You can spend weeks and big bucks on a home-improvement project, or you can invest considerably less time and money and end up with just as much satisfaction.
One such simple — and useful — project is to set up a mudroom in your home, a place where boots, shoes, coats, hats, gloves and other outdoor wear can be stowed. Not only is it utilitarian, it can also be an attractive addition to your home.
John and Sherry Petersik, the husband and wife team behind the "Young House Love" home-improvement blog (younghouselove.com), have written a book, "Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update, and Show Your Home Some Love" (Artisan Books). Among the projects they offer is how to add a mudroom, in three simple steps.
Petersik says you can put in as much time as you want to pull off the project. And you don't have to spend a fortune.
"Some people really get into the hunt, searching for the perfect initial hooks," she says. "But others want to be done in an hour. Go to Target and get it done.
"I really think that if you want to do it affordably, you can do it with thrift store finds, or a trunk you had from your childhood, and some hooks from Home Depot. You can do it for $10. At the other end, you can spend $200. This is a flexible project for a flexible budget.
"And it's one of those more instant gratification projects. You know there are a few places you look (to pick up the supplies), and after you do that you should be set. Push a bench against a wall, that takes what, a minute? Screw in some hooks, that's 10 minutes. And you're done."
Before going to work, of course, you need to know where the mudroom is going to be located. It doesn't take a lot of agonizing, Sherry says.
"We've seen people tuck them into a corner," she explains. "In our first house we tucked ours into a corner of our den. … I've seen people take a door off a closet and stick a bench in there."
An awkward nook, an oddly shaped corner, along a wall near your entryway, in a wide hallway, part of a laundry room — finding a spot is easy.
And so are the three steps to setting up the mudroom.
1. Find a bench
What you need is something under which you can stash boots and shoes. A padded bench is nice because it also gives you a place to sit while you put the footwear on or take it off.
It doesn't even have to be a bench; small trunks work just as well, she says.
2. Get the hook(s)
You can buy some hooks for a couple of dollars at a hardware or home-improvement store and be done with it. Or you can add a little pizazz to the project.
"There are really cool hooks you can find online or at specialty shops," Petersik explains. "They can be shaped like a finger or a dog's tail. These give some personality to the mudroom. You can go to Anthropologie, which has hooks with letters, so each person has their own hook."
If installing separate hooks is too taxing, Petersik says that Target and Home Depot sell strips of wood with several hooks already on them. "Two screws and you're done."
One tip: The multiple-hook strip can put coats, hats and scarves out of reach of the shortest family members; individual hooks can be installed at reasonable heights for everyone, and spaced to give room to bulky items like backpacks or coats.
3. Personal touches
A wall shelf lets you do several things: add a plant, have a place for baskets for small articles of clothing, such as gloves, or display a family photo. It personalizes the space and makes it more inviting. Should you later realize you need more room, ditch the plant and photo and focus on the utilitarian — more baskets for clothes.