Before and After: A Plain, Cluttered Mudroom Becomes a Charming Cottage Entryway for Under $500

updated May 22, 2021
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About this before & after
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Before: Drop station for shoes, coats, and bags just off the kitchen

Cottagecore, the No. 1 decor trend on TikTok for two years running, is marked by its vintage-inspired shabby-chicness. Floral wallpaper, patchwork quilts, doilies, and other whimsical, woodlands-y accessories (think: mushroom decor and dried flowers), which a few years ago you might have only found in a Hobbit hole or a very cute bed and breakfast, are now back in the mainstream — and they can add charming, cozy, comforting vibes to any space.

The mudroom in Lindsey Mahoney’s (Building Blue Bird) 1960s home was already part of the way to matching Lindsey’s cottage-y aesthetic, thanks to its vintage-inspired black-and-white checkerboard floors Lindsey painted as part of a previous project. But the rest of the space was pretty blah. The beige walls and clutter needed to go, Lindsey says.

“I was ready to add some personality to the room and functional items to get all of our bags and shoes off of the floor,” she says. “Before the room was uninspiring, and nine times out of 10 was a pile of outdoor gear.”

The existing space had two closets, which were great for hiding away items, but Lindsey wanted to add even more kid-friendly storage for her young kids. “I wanted to add functional design elements so that my kids could participate in keeping the space tidy,” she says.

She decided to tackle the mudroom by breaking it up into simpler mini DIYs. “Breaking down a large project into digestible smaller projects is how I tackle all of my home projects without getting overwhelmed,” she adds.

The paneled wainscoting was installed in one weekend and went up easily, save for the corners (the trickiest part of the whole job). When it came time to paint, Lindsey selected an earthy sort-of-green, sort-of-gray, sort-of-brown color (Sherwin-Williams’s Svelte Sage), and she loves the way the hue looks.

Lindsey did run into a surprise when matching the existing trim and doors to the walls, though: The trim and doors had a layer of oil-based paint, and the new latex paint was flaking off. “I was not expecting this since it had not been found in the rest of the house when painting,” she says. “I had to scrape off two coats of paint and then repaint the entire room. This took a few weeks to fix.”

Lindsey used a scraper and dry scrub pad to remove the latex paint before redoing the job with the proper prep work. The lesson learned for next time? Always check for oil-based paint before diving in with latex.

In the coat hook corner, Lindsey initially planned to install Shaker-style pegs on the top ledge of the sage walls, but those would have had to been installed before the wall went up, she says. She ended up finding a better, more perfect match that was a gift from the DIY gods (okay, actually it was from Menards): animal-shaped brass hooks, which are kid-friendly in more ways than one and definitely add to the space’s cottage-y vibes.

“Because we have two labradors who love to hunt, I chose labrador and pheasant brass hooks,” Lindsey says. (For other animal lovers out there, they also come in duck, fish, and deer shapes.)

On the ceiling, Lindsey swapped the builder-grade light fixture for a vintage-looking schoolhouse light from Design House. “I used to be so intimidated by anything electrical,” she said on Instagram. But with practice from other projects, she’s gotten more comfortable.

For the final DIY, on the walls, Lindsey added three rolls of a dainty floral black and white vinyl wallpaper from Home Depot, an affordable option at $35 a roll. And her all-in spending was under $500.

By breaking up the project into mini DIYs, Lindsey was able to add several cozy and charming elements. “I love how much character this makeover added,” Lindsey says. “Before it was a boring white room, and now it has so much fun detail in this small space.”