If you don't have an entire room to set aside as a mudroom, you can adapt these ideas to work in a corner of a vestibule or hall, on a back porch, or on a landing at the top of the basement steps.
Mats and Benches
Place one inside and one outside the mudroom door to keep dirt at bay. You may also want to place a boot scraper at the mats' sides. For all the changing of footwear that occurs in a mudroom, some form of seating is essential. Outfit your mudroom with a bench that has cubbyholes for storing useful items -- towels to dry toes and mop up puddles, socks and slippers to change into -- as well as sports gear and gardening tools that need to live close to the outdoors.
Even a narrow closet can pack a lot in. The L-shaped shelves in this closet (above, right) leave room for long items like vacuums and broom handles.
Wall Pegs and Boot Drain
Screw a line of pegs into chair rails (and upper rails, if you have them) to hold the family's gear: umbrellas, leashes, gloves, jackets, scarves, hats, and bags. Cake pans and cooling racks from a bakery-supply house make perfect portable drying racks for wet shoes and boots. Boots may also be hung upside down to dry -- just slip the heels between pairs of pegs installed close together.
An accordion-style wine rack can double as a compact dryer for wet woolens.
A sink in a mudroom can handle jobs too messy or inconvenient for the kitchen sink: washing the dog, storing houseplants while you're on vacation, soaking linens. A stainless-steel sink and counter will be easy to keep clean. A high shelf provides storage for seldom-used or seasonal objects; a ball of string and a chalkboard marked with frequently called numbers hang from pegs.
Under the sink, place metal bins for storing recyclables and vegetables that don't require refrigeration, such as potatoes and onions; curtains of cotton shirting material will help hide them from view. If the area stays cool, this is also a good place for a wine cellar.
Simple triangular brackets and horizontal boards can support shelves that organize a jumble of boxes, books, pots, and favorite postcards.
A drop-leaf shelf is just the spot for unloading arms laden with groceries and mail. The shelf can be folded down when not in use.