My Mudroom Organization: The Story of How I Acquired This Amazing SetUp...and How My Husband Broke His Leg - Small Legacies

My Mudroom Organization: The Story of How I Acquired This Amazing SetUp...and How My Husband Broke His Leg

By Kendra Johnson


Am I the only one who struggles with keeping all the coats and shoes organized? I try to set up strict routines but honestly, I’m the worst one in the house at putting my things back where they go. Thankfully, my system works well for me, despite how scatterbrained I am. 

This week I want to show you my system for organizing coats, shoes and backpacks. As you can see, we have four sections. At this point we are a family of five so I share with Baby Sullivan. 

Each cubby has room for coats, backpacks, and shoes below. You’ll notice each boy has their own lunchbox. I use these to hold extra clothes for the diaper bag. When we go to visit anyone we bring these along in case we need a change of clothes for any reason. You’ll also notice the bucket on the top shelf. This is an important piece as it holds miscellaneous items like umbrellas and face masks.   

We also have a separate little row of hooks for our hat collection. Every time we go to Disney World, we buy a new baseball cap so our collection is pretty large. We rotate which ones are out at a given time based on the season and my mood. 

The story of how this amazing set up came to be was not necessarily a smooth one though. Here’s how it happened. 

The Story of Our Cubbies

You know the saying about Keeping Up With the Joneses? In my life, it’s Keeping Up With the Bauer-Frisch family. Amanda (founder of Jake and Jack) has the most beautiful home and her mudroom is gorgeous; including beautiful dark wood built-in cubbies for each family member. 

At my house, we don’t have a large mud room but we are lucky enough to have the space to have built-in cubbies. As soon as we moved into this home in 2021 I knew I NEEDED some cubbies like Amanda has. I spent months on Pinterest and Wayfair looking for the perfect design. 

Nothing matched exactly what I wanted though. So for this project we recruited the family to help! My step dad formerly worked as my high school theatre teacher and set designer. (Yes, my mom married my teacher. It’s right out of a teen drama, I know. haha.) 

Anyway, I pulled a few strings and convinced him to construct this beautiful cubby system for us. 

He started with building the base, a bench with four shoe compartments built in below. Once that was complete, he built the top frame which would form the four cubbies. Both him and I measured the dimensions of the room multiple times to ensure it would fit properly, but it was still a little nerve wracking for him to build it off site. 

The final step included adding backing to the unit and adding finishing touches like paint and hooks. 

A Delay in the Plans

After a few months of hard work on my step dad’s part, the cubbies were done and we were so excited to move them in! We arranged babysitters, we rented the UHaul and were ready to move the piece 45 minutes from my mom’s house to ours. 

Things did not go to plan that day. While my Step Dad and I were picking up the Uhaul to transport the cubbies to my house, Ben (my husband) was playing with the kids at my mom’s house. It was summer so they were running across one of those splash mats in the yard. 

Well... my Step Dad and I  pulled into the driveway with the UHaul, ready to transport this mammoth piece of furniture when my aunt came out and said simply “Ben’s hurt.” I ran around back to find my husband unable to walk. He was completely unable to put any weight on his right foot. 

An unlucky run across the splash mat, a wrong twist of the ankle and…SNAP! We didn’t realize it was broken until the next day but his leg just above the ankle had just snapped. 

We turned the Uhaul right back around because obviously the job wasn't going to be done by just two people. I’m not that strong.

 I was so disappointed! I’m ashamed to say my immediate concern was not for my poor husband who couldn’t walk but for the delay in my beautiful cubbies.  Luckily, I quickly got my priorities straightened out and I realized that my husband needed serious help. 

He toughed it out that night at home but the next morning went to the ER to discover the bone was broken. To top it all off, it was father’s day weekend. My poor husband had a rough summer that year. 

Two Months Later…

Two months after my husband broke his ankle, he was still in a cast and we had big news to share with the family: I WAS PREGNANT! YAY! But that meant neither of us could do the heavy lifting.

I finally found someone to help move the cubbies by calling in a favor from a friend. Because most moving companies charge by the mile, it was going to cost an arm and a leg to move the unit the 35 miles to our house. Thank God, A woman I substitute teach with volunteered her husband and his trailer to help. That’s one of the things I LOVE about where we live now. Neighbors really do help neighbors in many ways. 

Getting the cubbies in the door was a challenge but once the unit was in the house it fit the space like a glove. And now, we have this BEAUTIFUL piece for our “mudroom.”

The Mudroom That Isn’t a Mudroom

One detail I want to mention is that this is technically not a Mud Room. It is a front formal sitting room that we use as a multipurpose space. We call it the Den and it’s my favorite room in the house. We have my Grandmother’s chairs, my father-in-law's piano, my Grandma-in-law’s gold mirror, and now our custom built cubbies. Here's what it looks like on the other side of the room at Christmastime. 


I’d love to know what system you use for organizing backpacks, shoes and coats for your family. Let me know your tips and tricks for family organization in the comments below! 


Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

Comments 0

Leave a comment