How we turned a disorganized hall closet into a functional mudroom

I’m not sure what went wrong. I listened to Pinterest — at least, I thought I did. I implemented storage solutions. I used pops of colour (perhaps too many pops). I accessorized! Yet my first attempt at turning our entryway closet into a mudroom went down in jumbled apple-green blaze of disappointment.

After living with our brightly-coloured trying-to-be-a-mudroom front hall coat closet for more than a year, I started making a list of everything that was wrong with it:

  • The green wall colour (Pittsburgh Paint’s “Asparagus”) was certainly cheerful, but it was too intense for an already-crowded space. Ditto for the red cube storage bins, ugh. 
  • The cube bins did a good job of holding hats and mittens, but the kids regularly mixed them up because (duh) they couldn’t read the labels. We also didn’t need that many bins, so often a few of them were empty.
  • There wasn’t a spot for their increasingly large collection of sports gear (T-ball helmet, bike helmets, baseball gloves, etc.) so it was thrown everywhere.
  • The kids couldn’t reach the hangers, so we were constantly hanging up their jackets as well as our own (and they go in and out of the house a lot)

The only solution that really worked was the kids’ shoe storage bins. We had screwed large wire baskets into the walls to hold the kids’ shoes, and it worked brilliantly for keeping them corralled. Even when they just tossed them in, it didn’t look as messy as a pile on the floor. 

My vision for the new mudroom was lots of white, a neutral wall colour, a board-and-batten treatment, and hooks at two different levels. I toyed with the idea of removing the doors entirely, and maybe adding a bench so it looked like a mudroom nook, but Michael vetoed the idea. OK, fine, the doors could stay. 

The first step was emptying the closet, taking down all of the shelving and the hanging bar, and patching the holes.

Then we cut 2×6 boards and screwed them into the walls at two heights — one for adults, one for kids — to give the hooks a nice sturdy base. This also mimicked a board-and-batten look without having to go all the way with it. 

Once the boards were installed, we painted over the too-bright green with our favourite neutral, Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter.” Instantly, the closet felt less in-your-face. We painted the boards with untinted bright white trim paint (ideally, we should have done that before installing them), and hurried off to the store to buy the hooks.

Since we needed 20 hooks, it took a bit of rummaging to find them all in the same finish. There weren’t enough of any one size, but we found six large double hooks for across the back on the adults’ level, and 14 smaller hooks for across the kids’ level and on the sides. 

We also needed to find a new system for storing hats and mittens, since the cube system wasn’t going back in. We ended up finding white wire drainer baskets designed to go across a kitchen sink ($11 each) that would coordinate with the existing white wire shoe baskets, and allow the kids to see inside easily. 

Installing the baskets and hooks was easily the most fun part, because we could finally see it all come together. I squealed each time I held a smooth black hook against the white wood, because the contrast looked so good. 

I’m in love with the neutral, classic look of our new “mudroom,” but I’m crushing even harder on the functionality. 

The kids are able to put away every single item on their own — jackets, hats, helmets, shoes, backpacks. There are never any jackets crammed into the shoe bins, or slipping off hangers onto the floor. The wire shoe baskets are just high enough to let me sweep underneath them, and the wire drainer baskets are an easy place for them to toss sunglasses and hats.

I sometimes leave the doors open on purpose, just because it looks so good in there! 

Lesson learned: sometimes you don’t get it right the first time, but every bad decision (er, bad paint colour) makes you that much more likely to get it right next time. 

2 Comments on “How we turned a disorganized hall closet into a functional mudroom

  1. Where did you find the wire baskets you screwed into the wall? I have a similar problem with our front hall closet and have tried a hundred different ways to make it work. Seeing your new space makes me want to change it one more time… Those wire baskets would be a game changer though!

  2. We bought all of the baskets at Kent, Megan! The shoe baskets are just general storage baskets, and the small baskets are dish drainer baskets (all made out of the same white-coated metal). They're great!

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