Tomorrow marks the first day of school for University of Hawaii students. For me, it will be the 21st time I embark on a new school year. I’ve come to realize that each year, although distinct, starts out the same. I’m incredibly prepared and early for the first month. Then, slowly, time starts speeding up. Soon, I’m frantically running out the door, trying desperately to make it on time.

This is just the thing mudrooms are made for. They help us keep the things we need when coming and going each day organized and ready to go. The frenzy is coming, but if you can anticipate what’s coming, it won’t be so bad. Whether you have a whole room or a small space near the door, these guidelines can help.


1. Make it easy to clean. Let go of the idea that it’s going to be neat and perfect at all times. Mudrooms are intended to serve as catch-alls for the things that come and go with us each day. Go easy on yourself and use easy-to-clean surfaces for countertops and shelving. Don’t forget about rugs. Use durable, washable fabrics.

2. Use baskets and bins. The things we take with us when we go in and out are not necessarily display items. Bins will keep them together and within reach, while also allowing you to make the space feel uncluttered.

3. Think about your lifestyle. For pets, install a hook for a leash and keep baby wipes near the entry to wipe off Fido’s feet. Have kids? Frequently used sports equipment or even a first-aid kit may prove handy to have at the ready.

4. Make it match. Look at the furnishings and decor in rooms nearby. Pull together components of the same colors, finishes and textures to make the space feel cohesive.This may mean forgoing plastic bins and using finished cabinetry instead.

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