The essential mudroom

I like nature as well as the next person. I just don't like it tracked all over my kitchen linoleum.

Those thrifty Yankees who built my postwar house must have thought vestibules were superfluous. They shortchanged us on the back-door entry - it opens from the kitchen onto a tiny garage without preamble.

What the builders forgot was a mudroom, a place between indoors and outdoors to take off wet coats and muddy boots, hang tennis racquets, and display loot from my son's expeditions: colorful rocks, spiders in jars, and other ephemera.

Mudrooms probably began as lean-tos or shelters tacked on to an existing structure.

My ideal room would have a big sink with a countertop for potting plants, a cement floor with drain (for hosing down aforementioned naturalist after his adventures), shelves for shoes; bins for beach toys, and endless hooks for outerwear.

Best of all, it would provide a buffer zone between house and grounds.

Some families prefer living in the thick of nature. Like the people in this week's cover story, they seek out architects and designers to help bring light, air, and greenery into interiors. Or they go the extra mile by building a home in the trees. Literally.

Talk about good feng shui.

If incorporating natural elements into one's home improves the flow of "energy" (or chi), as practitioners of feng shui believe, then I must be on to something here.

Does mud on my floor count?

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