Category Archives: Outdoor Projects

Garage Mud Room

Mud Room - Final Close

One of our favorite activities is griping at the kids to put their shoes away, hang their coats up and generally quit making a huge mess out of our front entry every time they came in the house.  To be fair, the small coat closet in our entry is way overmatched for a Colorado family of 5.  We always seem to need access to 3 different jackets (each) depending on the weather.  It is an absolute necessity that my wife have easy access to 63 pairs of shoes and my kids sometimes end up wearing flip-flops in the winter (gotta love Colorado).  We were cramming 5 people’s worth of stuff into a closet that my wife could probably occupy all on here own.  We figured… why not give our favorite activity (griping at the kids) a little more space?  Wouldn’t it be much better to gripe at the kids in the garage rather than our front entry?

This project really isn’t that complicated.  It is basically building boxes.  I chose to use melamine because it matches some existing closets we had already set up in the garage and it cleans up easily.  Here is the space I am working with.  As you can see, I did a poor job of cleaning up before taking this picture

Mud Room - Before

Space in the garage cleared out for the new mud room

I started off building the bench with storage space under it.  Each box is about 15 inches wide and 21 inches deep.  I even used some scrap pieces to make a kick plate to cover up the frame under the bench.

Mud Room - Bench Front

Front view of the bench

You can’t just set the bench on the garage floor because of the moisture in the concrete as well as the possibility of melted snow finding its way to the bench, so I built a small frame out of pressure treated lumber to protect the melamine bench.  You can see it in this picture along with the un-attached kick plate.

Mud Room - Bench Side

Closer side view of the bench showing the pressure treated lumber base

To complete the project, I built a set of cubbies to hang over the bench and made a coat closet to keep those extra jackets.  Again… it is really just building boxes.  I also grabbed a few sheets of panelling while I was at Home Depot to hang on the wall and fancy it up a bit.  I anchored some pine boards on the wall above the bench to have something sturdy to attach the coat hooks to and attached what looks like a bazillion coat hooks.  After a couple coats of white paint… and I thought I was done.  But after using this area for a couple of days, I decided to add some of those rubberized garage floor tiles to make it softer and to hopefully keep it clean.

The whole project was about a day’s worth of work (spread over 2 weekend of course… kid activities).  We now have a place in the garage to gripe at the kids!  Here are some shots of the completed project.

Mud Room - After Close 2

Completed mud room with the coat closet door closed

Mud Room - Final

I have to be honest here… this picture is staged with a reasonable amount of jackets and shoes

Mud Room - Final Reality

Here is a more realistic view of the mud room in use. This is before my wife has figured out what to put in the two storage areas above the coat rack. Look at all those shoes!

New/Old Flagstone Steps

Flagstone Steps -  Before After

One side of our house is kind of a mess.  There are steps leading from the side garage door down to the back yard that are made out of rail road timbers with pea gravel in between the timbers.  The pea gravel sits below the level of the timbers making for very uneven steps.  It also makes for a very nice place for weeds to make their home.  Nothing irritates me more than pea gravel…well… maybe lava rock irritates me more… but not much more.

Flagstone Steps - Before 1

My lovely pea gravel steps. These weeds seem to return within 1 day of weeding

Flagstone Steps - Before 2

These “steps” are just waiting for someone to fall and break their neck

Our back patio has an area off to the side where the previous owner thought it would look good to place a few flagstones and put a bunch of pea gravel in between.  The flagstone was spaced pretty far apart and it really serves no purpose other than to make the area very uneven and cluttered.  Here was my chance to solve two problems at once.  I pulled up all the flagstone and replaced it with the pea gravel from the steps.  Actually, I think I just consolidated 2 problems into 1 problem (I still want to get rid of all the pea gravel).

Flagstone Steps - Cleared Out

All the pea gravel is gone! I thought about taking out the timbers as well, but am glad I kept them

After getting everything cleared out, I made a run to Home Depot to buy some bags of paver sand.  Because the areas I am filling with sand are so small, I decided not to buy a tamper and went with a spare brick for compacting the sand.  Ideally, you want to have a good 2 to 4 inches of compacted sand for the flagstone to rest on.  There is a lot of trial and error when trying to get the right level because flagstone is never the same depth.  Add a little sand here, take out a little sand there.  I found it easier to get my stone cut and ready before attempting to get the sand in place.  Basically I was doing one flagstone step at a time instead of setting the sand for all the steps at once.

Flagstone Steps - Paver Sand Tamping

Compacting the sand to make a nice solid base

Flagstone Steps - Paver Sand

Flagstone is ready to go in

I tried to have the flagstone setting about 1/4 – 1/2 inch above where I wanted it when I first set them in the sand.  Then I took a rubber mallet and beat the CENTER of each stone until it was at the right level.  If you hit the stone on the side or corners, you will end up creating spots where the stone is not firmly resting on sand… which makes the stone wobble when you walk on it.

I have not cut a lot of flagstone in my day, so I went to YouTube for a quick refresher.  This guy does a pretty good job of explaining how to do it… plus he LOOKS like a mason!

Originally, I was cutting the stone on a platform I had set up with my saw horses but found that setting the stones on a harder surface made it a lot easier.  I should also mention that I used an angle grinder with a diamond blade for some of the smaller cuts.

Flagstone Steps - Cutting 1

I marked my cut line by simply dragging my hammer across the stone

Flagstone Steps - Cutting 2

After several hundred light smacks with the hammer, the stone eventually broke right down the line

All in all… this project only took about 8 hours to complete including an extra trip to Home Depot to get more sand.  Here are some pictures of the finished project.  It definitely looks better than the pea gravel steps.

Flagstone Steps - After Top View

Flagstone Steps - After Side View

Flagstone Steps - After Bottom View

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