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What is a Drop Zone in a House? (and Why You Need One)

Finding a temporary place to store everything we carry can be challenging in modern homes. That’s why a drop zone can help. So what is a drop zone in a house? It’s a space you can store your items without cluttering up your living space.

 

What Does Drop Zone Mean?

A drop zone in a house is the modern version of a mudroom. It’s one of the rooms in a house to store your outdoor things and drop off any everyday items like keys and bags.

Used either on the way in or out of your home, an organized drop zone is a snazzier version of the mudroom, just with better finishes.

 

What is a Drop Zone in a House and Why Do I Need One?

The drop zone is a comparatively new concept in contemporary home design. First included in cluster homes in the late 1950s, the mudroom morphed into a more comprehensive drop zone, incorporating the laundry room as family members acquired more stuff and conspicuous consumption became ingrained in our culture.

With the current focus on reducing our carbon footprint, bins for items that can be reused, repurposed, or recycled are ideally placed in the drop zone, ready to accompany you when you are on your way outside.

A great example is the placement of a grocery bag dispenser where anyone who needs grocery bags in the house to keep things clutter-free can pop into the drop zone and grab one.

We started out using a drawer under the kitchen counter to create more space and one in the laundry room which quickly overflowed despite our careful folding. The wall-mounted dispenser we use now keeps the kitchen clutter-free and is convenient and quick to use.

Ideas for drop zones can be as simple as a shelf on the wall, a bench, or a cabinet near your most-used entrance with a convenient hook to hang coats.

Most drop zones evolved over time until my friends realized that they had so much stuff lying around that they needed to plan for a separate space.

That’s when a section of the garage or kitchen suddenly becomes an attractive candidate for renovation with a bench, cabinets, and crown molding.

Large parts of the USA have weather patterns that force homeowners to come up with an idea to create a drop zone or plan for one when building a new house (both spec homes and custom homes).

 

How Should You Go About Setting Up Your Drop Zone?

A professional organizer will tell you that setting up a successful drop zone depends on several factors:

  • The amount of space you have available.
  • Full details of how much clutter you need to organize?
  • Will it be a utilitarian space or more extravagant?
  • Do you wish to separate areas for cleaning off pets and footwear, wet weather gear, equipment storage, office stationery, electronics, charging stations, and groceries?
  • What is the planned drop zone location relative to the garage, kitchen, and other high-traffic areas?
  • Do you want or need under-floor heating?
  • The location and intensity of lighting.

Once you know what space you require, you can figure out how much room you have and how best to arrange it.

If you have a separate room available, it frees you to be quite creative and expansive when planning your storage. However, if you only have a short hallway, there may only be enough room for a small desk or shelving unit.

Also, consider the transition space between the most-used entrance and kitchen or main living area. Narrow passageways lend themselves to mounting hooks as a designated spot for clothing and small racks against the wall to act as a catch-all for umbrellas and walking sticks.

 

How Do I Add a Mudroom to My Garage?

You may have a large garage area that can be divided with drywall. This reduces your available space for your motor vehicles, but it creates a perfect space for your mudroom.

Adding a mudroom to a garage makes a lot of sense, as most folks who have a garage attached to their home use it as their main entrance and exit when using their car anyway.

 

Organized Drop Zone in Your Garage

The key ingredients for creating a mudroom in your garage are:

  • A bench or single seat with a desk or countertop.
  • Hooks for hanging coats, bags, and backpacks.
  • Shoe storage cubbies or shelves.
  • Extra storage bins if there’s room for them.
  • Small baskets for keeping keys, change, and sunglasses from getting lost.

 

What is a Drop Zone in a Garage?

Essentially, the drop zone in your garage is the same thing as a mudroom. Once you’ve divided the space, it’s a simple matter to include shelves and racks and add extra lighting and counters or small desks to take care of the little items that need organization.

When building a new home, your architect will have some suggestions that make use of the available space optimally and within budget.

Next, you can move on to listing all the things you would like to see disappear from your living areas and appear, packed away in easy-to-find spaces.

 

What Goes into Drop Zones?

Here’s a brief list of items found in drop zones:

Small Items

Keys, Sunglasses, Small Change, Mail & Documents, Brief Case, Purses, Wallets

 

Wet Weather Gear & Foot Wear

Hats & Caps, Rain Coats, Umbrellas, Hiking Boots, Running Shoes, Walking Shoes, Wellington Boots, Sweaters, Beanies & Scarves, hats

 

Sports Equipment and Toys

Balls, Soccer Boots, Hockey Sticks, Large Plastic Toys, Pool Toys, Pet Leashes, Backpacks, Sleeping Bags.

 

Electronic Gadgets

Laptops, Tablets, Cell Phones

 

School Items

Lunch Bags, Books, Projects, Musical Instruments

 

Miscellaneous

Bags, Pet Grooming Equipment, Cleaning Chemicals, Brushes & Rags, Slippers, Blankets, Swimming Costumes, Towels

It’s pointless to create storage for children’s toys on high shelves when a ground-level bin is more suitable.

Let’s look at how we’ll use our drop zone.

 

What is a Drop Zone Used For?

When leaving your house, it’s a great idea to have a single place where you can go to collect your keys, wallet, mail, handbags, and purses, etc.

If everyone in the family gets into the habit of putting things down in a drop zone, instead of scattering them around the house, it’ll cut down on most of the frustration and hassle of trying to find things at the last moment.

 

Keeping Things Clean and Dry

Instead of traipsing muddy backpacks and wet clothes through the house, dedicated bins and storage racks keep things clean and dry.

Pinboards in the drop zone are great for personal messages and suggesting ideas.

So, what’s the difference between a mudroom and a drop zone?

 

Mudroom vs. Drop Zone in House

Well, a mudroom was traditionally used to hang up the messy or muddy outdoor gear and sometimes to clean a pet after a walk.

With the transition to a drop zone, an area was allocated for items that one would normally find on the kitchen counter or on a hallway cabinet.

Drop zones are now also more inviting with under-floor heating and tasteful lighting, mirrors, and trendy décor. You now have a place to sit in style at a table or countertop when sorting and organizing your mail or making lists. Lockers and clothing rails are available for jackets and coats with shoe racks and bins for shoes, boots, gloves, and various sporting equipment.

You can sit on a bench to tie your shoes and the laundry will be close by for ease of cleaning clothing soiled on a recent outing.

If you’re used to balancing mail in one hand whilst trying to pay bills with the other, then this is a breeze. A small desk containing baskets, trays, and folders keeps everything organized and you have enough space for a laptop to access online banking.

I have also found that giving each member of my family a small bowl or bin to drop their items into helps. Our guests even came up with a few ideas to store gloves on the back of the door.

But what if you don’t have enough space for a separate drop zone room?

 

What is a Drop Zone in a Kitchen?

The idea of using your kitchen as an alternative space to drop things like mail when you enter the house is probably happening already. Car keys, letters, sunglasses, and small changes found their way into our kitchen naturally due to it being the place where everyone congregated after entering through the kitchen door.

Close friends and family used the kitchen as the main entrance to our house. It was only strangers who knocked on our front door. So, with little effort, we converted a small nook into our drop zone with storage pockets on the back of the kitchen door for shoes and a couple of heavy-duty hooks drilled into the wall to take care of the bags and backpacks.

 

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Drop Zone?

The cost of building a drop zone varies from almost nothing to many thousands of dollars. Depending on your site, homeowners could pay anything between $8,000 and $16,000 for a 50-square foot mudroom addition.

It costs almost nothing to repurpose a second-hand desk or closet into a drop zone.

 

How Do You Build a Drop Zone? 

Building a drop zone can be done on a wide range of budgets and is relatively straightforward to complete.

Let’s take a look at 10 things that make for the perfect drop zone.

 

Space to De-Clutter

Depending on the space available and how much de-cluttering you need to do, you may only need a small desk with a few baskets or shelves for storage. Or you may need as much as a 100 square foot room for storage, including lockers, a closet, multiple trays, hooks, and a bench to organize your clutter.

Most families start off small, using a portion of a hallway or garage to stay organized. Those with bigger budgets and more items to store can subdivide part of their garage, fitting shelving units, cubbies, a closet, and hooks for backpacks in the corner.

 

Easy to Clean Floor

An easy-to-clean floor is a must. Tiles are very popular with underfloor heating improving comfort in winter.

Consider the flow from the garage or parking area into a large storage space where bulk items can be discarded or left in a closet.

 

A Separate Technical Area

A technical area for storing and charging phones and other gadgets with a desk or cabinet that can be used for any other clerical work is perfect, followed by a pantry with a well-organized wine store, and a door into the kitchen where fridges or freezers could be positioned ready for receiving your groceries.

 

Finish Your Space in Style

Finishes can match the kitchen to make the room more inviting rather than being a bit of a dreary place. 

We’ve found that storage baskets, allocated to each person in the house and one or two for guests are usually sufficient to create space to stay organized.

 

Inexpensive Storage Solutions

A great place for open bins is below a bench with closets incorporating shoe racks and inexpensive plastic drawer units for larger items.

A basket or cabinets are great for shoes and kids love throwing things into their basket.

Tiled areas to hose down muddy dogs are also great. 

 

Add Some Style With Lighting and Decor

Decorating your drop zone with mirrors, pictures, and practical lighting adds the finishing touch to a perfect project.

 

Does a Mudroom Add Value?

Mudrooms can be beautiful and functional. They create usable space that you can organize and create more storage for potential buyers in the future.

Not only does it add value, but mudrooms also help to protect your furnishings throughout the house by providing cabinets for larger items.

 

Related: 

What is a Powder Room?

Wet Bar vs Dry Bar: What is a Wet Bar in a House?

What is a loft in a house?

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