DIY Old World Mud Room: Fall 2019 One Room Challenge | Week 1

It’s October again and that means it’s time for another edition of the One Room Challenge!

This fall, I’m turning my attention to four areas that we neglected when we moved in last summer – and in the year since, the situation has gotten worse.  As we unpacked boxes and tried to get things organized, the days until the baby’s arrival ticked by too quickly.  When she arrived weeks early, everything related to moving in stopped.  Our pantry, mud room, and a large storage closet (bonus: a coat closet, too!), which are major heavy traffic areas in our house were – and stayed – disorganized and dysfunctional.

I’m finally going to change that for the better over the next five weeks.

The One Room Challenge is a 6-week long project hosted by Calling it Home during which participants focus on one room in their house (or in my case, a mud room and three closets!) to transform space, usually resulting in a beautiful ‘after’ to enjoy, sharing their progress along the way.

one room challenge guest participant logo

If this is your first time visiting, thanks for stopping by!  As you probably guessed from the name of my site, I’m Laura.  Hi!

Using one of the few power tools in my repertoire, an orbital sander.

I’m slowly taking our new house from boring, beige, and builder grade to colorful, cheerful, and comfortable with a variety of DIY projects, self-taught skills, and a little help from my husband (who I affectionately refer to as ‘The Mister’).  I believe you can turn a house into a home you love without breaking the bank or mastering huge power tools.  All you need is a willingness to learn, a little creativity, and an abundant supply of elbow grease.  I use supplies and tools I already have to keep costs down and teach myself new skills to create spaces we love.  I believe a house doesn’t need to look ‘designed’, like it belongs in a magazine, overflow with trendy mass-produced decor to be a home.

If you like the sound of that, I hope you’ll take a look around to find ideas for your own house (I’d recommend starting with the $75 powder room and the $100 laundry room!).

Focus on Function

I’d love to have a beautiful mud room to welcome me home every day and a pretty pantry to step into when I need an ingredient, but I’ll focus first on the function of each of the four spaces.  The questions to ask about any space before embarking on a project are:  What isn’t working?  What is?  What can I do with my time, skills, and budget to change the problems?  I’ll address these questions on the blog each week as I share details on the four spaces in more detail.

As usual, I’ll use mainly supplies and tools we already have around the house to keep my budget as close to $0 as possible.  The steps to an organized mud room, pantry, storage closet (and coat closet, too!) are to:

1. Clean up the mess

Trash the trash, donate what we don’t need, and redistribute things that belong elsewhere.

2. Organize what’s left

Use shelves, boxes, bins, etc. that we already have to organize the things that belong.  Purchase a additional items to contain large things (such as wooden crates and casters to use for large items on bottom shelf of pantry).

3. Create systems

Put systems in place to prevent future likelihood of ending up on Hoarders (we both have to be on board for this to work – I’m talking to you, Mister!) 🙂 

4. Use the vertical space

Look up to find additional space to maximize the storage capacity in all four areas.  Examples: Build bench in mud room with hooks (and possibly an additional shelf) above to get bags, shoes, etc. off the floor.  Purchase over-the-door shoe organizer to corral small items inside coat closet. 

Then – and only then – I’ll get to the fun stuff.
Paint and wallpaper and light fixtures, oh my!
They’ll be the prize waiting at the end.

The Design

I’m truly focusing on making these rooms function better, but it’d be pretty amazing if they looked good, too.  My plan is to spend the last week or two focusing on how the spaces look:

  • Paint cabinets and new bench in mud room
  • Paint wall in mud room – or use some old (technically vintage!) plaid wallpaper left over from my grandmother’s old house
  • Hang some art or photos in mud room
  • Paint over gross stains on wall in pantry (where former owners kept their trash can)
  • Paint or stain new rolling storage bins in pantry
  • Update light fixture using a damaged fixture I spray painted

The ‘vintage’ wallpaper (can wallpaper be vintage?) I’d like to use in the mud room – if there’s enough!

Bonus Challenge

Five weeks isn’t a very long time when it comes to overhauling a room – or rooms – while maintaining a normal life.  In addition to the challenging time aspect is the organization challenge.

The mud room – BEFORE (in the process of cleaning out)

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

According to a quick Google search, these wise words that I’ve heard many times before are attributed to none other than Benjamin Franklin.  They definitely apply to this edition of the One Room Challenge.

The storage closet, BEFORE

All my life, I’ve had a tendency toward being disorganized / messy (just take a look at these photos for proof!); however, when I had an office job I was often accused of being super-organized. It was the fact that I am disorganized that led me to create a place for everything – in the case of my office job, it was folders and systems that helped keep my desk tidy and stay on top of projects.

The pantry – BEFORE

That same principle will apply here in the end. BECAUSE I’m disorganized, I’m organized (I’m a walking oxymoron).  For example, I know I’m likely to lose receipts for items I’ve purchased but need to take home before deciding.  To prevent misplacing these receipts, I immediately put them in a dedicated pocket in my wallet – ‘a place for everything’!

I’m thinking about Mr Franklin’s words as I head off to organize the four spaces in question!


To keep up with my progress, follow along on Instagram.  If you have time to kill, you can kick back and catch up with what I’ve already shared over the past week my stories.  Otherwise, check back here weekly for updates on what’s happening in each space, and take a look at what the featured designers and guest participants are working on.

I hope that over the course of my ‘Tale of Three Closets (and a Mud Room)’ One Room Challenge, you’re able to find inspiration for taking control of your ownorganizing and pretty-fying your own spaces!

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