Do you have a mudroom that houses more than just coats and shoes? I needed to incorporate a LOT of storage into ours, including room for a fridge, so I came up with a plan for how to build mudroom storage that looks like built-ins (but aren’t really built-in at all!)
I want to start this post by telling you what my “formal” carpentry/cabinetry training is…
Grade 8 wood shop.
Seriously. I haven’t taken one single course outside of public school where we made bird houses and turned a bowl.
I mention this so you know that you CAN do this!
I’m certainly not great, I hate measuring anything in 8ths, and 16ths aren’t even considerable, but I try – and learn every time I do.
Today I want to show off a build I’m REALLY proud of – from concept to execution, I did it all myself and it turned out just as I’d imagined… my new mudroom built-ins.
I’ll start with the problem:
I did not bring a single thing out to “stage” this.
This was the actual state of our mudroom last week… and it’s mostly my fault. It’s the room leading out to my workshop/garage and it becomes a drop-zone for everything on it’s way in or out.
Problem 2: my parents very generously gave us their old fridge to give us some extra storage for lunch supplies and pre-made freezer meals. It was a free fridge, and I am very grateful for the extra space but:
It has to sit away from the walls for the doors to open which left me with limited storage options on either side.
I knew I wanted built-ins, but I also knew that we wouldn’t be investing the money to replace this fridge if/when it dies. It’s a “nice to have” but not a “need to have”, so I didn’t want to actually build anything into the walls that I’d have to tear out in a couple/few years.
We had been using inexpensive bins to keep somethings organized, so I wanted to keep with that idea – but I also wanted to minimize the amount of plywood I needed to buy to build our mudroom storage.
At 24″ deep, I could get two lengths of wood from each 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood, the fridge doors could open easily without interference AND I was able to find baskets that were fairly close to that depth (that I could afford).
How to build mudroom storage
- (4) sheets ¾” plywood (or MDF if you want to save a few more bucks – I went with ply because I have no luck with MDF whatsoever)
- Have the home improvement store rip the boards lengthwise into 24″ widths
- (2) 2″ x 4″ x 8′
- mitre saw or table saw
- jigsaw or scroll saw
- pocket hole jig
- sander & sandpaper
- brad nailer or hammer and 1″ finishing nails
- paint (I recommend Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula for durability, but any cabinet paint will work)
- 1 ¼” pocket screws
Assembling your mudroom built-ins
- Cut all of your plywood to size. Everything will be 24″ deep, so it’s just widths you’ll need to figure out to fit your space.
- Drill pocket holes every 6″ on the sides of the boards that will be least visible.
- Apply primer to both faces of your plywood, let dry, then apply a second coat to make sure that no tannins bleed through to your paint.
- lightly sand all of your boards and apply a coat of paint (if you want to make life easy).
- Start assembly of your mudroom storage with the tall, 8′ verticals. You will only need pocket holes at the top of the two boards. Use 1 ¼” pocket screws to attach the sides to the top.
- We inserted a 1″ shim to the outside of the side boards to keep the carcass straight and to allow for the baseboard spacing; remember, I didn’t want this to actually BE built-in where I had to remove baseboards etc. I wanted our mudroom storage to look built-in, but without damaging any of the walls or trim work in behind it so it could be easily removed down the road.
- With the top and sides in place, the carcass of your storage unit will be pretty sturdy. The shims along the verticals will make sure it doesn’t wobble side to side. Measure to 1″ above the height of your fridge, and use pocket screws to install the first shelf. Check for level front to back and side to side.
- Baskets and bins can be CRAZY expensive, particularly if you want a larger than the standard 12″ x 12″ cotton square. I surfed Amazon for pretty rattan or sea grass baskets, but could only find options at about $65 CDN per. I HIGHLY recommend finding your bins BEFORE installing your shelves. I lucked out and came across these large fabric bins that are 17″ x 12″ by 10″ (Amazon affiliate link- for full affiliate disclosure please see sidebar or bottom of the page)- and they are beautiful! They come in a package of two-per and have the added feature of foldable wires to keep them rigid. (I don’t like the look of floppy bins).
- With the pocket holes on the side hidden by the fridge, attach your next verticals leaving 1″ from the fridge and enough space on one side to fit your bins with at least 1″ of space all the way around it. These will be drilled up into the shelf sitting just above the fridge and will be a bit loosey-goosey until you get your shelves in.
- Starting from the underside of your above-fridge-shelf, start placing your bin shelves (pocket holes down) in place – again, leave at least 1″ of clearance between the top and bottom of your bin. I cut a couple of spacer boards from scrap wood to make placement of each shelf easier. Clamp your spacers into place on either side, then butt your shelf up against it and screw into place.
- Shimmy your fridge over to one side and attach the second vertical on the other side. I actually tucked myself in behind the fridge so I had the spacing perfect before attaching. Pocket holes facing the side of the fridge. (I know, measuring would have worked as well – but I’m a hands-on person. 😂)
- At this point your mudroom storage is a freestanding unit.; not attached to any studs or walls and no trim removed. BUT I wanted this to LOOK built in, so that’s where the trim comes in… I ripped down my 2″ x 4″ boards to 5/8″ widths on the table saw. This gave me 1 1/2″ trim pieces to cover the ugly plywood edges and be the proper depth to cover the space between the outside of the built-in and the wall.
- I attempted scribing the shape of my baseboard onto a piece of the trim and cut it out with a scroll saw.
- Cut the edge of the piece on a 45 degree angle, and then the corresponding rest of the trim the same, to get a nice, smooth seam. Nail into place with 1″ finishing nails, or a brad nailer.
- Rip the rest of your 2″ x 4″ strips (5/8″ thick) to 1″ wide. You’ll use these pieces to trim out the inside shelves of your mudroom storage unit. I set these in place so that they were flush with the shelf tops, and hung below the shelf by ¼”. This allows the bins to slide in and out easily.
- “Do your best and caulk the rest” 😂 Use caulking to cover any nail holes, seams and gaps (like at the baseboards) that there might be.
- I added a tiny little piece of trim to cover up any other gaps between the walls and the sides of my mudroom storage unit, sanded the caulked areas smooth and then added a coat of Benjamin Moore’s Advance formula paint in “Simply White” to the entire unit. The Advance formula is water-based, but with the durability of oil, so it’s my go-to for furniture pieces.
Looks built-in right?!
And not one single screw or nail put into a wall!
I found the black of the fridge pretty heavy looking, so I updated it (I’ll show you that tomorrow).
Look at all of that beautifully organized storage!! I have (easily) twice the storage I had before, but on a much smaller footprint.
These bins really make a huge difference. At $16 CDN per, it wasn’t a small expense, but it wasn’t much more expensive than the smaller fabric ones (that aren’t nearly as pretty).
I could have built a few drawers, but then I’d be out the cost of the extra wood and the drawer glides which run about $15 CDN per as well. This was the best solution for my space.
I used a plain ‘ole label maker, attached the labels to a piece of cardstock and then stapled the tags to each container.
Heavier items on the lower shelves can slide in and out like drawers, and less-used or seasonal items can be put up-high.