The Mighty Mudroom

Ali Berlow's mudroom.

I think of my mudroom as if it’s that air lock astronauts must go through on their way to or from a spacewalk. The mudroom is a coming-and-going place – a room from which to launch into the world and then land back home again, safe and secure. It’s where I check my teeth in the mirror before I go out, and it’s where I drop the groceries before I deal with them when I come home.

I love the black industrial rubber floor. It’s hard-core, just the way I like it. Baseball bats fall against the walls, a wet suit drips, birdseed spills, and the cats use the window to go in and out. I know that as soon as I sweep it clean, my old dog will come in from swimming at the beach and shake himself down, and right after that, my husband will track in grass clippings from mowing the lawn.

When we met with Gary Harcourt of Oak Bluffs to have these lockers made, I described something quirky and made of gnarled wood. My husband, who sees the world differently than I, designed the lockers to be symmetrical, making order out of chaos. No one will dare go into my locker because it’s a big, scary mess, and besides, these are our private spaces. But when it gets out of hand, Sam will clean up the boys’ lockers and throw everything into a bag and get rid of it. They never even miss the stuff.

I got the idea of installing a bubbler from my brother, and it reminds me of my grade school in Madison, Wisconsin: Randall Elementary. The mudroom isn’t finished; we haven’t painted it and we talk about adding more built-in storage. But I’m not stressed about it – our house is a work in progress and it’ll get done when it needs to get done. I only wish that my kids would stop dumping the dirt from their shoes onto the floor. “But, mom,” they say, “that’s why it’s called a mudroom – get it? Mud – room.”