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Living through the seasons in the Northeast reminds me of my daughters’ favorite childhood book, Going on a Bear Hunt, where the father, the kids and the dog go looking for a bear and, when they find one, run home through the snowstorm (hoooo-woooo), the forest (stumble, trip), the mud (squelch, squerch), the water (splash, splosh) and back through the grass (swishy, swashy).

They then run into the house (without wiping their feet), up the stairs, into bed and under the covers, with the bear looking through the window. I’m sure that having a mudroom where they could have shed the wet and muddy layers would have made mom happier when she came home.
Just about every home we design at Crisp Architects includes a mudroom, which is good for keeping bears out, but more importantly provides a place to take off boots and coats and leave the mud and slush behind. Mudrooms are also the primary place for organizing outerwear for future excursions.

More elaborate spaces can include slop sinks for cleaning gear and storage space for sports equipment and even a dog grooming area. Some layouts also work as an airlock to the rest of the home.

The basic requirements include a non-slip, water resistant, durable floor. Walls and cubbies should be made of a rugged material such as wood with plenty of room to hang coats and store boots, gloves and mittens.

Occasionally we will even add a center drain to the floor to allow an easy wash down (the baseboards must be waterproof in this case). A bench—with or without a hinged seat top—is required for putting on and taking off those extra tight boots. And, near the ceiling, a long shelf comes in handy for hats and other paraphernalia.

The mud room might be the smallest room in the house, but by providing space to organize, a buffer between outside cold and inside warmth, and as a barrier to keep dirt from entering the house, this little room earns its keep.