Monday, November 5, 2012

15 days to a simpler home: day 2 - create a mudroom or drop-zone

Now that I've shown you my cleaning checklist and planner, let's get going on the fun stuff.  I'm going to start from the first place you see when you enter the house: the front entry or mudroom.  
If you're like me, your home did not come with a dedicated mudroom built in, so this is where we have to create our own mudroom or drop-zone.  Make sure your drop-zone is very close to where you enter the house most often, and that it will meet all of your needs for the things you have that need to be "dropped".

For us, we always park in the garage, so we come inside here:
Because our coat closet is at the front of the house (nowhere near where we come in), coats and purses and bags and all of that always end up all over the place.  On the dining room table, on the island in the kitchen, on the washer and dryer, etc.  The problem that we were facing is that these items did not have a specific place where they were supposed to be, and that drives me nuts.  You probably have this problem too, especially if you have kids!

For us, since we come in through the garage door, it makes sense for a drop zone to be in the laundry room. So, we removed the door and used the valuable space behind it to create a mini mudroom.
Once you've determined where your drop zone should be, you need to assess your needs for the space.  You might need a dry erase calendar to remind people of that week's agenda, or you might need a clock. The list is endless and is different for everyone. We determined that our drop zone needs are:

1. Hooks for coats, bags, scarves, keys
2. Storage for Sunglasses 
3. Storage for other items that we have to take with us, or need to remember to give back to someone (ie. coupons, tupperware my mom gave us with leftovers last week, etc.

Once you have a clear picture of what your goals are for your drop zone, start determining the best way to meet those goals.  Here is our mini mudroom/drop zone:
This was very easy to accomplish, and I actually DIY'd every element of this space to save money,
check them out:

My biggest piece of advice for this space is only keep what you really need here.  For the most part, we all wear one coat most of the time during the winter, so that coat goes here. I know I personally have a favorite scarf that I wear most of the time, so that goes here. 

Now that you have your drop-zone created for the items you use most, you need a spot for your other coats/scarves/gloves and other items that aren't used on a daily basis.  This could be that you need to add more storage in your drop-zone for these things (if you have the space), or maybe each family member needs to keep their extra coats in their individual closets.  Or you might have a situation like us, and keep these extra items in the coat closet by the front door.
If you look closely, there isn't that much in this closet, but coat closets do tend to hold a lot of random things.  Keeping them organized is key.  

We store our other in-season coats here (out of season jackets go in our spare room closet during winter).  We do not keep hoodies or blazers in this closet; they are organized in our master closet.

Another thing most people keep in their front closets is scarves, hats and gloves. We have the blue bin on the shelf for gloves/hats, and there is a hanger for scarves on the left. I recommend going through your gloves at the beginning and end of every season to match them up, and roll them up like socks to keep the pairs together.  Then, if any are singles, they can be tossed.  There is no point in holding onto one glove, I promise you!
Goodbye, lonely white glove!

We also keep a few other things in this closet, like a bucket below for the dog essentials, a pair of shoes each that are helpful for going outside to water the lawn or shovel snow (ie. Matt's sandals and my boots), and the vacuum cleaner.
Another really important element of our front closet is all the empty hangers.  Keeping these in here and actually having space available makes it very easy for guests to store their coats while they're at your house.  

Quick Tip:
Get nice-looking, sturdy hangers for your coat closet.  They will keep your coats in good shape, and are inviting for your guests' coats!  We get ours at Ikea; they're $5 for 8 wooden hangers.
Like all the other tips I have for you, only apply them to your space if they work for your life.  Everyone's homes and needs are different, and making your space fit your needs exactly takes time and planning.  Remember, figure out the best place for a mudroom, assess what your needs for the space are, and then get to organizing.

Having a mudroom/drop-zone area will keep messes from showing up in other areas of your house, and when these items have a very specific place to live, your family members are much more likely to put them away!

Here are some other great spaces for inspiration:

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