Clutter Control

Form meets function in these two clever spaces created with maximum organization and smart storage in mind.


Soccer cleats and lacrosse sticks, running shoes and rain boots, tennis racquets, field hockey gear, umbrellas, backpacks, jackets, hats and mittens. With five active kids—who, along with their parents, are all involved in multiple sports—and two large dogs, this family was in serious need of a fully functioning mudroom when adding on to their 1970s split-level in Madison. Jeff Gertler of Gertler & Wente Architects in Manhattan, who happens to live next-door, understood the task immediately.

“This was a high priority from the start,” Gertler says. “The kids all have tons of stuff, so having a designated cubbie, or locker, there’s a clear place to put all their stuff away.” In-season items are kept in the lockers, he explains, while off-season garb is stashed in one of the three closets, alongside cleaning supplies and bulk groceries.

“Large closets in a mudroom are key,” Gertler says. Also key is access. There’s an entrance just off the driveway. “It’s actually closer than the front door,” Gertler says, which makes it a direct shot for the kids coming in from school or practice. “It’s very user-friendly.” Omitting doors on the lockers further simplifies the task of putting things away. Other convenient features include a bench to sit on while removing muddy cleats and easy-to-clean flooring, ideal for a high-traffic area. Multiple windows are a plus. “Often mudrooms are dark and dingy, an afterthought,” says Gertler. “With this one, we placed priority on the natural light so it’s a room, not a closet.”

Architect: Jeff Gertler, AIA, Gertler & Wente Architects, New York City,
Builder: W.P. Lloyd Custom Building, Morristown, 973-285-4242;
Interior designer: Claire Mackin, Morristown, 973-985-4947

Wrapping Room

A convenient place to store scissors, tape, ribbon and unruly rolls of wrapping paper—not to mention the clear, flat space needed to neatly wrap a present—was the request of this Long Valley homeowner while renovating her 1964 three-bedroom ranch. “She’s been talking about this forever,” says interior designer Catherine Engelmeyer, referring to her client of 10-plus years. “From the start, she always dreamed of having a place for gift wrapping— just wrapping.” So Engelmeyer, along with project architect Bill Toth and builder Victor Lake, set out to oblige her. Located within the master suite, adjacent to the walk-in closet, is a super-organized gift-wrapping room that gets a surprising amount of use. Key to the space are the extra-deep custom cabinets that store the paper rolls on end. Additional cabinets hide unwrapped gifts, while drawers store tape and scissors. Wall-mounted wooden paper towel holders make ribbon easily accessible. A stretch of clear counter space allows ample room to wrap, while plenty of natural light makes it a bright, pleasant room.

Interior designer: Catherine Engelmeyer, Belle Maison Interior Design,
Short Hills, 973-379-5656;
Builder: Victor R. Lake, General Contracting Inc., Long Valley, 908-310-0212
Architect: William Toth, Bol Architecture, Berkeley Heights, 908-464-9100;


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