Putting the ‘room’ in ‘mudrooms’

The term mudroom is a bit of a misnomer nowadays because, while these hardworking entry spaces see a lot of action, mud is seldom part of the picture.

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Originally used to stash muddy boots to prevent tracking into the main part of the house, mudrooms now most often function like a secondary foyer. Here are some thoughts to help make your mudroom look more like an appealing room in your home and less like a utilitarian passageway.

Typically located just off a home’s back or side entrance and used by family and close friends, mudrooms come in many shapes and sizes. Some are true rooms and are often combined with laundry facilities, while others are more of a pass-through space in which family members grab and go. The pass-throughs generally fall into one of four categories: hallway, nook (e.g. under the stairs), corner or closet. If a closet, many homeowners like to remove the door and attractively style the interior.

Layouts largely depend on how homeowners intend to use the space, of course, but also whether the mudroom was part of the original architectural design. Regardless, mudrooms tend to need the following: hooks and clips, cubbies, containers, seating and lighting.
Hooks are versatile in terms of both function and placement, as they can hold coats, scarves, handbags, backpacks, umbrellas, keys and much more. And they can be arranged in straight rows, both low and high, or placed on a wall in an artistic manner.

 

Cubbies generally refer to a custom or purchased contemporary “hall tree”-type divided unit with an open front – often vertical in a mudroom application and often in the popular locker style. However, unless carefully designed with restraint, built-in cabinetry can easily look bulky, heavy and a bit claustrophobic. Whether your compartments are closed or open – and perhaps labeled, if possible – a variety of baskets and bins will keep items neatly separated for easy retrieval. But, even though baskets may look nice on top of your unit, how likely is anyone to climb up there?

Benches, with either floor storage or contained storage underneath a lift-up top, are very popular and practical seating choices for mudrooms. They tend to be long and shallow, so they work particularly well for small, narrow spaces and multiple users. But, there is no rule that says a chair or stool is not perfectly acceptable for a mudroom. It might be just what you need.

Lighting – though perhaps not the brightest lighting if dog fur, dirt and dings to the baseboards are an issue – is an important consideration not only for practical purposes, but for creating the ambiance your desire.

Other features that are not essential, but nice to have include a mirror for a last check and to bounce light while enlarging the space; a charging station for cellphones and such; and a wall clock, so you needn’t check your phone as you dash in and out.

Styles run the gamut, but whatever the style of your mudroom, it should certainly complement the rest of your home, even if it is a bit more rustic or informal.

If your mudroom is going to take a beating, consider hard-wearing surfaces like tile on the floor and perhaps board-and-batten wainscoting instead of drywall. An indoor-outdoor rug that you treat as an annual purchase will reduce the chance of someone slipping, while adding color and texture.

You can also incorporate art and family photos, pillows, glass canisters with snacks and dog treats, message boards and general decorative items like floral arrangements and ever-popular painted signs.

Chris Ettel is founding partner of VB Homes. He serves on the Tidewater Builders Association board of directors, serves as past chairman of the TBA Remodelers Council and is a longtime board member of the Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation. Contact Chris@vbhomesliving.com or go to www.vbhomesliving.com.

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Summer Newsletter

Derby Brackett has enjoyed a long love affair with Virginia Beach. Originally from Richmond, she spent many summers, weekends and holidays at her family’s oceanfront cottage on 62nd Street. As an adult with a family of her own, she continued making trips to Virginia Beach. When Derby’s mother passed away in 2010, the 62nd Street cottage was left to her and her brother. They decided to sell the property but Derby knew she couldn’t stay away for long.

She and her husband, Doug, spent a year looking for the perfect lot to build on. They discovered a gem on Atlantic Avenue between 59th and 60th streets, a mere block from the ocean and less than 3 blocks from the original family getaway home. VB Homes owned the lot and once she and Doug met with Chris Ettel and his team, it was easy to choose both the lot and VB Homes.

Must-haves for the new home included a central kitchen and open plan on the second floor, as well as a porch and deck on this level. Derby and Doug also wanted flexible living and sleeping space on the first floor to accommodate their large family of 6 children and 6 grandchildren.

Outside of the layout, Derby had another heartfelt request. The original 1960’s vacation home on 62nd Street was designed with 2-inch thick heart pine floors and pine doors with door latches instead of knobs. VB Homes salvaged some of the pieces and used them on the new home’s second floor. “The house now has the soul of the old home and the heart of our new home,” said Derby.

Completed in August, 2014, the final result was a 2,900 square foot home designed with an ocean blue Hardie plank exterior framed in white trim, and three levels of space that fit the Bracketts’ lifestyle perfectly. An open second floor lets Derby cook and entertain simultaneously and features a deep copper sink as the focal point for the kitchen design. The third floor master bedroom is a cozy escape with calming blue walls and a deck offering ocean views. The incorporation of the 62nd Street home’s floors and doors is a wow factor for guests.

Derby and Doug now live in Virginia Beach year-round. The Bracketts quickly embraced the North End preference for bikes as the primary mode of transportation. Thanksgiving has become a traditional hosting holiday for Derby and Doug, with all 18 family members joining them in 2016. Derby said, “I never thought we would be settled so quickly here. It is definitely the right spot for us.”

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