With a little effort and smart planning, you can turn your entryway into a welcoming and functional space.

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Q: Our entryway is a mess of shoes, mail and other assorted items, and we don’t know what to do with it. Help!

A: It sounds like your drop zone is out of order.

The drop zone is the area in a home’s entryway used to store coats, shoes, keys, mail and bags of items just brought from the car or that need to go back in the car. It serves the function of a coat closet and a place to “drop things” quickly. For a busy family, this area can become congested with piles of items very quickly and not provide adequate function.

Drop zones are usually found in the main entry into the home and need to be functional, because in many homes, this area is the first part of the home a guest encounters. Therefore, it’s an important visual part of the home: it communicates the home’s décor style and color preference up front, and is an immediate window into the inhabitant’s lifestyle.

Life gets busy and, sometimes, a mess is hard to control. Our homes usually do not look straight out of a design magazine, but there are steps to take to make your drop zone functional and beautiful and, most importantly, a reflection of your aesthetic and a welcoming space.

First, think about functions that happen in your drop zone. Do you need a place for keys and mail and things to immediately recycle? Do you need a place to store high-use items for your kids like backpacks and sports equipment? How many shoes do you need to keep in your zone? Do you have a place for shopping bags?

Next, prioritize the most immediate need in this space. Do you need more surfaces to place items or are you seeking out-of-sight storage solutions? Try removing all items from the space, including furniture, and carefully assess what is needed and truly desired. The more clutter there is, the more chaotic this space will feel.

Finally, consider a focal point for the eye to rest on, maybe a treasured part of your family’s décor or something that visually communicates the style of your house. A mirror, colorful rug, console table, large-scale ceiling-hung pendant light or table can each serve as a functional focal point for your space. These items can also add an interesting accent and direct eyes away from all the shoes and coats.

Key items interior designers use in their practice include console tables, trays, baskets and bins. It’s important that these items function as an integrated design. Online retail sources offer “coat tree” forms if the area is just a place to stash shoes and coats. If a more involved storage system is needed, use a closet organizer company that can create a custom built-in system. An interior designer can help with planning and will work directly with a closet designer.

With a little effort and smart planning, you can turn your entryway into a welcoming, beautiful and functional space.


Kirsten Conner is the owner of Kirsten Conner Interior Design and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBAKS’s more than 3,000 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.