Home & Design

A Falls Church mudroom/pantry by Brocato Design + Co. combines function and flair with mesh-fronted green cabinets and a window seat. Photo: Stylish Productions

Case Architects & Remodelers designed a DC mudroom in a 1940s abode in classic style, with custom built-ins and a black-and-white, porcelain-tile floor. Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Sleek built-in shelving and minimalist furnishings elevate a home office in Potomac by Priya Design & Decor LLC. Photo: Bob Narod

In a distinctive mudroom by GTM Architects, thin brick pavers convey an Old World feel and shiplap siding promotes durability. A soapstone sink is perfect for potting plants and arranging flowers. Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Katherine Crosby made the most of a limited footprint in a Baltimore closet, equipping it with a vanity; an island with drawers; and shelving for shoes and other items. Dark wood finishes are offset by mirrors and a statement-making pendant. Photo: Stylish Productions

Call to Order

Designers dish on how to create chic, organized spaces

Discuss the latest trends in home organization.
Keeping your home an uncluttered refuge is key, and custom closets, mudrooms and pantries are the core areas where we help accomplish this goal. Home offices are popular, while wall beds truly optimize available space. Converting full rooms into dream closets was big in 2023. We’re also incorporating drawer trays and wall racks for jewelry. Color preferences are shifting towards warmer tones and wood grains. —Matthew Hein, Closets by Design

What are the secrets to creating a successful closet?
Take stock to account for your needs and the needs of your clothes—remember space for full-length hanging, drawers and jewelry storage. Incorporate a mirror, which will enlarge the room visually and reflect light. Shelves should be adjustable and deep enough for folded sweaters; they should have several height options (boots need more clearance than sandals). Be sure you have enough good lighting. And add easily accessible outlets for charging. —Katherine Crosby, Jenkins Baer Associates

How do you make a pantry both stylish and functional?
When designing a pantry, I look for opportunities to hide and organize what I call the “uglies” (items we need that aren’t attractive to display) while also creating visual interest. Visibility is key. Deep drawers or cabinets are good for kitchen appliances. Baskets or bins are great for quick grabs. I include a tall, narrow storage space for brooms, mops and hand-vacs. For households with pets, I create storage and even built-in food/water bowls. —Juli Brocato, Brocato Design + Co.

Begin by making sure there’s a place for everything. Wire baskets, pull-out trays and adjustable shelving maximize storage. A pantry becomes more than a closet when it is an extension of your kitchen, incorporating lighting, countertops, hardware and specialty molding. —Pam Hausamann, Closet Factory

How do you assess a client’s home office needs?
We ask questions: Will it be a primary office or just a spot for a desk and chair? Is it for multiple users? How much storage is required? Ergonomic seating can be critical, along with a Zoom-ready background. Do they want a coffee station? Additional seating for visitors? Where in the house will it be located? To elevate the aesthetic, look for interesting art, wallpaper or a plush rug. Efficient recessed lighting is a must, while a chandelier will complement a space. Budget cabinets can be finished to look custom. Freestanding bookshelves made with metal, wood or glass add texture and interest. —Priya Gupta, Associate ASID, NKBA, Priya Design & Decor LLC

What are creative ways to organize a family entry?
Consider what you want to store there. I like to design in a way that can evolve as needs change: adjustable shelves and extra-deep drawers that are multi-purpose; doors that hide clutter and keep everything contained. Maximizing cabinet height provides opportunities for stashing out-of-season items. —Charlotte Jarrett, California Closets, Washington, DC

Devise dedicated storage areas for each family member. Consider labeled cubbies or baskets, wall-mounted hooks and a pet station with room for toys, leashes and treats. We also recommend some type of bench seating; it can be a built-in bench with hidden storage or an antique found online. A place to sit while removing belongings will help an entryway stay organized. —Scott North, Case Architects & Remodelers

How do you elevate a mundane mudroom?
Because they’re small, mudrooms are great for colorful or unique floor tile. Thin brick pavers or porcelain pavers that look like flagstone provide style without the need to upgrade for the added weight and depth of real brick or stone. We use shiplap or paneling for durability in a space where we anticipate heavier use. Lockers and cubbies are good for a pop of color, and metal mesh, caning or a custom vent pattern will add texture to a scheme.  —Luke Olson, Jessica Parker Wachtel, GTM Architects

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