Friday, March 25, 2011

Stop, Drop, and Organize

Is there a spot in your house that looks like this?

For us, it's the end of the kitchen counter just inside the hallway from the garage. That awful place where all the mail lands, the pockets get emptied, the keys and wallets fall, and the cell phones, ipods, and cameras charge, ready to be grabbed on the way back out the door. Quite often, we have a pile of shoes at this corner of the kitchen that have been kicked off and lie there until they're slipped back on.

One thing that precious few houses seem to have is a dedicated "drop zone" for all the "stuff" we come into our homes carrying. I try to create one in every house I design from scratch--it's an idea bourne out of my own needs, but one that I recognize that just about every person has as well.

I've been working on the construction documents for one of my pre-designed plans this week, and the house had a wonderful opportunity for built-ins in the hallway between the garage and kitchen. I decided to make it the ultimate "drop zone" and it forced me to think about what functions such an area would need to work. Certainly, a place and way to organize mail and magazines was in order. Lots of outlets for charging all the gadgets, a spot to stow shoes, and maybe a few jackets. But wouldn't it also be nice to have easy access to reusuable shopping bags, a spot for gloves and hats, maybe a place to stow the dry cleaning that needs to be taken in?

In the end, this is the design I came  up with:

Two tall banks of cabinetry flank a window with a built in bench--the perfect spot to sit down and put on shoes--and open shelves below the bench offer a spot to put them. There's a large shelf with three duplex outlets for charging phones, cameras, etc. and a group of pull out bins for stowing scarves, shopping bags, and the like. (Pet owners would have a spot for leashes and clean-up bags.) Mail slots are provided for organizing bills, magazines, and letters, and a large cabinet at the top could be home to packages that need to be mailed, clothes that need to be dry cleaned, or even umbrellas and ice scrapers for bad weather days.

The other side houses a large cabinet for hanging coats and jackets, and below a recycling station with bins to keep items separated (this area could also be used as a place to stow kid's bookbags!). Such a "drop station" not only keeps clutter out of the other areas of the house, but provides a home for all those things that we all find ourselves searching for when we are headed out the door.

Now, if I could only find a way to fit one of these into my house...


  1. How clever. I would die for one! Our drop zone is on our sandwich bar. And twice the size of yours!

  2. I am convinced that every house NEEDS a dedicated spot like this!

  3. Love it, and you are right - every home has one. We actually have three zones. The side table along the wall as you enter the house, the unused, too-high kitchen counter (designed for bar stools and still it's too high) and the dining table. All are clutter/crap magnets.

    The only thing I'd add to your design is that under the mail slots switch those top two open shelves with pull out bins to file drawers. Give people a place to put the incoming mail that just needs to be filed and sorted that way (out of sight). Oh and possibly a place for a shredder to shred the stuff they don't need to keep but don't want to recycle. I like to do that stuff right as I sort my mail, but unfortunately, my shredder is upstairs in my office.

  4. Claire, that's a great idea. And come to think of it, my house has a two-stage clutter magnet. First home is the corner of the kitchen (or the island, honestly) and then it eventually makes its way to the office, where it might one day make it to the file cabinet or shredder.

  5. Love this! What a fantastic idea, as who doesnt contend with having to deal with "messy areas" littered with mail and other odds and ends! Such a smart and attractive solution. I defintely would like to incorporate something like this into my own home. Great job and thanks for stopping by today.