Simple Living Archive


Mudrooms

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Lately I’ve become a connoisseur of mudrooms. I’ve been scanning the countryside for specimens of mudroom design, taking shots, and bringing them home to add to my mudroom bestiary, a collection of photographs I plan to consult as soon as I build a mudroom of my own.  I  say  bestiary  because  the  mudroom  embodies  a  unique architectural species. Rarely will you find two alike. Some are plain homemade,  some  ornamental. Often  they  say  something  about  the people behind the door.

At  its  simplest,  the  mudroom  is  an  enclosed entry  way,  usually annexed,  where you can  stomp  the  dirt  or  snow off your boots,  or remove  them,  and  hang  up  a  coat  and  hat,  before  entering.  More sophisticated mudrooms combine the advantages of the shakedown entry  way  with  an  airlock  for  conserving  heat.  Other  facets  of mudroom  design  can  produce  payoffs  in  refrigeration,  storage space, shelter for critters, solar power, and so forth.

The   mudroom   appears   to   have   humble   farmhouse   origins, coinciding with the elimination of earthen floors. In Japan, where it is  customary to  slip off your  shoes before entering a dwelling,  the mudroom  is  known  as  the  genken;  it’s  been  a  cornerstone  of Japanese  architecture  since  the  twelfth  century.  In  Vermont,  the mudroom  has been  a  popular  architectural  tradition  since  the  first settlers  kicked  off  their  boots.  It  has  sheltered  the  thresholds  of taverns,  inns,  schoolhouses,  stores,  farmhouses,  and  homes.  The newest  mudroom  in  my neighborhood  is  a  portable  entry  to  the general store. It’s a three-piece modular unit–roof, walls, door–that is assembled in November and taken away in May.

“It’s  great,”  the  storekeeper  told  me.  “Keeps  out  the  snow  and keeps in the heat. The girls at the cash register were freezing. They love it.”'

(Excerpted from A Country Planet: Smart Ways to Rural Success and Survival by Tim Matson.)

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earthponds Tim Matson is the author of Landscaping Earth Ponds.