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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Design dilemma: Make room for a mudroom to solve the at-home chaos

Pallavi Dean explains why you need a ‘stop and drop’ zone for shoes, sunglasses, keys, laptops, school bags, sports kits and other accoutrements of modern-day family life

Wall-mounted hooks are key. Pallavi Dean Interiors
Wall-mounted hooks are key. Pallavi Dean Interiors

More often than not, utility rooms are messy, cluttered and chaotic. Where to start with smart storage?

Back-of-house spaces may not be the sexiest part of redesigning your home but they’re arguably the most important. We do a lot of hotel design and I can guarantee that the first question the hotel manager will ask is not about making the lobby or rooms beautiful; it’s about back-of-house. Get this right and it allows the rest of your home to breathe.

What you need is a mudroom. Traditionally, this was where you scraped the wet mud off your boots and clothes. They went out of fashion in the 20th century as we migrated from fields to cities but they’re making a comeback.

That’s because a modern UAE family – with working parents, pets, kids and probably a nanny – needs an in-between zone that separates the outdoors from the indoors. Think of it as a stop-and-drop zone for shoes, sunglasses, keys, laptops, school bags, sports kits – the list goes on.

In an ideal world, your mudroom would be separate to the utility room. In reality, you’ll probably have to create a mudroom experience in a utility room or corridor. Wherever you put it, here are five home hacks to create a mudroom that’ll solve most of your clutter problems.

An open shoe rack. This should stretch from the floor to as high as you can reach. If you sort out the shoe clutter, you’re halfway there.

Wall-mounted pegs for hanging sports gear, lunch bags, leashes, laptop bags, school kit etc. Because bags are so easy to grab-and-go, people actually use them (no more kids screaming “mum, where did you put my swimming kit?” when you’re bundling them into the car).

Cubby holes. I swear by these. Give each member of the family, including the dog, his or her own cubby hole. A small drawer works well but an open box on a shelf is fine. Remember, make it the right height or nobody will use it. You’ll also need a range of open cubbies of different sizes to store helmets, balls, outdoor games etc (we have a bow and arrow set in ours – families have the weirdest stuff).

Build a wall. The secret to a good mudroom is using every bit of wall space efficiently. Depending on your layout, you may be able to add a wall. A “handyman” service will do this for a few thousand dirhams. A cheap IKEA-style storage unit may also do the job.

Cleaning cupboards. I’m mostly against cupboards because open, easy access is the key to a successful mudroom. The exception to this is cleaning products and equipment, such as the vacuum. For the washing machine, try to put deep shelves above it that can hold containers for separating clothes, such as whites, darks and clothes that are ready for ironing.

Pallavi Dean, founder of Pallavi Dean Interiors. Courtesy Pallavi Dean Interiors
Pallavi Dean, founder of Pallavi Dean Interiors. Courtesy Pallavi Dean Interiors

Pallavi Dean, founder, Pallavi Dean Interiors, www.pallavidean.com, Twitter: @pallavidean_id

Do you have any design dilemmas? Send them to homes@thenational.ae and we will get them answered by an expert