This is a guest post from regular contributor Beth Hembree.
When you enter the back door of your home at the end of a long day, imagine the perfect organized mudroom or entryway where you can reset and have your belongings ready to go for the next busy day.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
But instead are you tripping on the kids’ shoes, stacking more mail on top of a cluster of homework papers, and always losing your keys?
Make the Perfect Mud Room / Entryway
You might decide to hop on Pinterest in search of a beautiful, DIY solution for organizing all the “stuff” at your back door. A few clicks later and you’re sure to be scrolling through photo after impeccable photo of perfect entry bench/mudroom areas, or similar catch-all type areas — and you’re sure you’ve found the golden ticket!
A place for all those shoes? Check! Cute little hooks for book sacks and coats? Yep! Maybe even a drawer to stash some mail? Super!
So is all you need a cute bench with some hooks above it to solve all your family’s garage entrance storage solutions?
Well, not quite. But no worries, I’m here to help you navigate the catch-all mud bench trend and leave you with a streamlined welcome home at the end of the day!
Understand Pinterest photos may be staged
Before you get too swept away by the Pinterest fairytale of large, dreamy mudrooms flooded with natural light, understand that it is more than likely heavily staged.
When my husband and I started planning to build a house, we agreed an efficient entry space was a top priority (since all we have right now to make it work is a spare kitchen drawer for mail and car keys and a plastic hanging shoe rack on the back of the laundry room door). We’ve already spent hours scrolling through photo after photo of mud benches in search of the perfect storage solution.
They sure look dreamy alright, but when I took a closer look, I realized I was seeing the same vignette over and over: either walls full of gorgeous but totally empty hooks and benches, or a pristine area with just one purse hanging on one of the several available hooks or a scarf that looks effortlessly slung onto the bench to sell the “catch-all” idea of the space.
In both of these scenarios, it’s no wonder mud benches seem so appealing! Look how shiny and clean and organized! But think about it: unless you only plan to store one bag and one scarf in your entire mud area (and if that’s the case, then you probably haven’t made it this far into reading this post about organizing your family’s entrance!), chances are your things would look a bit different in the same space.
But don’t let that discourage you; let it motivate you to do some smart thinking about your family’s specific needs before you dive into creating your own mud space! Read on!
Everything needs a place
Sure, the idea of a “catch-all” area seems so effortless and simple, but don’t confuse that concept with a dumping ground for all the things you don’t have a specific place for in your home.
Your mud bench can all too quickly morph into a tangled mountain of discarded coats, mismatched shoes, and assorted stuff the members of your family just didn’t feel like putting away if you make the mistake of skipping one of the most important golden rules of organization: “A place for everything; Everything in its place.”
Make sure your mud area is an intentional home for certain items, and nothing more! Anything more needs a specific home elsewhere in your home.
But which items do belong and which don’t?
Choosing what you will store in your mud area
A mud bench should be an organizational tool for storing the items you often need as you enter and exit your home each day. Think about what you often wish were close by when you are trying to get out of the door quickly and effortlessly each day.
Examples of such items:
- book sacks
- outwear items such as coats or scarves
- sports equipment for grabbing easily on the way out of the door to go to practice.
But here’s where it can get tricky! Can you imagine if, say, a family of 4 all decided to leave ALL of their shoes by the back door just because it now has a so- called mud bench?
Or if the 3-4 hooks you had available are now struggling to be a home for a full family’s worth of book sacks, umbrellas, and coats all at once?!
Depending on the size and efficiency of your entrance space, may need to get really specific with your family about what belongs in this area and what doesn’t. You might decide that each family member can keep 2 pairs of their most frequently worn shoes under the bench. Or, you might decide only rain boots or outdoor boots belong there that you wouldn’t want to be trekked through the house to bedroom closets to be stored after use.
Think seasonally as well. Perhaps in winter each hook can be home for one coat per family member, but in summer it can store umbrellas and raincoats for rainy afternoons. You may have to decide between book sacks OR coats being stored in your mud area, but not both, depending on the size and layout of your space.
Make a plan
Once you’ve decided what items you would want stored, you can now plan out your mud space. Do you need hooks or shelves? A bench or a drawer? Or some mixed and matched combination?
Make sure the type of storage you choose to build or purchase ready-made matches the needs and sizes of the items you decided to store at your entrance. Too-small baskets may not fit your husband’s work boots, and baskets with pretty fabric lining may not be ideal material for shoe storage.
Make sure the scale is right too: hooks that are too high might be inaccessible to young children, but too low and adult coats may drag the floor!
One last tip…
The mud area you choose to incorporate into your home is likely going to be the first thing you see as you are welcomed into your home after countless long days of work and school and ball practice and errands.
With that in mind, your end goal should be visually streamlined, calm, and pleasing to the eye–not busy, cluttered, and adding to the chaos of life. Leave that chaos at the threshold when you come home.
An easy way to accomplish this is with hidden storage. A very popular style of the current mud bench trend is open hooks, but consider adding cabinet doors to conceal the hooks and therefore conceal the busyness of the coats and bags that will be stored there.
Another common style is a freestanding bench, but using the space under the bench for baskets can help hide shoes and make the space look more polished.
What will you do in your entryway / mud room?
So, what do you think now that you know the ins and outs of the entry bench trend? Does a mud area sound like the perfect solution for helping your family get out the door on busy mornings?
Grab a pen to get your specific needs and ideas to paper, then grab materials needed to execute your plan, and you’ll be ready to grab your coat from your new mud area in no time!
Beth writes from Louisiana, where she now spends her days as a homemaker after graduating from LSU with her Masters in teaching. She married her high school sweetheart 5 years ago, and has since given birth to 4 beautiful children in as many years. As her family size increases, so does her passion for unlocking the secrets to the best homemaking tips and tricks out there, often discovering that less is more!
Follow her on Pinterest for tons of inspiration.