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Turn a Coat Closet…into the perfect MUDROOM!


A fun transformation happened in our house recently.  And it all began with an awkwardly shaped coat closet by the front door.  Yes, there was a coat rod in there with a standard shelf right above the rod……but ack, a lot of wasted space.  And let me tell you the truth — my kids couldn’t reach the hanger rod so the floor was completely covered in their coats and shoes.  Every day.  Yeah, a real pain.  So, what did we do?  We ripped that rod outta there and made it our own little Mudroom (which this house lacked).  Ahhhhhh…… much better!!


And okay, before I say anything else about this project…..I have to admit it’s been done for about 2 months.  However, I haven’t shared (and almost didn’t share at all) because these pictures are terrible.  I’m all about taking a good picture so you can get as close of a vision to the real thing as possible…..but I had the hardest time taking pictures of this project.  It was maddening.  This closet has a tiny door opening, so to get me and my camera in there to shoot the entire space was impossible (well, with the camera gear I have).  And then, let’s talk about the lighting.  Yuck.  Of course, it’s a dark closet, so there are no windows and no windows next to this closet to let any light in, so I was outta luck! 


With that being said, WE LOVE how this Mudroom turned out.  Like, triple love it.  So it was killing me to not share.  So, bad fragmented pictures with terrible lighting/white balance and all……’s our little transformation. :)


And, just to get an idea of the space we were working’s the overhead blueprint view of the closet.  Yeah, it was probably just some leftover space from the house designer, and they made it into a closet.


But instead of that dreadful hanger rod that none of the kids could reach, we decided to add 5 double-hooks.  And made 2 complete shelves that hold 8 baskets all together (nope, couldn’t fit them all in this picture).  Inside those baskets hold all of the items that are out of season, plus the extra sizes that are hand-me-downs for the next child (gloves, hats, boots, snow pants, scarves, umbrellas, blah, blah, blah).  Those baskets hold a lot of stuff!  Also, we added a bit of Bead Board to the wall and trimmed it out all nice and pretty!



And just to prove that we finished the right side to the closet……here’s an upper and a lower shot.




Okay, and if I got down really low, I could fit all the baskets and hooks in one picture.  Blech….that lighting.  ((sigh))  But look at all that storage! :)



And down below, there are 4 baskets that slide underneath that bench.  Those baskets hold all of our shoes that get kicked off throughout the day and don’t quite make it back upstairs into bedrooms.



And if you look at that diagram above, the closet has a weird space off to the left side.  So, we added 3 hooks up higher that Steve and I can use for coats, purses, etc.  (There’s also more space off to the right of the door opening, in case we need to add more hooks.)



And, well, the bench is perfect for sitting and putting shoes on.



And ahhhhh…… more backpacks and coats on the floor.  Hallelujah!



An awful coat closet……turned into a pretty little mudroom that I’m no longer embarrassed about, if someone happens to open the door.  Whew.

**And nope, haven’t painted the door or the door trim yet.  Baby steps, right? ;)



Want to see how we tackled this project?


Okay, before even starting…..READ THROUGH EVERYTHING and gather a vision for how this will work for your space.  I didn’t offer my exact dimensions because the odds that your closet is the same exact shape as mine is about 0%.  You know every house is like a snowflake, there are no two exactly alike…even from the same builder. :)


Supplies: (the amounts you need will vary from what I used and some items you may not need)

  • Primed MDF strips (3.5 inch wide and 2.5 inch wide)
  • Bead Board
  • MDF sheets
  • 2×4’s
  • 1.5×1.5’s
  • Molding or trim of any kind (to go along the front edge of each shelf and the bench)
  • wood screws
  • wood glue
  • caulk
  • paint
  • sand paper
  • clamps
  • electric drill
  • counter-sink drill bit


 Okay, remember…..this was such a tight space and a small door opening, so the pictures are a little tight and wonky.  But hopefully they’ll still help.


Begin by ripping out your existing closet rod and any rod supports/shelves that may be attached to the wall.  Also, take out any baseboards that are installed.



Then decide where you want your bench.  We added a piece a tape for how tall we wanted it to be (18 inches) and how far out we wanted the seat to come (15 inches)…and placed lines of tape there, just to get a feel for it.



Next, we placed an upper piece of primed MDF (3.5 inches wide) around the closet horizontally, to cap off the bead board and also serve as a very sturdy place to screw in the coat hooks.  The placement of this board depends on preference but we decided on 64 inches from the ground.  The ceiling is 96 inches (or 8 feet) tall, so 64 inches is 2/3 up from the ground.  When installing Board and Batten and Bead Board……and good visual rule is to divide the wall into thirds and place the horizontal board at one of these divisions.  And since this is a mudroom, we went with 2/3 up from the ground for the visual appeal.



We placed the strip of primed MDF all the way around the mudroom, even though it’s hard to show you all the angles.  And be sure to screw your primed MDF into studs all along the way.



Next, cut your bead board down to size and place from right under your strip of bead board, all the way down to the ground.  Piece them together any way you need to, to get the panels to fit nice and snug on your wall.  (And remember, if they don’t quite reach the ground, that’s okay.  Your baseboard will cover it up.)




Okay, now that the bead board is installed, it’s time to build the bench.    Measure the area of your closet where your bench will sit.  Refer to the measurements you took at the very beginning (mine was the blue tape marks above).  Cut 2 long 2×4’s that are the exact width of the bench that you need and place them apart the exact depth that you want the bench to be.  (Be sure to include the 2×4’s in your measurement…..don’t just measure between them.)  Place smaller 2×4’s perpendicular between the 2 long ones, and screw them in place from the outside of the 2 long 2/x4’s……..creating a steady base for the bench.  Be sure to leave a space at the very ends and at the very middle to place 3 support legs, which are also 2×4’s (refer to next step). 


**Also, take note that the leg placement is very important if you’re storing baskets underneath your bench.  You may need to measure and decide if this middle leg will take up too much room and then skip it all together…..or maybe you want 4 legs.  Whatever the case, do a little measuring and decide where you want your legs to be.

(And my gosh, please ignore the garage floor.  Can you tell we live in a snowy place and track in a bunch of mess when it snows?


Decide which side of the base is the front of the base and which side is the back (doesn’t really matter).  What you’re doing now is filling in the space on each end with a 2×4, where the leg WON’T be sitting.  This is just making the end solid and creating a nice space solid foundation around the area that the leg will be attached.  (You’ll have to do a little math and measure your 2×4, leaving enough space for it to fit in that opening.)



And then attach a 2×4 leg perpendicular to the bench, placing it right in that spot that you left open for it.  Repeat at the other end as well.  (The length of these 2/x4’s depends on how tall you want your bench to be.  Refer to your measurements.)



Slide another leg in at the very center opening that you left for this 3rd leg.  (If you didn’t leave your opening at the very center, then your leg will be off center when your bench is all done.



Now, you need to create a support on the wall for you bench to sit.  We used a 1.5 x 1.5 strip of wood and nailed it into the wall at the height that we wanted the bench to sit off the floor.  However, be sure to subtract the height of the bench base AND the MDF sheet that will sit on top.  Screw into studs for extra support.



Then, place your bench on top and screw your bench into the supports.



Next, the shelves above. 


Now, where you place your shelves is totally up to you (and your basket size) but we wanted to rest the first shelf right on the top of that primed MDF strip.  So, we decided that we wanted our shelves to be 13.5 inches deep (to accommodate our baskets that are 13 inches deep) and cut a piece of MDF sheet down to that size.  Then we screwed it right to the horizontal strip of primed MDF.




Then, we cut another piece of that 1.5 x 1.5 strip of wood down and placed it right under the front edge of the MDF sheet, to act as a support for the trim piece that would rest here later on.  We used wood glue to attach it and then used clamps to keep them in place while drying.  (By the way, those clamps were really cheap at Harbor Freight.)



Then, nail from the top, securing those pieces together.



And at each end, use a counter sink bit to drill an angled hole that will reach into your primed MDF strip of wood (but also digs out an extra hole to hide the head of your screw, since you’re screwing in at an angle).



Then drill in a screw, which will attach this 1.5×1.5 strip into the wall.



Now, cover the front edge of your shelf with a piece of molding or just a plain flat strip of MDF.  It’s up to you.  Just be sure that the upper edge matches up evenly with the top of the shelf….while the bottom of the trim can hang down a little lower if you need it to.  (For our trim, we just used some of our leftover baseboard and flipped it upside down….so that the curved edge was along the bottom.  Tricky, huh?)  And at each end, you’ll have to cut around the horizontal MDF that’s attached to the wall.  But we forgot and then had to add an extra piece and then wood fill the crack.  So if you forget, you can fake it like we did and you can’t even tell after it’s painted. :)


Nail the trim right onto the front of the shelf with a brad nailer.  (If you’re using a regular hammer and nails, you’ll need to sink those nail heads in, so that you can fill them with wood filler later on.)



Now, you can stop here or you can add a 2nd shelf like we did.  (Just be sure that you have enough room for baskets to sit on both shelves, once the shelves are installed.)


All we did was attach strips of of the 1.5×1.5’s to the wall for the shelf to sit on, just like we did for the bench base. (okay, they’re actually just strips of MDF that we cut down to size on the table saw…because we ran out of the 1.5×1.5’s…..see? anything works!)  And then place another sheet of MDF up there and screw it down in place and add the trim, just like the first shelf above.



Then, right below the lower shelf, we added another strip of 3.5 inch wide primed MDF… screw the coat hooks into.  The placement of this strip totally depends on preference.  Place a line of tape there and stand back and see if you like the distance from the shelf but also the distance from the bench.  And if you have kids, see how easy it is for them to reach that strip of wood where they’ll be hanging their coats and backpacks. 


**Okay, I don’t know how I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the bench being finished but it’s pretty much the same as the shelf, so don’t worry.  However, before placing the flat piece of MDF sheeting to the top for the seat, we used strips of primed MDF (2.5 inches wide) and centered them over the front of each leg using a brad nailer from the front  (If you’re using a regular hammer and nails, you’ll need to sink those nail heads in, so that you can fill them with wood filler later on.)  Then, we placed the piece of trim along the front of the bench (and over the top of the primed MDF strips that are covering each leg), matching up the upper edge of the trim with the upper edge of the bench base.  And THEN we placed the piece of MDF sheeting on top.  This way, the sheet of MDF goes all the way to the edge with the trim piece resting underneath the piece of MDF.  We figured this would be better for kids scooting on and off that bench and wouldn’t pull the trim piece off.


Oh, and don’t forget to install your baseboards around the bottom, covering up all of the bottom edges of the Bead Board.


Now, wood fill everything.  And then after it’s dry, sand it all nice and smooth.  And then wipe it down with a wet cloth and then CAULK THE HECK out of everything to hide any cracks and seams.  (Need help?  Refer to my Window Trimming Tutorial.)


Once that’s completely dry…..paint with 2 coats of your favorite paint color.  (I used semi-gloss because I know there’s going to be some maintenance wiping going on in here from shoes flying around!)




And that’s it!

Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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