With her three kids' busy school and sports schedules, it's no wonder Jamie Adcock requires a one-stop spot in her Willowbrook home to keep all of their gear organized and clean. As a bonus, her mudroom is also a style powerhouse thanks to vividly colored cabinetry that hides clutter and makes a statement.
"I had seen blue cabinets in a friend's house and just loved them," Adcock says. "They're really beautiful."
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Anything but an ordinary linen closet and laundry room, the large space offers a sink, ample shelving and a row of double-doored lockers: one each for Emma, 17, Jack, 16, and Ava, 8.
"There are lockers for all the kids so they can keep their backpacks and everything else in there," Adcock says. "Each one also has electricity so they can charge their phones."
Whether it's Emma's badminton racket -- she was the doubles state champion last year -- Jack's baseball glove or Ava's soccer cleats, all of their equipment and bags stay organized and hidden.
With those unsightly items stashed away, the room calls for decorative touches to complement the arrangement of vintage treasures and framed photos that tops the cabinetry. For some help infusing the room with garden-fresh spring appeal, the Adcock family turned to inspiration provided by Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Catherine Parker and Debbie Plantery.
"Just because a room is functional doesn't mean it has to be boring," Enstad says. "Bringing in decor that makes you happy will make your chores that much easier!"
Yes, you can
1. Play dress up. If your laundry room doesn't have a handy surface for folding clothes, use an accent table with a little bit of personality. And, when it's not covered in socks and towels, let the table host a seasonal vignette. Here, the stylists built a garden-themed grouping by setting small rocks and moss in a large terra-cotta saucer, which provides a base for a distinctive watering can full of greens, a seedling in a canning jar and a cute figurine.
2. Fork it over. Enhance a floral or foliage arrangement with a cute bird and some seed packets woven through fork tines; you can also use this idea in the garden to identify your plantings.
All in a Row
3. Locker it away. One of the major factors that went into designing Adcock's mudroom was the need to keep her three children organized. Each of the kids gets a locker for stashing backpacks, shoes and sports equipment out of sight behind the bold blue doors.
4. Count your change. To get a similar look on a more modest budget, line up a series of double-doored stock cabinets from the home improvement store against an empty wall. Ensure that the furniture is in line with your own style by choosing hardware that complements your country decor.
5. Make things personal. Denote whose locker is which with vintage-style metal initials attached to the doors. To give the room more lived-in appeal, hang a rustic frame full of family photos on the wall.
6. Chalk it up. Attach star-framed photographs to chalkboards that can be used to remind everyone of the day's schedule. For some spring flair, suspend the boards from trowel-shaped hooks secured to the doors with twine or jute.
7. Go above and below. Accessorize your functional area with interesting decor throughout, such as a colorful accent rug on the floor, an array of vintage collectibles atop the cabinetry or a few wrought-iron butterflies on the wall.
8. Plant ahead. Have some old clipboards lying around? Turn them into eye-grabbing additions that help you stay organized in style. Mask off the clip with painter's tape, spray paint the board red (or another vibrant hue), and then hang it on a cabinet front where you can keep schedules or other notes handy. For more seasonal charm, create a smaller version and glue on a vintage garden tool cradling a faux bird's nest.
9. Packet a punch. In keeping with the clipboards' stylish organization theme, Debbie advises letting your seed packets serve as decor long after your vegetables have been planted. Use pint-size wood clothespins to attach the graphic envelopes to a springy accent, such as the green bird cage above the sink.
10. Have a sense of humor. "The whole idea behind this makeover was to turn a functional space into a fun place," Enstad says. "The 'free weeds' sign on the wall helps the mood stay lighthearted even when it's work time."
11. Roll with it. The stylists filled a wall basket with garden twine and wire and wound burlap ribbon around its rolling pin to turn it from a kitchen keeper into a planting area organizer. "This is a great idea for a potting spot or a craft room," Catherine says. "As another neat trick, you can also tuck loose twine into a sugar canister with the end coming out of the pourer."
12. Plates your bets. Relocate a plate rack from the kitchen or dining room, and task it with holding stacks of terra-cotta saucers -- they will look nice gathered together and be close at hand when you need to catch a drip. Keep the sink area even cleaner with an enamel bowl specifically for sponges.
Stow and behold
13. Go into hiding. Jamie is lucky enough to have a linen closet adjacent to her mudroom, but you can employ some of these same tactics on open shelves or in standard cabinetry. To create a similar setup, outfit a wall or a corner with simple shelving that will allow your clever organization tricks to shine.
14. Present your case. Tuck linens inside patterned pillowcases, and tie the tops closed with fabric ribbon. Here, yellow and blue-and-green plaid cases keep spare bath towels and washcloths contained and provide bursts of spring color on shelves below a rainbow of equally vibrant flameless candles.
15. Be a happy hamper. Instead of a typical plastic laundry basket, upgrade to a vintage-inspired wire cart on wheels that can roll anywhere it's needed in your laundry room.
16. Plant evidence. "Who says that off-duty tools can't do some work on the side?" Catherine notes. "We heralded spring with napkin rings stacked on the handle of a hoe and a planting caddie holding cloth napkins."
17. Clear the way. For impact, group like items in clear glass canisters, such as the Hoosier pumpkin jars corralling thread and spare buttons here.
18. Make your message stick. Whether used as a reminder station, a place to showcase family photos or a central spot for keeping a grocery and supply list, a slim magnetic message board is an ideal addition to a narrow bit of wall.