Decorating & Design

February 6, 2009

DIY Portable Mudroom

Our do-it-yourself portable mudroom offers lots of room for outerwear and sports equipment with three storage cubbies flanked by slots for umbrellas, it features a cozy seat and a message centre with corkboard and chalkboard on the upright panel. (Either of these panels can be replaced by backings like pegboard or mirror to suit your needs.)

And with its tall backboard, the unit can act as a room divider, blocking off a corner by the door to create a little prep space — and hiding spot — for boots and coats. (Don’t hang coats and bags on its back as the unit isn’t weighted for that, and could tip backwards.)

If you’re familiar with basic construction methods and tools, the how-to for this project is easy. The base and backing are built and painted separately, then screwed together. Finally, the unit is outfitted — and this can be customized for your needs — with coat hooks, storage baskets and a tufted seat cushion.

Once it’s built, just set it up inside any door in the house — front, back, side, door from the garage — and if it doesn’t work out there, wheel it to another entrance.

Materials and Tools

  • Jigsaw
  • Mitre saw
  • Wood glue
  • 1-1/2” nails
  • Countersink/nail punch
  • 1-1/2” screws
  • Hammer
  • 4 2”-diam. lockable casters
  • Router
  • Chalkboard (25-1/2” x 45-1/4”)
  • Sharp scissors or utility knife
  • 3’ x 4’ 1/4”-thick cork
  • Contact cement
  • Wood filler
  • Paintbrushes
  • 1 gallon (3.75 L) primer
  • 1 gallon (3.75 L) semi-gloss oil paint
  • 3” screws
  • 4 large coat hooks
  • 9 small hooks

Cutting List

Note: All pieces are cut from 3/4”-thick MDF (medium-density fibreboard), unless otherwise stated.

For base:

  • 16-3/4” x 55” (bottom)
  • 17-1/2” x 55” (front)
  • 17-1/2” x 55” (back)
  • 6 pcs. 15-1/2” x 16-3/4” (dividers)
  • 2 pcs. 4” x 17-1/2” (pilasters)
  • 19-1/4” x 57” (top)
  • 4 pcs. 2-1/2” x 14” (end detail)
  • 4 pcs. 2-1/2” x 17-1/2” (end detail)

For top:

  • 49” x 55” (back piece)
  • 3-1/2” x 55” (extra top piece)
  • 5” x 56-1/2” (more top trim)
  • 2 pcs. 1-1/2” x 52-1/2” (side edges)
  • 3 pcs. 2-1/2” x 46-3/4” (vertical trim)
  • 2 pcs. 2-1/2” x 24-1/2” (bottom horizontal trim)
  • 3 pcs. 2” x 24-1/2” x 1/2”-thick MDF
  • 3 pcs. 4” x 62-3/4” (for support braces on back)
  • 55”-long 2-1/2” shingle moulding (for crown moulding)
  • 2 pcs. 1-1/2”-long shingle moulding (for crown moulding)

What it Cost

7’ 1/2” x 3” paint-grade pine $7
3 sheets of MDF $90
7’ brick or shingle moulding $11
Chalkboard $144
3’ x 4’ 1/4”-thick cork sheeting $17
Nails, screws, glue, sandpaper $20
4 casters ($8 each) $32
Wicker baskets $30
Metal baskets $39
Primer, paint $89
Vintage hooks $172
TOTAL $651

Step 1

Cut all pieces for base of mudroom as well as for the top section, according to cutting list (above/below). Cut the three cubby openings (where baskets will be) from the front panel, each measuring 13-1/2” x 13-1/2”, according to diagram. Cut four slots in top piece as per diagram measurements (above/below).

Step 2

Using wood glue and countersunk nails, fasten front section to bottom piece. Bottom piece should be flush with the bottom of the cubby openings. Using wood glue, fasten the four divider pieces to the bottom and face, according to diagram. Screw in place through the bottom piece, and use countersunk nails through the front panel.

Step 3

Attach two end pieces to base. Use wood glue and screw from both the bottom and front (front screws will be covered by pilasters). Attach back piece to dividers and bottom using wood glue and screws.

Step 4

Attach two pilasters to front section using wood glue and countersunk nails. Attach end trim detail pieces in square formation using wood glue and countersunk nails.

Step 5

Attach lid, lining up the back of the lid with the back of the dividers (this will leave a space where the top section will rest when it’s attached). Use wood glue and countersunk nails to attach the lid. Attach casters at this point and set base portion aside.

Step 6

To begin assembling the upper portion of the mudroom, lay the large backing piece (49” x 55”) face down. Attach the 62-3/4”-long braces to the back (with wood glue and screws) so that braces extend 3-1/2” beyond the top of the back and 10-1/4” beyond the bottom.

Step 7

Turn over backing and attach 3-1/2” x 55” extra top piece (long edge of this will butt up to top edge of main back piece) to braces using wood glue and screws. Attach two 1-1/2” x 52-1/2” side pieces flush with front edge of main board, using wood glue and nails.

Step 8

Using a router, cut a 1/2” notch from the 5” x 56-1/2” horizontal top piece where the chalkboard will sit behind it. Attach this piece over the seam of the main back piece and the extra top piece, so that top edges are flush and routed edge is on the bottom, facing in. This piece will extend 3/4” beyond each side of the main board so that its ends are flush with the side pieces.

Step 9

Using wood glue and nails, attach two 2-1/2” face framing pieces to either side of the back piece. Using contact cement, affix chalkboard in place, with its top edge fitting into the notch cut in Step 8. Attach centre vertical face framing piece and two bottom horizontal face framing pieces using wood glue and nails.

Step 10

Use wood glue and nails to attach three 1/2”-thick pieces in place. The top piece should butt up against the 5” horizontal piece. Place the next two at equal distances between the top piece and the 2-1/2” horizontal face framing piece at the bottom.

Step 11

Using sharp scissors or a sharp utility knife, cut cork to size to fit within three frames created in Step 10. Use contact cement to attach three cork panels in place.

Step 12

Attach crown moulding using wood glue and screws. Attach the moulding 2-1/2” from the top of the unit. It will attach halfway down the 5” horizontal piece.

Step 13

Fill all nail holes with wood filler. Allow filler to dry and sand smooth. Wipe away sanding dust. Prime entire unit (base and back sections are still not attached). Allow primer to dry. Paint both sections with a coat of semi-gloss paint. Allow to dry thoroughly. Paint another coat if necessary and allow to dry.

Step 14

Attach base and back sections together. You’ll need the help of at least one other person for this step. Lock casters on base section to that it won’t move around. Carefully lift back section and hold it in place so that its 3/4” end reveal sits on bottom of base behind the seat. The braces will be long enough to screw into the base from the back. Use 3” screws to attach back into base through brace pieces.

Note: If you decide to build this unit, do not hang anything on its back. Casters can throw a large unit like this off balance, and any weight on its back may tip it over. Our measurements were customized to fit the baskets we purchased. We recommend finding baskets before cutting any wood.