The breezeway makeover: Our new mud room!

The breezeway makeover: Our new mud room!

By now you’re probably all tired of hearing about this supposed breezeway project, but it's finally finished. And it’s fabulous.

There are plenty of photos below, but first a quick review:

We started this journey back in summer 2011, when my blogger friend Kerry Rossow (aka and designer extraordinaire Karen Devine wandered over to our house to check out the breezeway (aka Clutterville). You may remember my horror -- and the clutter.

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My shame quickly morphed into delight as they decided to take on a makeover project: transforming an unkempt breezeway into a stylish mud room. Based on Karen’s designs, we made our infamous trip to Ikea and got all the basics.

We ripped out the carpet and ugly tile underneath, but ran into some obstacles with the concrete floor, which had some stubborn black adhesive that refused to be pried, melted or solvent-ed off. Enter my helpful and talented brother-in-law Jack, who attacked it with a floor chisel and acid (yes he did). We like having him in the family.

Believe it or not, I stained and sealed the floor, and was frankly amazed at the transformation.


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After sanding, priming and painting the walls and ceiling (and a few misadventures with spilled paint) -- I ran out of gas.

My friends helped me get the cabinets assembled, but then work, vacations and unexpected health challenges temporarily sidelined the project.

But Karen and Kerry persevered, arriving unannounced one day to clear out the new clutter that had started to accumulate. They persuaded another friend to hang the gorgeous Moravian star light fixture that my sister Mary Ellen bought for me (she, too, is a keeper).

We got everything connected and installed a few weeks ago.

I love it. I peek at it six times a day. It’s my favorite room in the house.
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There’s no way I could have done this on my own — but it’s also really me. Karen has a a knack for guiding design but letting your taste shine through.

She steered me right, from the blue ceiling to the stained concrete floor to the all-white cabinetry to the kiwi green baskets. I think she has ESP: She suggested a Moravian star without knowing how much I loved them. And I already had silver initials to hang under the photos of my two children, which were part of her plans.

She also let me tweak things a bit. I chose a pale turquoise (my favorite color) instead of sky-blue for the ceiling, bittersweet chocolate (my favorite food group) instead of black for the doors, and bigger cabinets to hold all our STUFF.

Karen can spot a decorating find at 50 feet — witness the turquoise lamp everyone drools over. (Actually she wanted it for her own basement, which I didn’t realize 'til later. Oops.) 


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When I couldn't decide on a rug, she took one look at my catalog and said, "That one." It  goes perfectly with the room and it was a steal. More important, it's made of outdoor fabric so it can be hosed down.

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And she accommodated my husband’s one request: keep the old green News-Gazette newspaper box.

The result is better than we could have imagined. I love the turquoise and green combination, the way the light fixture casts patterns on the ceiling, the stunning close-ups of my kids — taken by Kerry, photographer extraordinaire, as a surprise. (She made me cry, dammit!)

The cabinets offer plenty of storage, and my kids have their own cubbies and hooks to stash the coats, boots and backpacks that otherwise get strewn around the house. The counter will be an ideal spot for my daughter's art projects or gingerbread houses. And the dark brown (mud-colored) floor has been a godsend. We are a messy people.

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Side note: the Christmas trees from my shopper extraordinaire sister added just the right holiday touch.

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So I have to say a public “Thanks” one more time. Enjoy the tour - and for Kerry's version, and more beautiful photos, visit!


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Breezeway budget:

All told we spent just over $1,000 on this project (spread over a year and a half). Here’s the breakdown:

Cabinets/hardware/hooks from Ikea: roughly $500 (it’s been so long I’ve lost the receipts)
Green baskets (Ikea): $30
Chrome knobs (Home Depot): $12
Casters (Home Depot): $12
Paint (Benjamin Moore/Do It Best Hardware): $150
Floor stain/sealer (Lowe’s): $50
Rug (Home Decorator’s Collection): $45
Lamp (Big Lots): $50
Picture frames (Big Lots): $16
Moravian light fixture (Pottery Barn): $150 (a gift - so it’s free, right?)
Pillow (Home Depot): $15
News-Gazette box: Free
Silver initials: Free (a gift when my kids were born)

Total: $1,030


Julie Wurth blogs about kids and families and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Leave a comment below, or contact Julie at or follow her at

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rsp wrote on February 01, 2013 at 11:02 am

Looks beautiful! I was waiting to see it. Everything fits perfect together. 

Julie Wurth wrote on February 01, 2013 at 12:02 pm
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Thanks! I'm so happy with it, as you can tell. Now we just need to get busy and paint the hall leading to the breezeway, which currently has stripped walls and ugly mauve trim. My husband and kids took down the wallpaper a year ago!