Although mudrooms are the perfect place to drop all of your bags, sports equipment, and shoes, not everyone is lucky to have a home with that extra storage space. If the added organization is a necessity in your home, but the budget (or room) to build a designated mudroom isn’t available, a renovated foyer might be the best solution. These NoVA designers did just that — increasing funtionality and storage in three separate homes across the region.
With floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking Falls Church’s Lake Barcroft, this four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot midcentury-modern-style house called out for a foyer that was in keeping with its beautiful naturalistic setting.
“Our clients had hired us to give the home a more contemporary feel,” says Lauren McGrath, design director at M.S. Vicas Interiors, whose firm was retained to work on refreshing the entire house, including the foyer. The house did not have a designated mudroom, so the entryway improvements were key.
“They desperately needed additional storage,” says McGrath. “With only one small closet off the front door, they were lacking places to put their everyday things like coats, umbrellas, and shoes.”
The foyer, with its old ceramic tiles, also contained a bulky dark-wood chest that was elevated from the floor by a quartet of legs and provided limited storage.
“We suggested a built-in feature wall of paneled storage that would lighten up, unclutter, and modernize the space,” firm principal Martha Vicas says of the custom design. “In place of a mudroom, it maximized both aesthetics and functionality, accommodating the family’s and guests’ coats.”
The new built-in feature is highlighted by sleek white cabinetry, with tall hanging and shelved closets on either side of a nook with a tufted upholstered bench. A pair of deep, wide lower drawers and a row of upper cabinets offer even more organization.
“The bench, with its upholstered seat and back cushion for visual interest, also provides a place to sit and put on or pull off shoes and boots,” adds Vicas.
Design materials — from the cedar-planked vaulted ceiling and veined travertine floors to the walnut-and-brass cabinetry pulls and textured and tufted bench nook upholstery — complete the foyer’s sophisticated look. A whimsical blown-glass bubble chandelier and a pair of chocolate-and-cream patterned accent pillows elevate the vibe further.
“Our color scheme was driven by a desire to bring the outdoors in,” adds McGrath. “Rich woodland tones drove the palette here as elsewhere.”
For an Alexandria-based couple, having a shoe-free house and an athletic tween daughter spelled certain foyer disaster in the absence of designated storage.
“Since there was no mudroom, all the shoes and sports gear would end up in the entry hall. It was always cluttered,” says interior designer Iantha Carley, who redesigned the main level of the three-bedroom, 2,555-square-foot house in Alexandria’s North Ridge-Rosemont neighborhood.
Previously, the foyer contained an open shoe caddy from Target that was always filled to the brim and a free-standing coat rack overloaded with outdoor wear. The rest of the entry’s footprint was fair game for school backpacks, spare shoes, and athletic gear.
“Everything was out in the open,” says Carley. “It was obvious the homeowners needed a closable closet of some sort, and there was only one available wall. The challenge was creating depth on the ends because one side of the wall had a window, and the other, an opening to the dining room.”
Carley’s solution was to custom-design a floor-to-ceiling built-in, with a pair of narrower, shallower cupboards featuring integrated shoe shelf shelves on either side of a wider, deeper double-doored coat cabinet. This central segment also has a bench inside for easy removal of footwear.
The new stylish built-in features a clean, contemporary design, with simple paneled doors and faux bamboo hardware.
“I also wanted to give the foyer its own identity; it sets the tone for the home’s design,” says Carley of the decision to finish the room in a teal blue grasscloth wall covering. The color acts as a bold background for the homeowners’ vibrant art and ties into the palette of the adjacent dining and living rooms, both connected to the foyer via cased openings.
“I loved the challenge of transforming what was a nonfunctional, forgotten space into a welcoming, utilitarian space,” says Carley, who also added a foyer table, overhead chandelier, wall mirror, and area rug to complete the furnishings.
Designers from Landis Architects & Builders faced quite the challenge when they were summoned to be a one-stop solution for a 1967 colonial-style home owned by a professional couple with three little boys.
“It was a traditional, dark, compartmentalized house,” says team leader Dana Kaminsky, who worked with project designer Chris Williams on the renovation. “Our goal was to help our clients create an open, brighter, more modern home that still respected its traditional roots, while updating it to work for an active young family.”
During the process of redoing the interior architecture, including designing a new kitchen now open to the dining and living areas, the designers found an unexpectedly easy solution to address the home’s lack of a mudroom.
“Mudrooms are probably the most undervalued spaces in family homes,” says Kaminsky. “They create an instant drop area for shoes, coats, gear, backpacks. … They provide a place to organize and put up stuff upon entry into a home. That function was deeply lacking.”
Of course, the house had a guest coat closet in the foyer, but the boys had nowhere to offload their things easily when they came home from school. Everything was destined to end up cluttering the newly renovated spaces — until a lightbulb went off.
“There was this dead, unused space behind the front door. We capitalized on that and came up with a creative, inexpensive, and simple solution,” says Kaminsky of the nifty built-in that has become the ideal zone for the boys to stow basic items when they walk in the door.
The paneled built-in features a series of hooks for coats and backpacks, an overhead shelf for stashing out-of-season items in baskets, a couple large drawers for holding extra shoes, and an integrated floating bench with space beneath for the easy removal and stowage of daily footwear.
“The unit blends with the rest of the renovation, while allowing the boys an ideal place to unload stuff,” says Kaminsky. “It’s easy to overlook due to its simplicity and scale, but other than the kitchen, it’s the most functional and useful day-to-day renovation we achieved in this home.”
Feature image courtesy Robert Radifera for Stylish Productions
This story originally ran in Northern Virginia Magazine’s March issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.