Of the many spaces within the living environment that has changed over the years, the mudroom can often be a paradox, both universally seen but sometimes almost unrecognizable. This could be because the mud room often doesn’t exist as a room anymore. Instead, a mud room often represents itself as a dedicated area in the home to place shoes, which itself often exists due to spatial limitations within construction.
The fact that it still exists is a testament to its importance. The pandemic and the resulting hyper-attention placed on home hygiene means that these spaces remain just as relevant as they have ever been. It’s a straight-forward concept, a room to contain mud, and that is perhaps why its shape has shifted so much over the years. Beyond that, however, a mudroom is seen as a space to contain clutter, as well as a space to contain potentially harmful pathogens and chemicals tracked in from outside.
Studies have found that everything from drug-resistant diseases to heavy metals and lawn chemicals can be tracked into the home on shoes. From there, these invisible offenders can eventually make their way into the air and more prominently impact the health of homeowners apart from those who crawl close to the ground in the first place.
Reconsidering the Mudroom as the Embodied Function of a Space
Ultimately, the root cause for the changing face of the mudroom is a matter of space. Spatial limitations within the construction process often leads to the incorporation of these designated spaces versus sequestered rooms. However, custom-built homes still see a hearty inclusion of mudrooms, with these additions often expanding heavily upon the space’s original purpose. In some cases, the space is even co-opted as a gathering space or one of brief respite, perched as it is upon the threshold of the home.
Of course, the idea that a mudroom doesn’t have to exist within the home has been explored as well, with many health experts recommending this as the preferred approach to its inclusion in the home. Exterior spaces, such has the garage, have long been employed as a stand-in to the standard mudroom, but only serve as effective replacements if they happen to serve as a primary entryway into the home.
Elsewhere, utility rooms, as well as covered porches and patios have been employed for these spaces. The idea of an exterior mudroom can be enticing for a variety of reasons, addressing the growing inclinations of home occupants to want to have more exposure to outdoor spaces without intruding upon the interior space. This can also play into another growing trend within home design which is the gradual delineation of interior and exterior spaces, allowing designers and architects to play with their implementation of a ‘mud space.’
In these experimentations, however, the focus should remain the same, and that is anticipating occupant behaviors. A space such as this is pointless if it fails to account for the behaviors of those occupying the space it is in. In the face of habit, the mud, pathogens and chemicals will become like a worn patch of grass adjacent a paved walkway in the home if the mudroom doesn’t line up with the movements of the inhabitants.