April 14, 2013

Mudrooms that ooze charm

A buffer space between your home and the outside world can be just as fabulous as it is functional.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

If you haven't thought much about a mudroom, maybe now's a good time.

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One side of this Scarborough mudroom, designed and constructed by Caleb Johnson Architects + Builders, is filled with winter gear and has plenty of room for shoes, coats, boots and more. Tile and wood make the space both attractive and practical.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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The mudroom has a door leading in from the outside. The rest of the home is accessible from a set of stairs.

Additional Photos Below

It is mud season, after all. And there are few places that have a better mud season than Maine.

Of course, a mudroom is important all year long. A mudroom is a buffer between your home and the outside world, a place to kick the snow off your boots, shake the sand out of your beach sandals and dry out your wet raincoat.

So in Maine, where the weather changes drastically, it's really important to have a place to shake off the mud, the sand, the snow and the water before retiring to the comfort of your home.

What exactly makes a great mudroom?

The first thing -- and this may seem obvious -- is to have one entrance leading in from the outside and a separate passageway into the house. You'd be surprised how many houses have a little room for coats and shoes that is not connected by a door to the outside world.

Jamie Salomon, an architectural photographer, had just such a mudroom in his Portland home before having it renovated a few years ago by Dan Kolbert of Kolbert Building in Portland.

"We really wanted storage for each of us (two adults, two children) -- separate little cubbies for each of us, for our personal items -- so if we put something away, everybody would know where it was," said Salomon.

Besides storage cubbies, Salomon's mudroom has a dark ceramic tile floor that looks like slate. Salomon likes it because it hides the dirt and is relatively easy to clean.

Adding storage and a durable floor are things you can do to an existing space. Another small thing you can do is just make sure your coat hooks are hung over the heating source so wet coats will dry out. Salomon has this feature in his mudroom too.

Kolbert, the builder who renovated Salomon's mudroom, says the first thing people should consider when building or outfitting a mudroom is that it's probably not feasible to have enough storage for four seasons' worth of stuff in one average-sized mudroom.

He also says people shouldn't "overdo it on cubbies" and other defined storage units.

"Divisions are nice, but it's possible to chop (the mudroom) up into too many small pieces, which restricts its usefulness. Things like baskets and containers within a larger space may give you more flexibility," said Kolbert.

He also suggests thinking about how your wet clothes can dry out in your mudroom.

If you're building a new house, you have a little more wiggle room in terms of what you might want in your mudroom.

Such was the case for Christopher Michael Martell when he had his Scarborough summer and vacation home designed by Caleb Johnson Architects + Builders of Biddeford.

The home is a large mountain ranch being built with Craftsman-style touches. The mudroom was specifically designed to be a "comfortable" place for the family to transition from the outdoor sports they love to the interior of the home. It's a place to kick off muddy boots and shake the snow off ski parkas.

Martell describes it as the family's "private" ski lodge. He wanted the feeling to be "organic," with natural materials and rich color and textures used for the storage cabinets, benches and other features.

For a few more ideas on how to outfit a mudroom, here are some suggestions for Maine-based builders and home organizers:

• SHOE CARE -- If you have small children, you could use plastic drawers that are easily wiped out, says Bonnie Joy Dewkett of Freeport, a certified professional organizer whose business is called The Joyful Organizer.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Dedicated storage for gear and outerwear defines the space.

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A view from the second floor of Christopher Michael Martell’s Scarborough mudroom, which was designed and built by Caleb Johnson Architects + Builders.

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Gordon Chibroski

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