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What is a drop zone in a house and do you need one? Learn what's usually in an effective drop zone.
I was honored to be quoted by Marianne Hayes, in Ownerly, an amazing online magazine with lots of tips and tricks for homeowners. I've cut and pasted the article here, but this is where you go to see the original article.
"We probably all agree that having a clutter-free home is a good thing. It’s nice to keep things organized, but everyday life can make that tricky. If your entryway is littered with shoes, backpacks, mail and the like, a drop zone might be just what you need. What is a drop zone in a house? It’s exactly what it sounds like—a space to neatly drop your stuff when you walk into your home.
A well-designed drop zone carves out a spot for everything you unload when you come through the door. It’s also meant to be aesthetically pleasing to blend with your interior design style. A drop zone is a simple way to tidy up your space, but it can easily become a mess if you don’t have a good system. Here’s what you need to know.
Drop zone in a house: What is it?
Drop zones are dedicated areas of your home that are either in or near your first point of entry into your home,” said Jil Sonia McDonald of Jil Sonia Interior Designs. “Imagine yourself laden with grocery bags, your mail, keys, lunch kits, sunglasses and your purse. You want to ‘drop’ everything on the floor when you arrive home. That’s your drop zone.”
Instead of dumping these things on the floor or your kitchen counter, they’ll have a designated spot that keeps your home free of clutter. Think of it as a catch-all for sports equipment, shoes or anything else your family routinely enters your home with. A drop zone can also help prevent essential items from getting lost in the shuffle.
“When choosing a location for your drop zone, consider a high-traffic area such as the entryway or mudroom,” said Jen Stark, the founder of Happy DIY Home. “This will help ensure you don’t forget items as you head out the door.”
Drop zone ideas
Focus on a busy walk-through area of your home, ideally near the most used entryway.
“Do you live in an apartment and enter through your front door? Or do you have a home where you enter through the garage?” asks McDonald. “Try placing your drop zone to the closest area upon entry.”
McDonald suggested a low dresser or console table that’s deliberately left empty and clear if you use your front door the most. You can drop everything on that flat surface if you walk in with your hands full.
“It’s a great idea to have your permanent storage right near that console table,” McDonald said. “Often my clients use the back of their hall closet equipped with baskets and hooks on the back of the door so that you can easily hang up a light coat or sweater, and there is a place for your keys, mail and purse.”
The most important part of a drop zone is having a clean, horizontal surface that’s big enough for you to unload when your hands are full. McDonald uses a low bookcase unit. She has a plastic container in one of the cubbies for her receipts, a small bowl for her keys and loose change, another bowl for her sunglasses and a space for outdoor shoes. Above the unit are hooks to temporarily leave kids’ backpacks, jackets or umbrellas.
“Baskets are also a great place to drop things,” McDonald said. “They keep things contained until you have time to place them away neatly. In a pinch, a bench seat with a basket underneath and hooks above can be a lifesaver.”
Keeping a drop zone organized
According to Stark, a well-designed drop zone should be both functional and stylish, providing a place to store your belongings while also adding to the overall aesthetic of your home. Above all, the goal is to keep this area organized and tidy—otherwise, it defeats the purpose. If you’re tight on space, you still have options.
“A narrow console table with baskets or bins underneath is a great way to add storage without taking up too much space,” Stark said. “Wall-mounted hooks are another option for small spaces for hanging coats, hats, bags and more.”
For a more substantial drop zone, look for pieces with plenty of storage, such as benches with built-in cubbies or hooks. Just be sure there’s enough space for everyone in your family to use the area comfortably.
“Label storage containers and baskets so everyone can easily find what they’re looking for, and consider using dividers or trays to keep things like keys and mail sorted,” Stark said. “If you have young children, be sure to choose storage containers that are durable and easy for them to use.”
From there, don’t be afraid to add some personal touches to your drop zone. This can include family photos or a fun doormat to make the space your own. Just remember that drop zones aren’t designed for permanent storage.
“It is simply a holding area that you can temporarily use to place items while entering the home,” McDonald said. “At the end of the night, it’s a good idea to put your shoes and coat away so that it is clean and available for the next day.”
Drop zone alternatives
There are a few reasons you might prefer an alternative to a drop zone. Maybe you prefer to keep your entryway clear and open. In any case, here are some solutions that might work for you:
Create a mudroom
A mudroom is an area of your home that’s specifically for removing dirty boots, muddy shoes and wet clothing. You might carve out space for one in your laundry room and add extra organizational systems for backpacks, keys, dog leashes, etc.
Convert a flex room
A flex room is typically a small space that may or may not be a separate room. It’s essentially a nook that you can convert into something like a home office or workout space. It might also make an ideal drop zone.
Use your garage
For those who enter their home through their garage, McDonald recommended setting up a landing pad right beside the door inside the garage. You can place hooks inside the garage wall for your coats and sweaters and set up shoe storage there.
Do you need a drop zone?
It really depends on your lifestyle. If you’re frustrated by constant clutter in your home and are looking for ways to get organized, a drop zone could be a great solution especially if your entryway has become an unloading zone for your family’s stuff.
A drop zone might also increase your home value. Every home and local market is different, so it’s best to consult an experienced real estate agent who understands what buyers in your area are looking for. Setting up a drop zone is inexpensive, so there isn’t much to lose. To appeal to future buyers, you might consider installing shelving units, a built-in bench or lockers for family members to keep their things. When you’re ready to sell, these formal touches could be attractive to buyers.
A drop zone is a simple DIY project that can help keep your home more organized. You can also dial it up a bit by installing fixtures that add to your home’s functionality and style. In the end, it could even increase your home value. " by Marianne Hayes
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Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer of Jil Sonia Interior Designs.