ELMHURST, Illinois - Designer Gary Ayala from Closet Works, located in Elmhurst, Illinois, entered this project, "Banish the Mess," in the 2017 Top Shelf Design Awards. A key feature of this design is the combination of the laundry and mudroom providing organization in a high-traffic area of the home.

Project Description:
Most families use their back door more than the front entry. Often, the back door becomes a drop zone for coats, backpacks, shoes, sports equipment and a myriad of items trekked in from the last outing. Combine that with the piles of laundry from a typical family and you're sure to have a mess. This combination mudroom/laundry room was designed to keep the entire family organized, making life easier and bringing a sense of order and tranquility to both children and parents alike.

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The mudroom/hall tree with convenient cubbies replaced a traditional back hall closet. The new organization system offers separate storage areas for each member of the family with room to store jackets, backpacks and shoes, plus plenty of space to sit down and put on footwear. Each cubby includes a shoe shelf and there is a drawer above the shoes to hold gloves and small items. A second vertical shoe cupboard to the side of the unit adds even more storage for footwear. The cabinet doors on the shoe cupboard are split to echo the horizontal lines of the hall tree. The split towards the top creates two separate doors for accessing different shelves, but they line up with the strong horizontal line created by the shelves directly below the upper cabinets on the hall tree. The lower cabinet door consists of two doors dowelled together to function as a single door. The horizontal break between the doors line up with the drawers/bench seating of the hall tree. Breaking the door of the shoe cupboard up in this manner provides visual continuity.

No one from this busy household will ever be late for an appointment due to an inability to find their matching shoe! Shoes go directly underneath each family members jacket. I also included a basket with the shelf above the coat hooks for keeping keys, wallets and small things — making it simple to find them as you're dashing out the door. I backed each family member's cubby with Shaker-inspired beadboard. It lends a friendly, informal feeling and coordinates seamlessly with the cabinetry from the kitchen located next door.
   
The laundry area includes cabinets and shelves for storage, a hanging rod for drip-dry items, a sink with sink cabinet, and a lot of countertop space for folding and organizing clothing. Two baskets on shelves next to the sink base cabinet are included to hold dirty kitchen towels and any laundry created in the kitchen area. With a total of five family members, there is always a lot of laundry, so designing a space that would feel bright and pleasant, even in the absence of windows, was important. The white laminate was used to reflect as much light as possible. Oil rubbed bronze hardware was chosen to pick up the darkness in the tile floor.
 
Project Construction Details
Shaker style beadboard backs each of the cubbies for coats, adding a friendly transitional country aesthetic and blending with the existing cabinetry from the kitchen next door. The transitional country look is carried further by selectively drilling all exposed panels so that no holes show. However, full bore panels are included behind all doors for flexibility in moving shelves at a later date. Dark chocolate laminate was used for the mudroom bench seating, contrasting with the white and bringing in the tones from the floor and hardware.
 
Materials Used
• Color: White laminate
• Large, strap style handles in oil rubbed bronze finish
• Large oil rubbed bronze coat hooks
• Aspen door and drawer fronts
• Shoe cupboard next to hall tree with split door on top for accessing different sections of the seven shelves and a dowelled door on the bottom to add symmetry with the bench/shoe cubbies
• Traditional crown and base moulding
• Hooks mounted to a cleat behind the door for wet raincoats
• Round closet rod in the corner near the laundry sink for drip-dry items
• Curved corner shelves
• Shaker beadboard backs each coat cubby
• 2mm shelf and panel edges
 
The 2019 Top Shelf Design Awards will launch on November 1.
 

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