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Home & Garden

Red-birch cabinetry in a Minneapolis mudroom

(NewsUSA) - Mudrooms - transition spaces between the outdoors and the indoors that provide storage for footwear, wet clothes, sports gear, and other paraphernalia not wanted in the house - have grown in popularity as American homes have become bigger.

Mudroom 2
Visit www.hardwoodinfo.com for more about mudrooms and other applications and products using American hardwoods.

"While mudrooms are not a new amenity, they've moved up on the list of must-haves for today's homeowner," says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center, www.hardwoodinfo.com.

"As the amount of residential square-footage dedicated to mudrooms has grown, so has the attention paid to their design and aesthetics. Solid hardwood built-ins not only provide the customization needed in what are sometimes awkwardly configured spaces, but also create the opportunity to bring the warmth and character of natural wood to what is first and foremost a service room."

Bob Near, renovation division director at Streeter & Associates, a Minneapolis-based home-building firm that installs myriad mudrooms, agrees: "For example, working with Peterssen/Keller Architecture and Eminent Interior Design, we recently completed a large mudroom with red-birch cabinetry, part of the makeover of a dated 1980s house. The client wanted a mid-century look, as if the room had been built in the 1960s, so its design is very clean." One wall is entirely floor-to-ceiling storage concealed behind plain slab doors; the other comprises a row of six locker-room-style open cubbies serviced by a single full-length bench.

"The client also asked for unstained wood rather than painted cabinetry, for reasons of durability and aesthetics," Near continues. "First, they felt a clear polyurethane varnish would hold up better than enamel paint to the wear and tear imposed by four active boys. And second, they wanted to give the somewhat austere space a more earthy, homey feel."

Easily applied by hand, the oil-based satin finish had the added advantage of deepening the tone of the red birch without changing its color, an important consideration because the wood had been carefully selected for its not-too-pink, not-too-green hue.

As a whole, the project could serve as a terrific checklist of best mudroom practices: With six cubbies, there's one to assign to each member of the family, who'll then have an easily accessed set of hooks on which to hang wet weather gear; a stretch of solid bench on which to sit and take off dirty boots and shoes that can then be quickly stored in the deep cubbies underneath; a handy drawer for smaller items that might otherwise get lost; and all delivered in a beautiful, red-birch package. Find a better example of flawless function married to fabulous form if you can.

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