Many New England homes have a mudroom. In other parts of the country, similar rooms are called the entryway or a foyer—but a mudroom differs in several respects from its counterpart in a hot climate. While a foyer in Texas might be two stories tall, with a dramatic view of a curved stairway, a mudroom is more humble. The purpose of a mudroom is to provide somewhere for people to sit and remove their snowy boots, as well as hooks where people can hang their winter coats.
When I designed my Vermont house in the 1970s, I planned the main entry door to be on the north side of the house. Visitors who open the door from the porch first enter the mudroom. Years ago, I must have read a book touting the energy advantages of an “airlock entry”—spoiler alert: no such advantages exist—so I included another weatherstripped door between the mudroom and the living room.
To keep energy use to a minimum, I decided that the mudroom would be outside of my home’s thermal envelope. The mudroom included a tile floor, a closet with coat hooks, and a bench I made from a maple tree.
Unchanged for the last 40 years, our mudroom’s main claim to fame was that it was never used. In short, it was a design failure.
Correcting design errors
Every house has at least a few design errors. Many of us live in houses that used to work well, but due to changes in our circumstances, no longer meet our needs. A closet is too small, a bathroom is too big, or an oversized window causes too much glare. Such features can be irksome. But it’s often hard to know whether fixing a design problem is worth the hassle.