Saturday, November 21, 2009

No Garage. No Mudroom. No Problem? Small Space Ideas.

So I may have told you we live in a 1960's split level with no garage and no mudroom. The specs from 1969 do exalt the praises of a "spacious mudroom on the lower level" which is the room I now use as an office. It was planned as a laundry room/mudroom, and it's a great size, but since it is in the back corner of the house, with no connection whatsoever to the driveway, carport or entrance to the house, it is not useful as a drop zone. So a blogger's paradise/laundry room it remains.

Even though we only have 2 kids, stuff seems to pile up around here. Tell me I'm not alone.

I thought I'd share some of my imperfect solutions to dealing with clutter. Not that all of my solutions ever last. Remember those cute vintage train cases I had on the stairs? Gone to greener pastures. They looked cute, but the junk just accumulated and no one felt like carrying it upstairs.

Now this is what I like to see when I think of home organization:

Isn't it purty? I have an entire idea file filled with images of gorgeous mudrooms for my dream house.

Alas, that is not the reality here.

We come from the carport directly into the kitchen eating area. We've made a mini-mudroom area just inside the door, which is usually a bit chaotic. The black organizer holds dog stuff in one drawer. Hats/mittens/scarves go in the next 2 (in the summer it's sunsreen and bug spray).

The lower ones are for the kids' shoes and socks. If you are going to have kids take off and put on shoes downstairs, why not cut out a step and keep all their socks right there, too? See, there's Jake putting his socks on.

I've added a metal shoe rack for Tom's shoes. I don't love it, but I hope it will keep things neater.

The hooks work well for us, but if they get overloaded, coats get in the way of the door. Ugh. Soooo, you'll see some secondary storage for the kids later on.

The top holds our phone, a bowl for keys, and paper and pencils for phone messages.

This mini-mudroom is great for the kids' stuff, but Tom and I need a place, too. You may wonder if we have a hall closet, which we do, but I find that even the grownups hang up coats in the closet each day, so I changed things a little bit in our foyer, which is next to the kitchen.

Here's a nice bookcase from Crate and Barrel. It has always held my collection of silver bowls and pitchers. I decided to take the silver out and replace it with some white baskets I had in basement.

The baskets now hold hats, gloves, and scarves for Tom and me. I hope this will work for us.

I also added 4 cute hooks from Anthropologie with our initials on them. Mere steps from the coat closet, I think these hooks will be good for my purse and whatever coat is in rotation that day.

Now doesn't my purse look happier here than in the kitchen?

The kids' hooks hold their sports' bags and scout stuff that is not needed every day.
Tom thought all of these hooks would lend an cluttered, junky air to the foyer, and they might. My thinking is that our foyer is generally wasted space. We have no key to the front door, so we never come in that way, leaving it just a weird, tiled pass-through. The house specs circa 1969 called it a "Grand Reception Room." Yeah, right.

Here's a closer look at those cute Anthropologie hooks.
Next is the coat closet. Inside the door is a shoe holder that has gotten lots of use. It used to hold my kids' craft supplies in our old house. For the past 5 years or so it has held hats, the camera, bug spray, flashlights, sports equipment and the very useful snowman kit (hat, coal, pipe, etc). While it is not lovely to look at, it has been handy.

Another nice addition to this small coat closet, and all the closets in our house, is an extra shelf up top. We noticed that all the closets had dead space up there, so we just added a cheap Closetmaid one from Home Depot. We needed this space because our coat closet also holds the vacuum, brooms, mops, and a tub full of rain/snow boots. I really like the holder that hangs the brooms on the walls.

Also in the foyer are these 2 huge vintage picnic baskets. One holds all of our Calvin and Hobbes books, the other about 5 extra rolls of paper towels. When I go to work, I use them to block the stairs so that Shadow doesn't wreck the family room.Talk about multi-purpose.

Heading upstairs you'll see the kids' hallway. It is a mini-gallery for their artwork and it has a row of hooks for hoodies and sweaters.

While I don't LOVE having our stuff "out in the open" all the time, I think the likelihood of people putting things back where they belong is greatly increased if we store things on hooks rather than in drawers and closets. Also, I always hope this strategy will help people find what they are looking for. A girl can dream, right?

I must admit I prefer summer when these hooks have beach towels, goggles and swim suits on them, but now that it's almost Thanksgiving, I think it's time to admit those days are gone for a while.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour. While a well-appointed mudroom would contain all of these things and more (drool! drool!) we've had to get a little creative around here. Organization and near-constant culling by Mom (do men ever go through the kids' clothes to see what has been outgrown?) help keep our junk from being completely overwhelming. Except for on the days that it is.

Just remember: Home is Where They Love You


Lynn Kellan said...

I, too, long for a proper mudroom. Loved seeing how you're coping - great ideas!

Madge said...

no. you are not the only one with two kids and the stuff just piles up. trying to deal with that around here. love all your ideas.

Phoe said...

I have zero kids and my stuff piles up. I'm doomed. DOOMED!

I love your practical ideas! And if everything's not behind a closet door, well, that's ok. It's a home. With people in it. And you have to do what works for you! It looks comfortable and lived in, which is my favorite kind of home to visit.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

In our first house we didn't have a mudroom, and I could've used some of these ideas. It was always tricky figuring out what to do with all of our stuff!

Christy said...

Anna, I must meet you next time I come to VA and it's not a holiday weekend! I'm planning a girls night out with Kate soon, I'm including you on the emails and hope you can join us!

This is one of my favorite posts yet, of yours. I love the photos! Your kids have great artwork! I love the wash your hands after school sign! And the palm tree shoe holder is cute!

You have really given me a lot of great ideas. Matt and I were pretty good at using closets on our own. But with Fiona in the mix, and another due in the spring, our 'stuff' is getting out of control. I now know (part of) the solution: hooks! I'm going to get some soon and will probably write a post about it and credit you with the fabulous idea!

Happy Saturday to you! said...

Lovely, homey, brilliant use of space and wonderful attention to detail!

Catsngrams said...

I love your ideas. What an inventive person you are. I also do not have a mudroom. Mine is downstairs via the garage however no one goes into the garage as it houses my husbands antique car. Sacrifice that is what we have to do. Great ideas thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

This is such a fantastic and helpful post. I am stealing some of your inspirational ideas. I love the shoe bag on the inside of the door. And all the hooks! Great stuff.

Thanks, Anna!


Brenda Susan said...

What a wonderful tour full of good tips! I am visiting blogs today & yours is really fun!

Momastery said...

i am inspired.

i am bringing all the socks downstairs to the shoe tree today! brilliant. also, im getting the hooks from anthropologie.
actually, this might be easier if you just gave me your house.

also, i need help, anna. i have a teeny house that i love, but no office space. i write from the kitchen counter with people screaming and begging for snacks behind me. it's not ideal. any magical small office space ideas?

Shell said...

Want to come organize my crazy house?

Pseudo said...

This post totally inspires me. We have a laundry room, quite small which leads to the kitchen. An entire counter in the kitchen is always cluttered with stuff - purses, mail, keys....

Over here I guess we would call it a sand room... and no need for coat hooks.

I can't find my blog said...

I think I officially hate you and your beautifully organized house. And the wood floors.

(You know I'm kidding, right?)

Masala Chica said...

you are not alone. my house floor plan very clearly says mudroom, but what it is is really just an entry way from the garage.

Clutter central. So bad that I could never EVER display pictures like you just did.

BTW - love the sign - very homey! The organization looks great! I should try it.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Now I feel bad in so many more ways... but I wanted to get a stair caddy thingie to transport things upstairs that should be downstairs and the reverse. But you saved me from making this mistake. Becuase if your house looks that nice and organized (and dust bunny-free) and you couldn't be bothered to lug the stuff where it belonged, there's NO WAY we're going to manage it. So you saved us from a bigfoot-sized pile o'crap on the stairs. Love the hooks and ideas, really. I'm just swimming in clutter right now and am jealous.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

That was enjoyable and I love the hooks from Anthropologie, might have to do a little early mroning on-line browsing.

But in all that, a memory came back. I grew up in a mid-centure home (I love that that's what they call 50's and 60's homes on HGTV...), and I remember that one pretty useless shelf in my closet. We had to stack stuff so high, having a friend over and deciding to play a board game (stacked on said shelf) could be injury inducing...

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Great ideas! I know what you mean about leaving your stuff out in the open...but in our tiny '70s townhouse, there is very little choice in the matter.

EatPlayLove said...

I like it! Great ideas. BTW, I live in a 1959 split level.

Rave Re:view Home Staging & Redesign said...

Never thought of using a shelf/display cabinet for entry way storage but what a super idea. Like you I love to find solutions to small space living and am always trying to think of functional, practical, inexpensive ways to reuse my clients' furnishings. I will be filing this 'reinvention' in my mind's 'Reinvention Storehouse'. I'll let you know if I get a chance to dress a client's entryway as you did. Because I live where winter and rain are a fact of life, I was just thinking that such a shelf unit could be used to house boots. I think your choice of baskets is a very effective and attractive camouflage for items that collect in mudroom/entryways. Another idea could be to install fabric held up by tension rods on the inside of the doors which could hide boots, hats,shoes,carves dog leashes
etc. I'm off to join your site as a follower.

metal shoe rack said...

Great ideas... love em!