The Mud Room


When it had been decided that this very small house, four hundred and eighty square feet, that was purchased for our offspring to live in while they attended college was going to be renovated, I drew up a plan on some graph paper. I am not an architect, but knew that it must include a greenhouse/sunroom and a mudroom. A detailed post was written early on in our blogging career about the greenhouse/sunroom that can be read by clicking here.


Being an avid gardener, one who goes in and out of the house hundreds of times a day, often looking like it was mud wrestling rather than gardening that had been the pastime of the hours, there was a great need for a small space to disrobe and hang the clothes and stow the sloggers and boots. A place to pile the gloves, with clean pairs at the ready, a place for a gathering basket and a wide brimmed hat was essential. A mud room, closet and greenhouse/sunroom, only twelve feet by twelve feet of precious house footprint for all three, was carefully measured out on the little squares on the graph paper.


A covered vestibule just outside the mudroom was included, a place to enter the back door under cover, with a small bench to sit down and remove muddy shoes was included in the vision. The contractor agreed that it could be achieved easily and more importantly, cheaply. This part of the addition to the existing house would be a poured concrete slab with a drain in the center of the floor of the greenhouse/sunroom. The interior flooring was tiled, with a full sized bull nose tile along the bottom of the walls. This was going to be a hard working space, complete with mud. It needed to be able to take lots of water for cleaning.

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A space was made for the old kitchen sink to be installed in the greenhouse with hot and cold water. A coiled hose attached to the faucet is used often to water the orchids and wash the floors, with the drain in the floor catching it all. Grow lights and heat mats have been added for seed starting.

As it came together, with five windows and two skylights in the greenhouse, the mudroom came into existence as a space with four doors, the outside vestibule door, the greenhouse door, the closet door and the antique door to the main house, complete with stained glass window.


There was just enough room for a wooden plant stand found at Big Lots that was perfect for workhorse shoes to dry out and even space to hold baskets for gloves. A little folding chair sits in the corner, a place to put on and take off shoes. Old barn boards were found and cut to size to hold hooks that would allow wet and muddy jackets and pants to dry out.


This is not a dream mudroom, the likes of which can be found in upscale shelter magazines. There are no built ins or nice furniture. There is no wall space for art, but as this is typed, there is a space above the wall hooks that holds nothing at present. Hmmm…. It is a tiny, humble space that is a dream come true.


The orchids, already with buds!, have once again come inside to spend the winter after getting the dip of death. Some cuttings are already trying to take root on the shelf. The cold weather gear that was washed and stashed in the mudroom closet last spring has been inventoried, for we garden all year here as long as the ground is not frozen solid. The mud room has been dusted and scrubbed, ready to continue as an important feature of the Fairegarden as summer turns to fall turns to winter and onward to spring again.

Frances

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18 Responses to The Mud Room

  1. Carol says:

    We should all have such a space. I have a back hallway off the garage door entry which is my “mud room”. There is a half-bath right there, too, for quick trips in and out, so I don’t have remove my shoes or track mud all through the rest of the house for pit stops.

    Good idea, Carol. In my brilliant plan, I did not take the pit stops into consideration, only the cleaning up part and not tracking mud through the house. At least I can take off the shoes and gloves for the visits to the necessary.
    Frances

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    My mud room has no windows. It does have a necessary room.I still track all through the house though. Booo. I just can’t seem to shake the mud and debris off. ha… I didn’t design this house but if I had I would have had a window back there. I haven’t thought of dipping plants into sevin. I usually just bring in the bugs. It is odd to see a rolly polly trucking across the foyer during the dead of winter. Did you paint your walls with outside house paint so the when watering your plants etc you don’t damage the walls? I had never heard of this until a friend built a garage onto their house and was advised to do that so they could wash their car in the garage during winter and not damage the walls.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for adding in to this conversation. I believe windows, or skylights are very important, especially with my poor eyesight! I like outside doors that have windows, too, the better to see the garden. I cannot tolerate bugs on my precious orchids when they are inside and blooming. Those nasty insects will eat the flower buds! I did paint the greenhouse with exterior paint, and the drywall is the green kind, for bathrooms and such. If I could do it over, I would have put exterior grade walls in the greenhouse. Next time.
    Frances

  3. srmc207 says:

    What exposure are your windows that the orchids certainly seem to love? I may be inspired to restart my own collection which was given away after a move to a smaller abode with much less light.

    I added skylights to my screened-in porch, for light both there and inside the house. LOL, the porch got so much sun that I was hard put to locate my palms there.

    The greenhouse/sunroom is on the southeast corner of the house, shaded by a large silver maple in summer, very sunny in winter when the orchids are inside. The Paphs are in the eastern windows and do love that exposure. There are also skylights in the ceiling. These smaller orchids are perfect for a tiny space. I got rid of all the larger ones except two Catts that keep blooming so I can’t give them up, yet.
    Frances

  4. Is there no limit to your gift of writing ….you even make the saga of a mudroom ‘s evolution an enjoyable read! I will eagerly await your exposition of your local phone book when, and if ever, there is a lull in gardening related topics. You were so wise to commit to the addition of a mudroom. We did a fairly extensive rebuild on our house before we first moved in 17 years ago and , stupidly, oh, so stupidly, did not think to carve out space for a bona fide mudroom. Once daily life started to happen and it was on again, off again with the clay covered shoes, I couldn’t believe we had committed such a serious oversight.

    HA, Michaele, you are so good for my ego, thanks! I had just spent a week cleaning up and repainting those 12 x 12 feet of the house, and had nothing else to write about. Thank goodness for the blooming orchid pix from the files. We have moved several times, and I learned the hard way about making a space that could be closed off from view of the living area where the muddy gardening togs are stashed. It NEVER looks as clean as it does in these photos.
    Frances

  5. Rose says:

    I wish I had a mudroom like this! I’ve taken over part of the garage for storing my garden tools and extra pots and such; unfortunately, now I can’t put my car in there:) The garage, however, doesn’t have much light–your orchids look so happy!
    Still chuckling over Michaele’s comment:)

    Thanks Rose. Michaele, like you, is a whiz-bang commenter! As you might have remembered, if I remembered to tell it, this house had no garage or storage outside at all when we bought it. We bought that little shed for the girls to put their bicycles and lawnmower in. We built the garage in the next renovation, and the addition that connects the two spaces in the next. It is plenty roomy in there, and a huge, horrible mess. It has some windows, but not enough to grow anything in there. But there are always grow lights…
    Frances

  6. Leslie says:

    How wonderful to have such a perfect space! You were very clever to think of all the details like the drain in the floor.

    Thanks Leslie. I was lucky to have workmen that could do whatever, whenever. We had a greenhouse addition built on another house, with a drain in the floor. It makes life easier.
    Frances

  7. balisha says:

    I always look at your orchids with envy. I have 7 and they are on shelves, in the north facing window, in my mud room. It’s the only window that I have to use for these. I have some artificial lighting that I use on darker days and throughout the winter. Mine look healthy, but no flowers.
    I never had a mudroom before…I do love it. It looks like you really get a lot of use out of yours.
    Balisha

    Hi Balisha, thanks, so nice to see you here. I have found certain types of orchids to be much easier to rebloom than others. For my conditions, the Paphiopedilums’ needs can be met as to temperature, humidity, light, feeding and watering with the Southeast facing greenhouse/sunroom. There have been plenty of failures, and those were discarded some time ago. The mudroom really gets a workout every single day. It may be tiny, but works well.
    Frances

  8. Anne Boykin says:

    I wish I had a mudroom! I do have a covered back porch but it’s pretty small. Thanks for sharing yours.

    Thanks Anne. I wish I had a covered back porch!
    Frances

  9. Cyndi says:

    I can only dream of a space like this! You are amazing with ideas! Our rental cabin has two outside doors, opps three, one we have a file cabinet in front of, so useless except for the door window! I usually sit on the porch to remove shoes and yes; they are muddy always!

    What a great use and your ideas for the Big Lots shoe stand is wonderful! I love that store and we recently got one in Murphy, NC. It would also be a wonderful place to keep my pile of dog towels and to dry them inside with the floor drain to wash it out!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Smiles, Cyndi

    Smiles to you, Cyndi, and thanks. The gardening gear is always dirty here, I have to get down eye to eye with the plants and water plus soil makes this stuff called mud. HA Big Lots is crazy, it used to be crazier, with stuff randomly strewn on big tables. Now it is more like a real store, easier to find things, but not as much fun for the huntress!
    Frances

  10. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Oh, how I would love a mudroom! I’ll probably have to wait until my next life!

    You never know what life will bring you, Cindy. Keep a mudroom in mind if the opportunity ever reveals itself!
    Frances

  11. My Kids Mom says:

    Jealous of even the tiny space. I thought I had the perfect location to double the size of our laundry space to make it work as a mudroom too (just5’x7′ now) but the contractor pointed out that our electrical panel is on the wall I wanted to remove and “suggested” I change my mind. Instead, the kitchen is our default mudroom, getting the mess everywhere, and then we dash past the flank of front windows to get to clean clothes and a shower– hoping no one will catch us half naked on our way!

    Hi Jill, thanks for adding to this conversation. My laundry room is so small, just the washer and dryer and that is all. It would be nice to have it right next to the mudroom, too. Our house in Texas had the back door enter right into the kitchen. I did a lot of floor scrubbing in there to clean up the gardening mess.
    Frances

  12. I think my wife would be happy with a mud room not nearly as nice as yours. Only she would probably want a shower in their too. She says she is tired of my dirty handprints all over the house.

    It sounds like you need a mud room, pronto! I always wear gloves, so don’t get the handprints all over, just on the outside doorknob. Might as well put the laundry room right there, too, for the muddy clothes while you’re at it.
    Frances

  13. Gail says:

    Frances, It’s a wonderful room and I agree with Leslie, you were very clever to think of adding the room and making sure there was a drain. xoxogail

    Thanks Gail. The drain thing was suggested by the builder of the greenhouse at our other TN house. It was a good idea!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  14. chiotsrun says:

    Love it. Our new home has no mud room or entry area but the front door. Definitely something we’ll be doing something about in the near future. Love the way you combined mud room and greenhouse/plant area in one. A drain in the floor – perfect! Great inspiration.

    Thanks Chiot’s Run. It has worked out nicely. One thing I would do differently is to make the walls in the greenhouse exterior grade instead of just the green drywall. It is very humid in there in the winter for the orchids and takes a toll on the surfaces. Tiling the whole thing would have been good.
    Frances

  15. What a planner and designer you are! We have been trying to think of a way to organize a mudroom for 30 years! Any mudroom we would build would be the main entrance into our house, and I can tell you the current ‘entry hall’ if one were to use that term, is not a lovely thing. Your post has given me new inspiration and energy to attempt the kind of planning you seem to do so easily. Wonderful post.

    Thanks Pat. I don’t know about designing, but I am a born planner, it is in my genetic makeup. I try hard to be spontaneous! HA My mudroom is very seldom lovely, it was just scrubbed down is why it looks so neat, but it serves the purpose. We close the door to the main house when company comes, but keep it open for the additional light the rest of the time. Good luck with your own mud room!
    Frances

  16. Valerie says:

    Lucky you to have a mud room. My husband needs one as he brings half the back yard with him every time he comes in through the kitchen. I will put it on my wish list. Have a great day Frances. Valerie

    Thanks Valerie. I am lucky to have this space, but had to do a lot of work and persuading to get it, too. Nothing worth having is easy.
    Frances

  17. Lola says:

    What a fantastic place. I wish I had one here. I did have a great place in N.C. My DH built a complete bath onto the outside building [concrete block] so I could clean up there & not take all that soil into the main living quarters.

    Thanks Lola. That sounds wonderful, a place with a bath to clean up and make those necessary visits while gardening, too.
    Frances

  18. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    You really thought this through and I love the result. Using barn-boards was brilliant and I just love the rustic look that gives the space. Wood is warm and inviting. Enjoy your mud room.

    Thanks Elizabeth. The barn boards are my favorite part and do make it seem more rustic and garden-y in there.
    Frances

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