The Best Organizing Tips

A Mudroom Gets Made Over

Beth Ann Kempf’s 200-year-old house has no downstairs closets, so her entry hall has to work overtime. Real Simple reclaimed the spot to improve the family’s overall exit strategy. Here’s how. 

Smiling family in their messy mudroom
Bjorn Wallander
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Meet the Kempfs (and Their Mess)

The Space
The pass-through zone in the New Woodstock, New York, farmhouse was once a laundry room; it was turned into a side entryway about five years ago.

The Parents
Beth Ann is a first-grade teacher. Like most moms, she has made myriad attempts to bring order to her home’s busiest area: “I would say, ‘These five cubbies are yours—this bin is his.’ But I never got around to labeling anything, so nothing stuck.” Andy, an engineer, says of the sneakers, boots, and cleats, “They were everywhere.”

The Kids
Katie, 16 (far left); David, 14; and Janie, 12, play an array of sports—and drop their balls, bats, and rackets the minute they step inside the house. Skiing is big for all three kids; in the winter, ski gear ends up piled in the mudroom, when it would be much more at home in the garage.

Found in (and Removed From) the Mudroom
- 1 kite handle (no kite)
- 1 wall-mounted quilt hanger
- 1 bottle of detangling dog shampoo (for a long-since-passed pooch)
- 3 loose bicycle parts (pedal, chain, seat connector)
- 1 bar of mechanic’s soap
- 4 dried-up stain sticks
- 1 pair of snowboarding boots (no Kempf has snowboarded in three years)
- 9 empty bottles of all-purpose cleaner
- 1 ski jacket and 1 pair of snow pants that don’t fit anyone in the family (“I have absolutely no idea whom they belong to,” says Beth Ann)

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