Saving Etta: Mudroom Reveal

Is it bizarre to say that the Saving Etta mudroom might be one of the favorite spots in the Saving Etta house? I’m not sure if it’s because this room has so many salvaged items. Or maybe it’s because this space gets a glorious dose of sun in the late afternoon. Regardless, I love that this room greets the homeowners every time they come home.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

The entrance to the mudroom is off the driveway through a door on the side porch.

The smaller wood door on the porch leads to a little storage area. The door was reclaimed from an early 1900 house that was destroyed to make way for new condominiums. There is so much growth in Raleigh, NC and unfortunately many of these older homes are in the way of that growth. This is why I was thrilled to have been able to save a piece of Raleigh’s history by preserving the original 1900 portion of the Saving Etta house.

But, I digress, back to the mudroom. The little side porch is the perfect spot to drop your bags and fumble for your keys—wait, did I say keys? No keys necessary! The Schlage Sense Smart lock has codes you can program into it.

Alternatively, for more automagical unlocking, you can pair the lock with your smartphone after downloading the Schlage Sense app and lock or unlock your door with your phone! Watch this video to see the full features of the Schlage Sense app and how you can control the door locks:

You can also set codes and deactivate codes easily. I’m so thrilled with this Schlage Sense Smart lock that I will be installing one on my home in the near future.

Once inside the house, the mudroom is a natural space to drop all the things.

This room used to be one of the bedrooms. Originally the chimney was covered by plaster. Can you spot the chimney on the left side of the picture below.

Saving Etta - The Story of Saving a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

The open closet door above is where the little key hook window cabinet is below (more on how I built this gem in a later blog post.) The closed door in the picture above is now the doorway into the main hallway in the house as seen below.

Everything from the chimney back was removed during demolition. The back of the house wasn’t original to the 1900 house. The back 2/3 of the house was a series of bad additions and weren’t built well. Consequently, the floor sagged almost 5 inches from one end of the bedroom to the other. Although you can’t see it in the picture below, the chimney is still attached to the original portion of the house.

After demolition, I rebuilt onto the back of the original house (complete with a properly dug 24 inch deep crawlspace and a concrete block foundation.)

Now the house is on solid footing and has all new wiring and plumbing. Plus, the new insulation and fiber cement siding should insure a weather-proofed home protecting it from deterioration for decades.

Before we step in the mudroom, I want to give you a little behind the scenes story about dealing with inspectors and how to solve issues when you disagree with the inspector. (Because ultimately you can’t argue with them.)

If you noticed the small paver patio above is pitched away from the house more on the left than the right hand side, you have incredible eagle eyes! The inspector warned me that he would have to fail my final inspection if I didn’t correct the slope on the left. His solution was to put in a step against the driveway that would start at a few inches high and slope to nothing once it reached the right hand side.

I talked to the buyers about this suggestion and we all agreed that adding a sloping step against the driveway would cause a tripping hazard (especially since the driveway is narrow and either the car door would hit the step or your ankle would).

Luckily, I came up with a solution that would pass code, but also avoid a tripping hazard.

By bolting a temporary railing onto the porch, it would force travel to happen over the acceptable sloped section of patio.

Then after final inspection (and before closing) I removed the railing per the buyers request. Ultimately the inspector had to pass the this configuration, but he can’t control what happens to a house after he leaves. Apparently these kind of solutions happen all the time when the code doesn’t provide for small issues arising during construction.

I would never have created intentionally created an unsafe situation just to pass an inspection. Ultimately, we all agreed, the sloped patio was a lot safer and not a big concern (unless it was covered with ice. But frankly ice presents an issue even on a level surface.)

Let’s get back to the glorious mudroom, shall we?

The floors were an intentional choice. I chose Jeffrey Court’s Porcelain Castle Rock Hex tile. My own dark grey tile mudroom floors rarely show dirt. The darker color (with lots of pattern) tends to hide any debris that gets tracked in.

On the rare occasion that we have snow in North Carolina, these floors will allow cold snowy boots to dry without damaging the floor. And I intentionally left space under the lockers to let you kick off your shoes or add some bins if the homeowners desire.

Speaking of places to store things, I knew I wanted to build a little key hook cabinet for between the studs in the mudroom. When my HVAC contractor told me he had to use space in the corner for an air chase, I figured this would be the perfect spot to put the little cabinet.

During framing, I framed out this spot for the cabinet and then built the key hook storage cabinet back in my shop (tutorial to come soon.)

I used some of the reclaimed bead board from Etta’s walls to attach hooks too.

The sheet metal provides a magnetic surface to use for notes, etc. I gave it an aged look by following this tutorial.

Now this little cabinet is the perfect spot to hang keys at the end of your day. See that little green heart? My friend Su makes these and sells them in her Etsy shop. When I saw the green one, I knew I had to purchase it to present to the new owners with their house keys. The color matches Etta’s front door color.

One of the things most people comment on in the mudroom are the lockers.

Those lockers are one of my favorite recycles! A friend offered them to me as he was removing them from an old gym to convert into a retail shop.

They sat in my garage gathering dust for almost a year. You’d think I would have noticed the little diamond pattern perfectly matches Etta’s diamond shaped attic vents.

But alas, it wasn’t until my trim carpenter and I installed them that I realized they were meant to be inside this house.

Next to the lockers is a small space where the circuit breaker is and then the chimney!

That beautiful brick chimney was created in 1900 and almost met its demise in 2018. The demo contractor thought it should come down. The framer said I was crazy to try to keep such an ugly piece of the house. My trim carpenter struggled to trim around its twists and turns.

But, here it is in 2019, proof that even something no one else sees as beautiful can be beautiful!⁣

⁣The copious amounts of Nolan hooks from Liberty Hardware Brands hold backpacks, bags, and a plethora of coats ready to grab as you run out the door (because everyone knows how fickle North Carolina weather can be in the Spring). I love their classic shape and the contrast against the white board and batten wall.

I fell for this door years ago when I saw it in many farmhouse style homes. But, tracking down one turned out to be a little tricky. Originally I wanted a 1/2 light door. But, my building supply representative told me a half window door had to be custom ordered and would take several weeks to arrive.

Instead he located a 2/3 light wooden farmhouse door that was stocked and could be delivered in a week.

This completes the tour of the mudroom. It makes me happy and I’m so proud of the outcome. A special thank you to all the Saving Etta sponsors, and especially Schlage Locks, Jeffrey Court tiles, and Liberty Hardware for partnering with me on the mudroom build.

What do you think? Did you like all the salvaged items I used? Any questions for me?

Disclosure: Schlage Locks, Jeffrey Court HD tiles, and Liberty Hardware were all material sponsors of the Saving Etta project. They provided complimentary items for the mudroom. 

Pretty Handy Girl Holiday Home Tour Mudroom & Foyer

Last up on my holiday home tour is my mudroom and foyer. This year, I re-used the same wreaths for the front door, but I jazzed them up with silver holly leaf floral picks.

Pretty Handy Girl Holiday Home Tour Mudroom & Foyer

It’s incredibly easy to change the look of your wreaths. Try tucking in fresh clippings like these mahonia leaves:

Pretty Handy Girl's Holiday Home Tour 2014

Or tie ornaments onto your wreath to add some sparkle and shine. Get more ideas for updating your wreaths here.

Pretty Handy Girl's Christmas Home Tour

Inside the front door, I set up the advent calendars on our rustic IKEA hacked chest. Read more

12 DIY Home Storage Tutorials | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s January and you know what that means! Time to clean and purge the house of all the excess stuff. Last year I was too busy with projects to purge, so this year I’m taking advantage of some warmer days to clean out our home. I hope you’ll excuse me while I’m in clutter busting HELL mode. In the meantime you might enjoy these 12 DIY Storage Projects to help you organize your home (and hide clutter.)

Make a Coat Rack from an Old Door
 and Make a Shoe Storage Bench with Kitchen Cabinets

full_flow_wall_above_washerLaundry Room Storage using Flow Wall Read more

31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl


Want to cut down on your vacuuming? Want to make your carpets last 10 times longer? Want to keep bacteria out of your home? Wow, sounds like a miracle product right? Actually you can accomplish all of the above by simply training yourself and your family to remove their shoes at the door.


Day 13: Remove Your Shoes at the Door

The carpets in our home are at least 13 years old. Believe it or not, they are in great shape! The main reason is that we don’t wear our shoes in the house. The carpeting is good quality carpet. We clean up spills immediately with our carpet steam cleaner (you can’t have kids and pets without one!) I’ve had the carpets professionally cleaned twice since we’ve owned the house in 7 years.


Do we require our guests to remove their shoes? No. But, most of them do anyway because when they come in the mudroom it’s evident that we take off our shoes at the door.


In order to create a habit of removing your shoes at the door, it’s important to have a convenient storage location for shoes. Creating shoe storage doesn’t have to be expensive.

Beth made these beautiful faux birch log shoe storage out of PVC pipe:

PVC Birch Shoe Storage

Jessica shared how she took a nook and put in shelving for shoe storage.

Built In Shoe Shelves

I made a small shoe storage bench out of a kitchen cabinet.

Shoe Bench from a Kitchen Cabinet

But, my sanity saver is this larger shoe storage bench I made out of salvage materials.

DIY Mudroom Storage Bench

Do you have any other tips for keeping your carpets looking like new?


I’m participating in Nester’s 31 Days Challenge. Check out all the other bloggers who are participating!

31 Day Writing Challenge

Don’t miss a single tip! Sign up to get all the tips in your email:

Sign Up for Email Subscription

Other tips in the 31 Days of Handy Home Fixes series:


We made some serious progress this past week. Not only did we make a big dent in the “to do” list in the kitchen, but we also finished painting and installing the trim in the mudroom. It’s really nice walking past this little paper flower spring wreath and into a finished room! Check out the mudroom tour below.

Our mudroom is looking so nice that I decided to invite you over for a little mudroom tour.

Read more

Are you ready to get toasty today? Today is the day that I’ll be showing you how to install the WarmlyYours TempZone radiant floor heat. Can I tell you a little secret? I was terrified! I was so fearful of breaking the heating wire, that I handled this roll with kid gloves. And I yelled at ANYONE who dared step on the mats in shoes. I realize now that I may have been paranoid and overreacted a little. I was just so anxious to have warm floors that I protected our radiant floor elements like a Mama bear of her cubs.

Remember on Wednesday how I told you how I had chosen WarmlyYours radiant heating systems because of their awesome warranty? Well, I also read feedback about their customer service and it ROCKS as well! That service starts with the ordering process.  I was in contact with a representative from WarmlyYours who helped answer ALL of my questions (of which I had many.) She reviewed my room layout and suggested the TempZone Cut & Turn Rolls which is one long mesh roll with the heating element woven and evenly spaced throughout the roll. I was doubtful and wasn’t sure how the roll would fit through the doorway and “roll” around our laundry room. But, she reassured me that they would send me detailed plans for installation. And that a DIYer like myself should have no problem with the installation.

Within a week, I received my custom TempZone roll with a layout just for MY space.

Not just a standard layout, but a custom plan for my exact room dimensions and usage. I was extremely impressed to say the least, because the plan was very detailed showing the exact location of the cuts I needed to make in the mesh mat (not the wire.) Having this map saved me hours of brain-twisting planning at the least.

Before installation, I read the instruction manual in its entirety (highly recommended.) Remember, I was a little nervous and didn’t want to do anything to damage the heating mat. I even made sure I was hopped up on caffeine so I could absorb every nugget of the lesson.

I also prepared the floors by installing cork underlayment (as detailed in this tutorial.) Are you ready for the tutorial to install radiant mats? It wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated and this part went fairly quickly. Let’s roll! Read more

After you read the title, I guess the cat’s out of the bag. It’s true, I installed radiant floor heating in our mudroom/laundry room and I couldn’t be more thrilled. One of the positives of having a plumbing leak and subsequent gutted room, is being able to make changes that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered. Tile floors with radiant heating underneath was one such change we never entertained until our flooring was ripped out.

Here’s the low down on those two rooms. Our long hallway mudroom that ends in the laundry room was an addition to our home back in the 80’s. It was built on a concrete pad and the owners must have decided not to tie those two rooms into the heating and air conditioning. Consequently, in the winter, these rooms are brrrrrrr…chilly willy! (It’s true, my blood has thinned over the years from living in the south. I think I’d turn into a useless popsicle if I had to spend more than an hour in Alaska like Ana White.) The linoleum flooring that was there didn’t do much to dampen the chill. And, I knew since we were installing tiles in these areas that it would only contribute to that polar ice effect (wimpy wimpy wimpy, I know).

I decided that I wanted to try to add radiant heat in the floors. After a few nights of research, I settled on a company that makes custom configured TempZone radiant heating mats  for your home.

Read more

Happy New Year! What did you do to ring in 2013?

Every year we have a New Year’s Day party. It’s our annual tradition. This year we almost didn’t have our party because our kitchen was in such a disheveled state. But, I remember someone wise asked if you wait until your house is perfect to invite people over or recognize that your true friends will come to see you and not your house. Of course in our case, I’m sure there was a few curious people as well.

But, honestly, this was one of the most memorable parties we’ve had! The guests drew on the floor: Read more

I picked up this plain vanilla door mat a while ago at a thrift store. I knew I wanted to transform it into something stencil-tacular. But, I couldn’t decided on the right pattern.

While at SNAP I was introduced to Royal Studio Design stencils and won a free stencil to take home. The Chez Sheik design immediately jumped out at me. The moroccan look is very beautiful, don’t you think? Read more

We had a great turnout at the Habitat ReStore demonstration on Saturday! Thank you to everyone who showed up. It was nice meeting some new friends. There will be another talk at 1 pm on Saturday, December 10th at the Cary, NC Habitat ReStore! I hope you can make it, because I’ll be showing how to turn some common ReStore items into holiday gifts and décor.

And now for the tutorial that you really wanted to see — but couldn’t make it to see — making a shoe storage bench out of an kitchen wall cabinet!

Wall cabinets that fit over your fridge or stove work really well for this shoe storage bench project. Ideally the cabinet will be 18″ in height (standard seat height). If it is shorter, you can build a base for your bench to raise it up a little.

It is more than likely that these cabinets will be coated with about 5 lbs. of grease. But, have not fear, I found THE BEST cleaner for removing grease. Hot water and ammonia! You must work in a well ventilated area when working with ammonia. Sponge on the ammonia and hot water concoction and wait about 10 minutes. Wipe off the cabinet and repeat until clean.


  • Ammonia, hot water and a sponge or rag (to clean off grease)
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Miter saw
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Wood putty
  • Sandpaper
  • Construction or thick wood glue
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • 2″ finish nails
  • 1 and 1/4″ finish nails
  • Quarter round moulding for base of cabinet
  • Cove moulding for top of cabinet
  • 1″ thick board (cut to fit inside cabinet dimensions)
  • 1×4″ pine firring strips
  • Plywood or pine board cut to fit 3″ wider and 1.5″ deer than finished dimensions of the cabinet (after moulding is added.)
  • Optional: Thin plywood to use as a filler strip


Remove all the hardware and the doors. Remove any nails that are poking out or hammer them flush with the wood.

Measure the inside depth of the top of your cabinet.

Cut three 1×4″ boards to sit on top of the cabinet and use for the bench support and to give your nails something to grip when attaching the bench top. (Without these supports it would be very difficult to nail or screw into the particle board cabinet without it flaking and chipping.)

Use thick construction glue to attach the boards. (Glues that have a toothpaste consistency.)

Nail finish nails into the boards at an angle to secure them.

For good measure, nail two more finish nails through the back of the cabinet and into the ends of the support boards.

Measure your cabinet sides and front. Cut quarter round (convex shape) for the base of your cabinet and cove moulding (concave shape) for the top of your cabinet.

Here is a close up of the moulding I used for the base and crown of the cabinet.

If the face frame of your cabinet juts out past the side, you’ll have a gap (see below). No worries, we can fix that!

Slip a piece of thin plywood to fit behind the quarter round (and cove moulding). Draw a line at the top of your quarter round (and bottom of the cove moulding). Cut the plywood piece with a jig saw.

Glue the thin plywood strip onto the cabinet.

Rest your moulding on top of the filler strip.

Predrill holes in your trim moulding, then hammer finish nails to secure the trim. If you are using a finish nailer to secure the moulding pieces, you won’t need to pre-drill.

Fill any nail holes or cracks with wood putty.

Fill the seams of the filler strips with wood putty too.

Allow the wood putty to dry and then sand it smooth.

Your cabinet should look something like this:

For the top of your bench, cut a piece of wood that is 3″ wider and 1.5″ deeper than the top dimensions of the cabinet (be sure to measure to the edge of the crown moulding.) Sand it smooth. Stain or paint the bench top.

At this point, you can attach your bench top by screwing a few screws from inside the cabinet up through the support pieces and into the bench top.

*For demonstration purposes, the video will show how I attached the bench top with glue and finish nails from the top: Add some construction glue to the wood supports. Then, nail the top into the three support boards on top of the cabinet. Fill the holes left by the nails. And touch up the spots with stain or paint. Either way will work, but the screws from below will save you the work of adding wood putty and/or touching up the nail holes.

To install the shelf, level the board you cut to fit inside the cabinet (or shall I call it a bench since we are almost done!)

Use either “L” brackets inside the cabinet to hold the shelf or hammer nails from the side and into the ends of the shelf to secure it. Luckily shoes aren’t super heavy, so you can get away with using finish nails to hold the shelf in place.

Use a nail set to sink the nail below the wood surface.

Add a small amount of wood putty to the nail hole.

Gently sand the cabinet and shelf to scuff up the surface and give it a “tooth” for the primer to adhere to. Prime the cabinet and bench.

Paint the cabinet, shelf and bench.

Protect your bench with a few coats of polyurethane and you are done!

Room for about 8 pairs of shoes! If you wanted a larger bench or more storage, you could attach two cabinets side by side.

Here is the video from my Habitat ReStore talk. (I apologize about some of the background noise.)

By the way, thanks to my sponsors Bogs Footwear (boots) and Tomboy Tools (tool belt.) I need to lower that belt a little ;-). I was rushing in and just buckled it on me without adjusting it.




Sharing this tutorial with Home Stories A2Z Tutorials and Tips Link Party and The Shabby Creek Cottage’s Transformation Thursday