleat for mudroom built-in
This custom mudroom built-in storage has a bench to put on your shoes and two shelves for storage below the seating area. One shelf includes a pull-out wire basket for keeping your gloves and scarves organized.

The best open mudrooms replace hangers with hooks. This is easiest for children. So if you want your kids to hang up their coats, use hooks not hangers. An added benefit is that hooks can also hold things like backpacks that hangers can not. There are two ways to handle the hooks. The least expensive method is to secure a wooden cleat (board) to the drywall making sure that it is anchored to the wall studs. Then attach your hooks at even intervals to the cleat.

The more expensive alternative is to back your mudroom built-in with the same material you are using for the bench and cabinets, whether it is wood panels, laminate, or MDF. The hooks attach to the backer board about 70-inches from the floor. This height is convenient for adults. It is also convenient for kids if they are kneeling or standing on top of the bench. The 70-inch height will allow space for cabinets or shelving above the hook area.

Built-in mudroom organizer with hooks and cabinets
This built-in mudroom organizer is backed with the same material used for the panels and upper cabinets. The hooks installed directly on the backer at 70-inches from the floor.

Place a cabinet with doors above the hooks.

This mudroom organizer has an upper cabinet with a flip up door. It also has a simple, flat cleat used as crown moulding, and large hooks attached to a backer that matches the rest of the built-in. The crown extends four-inches above the top of the upper cabinet to hide the LED lighting system wires and transformers that are used to light up this storage unit.

Place an upper cabinet with doors about 2-inches above your line of hooks. Including a closed cabinet is important because it gives you a place to hide out-of-season hats and other items that would otherwise create an appearance of clutter. If you are worried about being able to reach the cabinet to open it, get the flip-up variety of doors installed on your cabinets. You won’t need a step stool to open the cabinets this way.

Crown goes on top of the cabinet. This provides a very finished, furniture look to your built-in and also provides a place to hide the wires for an LED lighting system.

Add as many shelves or cabinets as possible when turning a closet into a mudroom.

This custom mudroom organizer replaced a standard reach-in closet. It is located next to the door to the attached garage and is the entrance most frequently used by the family. A tall cabinet flanks one side. That cabinet is filled with additional shoes and snow boots. The family keeps almost all of their footwear here by the back door and goes shoeless in the house.

A mudroom can be quite simple using only the bench with shelves below, some hooks, and an upper cabinet. However, if you have room, it’s nice to include additional storage in the form of a cabinet or tower of shelves on the sides of your built-in. This will provide even more storage for shoes, bags, etc. Put one on the left side, right side, or both sides if you have room. A cabinet on a separate nearby wall can also work. The idea is to get as much storage into the mudroom area as possible while retaining the basic components of the bench, hooks, and upper cabinets.

Feel inspired to start turning a closet into a mudroom?

Turning a closet into a mudroom is really quite easy. And it doesn’t need to be a large walk-in closet either. As these examples show, a small reach-in closet can also become an organized mudroom with all the essential components. All you really need in the form of a built-in is a bench with storage below the seat, some hooks for jackets, and an upper cabinet for extra storage.

If you’ve already transformed a mudroom yourself, we’d love to hear about your ideas. What do you consider to be the most important part of your mudroom design? Please leave us your comments. Let’s start a lively discussion.

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