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...