The mudroom is a true workhorse. As a second entrance, it doesn’t get to enjoy the glory of the front entrance where you welcome guests. And yet it’s ready to take whatever you literally fling at it, from mud to snow, when you come in from the outdoors. Since the mudroom is the place to dump backpacks, kick off shoes, and dry out wet snow gear, it needs to be organized, durable, and functional. Plus, since you have to look at it every day, it should be stylish, too. This may seem like a tall order for one of the smallest spaces in your home, but with smart design choices and clever organization, it can be done. Here are 9 must-haves for a hardworking mudroom:

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Durable Flooring

Ceramic tiles are ideal for a mudroom, because you can’t find a more low-maintenance flooring. Unlike carpet or wood floors, tile floors hold up well to dirt and dampness, and they’re super easy to clean. If you live in a cold-weather climate, consider adding radiant floor heating under the tile, which will make chilly winter mornings far more tolerable. Add boot trays and colorful, sturdy area rugs to trap dirt and add a cozy, lived-in feel to the room.

Walls that Last

A mudroom needs walls that can hold up after a beating, so wallpaper should be your last choice. But don’t let that stop you from adding texture. Planks, shiplap, beadboard, and board and batten are tough enough to tolerate roughhousing kids and muddy pets—and they look great in mudrooms as an added bonus!

Fresh and Clean

Many a mudroom double as a utility room, and that’s good news for you if you frequently find yourself washing loads you’d rather not drag through the house. Add a washer and dryer to your mudroom and quickly toss in sweaty workout gear or grimy gardening clothes without a second thought.

Utilitarian and Dog-friendly

If your mudroom has plumbing, a utility sink is a must have. Much deeper and more durable than your kitchen or bathroom sinks, it’s useful for gardening, bathing pets (and small children), attacking stains while doing laundry, and hosing off muddy footwear. Large dog owners might be interested in a dog-washing station instead (or in addition to!) for bathing the canine members of the family. It will spare the rest of your home the wet dog smell.

Speaking of dogs, the mudroom is the ideal room to designate as your pet’s. Your pup’s food and water bowls will be out of the way of front door foot traffic, and a kennel or cozy bed can be tucked into a corner. Cats will appreciate having the litter box in a private location. And you’ll love having less pet hair to clean up in other parts of the house.


A Place to Hang

Closets don’t have the benefit of air circulation, which can be bad news when you’re dealing with damp outerwear. Hooks hung on the wall—as many as make sense for your family—make it easy to hang up coats, hats, dog leashes, and umbrellas, keeping them off the floor and allowing everything to air out and dry properly.


Take a Load Off

A chair or bench is essential as a place to sit to put on and take off shoes, or to stash bags and packages. It’s best to avoid anything upholstered, as it’s likely to wear and stain easily. Adding a couple of throw pillows is an easy way to add color and warmth. If storage is an issue, look for a storage bench with plenty of space underneath the seat.


Neat and Tidy

Baskets perfectly sized for cubbies are an easy way to organize and corral the various piles of things you need to store in the mudroom, like mittens, pet gear, and extra tote bags. If you have kids you might consider designating them each a cubby to keep backpacks, sports gear, and shoes tucked away. This will prevent the scramble to find missing shoes five minutes before the school bus pulls up—and it’ll keep the mudroom looking orderly, too.

Drop it Like it’s Hot

Drop zones—where you can quickly deposit purses, keys, and mail—keep your home life running smoothly. Your mudroom drop zone can be as simple as a shelf, but a desk works best. Add a chalkboard or corkboard for tacking up important papers or scrawling notes to family members.

No Mudroom? No Problem

The sad truth is that many homes don’t have mudrooms, despite how incredibly functional they can be. But it’s pretty easy to carve out space for one. Your garage is a prime candidate, if you have a bit of extra space near the door to the house. Otherwise you can create a mudroom niche near your front or backdoor with a coat rack and a bench.