12 Home Repairs That Are Way Too Risky to Put Off

home-reapairs-dont-delay

Nobody ever cheers at the thought of tackling home repairs. They’re annoying, costly, time-sucking endeavors. So often we put them off, over and over, justifying to ourselves that they can wait. Light switch doesn’t work? Whatever—you never go in that room anyway. Squeaky floors? You’re already used to them!

But there are some home improvement projects that simply can’t wait, lest you risk much bigger problems (and costly expenses) down the line. Here are 12 home repairs experts say you should never put off:

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Watch: 5 Home Repairs That Are Too Dangerous to Delay

1. A leaking roof

If you see water stains on your ceiling or down your walls, get moving on the repair stat—there are a host of problems that can arise and get progressively worse with a leaking roof.

“Not repairing a leak as soon as you notice it can lead to mold, damage to the structure of your home, water damage, and even fire if water comes in contact with electrical wiring,” says Carlos de León, vice president of the León Group, an estate management company on Long Island, NY. Scared yet? Good.

2. Damaged or missing shingles

This one seems obvious, but Derek Perzylo, owner of Big 5 Exteriors in Calgary, Canada, says he regularly encounters homeowners who have never had their roof inspected.

“After a big storm, especially if there’s a lot of gusting wind and hail, it’s always a good idea to visually inspect your roof,” he says. “If you see shingles out of place, or if you see shingles on the ground, you might have some damage that could cause potential problems, like leaks, down the road.”

3. Sagging roof

Roof sagging can be caused by moisture in the attic space, says Joe Todaro, director of operations at Gold Medal Service in East Brunswick, NJ. If left untreated, the structure of the wood will weaken and settle, causing cracks in the exterior walls. Proper ventilation is essential for an attic.

4. Cracks in the foundation

Your home’s foundation may develop small cracks over time, and it’s best to address them to prevent spreading. Otherwise you might have to replace the foundation, which can cost as much as $100,000. Large cracks that go unaddressed can lead to everything from leaking to parts of the concrete collapsing.

“The damage could be life-threatening if your home is not supported properly,” León says.

5. Gas leaks

Silent but deadly
Silent but deadlyBanksPhotos/iStock

Since natural gas and propane are heavier than air, they “pool” in the low points of your home. The second you smell gas (a telltale rotten egg–like smell), call your gas company and vacate the premises until a company worker arrives.

“You risk having an explosion or fire by not doing something about a gas leak immediately,” León says.

6. Plumbing leaks

Leaking water can lead to mold, structural problems, and health issues. Homeowners should check under sinks at least once a year to ensure no water is leaking into the cabinets. If you see any, call a plumber right away.

7. Mold

Is there good mold and bad mold? Not really. When you see it, deal with it. And simply having a “mold remediation” company come in to assess things is not the entire answer, says Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and author of “The Greened House Effect.”

“The reason the mold formed in the first place needs to be sussed out and the problem fixed by a building science professional trained by an organization like Building Performance Institute,” he says.

So just to be clear: While not all molds are life-threatening, all of them—even the ubiquitous shower mold—can potentially make you sick. So it’s best to be aggressive no matter what kind you see.

8. Overtaxed or poor electrical systems

More than 40,000 electrical fires occur each year in the United States. And most of them could have been easily avoided. Some warning signs of faulty electrical work include circuit breakers blowing unexpectedly, lights flickering, and outlets and/or switches being warm or hot to the touch. Not calling an electrician can result in your home catching fire. Got it? Call the electrician.

9. Clogged gutters

Clogged gutters are easy to ignore, but they can cause substantial damage to your home if you don’t make it your business to keep them clean.

The role of gutters and drainpipes is to draw rainfall away from the home. If they’re stopped up, water begins to pool in vulnerable areas. You’ll face a higher risk for wood rot around the fascia and for foundation damage in low, sloped areas around the perimeter of your home.

Homeowners should clean out their gutters twice a year and water test them with a garden hose afterward. Make sure the water travels easily through the gutter system, into the drainpipe, and away from the home’s foundation.

10. Cracked driveways

Most driveways are pitched to direct water away from your foundation. If there are cracks and settling in your driveway, not only are they a tripping hazard, they could also lead to possible water damage in your home.

11. Damaged decks

The No. 1 danger spot with decks is when there’s worn or missing flashing, the thin layer of material that keeps water from getting into places it doesn’t belong. Without flashing, water can get into the ledger board (which connects the deck to the house) and weaken the wood and metal fasteners that hold the deck together. And if a weakened deck is overloaded, it can have expensive—if not deadly—consequences.

12. Clogged dryer vents

Removing the lint from your dryer vent isn’t just one of those things your mama nagged you to do. It could mean the difference between life and death.

“It’s not a big project by any means,” says Aaron Rovner, vice president of business development at ServiceWhale in Trevose, PA. “But if you allow lint and other fabric to sit in a dryer vent, it will ultimately cause an airflow and exhaust backup that will turn into a major fire hazard.”

So you have your work cut out for you. The good news is that you don’t have to do many of these repairs frequently. But when you see warning signs, get going pronto—or risk bigger problems down the road.

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How to Keep a Small Kitchen Organized

It can be tricky keeping a compact cooking space tidy, but these ideas can help keep a small kitchen organized.

Houzz Contributor, Cheryl Freedman

Contrary to what you might think, you don’t need acres of counter space or dozens of drawers and cupboards to have an organized kitchen that’s a joy to cook in. If anything, a smaller kitchen can encourage you to streamline your stuff and live more simply. Who wants cabinets chock-full of unloved pasta machines and dusty bread makers anyway? Check out these easy ways to restore order to your less-than-enormous kitchen.

1. Start with a utensil rack. Not only will it give you a place to hang slotted spoons and ladles for easy access while cooking, it will also free up precious drawer space.

Even in the tiniest kitchen, you can usually find somewhere to squeeze one in — under a cupboard or shelf or above the stove. Stainless steel models work in most styles of rooms and are easy to wipe down.

2. Get a knife holder. A knife block or magnetic rack is one of those simple items that really do make a difference in how functional your kitchen is. After all, rummaging around in a drawer for a piece of kitchen gear you use frequently is time-consuming and dispiriting.

A wall-mounted rack like this one keeps things orderly without swallowing too much space. Buy decent knives if you can afford it, as they should last a lifetime. One advantage of a magnetic rack is that you can slowly build up your collection of knives, buying one at a time, rather than having to invest in one large block complete with knives, which can be pricey. If you’re starting from scratch, a bread knife, paring knife and chef’s knife are essential.

3. Assign dedicated storage areas. Kitchen clutter can easily accrue, so it makes sense to assign different cupboards a specific purpose and stick to it. And dedicate a few minutes every couple of weeks to returning stray plastic lids or pot covers to their homes and sweeping out spilled spices and coffee grounds — it really will make a difference in how pleasurable (and easy) your kitchen is to use day to day.

4. Reduce your numbers. If your kitchen is really mini, or even if it isn’t, think about doing a good edit of your paraphernalia. Be honest: Do you really need more than a handful of plates, mugs or glasses if there are only one or two of you?

Having less stuff can be immensely freeing — and will significantly reduce the amount of time you spend washing up, which is a big bonus.

5. Gather and display. This cute kitchen demonstrates how you can be organized and chic at the same time. A charming crock to hold wooden spoons, a wall-mounted crate or two to provide a home for vintage-style scales and jugs, a small wall-mounted spice rack — they all add a pretty touch as well as having a practical function.

6. Be clever with your cabinets. Use every spare inch in a small kitchen by building recessed shelves where feasible. Here, they surround an integrated refrigerator. With this design solution, wall space that’s too skinny or awkwardly shaped for extra cabinets can still be used to hold frequently used items. In this kitchen, it also helps open up the room and leads the eye to an appealing feature.

The other clever feature in this kitchen is the cookbook niche above the door — another neat storage trick that doesn’t take up too much room. Ask a builder if one can be carved out from an existing wall.

7. Go minimal. Are you in the process of picking new cabinets for your compact kitchen? Consider this look. Ultra-plain, handleless cabinets in a nude hue are soothing to look at and give a sense of visual order. Pick a seamless backsplash such as this slab of marble, since tiles with grout can look busy.

8. Get in a tight corner. When space is tight, an ingenious trio of pullout corner drawers is a lifesaver, helping to solve the problem of lost space in those awkward-to-access base cabinets.

If you’re remodeling, think about how you’d use such drawers — for cutlery, towels, pans, dishes? Here, a slimmer top drawer is complemented by the two deeper ones, so all the bases are covered.

9. Put the pans away. Similarly a pullout pan rack can be a gift in a small kitchen, creating an organized home for frying pans and saucepans and keeping you from tearing your hair out as you hunt around in the backs of cupboards. Also try using racks for items such as steamers or large, unwieldy casserole dishes.

10. Organize inside. It may sound like a no-brainer, but often what makes a kitchen, big or small, organized is how we arrange the insides of our cupboards. Shelf and drawer dividers, hooks, racks and other storage devices are key to keeping order. Consider what works for you and go custom if you can. Are you a Mason jar and Tupperware kind of person? Do you prefer mugs on hooks, shelves or in drawers? Storage is often about personal preference. Here, the slim slots for chopping boards and placemats are a brilliant idea, as is the slim pullout spice rack.

Tell us: How have you organized your small kitchen? Share your ideas in the Comments.

More
Simplifying: What Items in Your Kitchen Are Just Taking Up Space?
10 Things You Didn’t Think Would Fit in a Small Kitchen
Smooth Running: How to Keep the Pantry Organized
See the latest photos of small kitchens

 

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Protect Your Home While You’re On Vacation

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You’re packed and ready to go. The cooler’s in the car and your emergency contacts have a copy of your itinerary. Yep, you’re vacation ready. But is your house?

Summer is a great time to get away and relax, but if you’re not careful it could be prime time for a burglar. Take steps to batten down the hatches and secure your house before you leave so you can really kick back, worry-free. Here are a few tips:

Don’t announce you’re not at home:

  • Stop all newspaper and postal deliveries while you’re gone. Nothing says “we’re not home” like a week’s worth of The New York Times heaped at your front door.

 

Take security measures:

  • If you’re leaving a car behind, park it outside against the garage door to block access and stow your garage door remotes out of sight.

Miscellaneous home prep:

  • Toss any food that might go bad while you’re away and take out the (smelly) trash even if your garbage won’t be collected during your absence.

Now, go and have fun!

GOING ON VACATION?
KEEP YOUR HOME SAFE!

Warning for Homeowners: Here’s How Much You’ll Spend After Buying Your New House

By  | Jul 18, 2017

How much does it cost to turn a house into a home? About $5,000 on top of the purchase price, according to a study distributed Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based research group.

Buying a house triggered that much on average in spending on home renovations and durable home goods such as kitchen appliances, according to research by economists Efraim Benmelech, Adam Guren and Brian Melzer.

Home buyers embarked on the wave of spending even after buying a house that was newly constructed, suggesting that it was driven in part by a new owner’s desire to tailor his or her new house to their tastes, said study co-author Ephraim Benmelech, director of the Guthrie Center for Real Estate Research at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

The study analyzed spending by 70,000 households from 2001 to 2013 and building permits for nine million properties. (Such spending flagged significantly during the housing crisis, helping to fuel the Great Recession, the researchers found.)

“People may move into a house with all new appliances but may not like how they fit with the décor, so they’ll replace them,” Benmelech told MarketWatch. “Factor in the fact you might be moving to a new house, but there’s a good chance you may not like what’s in the house and you may end up changing it.”

Home buyers increased their spending on home-related expenses starting three months before the home purchase and for a year afterward, with spending peaking during the month right after home purchase, according to the study. The $5,000 is the figure for primary residences; the average amount of spending is $3,700 when second homes and investment properties are included.

Younger home buyers (35 and under) and lower-income buyers (households making below a median household income of $57,000 for a family of 2.63) tended to spend more on home-related costs than older, wealthier households, the study found. That could be because younger, less wealthy home buyers bought houses that needed more work, Benmelech said.

The more bedrooms a house had, the more the new owner spent on durable home goods and home improvements. Perhaps that’s some consolation for homeowners who regret not buying a bigger house. A recent survey of home buyers found that buying too small of a house was the No. 1 regret buyers had.

A recent discussion on Reddit highlighted some of the often unexpected expenses homeowners encounter after they move in.

“I’ve successfully budgeted moves to new places as a renter, but moving to a new house that I own has been an endeavor that has completely blown my budget in a truly epic way,” wrote a Reddit poster who recently moved into an older (1920), but renovated house considered to be “move-in ready.”

The poster said he or she ended up paying for a slew of surprise costs, including a plumber to investigate leaks and an engineer to look at a “scary crack” on a detached garage.

Unexpected expenses like those are one reason another Reddit commenter said he was glad he set aside some cash that he originally thought would be part of his down payment. He ended up with a bigger mortgage, but had cash at the ready to pay for leaky windows and roof repairs. “Without that extra dough we had on hand we’d have had to go pretty seriously into debt to cover those repairs,” the commenter said.

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7 Wood Paneling Makeover Ideas: Groovy in a Whole New Way

By  | Jul 12, 2017

If your home has wood paneling, you’ve probably pondered some major wood paneling makeover projects. But the reality is that ripping all that groovy stuff out can be a pricey pain. There must be an easier way to remove your home’s “Brady Bunch” vibes, right?

Thankfully, there are plenty of quick fixes that don’t require special screwdrivers or building materials you’ve never heard of. Check out these seven ways to revamp wood panels so they have a whole new look.

1. Paint the wood panels


Photo by Tad Davis Photography
One of the easiest, quickest fixes for wood paneling? “A fresh coat of white paint,” says Bee Heinemann, an interior design expert and marketing director of Vant Wall Panels. Start with a good primer to cover all that wood grain, then add a few coats of a vivid white paint.

“It brightens a room and gives it a cottage-like feel,” Heinemann says.

2. Whitewash the wood panels


Photo by Blakes London
There’s no shame if you secretly dig the wood grain texture of your walls. A technique called “whitewashing” (not to be confused with old-fashioned whitewashing with lime) allows you to keep that, while losing the ski lodge-fallen-on-hard-times motif.

“Start by watering down your paint, then brush on, immediately wipe, and repeat until you get your desired color,” Heinemann says.

3. Turn the wood panels into regular walls


Photo by Cary Bernstein Architect
Grab some drywall compound at your local home improvement store, then use it to fill in the distinctive cracks and lines of the wood paneling. Afterward, sand, prime, and paint whatever color you like.

“Your final product should look just like typical painted walls,” Heinemann says. Paneling? What paneling?!

4. Add stripes


Photo by Houzz.com
Maybe you’ve been looking at those grooves all wrong. For a totally different take, “create stripes or lines in the walls by painting the paneling grooves a different color than the paneling slats,” Heinemann suggests.

5. Hide the wood paneling under art


Photo by yamamar design
Just like a good magician pretends to saw his assistant in half so she can make a secret getaway through a trap door, you, too, can draw attention away from your paneling.

“A gallery wall, with art hung salon-style, or the addition of large mirrors and sculptures can all distract from a paneled wall,” says Felicia Feaster, managing editor of Scripps Lifestyle Studios & HGTV.

6. Hide the wood paneling with shelves or curtains


Photo by W I N B E R G Interior + Architectural design
No one will pay attention if there’s something constructed in front of your wall, right?

“Place bookshelves over the paneling to disguise it,” Feaster suggests. “Curtains hung ceiling to floor can also mask a wall of paneling and soften up the room in the process.”

7. Embrace them in a new, nonwood color


Photo by Houzz.com
Instead of trying to pretend your wood panels don’t exist and never have, why not embrace them? Paint them a nonwood color that’s hard to ignore. You can even try alternating colors like white and tan or tan and black to lend interest to the wall and give a designer look, says Feaster. You heard that right. Designer. Wood. Panels.

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Buyer, Beware: 5 Home-Buying Negotiation Tactics That Can Backfire

By  | Jul 19, 2017

There’s no denying that buying a home is a costly endeavor—in fact, it’s likely the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make.

So it makes sense to try to negotiate where you can. Save a few bucks here, get a few things thrown in there, right? We hear ya—we’re all about making a smart offer that doesn’t leave you house-poor.

But when it comes time to negotiate, there are a few strategies you should avoid, lest you risk offending the seller and losing your shot at your dream home. This is especially true in a red-hot seller’s market, where the seller might have a number of tempting offers and is looking for anything that breaks the tie.

Of course, the key to smart negotiating is having the right team in place to advocate for you without alienating the other party. Sellers (and their agents) might be reluctant to deal with you if your agent is perceived as being difficult or—worse—shady, says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. And if a seller is dealing with multiple offers, that could be enough to get you sent to the bottom of the pile. So find out the word on the street about your agent by talking to people you trust.

And then help your agent help you into a great home by not trying to pull off one of these misguided maneuvers.

1. Making a lowball offer

How low can you go? That seems to be the game some buyers play, assuming that if they start really low, they’ll end up getting the house for a song.

Gary Lucido, president of Chicago-area firm Lucid Realty, says that buyer’s agents commonly dissuade their clients from this tactic because they fear it will “insult” the seller. But the problem might be bigger than just hurting someone’s feelings.

“The real issue in starting well below the market value is that it costs you credibility,” he says. “The seller either thinks you don’t know the market or you are looking to take advantage of someone, and in either case, they don’t want to deal with you.”

The bottom line: The seller has a number in mind, and whether you start at $1 or $300,000, it only matters if you can hit the seller’s lowest target selling price.

“You’re not going to lower their target by starting at a lower number,” Lucido says.

2. Asking for a bunch of add-ons

You’ve found a place that’s within your budget. What’s more, you’ve fallen in love with the home—and everything in it.

You might be feeling emboldened to ask for more than just the house, but you should resist that temptation, says Ameer. She’s seen buyers who think it’s a good idea to ask for furniture or appliances to be thrown in for free, or expect that the sellers will just leave their patio furniture because it “goes so well” with the house.

Apparently the adage “it doesn’t hurt to ask” doesn’t apply in this situation.

“Sellers become totally offended when you keep asking for more, and you risk alienating them,” Ameer says. “Even if they don’t like their patio furniture anymore, they’d typically rather sell it on Craigslist than leave it for a greedy buyer.”

Of course, you can always ask to buy their stuff—in that case, they’d probably be flattered!

3. Using the inspection as a renegotiation tool

So, your offer was accepted, but then you start to get cold feet and you subconsciously (or consciously!) start searching for flaws that you could use as leverage to lower the price.

“Most inspectors are going to find something to recommend—such as adding gutters, improving the drainage, or upgrading all the smoke detectors—but those aren’t repairs that the seller is responsible for,” Ameer says.

If the inspection turns up something major (like a cracked foundation), by all means that should be discussed. But you shouldn’t demand that the sellers fix every minor thing or lower their price.

“You can’t expect a perfect house,” Ameer says. “If you’re constantly nickel-and-diming the seller, they might decide you’re not someone they want to do business with.”

Mind you, the sellers generally can’t just back out because they’re unhappy, but if both parties are unable to come to an agreement regarding repairs, they can both decide to abandon the deal.

Remember how much you have already invested in the process, in terms of time and money, and be willing to let the little things go.

4. Negotiating with incremental amounts

Nobody wants to pay more than they have to for a home—why offer $350,000 when you could have it for $325,000? But if you engage in too much back-and-forth, you’ll risk alienating the seller. When buyers insist on making incremental counteroffers, they’re just giving sellers a chance to move on to the next buyer, says George Theodore, a senior real estate adviser in Miami.

So, for example, if you’re ultimately willing to go up $8,000, don’t make four additional offers of $2,000 each.

“This tactic just tires out both sides and prolongs the transaction since you usually give each party 48 hours to reply,” Theodore says. It “actually gets you nowhere tactically or psychologically.”

5. Making a ‘one-way offer’

Just as the seller has a target price in mind, you probably have a point at which you’ll be unwilling to budge. But one of the worst things you can do is advertise this to the seller.

Ameer calls this the “one-way offer,” where buyers dig in their heels and state right off the bat, “This is our offer, you have X amount of time to respond, and if you don’t take it, we’re moving on.”

“This just puts the seller on the defensive and usually is a path to a dead-end offer,” Ameer says.

It seems like an obvious no-no, right? Well, even in this red-hot seller’s market, Ameer has seen buyers push for this tactic despite her warnings—especially if the buyer is offering all cash, or if the property has been on the market for a while. She calls it the “seller-is-lucky-to-have-me syndrome.”

“Sometimes buyers have to try this tactic themselves to see how it really ends up before they decide to get with reality,” Ameer says.

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42 Ideas for the Perfect Outdoor Space

What Will Your Home Remodel Cost?

 

If money were no object we’d all likely live in homes with designer kitchens, spa bathrooms, bedrooms aplenty and relaxing man caves that would make Fred Flintstone jealous. But most of us live in the real world where money drives nearly all of the decisions we make, especially remodeling.

Having owned two houses I now have three remodels under my belt – the first two using a crackerjack general contractor and the third time installing myself in the role of GC. Budgeting for the first two remodels was easy, I simply told my contractor what I wanted and he told me how much it would cost.

 

With my third remodel, however, I had to research a ton of materials, products and professionals to achieve an end result that would make me happy on a budget even a shoestring would find laughable. And though I’d been down the remodel road before, doing the legwork necessary to tote up a reliable estimate was a time-consuming but essential first step that ultimately helped me identify my priorities and keep my spending in check.

If a major home improvement project is on your horizon, knowing how much it will cost is probably uppermost in your mind. Find out the best ways to accurately determine your renovation costs to get the finished room of your dreams at a price you can afford.

Download How to Estimate Your Remodel now.


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7 Must-Have Mudroom Ideas for Your Home

By  | Jul 19, 2017

Looking at mudroom ideas and planning a remodel—no matter how small or large—might seem like a deep back-burner project, especially if your kitchen cabinets need an overhaul and every shrub in the yard is begging to be pruned. But adding smart details to your entryway might actually save you time and reduce daily stress. And while you’re at it, why not give yourself a stylish and well-organized place to store every shoe, umbrella, and set of keys so you never lose your head trying to find them again?

These are the seven decorative elements that every good mudroom (aka a high-traffic area by the front door) needs.

1. Umbrella dilemma


Photo by LOVE INTERIORS – Get that soaking wet umbrella off the floor and into a decorative stand.

The first thing you want to do with a dripping umbrella when you enter the house is drop it. But try to resist this urge and instead stuff it into a handsome vessel.

“Choose something unexpected like an old crock or an oversized ceramic pitcher,” suggests Carole Marcotte, an interior designer with Form & Function, in Raleigh, NC. Just make sure any container you select is tall enough to accommodate umbrellas of various lengths.

If you have enough depth in your mudroom, build in narrow cubbies or a crosshatch rack for umbrella storage, says Mark Lestikow, CEO of Closet Factory Colorado.

2. Writing on the wall

Photo by Decorum Designer Cabinetry & Flooring – Write last-minute reminders or important phone numbers on a chalkboard near the front door.

A chalkboard or whiteboard strategically placed on the wall of your mudroom is the perfect solution for alerting your gang about dental appointments, important phone numbers, and any other reminder you need to jot down.

“Post a calendar in this space, too,” says Jamie Novak, organizing pro and author of “Keep This Toss That.” Use a highlighter or attach neon sticky notes on those days that have a different schedule.

3. Hook ’em


Photo by Pinneo Construction – Make sure every coat, hat, and bag gets a hook.

An abundance of hooks in all sizes is a must in any mudroom. Think beyond the standard three-hook hangers you can buy at your favorite home decor store.

“You need lots and lots of hooks for car keys, your work lanyard, dog leashes, shopping bags, backpacks, your purse, jackets, baseball caps, scarves, and more,” says Novak.

“You’ll also need a hook for the dog’s towel when she comes in muddy and wet from her walk,” adds Lorena Canals, founder of the eponymous home accessories brand. For the little ones in your house, hang a second row of hooks at kid height.

4. Mirror, mirror


Photo by Jarlath Mellett – As long as there’s a mirror in your mudroom, you’ll never leave the house with food in your teeth again.

Hang a mirror so you can get a last-minute glance at your mug before heading out the door. Getting a full-length one is even better if you have the space, notes Novak. Get creative with multiple mirrors of varying sizes like the circular ones seen above.

“You’re passing through this space multiple times a day; you want it to make you smile,” she says.

5. Smart storage


Photo by Oak Hill Architects – Shelves, hooks, baskets, empty surfaces—this is the stuff a good mudroom is made of.

You can’t just throw everything on a hook or in a basket and call it a day.

Amy Bell, owner of Red Chair Interiors in Cary, NC, recommends shelves for footwear, rather than baskets or bins.

“Shoes are just easier to put away and retrieve from hard-surface storage, and they tend to look tidier all lined up in a row,” she says. You can also add a stash spot for sunglasses, phones, mail, receipts, and small change.

You’ll also want to designate a spot for bags, backpacks, and laptop cases so they aren’t just plopped on a chair or bench.

“I also like to keep an open shelf in the mudroom for things that need returning, such as library books or the neighbor’s lasagna dish,” says Bell. Also consider a section in your mudroom for items that can be rotated out seasonally (gloves and scarves in winter; swim goggles, sunscreen, and bug spray in summer).

6. Have a seat


Photo by Anchor Builders – A bench will prevent you taking a tumble as you struggle to pull on your shoes.

At the very least, place a bench in the mudroom where the family can sit to put on their shoes. Marcotte recommends old locker benches.

“They have an interesting, industrial look, and kids can’t beat them up any more than they already are,” she says. Or poke around a flea market for a lone church pew and place baskets underneath. If you want to go the built-in route (like the mudroom above), you can design it with pull-out drawers below the bench.

7. Charge it


Photo by Great Kitchens & Baths – Never walk out of the house with a low battery again. Just don’t forget to grab your phone from the charging station!

While hooks and baskets are the mudroom standard, modern families often have a number of outlets with chargers on a rack to hold everyone’s phone, says Lestikow. It might seem counterintuitive, but installing this tech station right by the door might encourage kids—and adults—to power down their devices earlier and finish the day face to face.

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