Posted by: jeb1 | June 21, 2011

10 Hard-Working Rooms That Make Life Easier

By: Jessica Dodell-Feder, This Old House magazine

mudroom with storage Photo:  Eric Roth


These helpful buffer zones allow an orderly exit—and reentry—with a place for everything.


• Open hooks for airing out damp outerwear

• Shelves with bins for corralling accessories

• A seat for pulling footwear on and off

• Resilient surfaces that dirt can’t hurt

mudroom with storage Photo:  Eric Roth

Room 1: Floor-to-Ceiling Cubbies

This one-wall mudroom can handle a season’s worth of athletic gear and outerwear.

Tip: Cheer up a utilitarian space with a colorful indoor-outdoor runner. To clean it, just shake it out or hose it down.

mudroom with open storage Photo:  Eric Roth

Open Storage

Ample 16-inch-deep cubbies mean each family member has places to stash footwear, sports equipment, toys, and more.

mudroom with neat catchalls Photo:  Eric Roth

Neat Catchalls

Metal bins, fabric-lined baskets, and color-coded boxes organize small items and store off-season goods.

mudroom with easy care surfaces Photo:  Eric Roth

Easy-Care Surfaces

High-gloss paint resists scuffs, and stone-look porcelain floor tiles won’t show scratches. Both are a snap to clean.

mudroom with locker lined stair wall Photo:  Eric Roth

Room 2: Locker-Lined Stair Wall

A furniture-grade storage unit mounted alongside stairs turns a front foyer into a mini mudroom.

mudroom with storage compartments Photo:  Eric Roth

Curvaceous Compartments

Open lockers with hooks have handsome curved frames that make the unit formal enough for a front entry. The oak, chosen to match the stairs, is finished with water-shedding polyurethane.

Tip: Lockers should be at least 2 feet wide so that there’s space for each person’s bags and outerwear.

mudroom with closed cabinets Photo:  Eric Roth

Closed Cabinets

Rarely used items, like binoculars, are tucked up top behind flip-up doors.

mudroom with bench Photo:  Eric Roth

Stable Seating

The 10-foot bench projects nearly 2 feet from the wall to provide a safe toehold for reaching top cabinets. Arched supports echo the locker frames and divide the slate-tile floor into landing spots for shoes.

mudroom with open and shut storage Photo:  Eric Roth

Room 3: Open-and-Shut Storage

Exposed hooks and discreet closets and drawers create a high-functioning, clutter-free drop zone.

mudroom with extra tall closets Photo:  Eric Roth

Extra-Tall Closets

Eight-foot-high doors hide away baskets of balls and outerwear not worn every day.

mudroom with oversize hooks Photo:  Eric Roth

Oversize Hooks

Jackets and bags practically hang themselves up on generous hooks above the bench.

mudroom with pull out drawers Photo:  Eric Roth

Handy Pullouts

Small, clutter-creating items, such as dog leashes, gloves, and sunscreen, are concealed inside large drawers. Roomy cutouts offer a glimpse of what’s inside and a comfortable handhold.

mudroom with a flip-top bench Photo:  Eric Roth

Flip-Top Bench

Along with providing a spot for slipping shoes on and off, this perch’s lid opens up to stow baseball bats and lacrosse sticks.

Tip: Make cleaning up after muddy feet (and paws) a cinch by sealing porous bricks with a clear coat for masonry.

pantries with storage


These kitchen offshoots keep supplies centralized and out of the cooking zone.


• Open shelves for quick access and slide-outs for heavy items

• Fuss-free surfaces in case of spills

• Good lighting for easy hunting

u shaped closet pantry Photo:  Greg Hursley

Room 4: U-Shaped Closet

Warm finishes keep the look as polished as the adjacent kitchen, inspiring a sense of order.

u shaped closet pantry with adjustable shelves Photo:  Greg Hursley

Adjustable Shelves

These shelves can be raised or lowered to accommodate everything from canned goods and recipe binders to candlesticks and centerpieces.

Tip: To amp up lighting in a closed pantry—and add a style boost—hang a pair of pendants instead of just one.

u shaped closet pantry with specialized storage Photo:  Greg Hursley

Specialized Storage

Rods flanking the center unit allow table linens to hang wrinkle-free, while slim, felt-lined drawers keep silverware from tarnishing.

u shaped closet pantry with spill proof counter surface Photo:  Greg Hursley

Spill-Proof Surface

The granite countertop looks luxe, complements the richly hued wood, and wipes down easily.

sunny nook pantry Photo:  Courtesy of California Closet Co.

Room 5: Sunny Nook

Lots of light makes this pantry alcove a practical dishware-storage and food-prep station.

sunny nook pantry with deep drawers Photo:  Courtesy of California Closet Co.

Deep Drawers

Full-extension hardware ensures access to every inch of these pullouts.

Tip: Stash heavy and frequently used items at waist height.

sunny nook pantry with well placed prep space Photo:  Courtesy of California Closet Co.

Well-Placed Prep Space

A 25-inch-deep laminate countertop provides a convenient work surface.

sunny nook pantry with easy access shelves Photo:  Courtesy of California Closet Co.

Easy Access

Serving items sit at the ready on open shelves—and double as decor.

sunny nook pantry with closed cabinets Photo:  Courtesy of California Closet Co.

Closed Cabinets

Small appliances and bulk grains can be kept cool, dark, and dust-free behind closed doors.

shallow space saving pantry Photo:  Robbie Caponetto

Room 6: Shallow Space-Saver

A fully loaded grid of open shelves and cabinets can disappear behind a functional piece of salvage.

shallow space saving pantry with sliding door Photo:  Robbie Caponetto

Strategic Sliding Door

The weathered bank-vault door, mounted on a heavy-duty track, adds character, hides clutter, and—unlike a swing-open door—won’t block traffic.

Tip: Chalkboard paint can turn a wall or door into an erasable shopping list and message board.

shallow space saving pantry with low profile lighting Photo:  Robbie Caponetto

Low-Profile Lighting

A small, nickel-finished ceiling fixture reinforces the kitchen’s vintage look while illuminating items at the back of shelves.

shallow space saving pantry with backup power outlets Photo:  Robbie Caponetto

Backup Power

Outlets allow for stashing a wine cooler and other small appliances to clear space in the cooking area.

potting rooms with storage

Potting Rooms

First-class finishes and a fun hit of color make for a pleasant gardening place.


• A deep sink with a raised faucet to fit pots and watering cans

• Tall shelves and roomy cabinets for tools and containers

• An easy-care work surface and floor

open to the outdoors potting room Photo:  Courtesy of Mannington

Room 7: Open to the Outdoors

A Dutch door blocks pets while inviting air and light into a workstation for potting plants and filling vases.

open to the outdoors potting room with rustic sink and counter Photo:  Courtesy of Mannington

Rustic Sink and Counter

Soapstone has an earthy, traditional look, and chips and wear only add character.

open to the outdoors potting room with quick clean vinyl floor Photo:  Courtesy of Mannington

Quick-Clean Vinyl Floor

Water and potting soil mop up fast when there’s no grout to catch them.

Tip: Line a deep drawer with a heavy-duty plastic bag to serve as a soil bin.

plumbed hutch potting room Photo:  Charles Walton IV

Room 8: Plumbed Hutch

A furniture-like potting center combines glass-front and solid cabinet doors for display and storage.

plumbed hutch potting room with rugged rimmed sink Photo:  Charles Walton IV

Rugged Rimmed Sink

An extra-deep (nearly a foot) cast-iron basin with a raised lip helps contain splashes.

plumbed hutch potting room with waterproof backsplash and eye-catching shelf Photo:  Charles Walton IV

Waterproof Backsplash

Classic subway tile gives this cottage-inspired setup a pretty-yet-practical backdrop.

Eye-Catching Shelf
An open shelf mounted on corbels is a showcase for cloches, colorful containers, and potted plants.

plumbed hutch potting room with tough work surface Photo:  Charles Walton IV

Tough Work Surface

The nonporous Corian countertop mimics wood but stands up to assaults from liquid fertilizer, thorny rose branches, and heavy ceramic pots.

Tip: Keep track of drawer contents with bin pulls that have apothecary-style label holders built right in.

laundry rooms with storage Photo:  Peter Rymwid

Laundry Rooms

These well-organized, well-lit rooms help take the dread out of wash day.


• Countertop space for folding

• Cabinets for containing detergent and other supplies

• Sink for hand-washables

• Rods or racks for air-drying

bright and spacious laundry room with storage Photo:  Peter Rymwid

Room 9: Bright and Spacious

The U shape offers space for sorting, washing, folding, and hanging.

bright and spacious laundry room with kitchen worthy cabinetry Photo:  Peter Rymwid

Kitchen-Worthy Cabinetry

Custom cupboards painted a vintage green—complemented by a tall beadboard backsplash with a plate rail for displaying artwork—look inviting and accommodate every laundry necessity, as well as ironing and sewing supplies.

bright and spacious laundry room with ample counter space Photo:  Peter Rymwid

Ample Counter Space

A long run of solid surfacing holds stacks of folded clothes.

Tip: Create an under-counter spot for a laundry basket so that it won’t be underfoot.

bright and spacious laundry room with air drying station Photo:  Peter Rymwid

Air-Drying Stations

Charming hinged wood wall racks latch at the top when not in use. A shower-curtain rod in front of the window allows damp laundry to get a full dose of fresh air. A coated-metal mesh rack set into the countertop keeps knitwear flat for drying.

high efficiency laundry room Photo:  Mark Lohman

Room 10: High Efficiency

Everything is within easy reach in this compact, light-filled laundry center.

high efficiency laundry room with low care counter Photo:  Mark Lohman

Low-Care Counter

Front loaders topped with a quartz slab create a space-saving folding area.

high efficiency laundry room with over the sink rod Photo:  Mark Lohman

Over-the-Sink Rod

Laundry on hangers can drip-dry over the sink.

Tip: Install under-cabinet lighting to make treating stains easier.

high efficiency laundry room with pull down faucet Photo:  Mark Lohman

Pull-Down Faucets

An adjustable spray helps with rinsing out hand-washables.

high efficiency laundry room with slide out drying racks Photo:  Mark Lohman

Slide-Out Drying Racks

Slatted wood pullouts, a generous 27 inches wide and 20 inches deep, can handle bulky wet sweaters

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