It’s a room with many names and many uses.
It’s a command center for your adventures, a Swiss Army knife in room form, and a spaceship airlock that helps you transition from inside to outside and back again.
It can be an improvised space, like the corner of your 2-car garage in your Clarion home at The Retreat at Westfields. Or, it can be a pre-designed space like your family foyer in your Bradburne home at Patapsco Crossing.
But just like any good room in your home, to get the most out of your drop zone, you need to have a plan.
Here are some ideas that will make any drop zone more you, more useful, and more of an asset to your entire family:
1. Add a memo board
Drop zones are great places to hang a memo pad, magnetic board, or chalk board. A spot where family messages can appear (that little surprise “I love you”), shopping lists can be written (that sweet reminder to get more milk), and reminders of upcoming events (that “you better not forget” your anniversary). With a memo board, your drop zone is now also an information station!
2. Boot storage
One reason this space is sometimes called a “mud room” is because this is where you’re supposed to take off and leave your muddy boots. So, why not create a place for those boots to live right here? A storage cube, basket, or absorbent mat can do wonders to contain the incoming boot mess and prevent it from spreading throughout your home.
3. Coat/hat/scarf/glove storage
It’s not just your boots that can have a special place in your drop zone: The rest of your outdoor clothes can too! A few hooks or a small cabinet unit will perfectly hold those few inclement and cold weather accessories that you want close at hand (literally, in the case of gloves). It will mean quicker departures and returns, too, as you won’t have to go far at all to get or put away your gear.
4. Place for keys, sunglasses, pocket stuff
The little things need a special place too. For those of us who often misplace our keys, wallet, or sunglasses, having a set space in your drop zone will mean you’ll never wonder where they are again! Just like having a spot for your coat, having a designated place with all your pocket gear will speed up the time it takes to get ready to go out and settle back at home.
5. Create a spot for pets
Two-legged family members aren’t the only ones passing through your drop zone: Your four-legged friends will also use it as a place to enter and exit with you. So, include a spot for Spot! A special hook for a leash, storage for waste bags, and/or a paw-cleaning station will be invaluable as you leave or come home from walkies or car trips. You could even create a special pet rest area, like this example from a home in Patapsco Crossing.
6. Mini drop zone for each family member
Of course, we sort of covered this in number 5, but every human family member can also have their own area. Boots, coats, gloves, and more, all in one space. Like a mini locker room (with or without actual lockers—your choice), this type of drop zone will help keep everyone organized without having to sift through each other’s things.
7. Rest spot when bringing in groceries or packages
If you’re the type that likes to bring your shopping in from the car using only one trip, then a drop zone can save your arms and back. Think of it as a midway point to set things down inside (so you technically did get it all in one trip), but not all the way to your kitchen, study, or wherever the shopping needs to go.
8. Learning and play organization
Drop zones are perfect places for kids to rush home to drop off their school gear in set spots, pick up a football, and head to the backyard to get rid of some energy before dinner. They are where simple outdoor fun gear is kept and school backpacks are stored—a great spot to make the shift from work to play.
9. First aid station
Outside play is fun, but it means that fingers and elbows and knees will need cleaning and mending from time to time. So, keep a small first aid kit and plenty of hand sanitizer at the ready. You can buy premade kits or just put together your own. But make sure it’s well marked and everyone in the family knows where it is, so first aid is always just a drop zone away.
10. Mini mail room
You can also use a portion of your drop zone as a small postal area. Using any type of divided holder, mail can be sorted by person and/or type. Misplacing bills will be a thing of the past! Have a separate holder for outgoing mail and you’ll never forget to mail grandma’s birthday card again either.
However, you decide to use your drop zone—whether you choose one, some, or all of these suggestions, or your own thing—make it personal. This is a special space for your family where they can suit up for adventure or calm down from a day outside. And, most importantly, your drop zone will help keep your new Miller & Smith home as clean as it was the day you bought it!