Space of the Week: One Designer's 'California Mudroom' Makes the Case for a New Type of Closet

She calls it her home’s front desk.

Closet with dark paint and moody wallpaper, brass hooks and woven baskets
Photo: Renovate 108

Designer Jessica D'Itri Marés of Renovate 108 loves the big picture of her Southern California home. "We have gorgeous mountain views, and sometimes it feels like we live in a landscape painting," she says. "And more directly, our neighborhood is a collection of 1960s tract houses, which run the gamut from ranches to colonials." But as for her home's details, well, she's slowly been updating them to fit into the image she has.

White walls and cluttered yet empty closet
The closet "before.". Renovate 108

"Tract houses are only cookie-cutter until a homeowner decides to reconsider uses of a space," she notes. Take her hall closet, for instance. It was a standard box off the front door with a utilitarian hanging rod and carpet that likely hadn't been updated in decades. As Marés renovated the kitchen, entryway, and office around it—which included swapping out that carpet for hardwood—she considered how the closet would contribute to her family's daily lives. "We live in a mild climate," she says. "So I didn't feel like I needed somewhere to store heavy-duty gear."

She came up with the idea for a "California mudroom," in which the closet would be transformed into a sort of family front desk. "I wanted a dedicated area for things that are always coming or going from inside our house: shopping bags, gifts we purchase for others, library books, items to return, and so on," she says. "I pictured a little jewel box that would be a joy to see in contrast to the more neutral walls of the entryway."

Detail shot of closet with pretty moody floral wallpaper and woven baskets on shelf
Renovate 108

Marés removed the hanging rod, shelves, trim, and door of the existing closet, and then added new baseboards and paneling to two-thirds of the walls. Her husband, Tyler, constructed five cubbies to correspond with five hooks, which would be enough storage for their family of four and guests. He installed a shelf above the cubbies and a bench below, and then they both adhered floral wallpaper to the top third of the walls and the ceiling. "Tyler felt that the biggest challenge for him was getting the trim just right around the antique wood carving that we use as a transom above the door," she says.

The completed project fits right in with the plans she has for her home. "Previously, the closet only housed a couple of random coats, blankets, and yoga mats," she says. "Now it's a place not just for obvious things like bags, coats, and keys, but for some less obvious things like packages to be mailed. I even have a lost-and-found basket for items that guests leave at our house!"

Get the Look:

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Hydrangea Wallpaper

Trustworth Hydrangea Wallpaper With Pink Petals

Take a cue from this stylish closet and pair dark painted wainscoting with a whimsical floral wallpaper. The pairing creates contrast, while the blooms pop when set against the moody hue.

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Brass Triple Hook

Massey Brass Triple Hook

A hook may seem like a frivolous detail to splurge on, but this triple hook design offers three times the storage potential. The main hook is ideal for coats, while the smaller hooks can hold purse straps and scarves. Plus, it's crafted from unlacquered brass, which means it will develop a rich patina over time.

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Seagrass Baskets

Pottery Barn, Square Seagrass Basket with handles
Pottery Barn

To keep packages to mail and incoming letters stashed out of sight, invest in a set of woven seagrass baskets. The built-in handles make it easy to slide out a basket and tote it to your home office when it's time to do your taxes or to the car when you're heading to the post office.

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Brass Label Plates

Brass Label Plates
Shopkeepers DC

Even the most brilliant organization system won't work if your family won't follow it. Labels can help with that. Mark one bin and one triple hook for each family member, so everyone knows where to hang their hat.

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