Mudrooms can improve household organization and energy efficiency. They can also prolong the life of your flooring by keeping dirt out of the main living areas.

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A mudroom is one of those household additions that delivers exactly what it promises, but it’s more than just a spot to keep outside dirt and mud from getting into your home.

Mudrooms were originally envisioned as a place for those in cold climates to shed their heavy winter gear. But given the right organization, you can create a convenient staging area for coats, backpacks and more.

Consider these elements to combine form and function when designing your mudroom.

Focus on organization

A mudroom is generally small, so plan carefully to make the best use of your space. It should be a command center for your and your kids’ stuff. A small seating area, cabinets, wall cubbies, hooks and other storage features help you keep everything organized whether you’re going in or out.

Consider organizational options that serve multiple purposes, such as a bench with storage underneath for boots and shoes.

Structure your mudroom around the things you usually wear or take when you leave your home. You can switch out gear every few months based on seasonal needs.

Consider placing some of the most important, last-minute things for going out the door, such as hats and gloves, in a wire basket hanging at eye level. You’ll find it easier to remember, and a see-through basket means you won’t need to sort through it.

If you have the space, give every family member their own coat hook, basket or cubby labeled with their name. It’s a lot easier to keep track of things when everything has its place. This will also make your entry and exit routines less frantic. Be sure to place the kids’ hooks and cubbies within easy reach.

If you have pets, don’t forget a spot for a leash and water bowl.

Add sturdy elements

A mudroom is a heavy-duty room, so make sure the fixtures and flooring can stand up to what’s needed. Slate and dark tile are both durable and easy to clean — important elements in a mudroom. If you live in a climate with heavy winters, that mudroom is particularly useful in quarantining ice, snow and salt.

Make sure the door between the mudroom and the rest of the house is energy-efficient and well-sealed. You want to make sure outside air stays safely in that room.

Mudrooms can save money

You’ll add years to the lifespan of your carpets and flooring by keeping dirt and grime away from them. You’ll also save yourself the hassle of having to mop the floor or clean the carpet quite as often. And because it provides that buffer zone between the outdoors and your main living area, you’ll save energy keeping the house heated or air-conditioned.