Home & Design

Annie Elliott conjures cheerful whimsy with bold, primary hues and playful, dog-themed wallpaper.

A welcoming mudroom by Tracey Morris of Gillis Interiors combines checked wallpaper and crisp, white millwork.

Mudroom Magic

Two projects illustrate ways to impart personality and pizzazz to your home’s most practical space

When designer Tracey Morris of Gillis Interiors and her family bought their house in Potomac, it had been a rental property for 12 years. “Absolutely nothing had been done to it,” Morris recalls, “but I was excited because I wanted to implement my own ideas.” Among the changes she envisioned: replacing the laundry room—then the first room guests saw when entering the frequently used side entry—with a mudroom.

Morris removed the washer and dryer and circa-1980s cabinetry from one wall, installing a built-in bench enhanced by millwork in their place. She opted for hooks over cubbies. “Seeing other mudrooms, I realized that open-plan organization would work better for us, since the kids’ stuff often doesn’t make it into the cubbies anyway,” she explains. Lower shelves house the family’s shoes.

After living with white walls and scuff marks for a while, Morris came across a buffalo-check wallpaper by Caitlin Wilson Design and fell in love with it. “The kitchen has a large, freestanding black cupboard near the entrance to the mudroom, so the pattern in black and white lent itself to the space,” notes the designer, who painted the exterior and closet doors in the mudroom black for continuity. A concrete-look, porcelain-tile floor complements the scheme. Says Morris of the final result, “Mudrooms and powder rooms are spaces you can have fun with.”

Interior Design: Tracey Morris, Gillis Interiors, Potomac, Maryland. 


While updating a home in Potomac’s Avenel neighborhood, designer Annie Elliott tackled the boring mudroom, which needed to accommodate laundry, plus paraphernalia belonging to both kids and the family dog.

Formerly an empty shell, the room now contains a wall of built-ins holding storage and a utility sink. The original side-by-side washer and dryer were replaced by stacked versions that tuck into the built-in wall. “We stopped the cabinets short of the ceiling because that gap makes the small space feel more expansive,” explains Elliott.

The room’s playful, vibrant design grew out of a whimsical wallpaper pattern by Jane Churchill for Cowtan & Tout. “At first, the client said the mudroom was a throw-away space and wanted us to just put some tile in there,” relates the designer. “But when I was looking at other wallpapers, I came across this cheerful dog pattern and thought, ‘We can make this room a lot more fun.’”

The owners—who adore their dog—quickly concurred. Elliott had already discovered bright-red Waterworks penny tile for the floor; she selected high-gloss, handmade glass backsplash tile in the same hue, also from Waterworks, to complete the look. A Moravian star pendant illuminates the space. “We didn’t want the room to look juvenile,” Elliott insists. ”Just lifted up to be fun and festive.”

Interior Design: Annie Elliott, Annie Elliott Design, Washington, DC. Contractor: Natelli Homes, Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

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HOME&DESIGN, published bi-monthly by Homestyles Media Inc., is the premier magazine of architecture and fine interiors for the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia region.

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