How To Un-Mess A Messy Mud Room

Who doesn’t love a good mud room? It’s the ultimate luxury; a space for dirty coats and dirtier boots, a place to hang those pesky backpacks, and generally a room for all the stuff a family has. Originally, mud rooms were purely functional spaces (and in many instances still are) but we all know that no space can be purely functional for a designer. Everything needs to be designed — even the dreary old mud room.

However, this can lead to certain paradox: how do you hide the mess in a place that is supposed to be messy? And do it in a way that is pretty AND easy to maintain?

Curtains under the sink add texture and help to hide the mess. Photography: Claire Morin

My favourite solution to this conundrum has long been curtains. They’re versatile and easy to install. Little grubby hands can open them. And best of all, they look great!

Another reason one might choose to use curtains: they can be more budget friendly than other solutions. For my mud room, I had looked at getting a built-in bench with cubbies as well as a cabinet with a sink for all our needs but the cost exceeded what I was willing to pay. A little pivoting never hurt anyone, so I ended up finding a cubby shelf for the shoes on Facebook marketplace, and installed a sink with a butcher block worktop on table feet.

A mud room with Drawing Room Blue by Farrow & Ball walls, a curtained sink and worktop in Blue Harem by Sophie Williamson Design and a red wicker bench. An antique cabinet sits next to the bench.
The surround curtain for the sink and worktop hides all kinds of gardening equipment as well as our son’s trumpet. In the far right, the shoes are hidden behind a striped curtain on a cubby shelf from Facebook Marketplace. Photography: Claire Morin

The mess was still very visible, however. Shoes spilling out from the cubbies, the open space under butcher block overflowing with my never ending collection of gardening tools and crafting items. I had already installed little shades in Blue Harem and loved it. Why not add more of this versatile print? My amazing seamstress suggested velcro to attach the curtain to the worktop. I had racked my brain over which type of curtain rod I needed, and how to find rings that I liked but wouldn’t break the bank — her suggestion was genius.

Detail of a sink curtain attached with velcro.
A pretty pleated fabric attached with velcro makes the under-sink space very easy to use, even for little grubby hands. Photography: Claire Morin

The cubby shelf was a spur of the moment decision. I originally wanted to get more of the same fabric but it didn’t look right. I had thrifted a striped IKEA curtain that I attached with brass tacks, folding it into box pleats.

So, what does this mean now? Does the mud room stay as gorgeous and tidy as for the photoshoot (because if you thought that I got everything ready just in time for the shoot — well, then you’re absolutely right)? Of course it doesn’t. There are currently five lamps that I have gotten rewired sitting on the worktop. My son never puts his shoes away. BUT! The curtains have stayed in place. We lift them, put our stuff away, and let them fall back into place. Honestly, it’s genius. It has brought me so much joy. And I hope this little guide will help you, too, make sense of a space that is supposed to be messy. Let’s all un-mess our mud rooms!

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