By Mark Dreisonstok
Mudrooms — those small rooms with either tiled or linoleum floors where people can de-shoe and de-coat themselves before entering the heart of the home — are said to be disappearing. But builders, architects and real estate agents throughout the Washington, D.C. region don’t see it that way.
Leading the call that mudrooms are vanishing is Wayfair, the online furniture retail company. Though that hunch could stem from the company’s desire to push products that can accommodate the lack of a dedicated room for your mud.
Jeff DuBro, president of DuBro Architects + Builders on South Maple Avenue in Falls Church, doesn’t see mud rooms fading as much as the terminology does. For example, his company does not routinely use the term “mudroom,” even though the firm continues to include these spaces or modified versions of these spaces in its construction plans.
“People will always need a transition from outside to inside for storage. We design and build if a need is there. It adheres to the old dictum, ‘form follows function,’” DuBro said.
Reba Winstead, a realtor with Keller-Williams on West Broad Street in Falls Church, told the News-Press that mudrooms remain very popular. Not only are they serving their traditional use as a transitional space between the outside world and the family home, in the Covid-19 era they also provide a space for an essential worker to change and dispose of masks and clothing.
It’s an added precaution before entering the home and engaging with loved ones.
“If space is an issue and we cannot have a mud room, we can incorporate some cubbies and hooks where people can store their shoes and so forth,” Andrew Moore, president of Arlington Designer Homes, said.
Further out in the exurbs, mudrooms are even more important. Jessica Dreisonstok (coincidently, a distant relative of the author) is a real estate agent in Frederick and Washington counties out in rural Maryland. She said that the majority of new homes built in that area actually include mudrooms. Her colleague, Sophia Richards, a real estate agent and interior designer in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., suggested that while some “empty nesters” may consider a mud room a waste of space, families are very fond of them.
“Mud rooms are also called ‘family entrances,’ as they are typically attached to the garage leading into the home with space for anything from storage to an additional washer and dryer,” Richards said.
For families with children, Richards noted “it is a great spot to hang coats and leave items like backpacks that don’t need to be carried into the home. Similarly, kids can remove their clothes right in that room and put them straight in the washer, eliminating the need to track dirt through the home.” These areas are sometimes turned into home offices as well, she continued, once the children are a little older.
So, in summary, the term “mudroom” may not be quite as fashionable as it once was, but the utility of these areas remain both common and desirable, especially in free-standing homes. Even Lindsay Reed, a blogger who wrote about “Why Are Mud Rooms Disappearing from Homes?” acknowledged that mudrooms are not so much disappearing as “being redesigned and can come in all shapes and sizes,” and that the modern mud room “no longer has to be a box-like room positioned between your garage and kitchen.” A simple linguistic shift and the exact form may be changing in mudrooms, but how the functionality of the space can’t be denied.