The Treehouse: Hallway Turned Mudroom — Make it Happen for Under $300!

Convert a Hallway Into a Mudroom on a Budget | Design Mom

This post is sponsored by IKEA. Use our ideas to organize your hallway, and avoid having your entryway be an obstacle course.

Do you have a mudroom? And by mudroom I mean a place to put jackets and bags and school work and backpacks and cellphones and on and on as you come into the house? We don’t have a mudroom at the moment — in fact, I don’t think we’ve ever had one. So in every house we’ve lived in we have to figure out an alternative solution. In The Treehouse, our entry is very simple — no coat closet or any storage at all — and it opens immediately to the living room. It was filling up with backpacks and jackets and deliveries every day after school and we couldn’t quite figure out how to best use the space — until I spent some time considering the hallway.

SucculentsConvert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design MomStay TrueHow-to: Hallway Turned Mudroom | Design Mom

The hallway in question is just off the entry, and you don’t see it when you first come in, so it’s not part of the first impression of the home — making it a potentially good option for stashing that mess that was piling up each day. As I’m sure you know, hallways have a reputation for being a sort of waste of space — square footage that you can’t really live in. But the more I looked at it, the more I wondered if we could make the hallway more functional, if we could transform it into our “mudroom”. IKEA really shines when you need to problem solve a solution like this in your home, so I was delighted as can be to partner with them on this project. They have so many options that work in a tight space!

SucculentConvert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

At first, I was mostly thinking hooks. Hooks everywhere! As many as we could fit. But then I started really thinking about how we would use the space, and hooks didn’t quite cover it. We needed a place to gather papers and mail as they came into the house. We needed a place to corral keys, cell phones, ipods, etc. We needed a place to tuck away heavy teenage backpacks (the sort that are too heavy for wall hooks).

SucculentsNavajo RugConvert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design MomMooseConvert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

So I went to IKEA, measuring tape in hand, and walked through every space in the store making notes about products that might work, snapping reference photos, and jotting down ideas — I particularly kept my eyes open for narrow pieces that would leave plenty of pass-through space in the hallway. Though it might look more generous in these photos, the hallway measures a typical 45″ wide (see the “before” pic at bottom for reference). Then I sat down at home and sketched out some options.

Disappearing Wall Hooks

Here are the solutions I came up with:

1) Disappearing Wall Hooks. I adore these! Pull them down when you need them, and fold them up when you don’t. They’re handsome and sturdy — in store, they even showed these hooks holding a skateboard. We use them for jackets and hoodies, scarves and hats, for our reusable shopping totes, and the lightweight backpacks of our youngest kids. When they’re open, the hook is deep enough to hold multiple items — like a bag and a scarf.

Hang Wall Hooks at Toddler Height

We have hooks at 3 heights — two hooks were installed especially for June, at a height she can easily reach.

Sofa Table turned Hallway Organizer

2) Storage Cubbies. These are essential for keeping things off the floor and tidy. We use the bigger cubbies for heavy backpacks, and the smaller ones for shoes or packages from the mail box. I played around with a few options here (you can see my alternative sketches below), and eventually decided on this piece, which is actually a sofa table! It’s made to sit along the back of a sofa and hold magazines, books and decor. But that’s one of the genius things about IKEA — discovering new uses for their smart pieces. We can imagine this same sofa table having a second life as a book shelf in the reading nook — it’s solid wood, so we could even repaint it!

Take advantage of unused space — Sofa Table turned Hallway Organizer.Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

During the day, when the kids are at school, the cubbies sit mostly empty, but they fill up again by the evening.

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

3) Table & Writing Surface. I considered a long desk, but when we decided on the sofa table for backpack storage, we knew the top surface would do the trick.

Add wheels for more height.

But it was a little too low to be a comfortable writing surface, so we added wheels! This gave the cubbies a boost in height, and also makes it easy to move around — in case our needs change and we need to add anything to the space.

Magazine rack turned paperwork organizer. | Design Mom

4) Paper Organizer. We have a home office where the heavy duty paperwork happens, but it’s in the opposite corner of the home, and upstairs, from the front door. And instead of making it to the office, papers end up in all sorts of places as the family comes home with notes from school, and mail from the mailbox, and receipts from errands. I needed a place to gather all those papers until it’s time to take them into the home office. And some papers, like field trip permission slips, never need to make it upstairs at all, and just need a temporary place in our home. This wall-mounted magazine rack was just the thing! It doesn’t take up much space and I can assign each pocket to different needs (school, mail, etc.).

trash bin

Related, we added a paper bin directly below to gather recycling as we sort papers — junk mail goes immediately there without ever seeing the file rack.

wall colors

5) Color Palette. It’s a tight space, and with those little windows, it can feel dark and gloomy on foggy days, so I went with mostly whites, and natural accents, to keep it open and bright and welcoming. I started with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and added a strip of color around the base to add some interest and weight without being too heavy. The colors are Origami White and Silverpointe from Sherwin-Williams in semi-gloss Harmony. I know flat is recommended to hide wall imperfections, but this is a high-traffic area and I need to be able to scrub those walls! I’d rather have clean than perfect, so semi-gloss it is.

I intentionally kept the opposite wall completely empty to make sure the hallway didn’t feel crowded.

Use a tray for gathering cellphones, notebooks, keys, pens, etc. See the full Hallway Conversion on Design Mom.

6) Gathering Tray. A place to corral phones, paperclips, pens, notepads, wallets, keys… all those little moving parts that we need to keep the house running smoothly. We own a serving tray in glossy white with a low profile that was perfect!

three-legged stool

7) A Place To Sit. Somewhere Little June can sit while I tie her sneakers, or Maude can sit to pull off muddy running shoes. And someplace I can sit to write a note or a shopping list. We have this gorgeous handmade stool, and it fit the space perfectly.

I love you because mini cards by Emily McDowell

(Speaking of notes, I keep a little stack of these tiny notes from Emily McDowell in the gathering tray to add to lunchboxes.)

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

8) Decorate. Once the hallway was functional, I was able to decorate. I added a collection of beautiful succulents (only $3 each in the IKEA garden department!) in simple, inexpensive pots, and I hung one as well in a pretty woven basket. I put my favorite Matisse print on the wall — it was actually the first thing we had framed when we married, we’ve had it for 18 years and it wouldn’t feel like home without it.

Navajo rug

I added a long narrow rug — somewhere to wipe your feet or put wet shoes. This rug happens to have some family history. It’s a Navajo rug handed down to me from my parents. My parents spent many years working on the Navajo Reservation — in fact, my oldest brother is a Navajo. So this rug means something to our family. I filled one of the cubbies with this wide lantern, just because it was so charming.

acorn garland

Lastly, I added a sweet, simple garland made of acorns and twine.

This is also one of those instances where our non-decorative belongings also get the chance to function as the decor — like our jackets and umbrellas. Since they’re on display, it’s great incentive to own beautiful things! : )

What we didn’t include, but considered? A shoe rack! We’ve had homes where we went shoe free in the house, but here, we’ve had so much remodeling that we’ve had more of a shoes on policy — no stepping on a forgotten nail with bare feet, please! Plus, with all the decks, it’s such an indoor/outdoor house that keeping shoes on often makes sense. So everyone’s shoes have mostly ended up coming off in their bedrooms. Which frankly, is kind of nice. But if the time comes when we start to see a pile of shoes forming near the door, there is plenty of room in the hallway for a handsome shoe rack.

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

The very best part is that we took a previously unused space in the house, and made it truly functional — and beautiful too! And the cost to get it functional (3 packs of wall hooks, sofa table + wheels, magazine rack, trash can) was only $270. Not bad!

succulentsConvert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

I have to tell you, this is the first space we’ve actually painted and put together and decorated in The Treehouse and it feels so good! Now I’d love to hear: Do you have a mudroom? If not, how do you handle keeping chaos out of the entryway? Also, do you think this space would work for your family?

P.S. — Here are sketches of other options I considered, plus a before and after pic:

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

A long sleek desk + a shoe rack. But I decided no, because it didn’t solve the heavy backpack storage issue.

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

For this one I thought about working in some bolder colors. For backpacks, flexible fabric bins in black (to hide the dirt) on a simple board (like the board on this shelf) — with wheels added to take it off the floor. I like things off the floor because it makes sweeping and dusting easier. On the wall, I’d put this tall, glossy red bathroom cabinet to corral cellphones, waterbottles, etc. I thought a long bench next to the bins could be great, but ultimately decided the cubbies made more sense.

Convert an Unused Hallway Into a Light, Bright, Organized Entryway | Design Mom

Two of the same sofa tables side-by-side. This would provide 8 of the square cubbies — and there are 8 people in our family! But using two of these really ate up the space for wall hooks. So I nixed this idea. We need those hooks!

How to: Hallway Before and After. Turn an unused space into an organized, welcoming starting place for your day. | Design Mom

98 thoughts on “The Treehouse: Hallway Turned Mudroom — Make it Happen for Under $300!”

  1. At first I just thought it was a nice hallway until I saw the ‘after. ‘ What a huge improvement! Our front door enters straight into our living room. I use a bench behind our couch to drop bags and put on shoes and we have a shoe tray right next to it. We also have a small cabinet for keys and such. I’d love to true mud room, or hallway in your case!

  2. I love what you’ve done, it’s genius! We recently bought a house with an interesting layout that doesn’t include a mudroom. I might have to draw on your makeover for inspiration. Thanks for the ideas!

    Also, I love your blog. I’ll be sticking around.

    Your newest follower,

  3. You are amazing! This is just perfect. I love how the dull hallway was made beautiful and useful at the same time. We consider our walk-in closet as the mudroom as of the moment while we’re planning on a house of our own. This is really a great idea, I love it!

  4. Gabrielle, this is an amazing and beautiful transformation. I love every bit of it.
    We have a sunroom/mudroom that I am constantly organizing but unsuccessfully. Maybe your redesign will inspire me.

  5. Looks fantastic! I have to say the wood floors also add a lot to the space too. And I’m surprised how much lighter it looks in the after photo. Well done Gabby!

    1. We pulled up the carpet and tile and have had hardwood installed in all the public spaces on the main floor. We hired it out, so I don’t have a wood source, but for sure the new floors brighten up the space!

      If we hadn’t been ready to do the wood floors yet, I would have done 2 long rugs end to end.

  6. What a great use of space! We have a similar small hallway, but it does have a closet. I’m eyeing that sofa table to put in there since we could use something for backpacks. I agree they are often heavy and not good to hang.

    Where do you put coats? That is one issue we are having – getting the coats to fit with everything else.

    1. Good question, Laura! In our French home, we had to deal with coats for most of the year, but here, the weather is much milder and so far, we just use the hooks to hang jackets and hoodies.

      But if we get into heavy coats, I think these hooks are still plenty sturdy.

  7. Beautiful! I love your color choices and the Scandinavia feel. It is always nice to have a pretty place to organize what would otherwise become clutter.

  8. Love this! I’m sure it feels so awesome to have a piece of your home transformed into your own look. It must give hope that the rest will make it there soon too. And when the other parts are feeling stuck in the construction phase you can just stand to where you can only see down your hallway and smile. I love those hooks. So cool!! It really worked out well that the door is not centered so that you don’t have to change your path as you walk down the hallway. I always love the versatility of IKEA and how well it goes with your own pieces as well. Now, too bad the rug and stool aren’t from IKEA too so I could pick them for me as well.

    1. “It must give hope that the rest will make it there soon too.”

      Absolutely! When my head is going crazy making lists of everything that needs to be done in any room I walk through, I can visit the hallway and get a little relief. : )

  9. I love your design eye, Gabrielle! This is so crisp & refreshing & I love that this space has been absolutely transformed for $300! As a newly married fresh out of school woman, I’m on a tight budget, but think I could swing this! X

  10. Brilliant and beautiful! We are still searching for some perfect entry solutions – big house, but the laundry room (aka dump room) is so narrow. I will have to take a walk through the house and try to get a different view. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Beautiful job — Gabi, this is such a gorgeous and simple redesign. Love how bright and happy the space is. Already looking at our mudroom/entry with fresh eyes :)

  12. Great job Gabi! That’s an amazing transformation! I love how Ikea has such great solutions for small spaces, and I love the piece that you picked! We recently decided to go with some Ikea Ivar cabinets (turned kitchen buffet–hack) for more storage in our kitchen. Before Ikea I couldn’t find anything narrow enough…and it feels so good to be able to put things away that have been sitting in the garage for several years! so I completely understand how you feel!

  13. Forget the hallway – please tell me that is NOT Baby June in that photo! She looks like such a big girl. And that only serves to remind me that my baby girl born shortly after Baby June is also a big 3 year old. (sigh)
    Love the hallway transformation. Good work as always, Gabrielle!

  14. I love how it turned out. I wonder if I should paint my mudroom white. . .
    I’m watching your Tree House posts eagerly to see how you deal with the indoor/outdoor issue. We’ve got shoes and “mudboots” at every door of our house (“Faulconwood”) because we’re in and out of the woods and river all the time. At some point I’d love to do an outdoor shower or shoe-spraying-off station. Do you think you’ll have a need for that? I want to see what you come up with.

    Also, check out the ENO hammocks with slap straps. They could be great fun in your trees!

    1. I love the idea of spray off station!

      We haven’t hit rainy season yet, but I’m curious about how muddy things may get. We’ll find out! And thanks for the ENO recommendation.

  15. Such a great idea & transformation! I constantly complain about the lack of entry room and mud room in our tiny house, yet we have a long hallway filled with junk. I never would have considered it as a possible solution. Great ideas! And I love Ikea …

  16. What a beautiful space! We live in Minnesota and have an extremely small mudroom/laundry room, so I’ve spent many hours (and winters!) trying to make it functional. We have two long coat racks for snow pants, coats, and backpacks (all labeled, so everyone has an area.) Above it I keep scarves and face masks for extra cold days. On the floor, everyone has a labeled dish tub for winter boots to catch all the snow and grime that comes in from outside. In the closet we keep all sneakers in baskets, and a hanging shoe rack with sets of gloves and hats.

    And the best part: I keep all the socks in sliding baskets in the laundry room, so no one is having to run up to their room and hunt for socks last-minute. I would love a prettier/larger space, but for the time being it functions really well!

  17. Such an inspiring place! I’m over in Pleasanton, just East of you, and we rarely take off shoes either. When we go to cold/snowy places to visit (family in Utah), they usually have a system by the door. I’ve noticed most Californians don’t have anything like that- just shoes in your bedroom. I agree, I like that much better. What a gorgeous, welcoming and calming space that is!

  18. I love what you’ve done with the hallway. It looks so clean and functional and you can never go wrong with succulents. Not ever.

    I didn’t know you’d lived on the rez! I’m from Page, Arizona and miss the reservation like crazy (although I love Manhattan too.) Seeing the rug brought a warm feeling to my heart.

  19. I love the transformation! We are living in France now (I found your blog because someone recommended I read your posts about schools here) and I have an entryway I need to figure out what to do with. My husband wants to leave it empty, but I am sure the next available space will fill up with backpacks and jackets. I’m glad we have an IKEA close! Also, the Navajo rug is beautiful, I am Lakota/Shoshone-Paiute and I always love seeing people enjoying Native art. However, if the rug is very old, it may be worth a lot of money. I hope I don’t sound like I’m telling you what to do, but you may consider getting it appraised and taking it off the floor. :)

    1. I probably should get it appraised! Many, many years ago, my parents donated the most valuable rugs in their collection to a university, so I think I had the idea that this one is less valuable. But who knows?

  20. I love what you did with that space. It looks completely different, and so much better! My boyfriend and I live in the top half of a two-family flat, and our door opens right into our dining and living area. I ended up doing something very similar to gather keys, mail, shoes, etc. Not only does it keep us more organized, I also made sure to pick things that added to the decor of the space.

    Love your blog!

  21. It’s amazing how much of a difference those changes made to the hallway – it looks brighter and more inviting. I love the disappearing wall hooks. Those might be good for us along with the magazine rack for holding paper and mail. Storing backpacks, jackets, and shoes is a perpetual issue in my very small apartment.

  22. I love hearing about your design process…very inspiring. I love that you sketched out difference scenarios…a must before you shopping (especially to IKEA) or you get swept up with all the prettiness.

    1. I know that was a ton of information for one post, but I hoped it would be helpful. Every family has different — and specific — needs for this sort of thing, and I wanted readers to know there are lots of options that can work in a space. There’s no one right answer.

  23. What a lovely addition your blog has become to my Internet reading rounds. Usually I experience such dissatisfaction with my own home after reading design blogs, but your balance of real life surrounding the beautiful reminds me that pursuing beauty in our moments and in the space around us is not the same as perfection. How refreshing.

    And thank you for these fantastic ideas. I am inspired to tackle our cave of an entryway.

  24. I love it all…and could not help but wonder if that’s a little Tollipop ornament dangling from your doorknob…? My eyes are not THAT sharp, but either way, the end result is fantastic.

    1. Yes! It is indeed. I shot a few photos of it when I shot the hallway, but was afraid it didn’t show up enough to mention it in the decor section. I’ll have to Instagram it instead.

      I surely love it, Kirsten!

  25. I love it! Functional and lovely. Our front door opens right into our family room as well, with no real space designated for backpacks/shoes/etc. I wish we had a hallway to repurpose, but our lower level is all rooms and corners! Any suggestions on ways to tidy up/carve out a space for our “stuff”?? I’d love some ideas to get me thinking…..

  26. Functional and lovely!!
    I wish I had a hallway to repurpose, as our front door opens to our living space as well. I’d love any suggestions on carving out a space for shoes/backpacks/mail/etc in our living space. Thanks!

    1. In France, our front door opened the same way — directly onto the living room. But there was a large, handsome armoire, just to the side of the door, and it could fit backpacks, school supplies, gloves, hats, and all sorts of things. We added a coat tree next to the armoire, and that worked out pretty well for us.

      Maybe something like that would work for you?

  27. Just a little shout-out that we would love an Ikea in Boise, Idaho. :)

    When I actually commit to a space, think it through, and arrange it the way it works for my family, it is so satisfying! I find myself returning again and again to my finished space, just standing there and enjoying. I hope your hallway is that way for you while you claim the rest of the Treehouse’s spaces!

    Thanks for all the pictures! They are a treat.

  28. Wonderful solution. I was really hoping that green rug was from Ikea- as I was reading I was thinking to myself- when can I get there? I must have that rug! Sad to find out it wasn’t from Ikea. You are lucky to have it – beautiful!

  29. So pretty and functional! I especially love the paint–I’ve been thinking about doing something like that for our boys’ room. I have been cruising Ikea myself this week, and there’s so much great inspiration. This last visit, I really noticed the other shoppers. It’s so fun to see other people measuring and pondering–it’s like you can see their wheels turning.

    We have a detached garage, and our living room is the main entrance for everyone. Shoes and especially winter gear pile up there so quickly! I’d love to solve that, but haven’t figured out a solution yet.

  30. I love how clean and fresh it looks! I’m currently working on my entry and would love that gathering tray on my console. Where did you get it?

    1. Hi Chelsey, it came as a set of three — a large red one, a medium orange one, and a small white one — from the now closed-down Cambria Cove. Try a search for “white serving tray” and you’ll find similar. Something like this.

  31. I like everything but the succulents–I’m very practical and wouldn’t consider giving over such prime surface space right there where there’s so little of it….But then I live in a cold, snowy climate & absolutely need surface space when returning home.

  32. I’m totally inspired! We were at IKEA over the weekend to pick up things for our entry way/wannabe mudrom. The drop down hooks reminded me of some I had from a previous IKEA visit and especially with colder weather here I think I’ll dig them up and install them. Our hallway is windowless so we’re adding a mirror to make it appear brighter and so we can do one last “check yourself” before heading out the door. We’re a shoes off home (especially with the grime of NYC!) and have two different shoe racks (one’s a bench that I love for getting boots on/off and lacing up my LOs shoes) but I’m not 100% happy with them. I’d love a hidden pop out shelves shoe rack but my husband’s size 17 shoes won’t fit. Still looking for a good solution…

  33. Ok- we must be on the same wavelength. Here is my post- last week.

    I just redid my entry way, because we are moving because of job loss/seeking new horizons/new goals/starting something new.
    I have had to be creative with my areas too, as you are. I used to think ‘oh, what a pain!’ But, now that I’m leaving this big house, it’s been a great one, even though there is NO closet space. But, it’s taught me to living sparingly with 7 people in our family and make do with the spaces that we have even if they are large but not well thought out by the contractor.

    Kuddos on the hallway, nice fengshui design for a narrow area.

  34. I love this! So light and airy and functional. The succulents made me smile because they’re my favorite indoor plants–nothing I do (or forget to do, like water them) seems to matter. I love the little touches like the garland and the moose, too. Very inspiring!

    We have a mudroom–when we built the house, it seemed so big. But with four kids and all their gear, it could be even bigger!

  35. I can’t think of a single thing I don’t love about this room. It’s exactly the kind of hallway I would build for myself. Genius!

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