Wrangle Your Winter Gear: The Drop Zone

copyright Allegra's StudioIn my 1960s rancher, the front door opens directly into the living room. There is no entryway, no foyer and certainly no mudroom. As a family of five (six if you count the dog), our cast-off shoes, abandoned backpacks and discarded dog leashes are a year-round problem.

When the weather is cold and wet, and coats, boots and woolens litter my living room, my entrance’s shortcomings become all the more obvious. It’s easy to convince myself that I need a mudroom the size of the Taj Mahal, but it’s much harder to figure out what to do with the space I actually have.

If—like me—all you’ve got is a wall to work with, don’t despair. With some thoughtful considerations and maybe a dash of patience, I could likely turn this situation around before the spring thaw (and its host of problems—namely, mud). No matter where you enter your own house—the front door, the back door, the garage—these tips can turn your entrance into the hardest-working room in the house.

Hang Up Your Coat

WinterGear2Choose the wall closest to your home’s main entrance and install enough coat hooks for every member of the family to use at least two—one for a jacket and one for a bag. Don’t forget to allocate a hook for the family dog so you’ve got a handy place to hang a leash.

Mount the hooks at different heights for more versatility. All of us, but children in particular, are more likely to hang up our coats when the depository is in plain sight and at eye level.

If hiding coats away in a hall closet is your only option, consider installing a second hanging rod that young children can reach. Another option is to buy a closet rod extender, which hangs from the original wall-mounted rod. If your kids can’t reach the coat hangers, you’ve lost the coat-hanging battle before it’s even begun.

copyright Allegra's StudioKick Off Your Shoes

While many homes feature a console table in the entryway, family may be better served by a bench. It’s useful to have a place to sit, particularly during the winter when lacing and unlacing boots can be hard going.

The empty space underneath a bench also makes for great shoe storage. Purchase as many baskets as will comfortably slide underneath and label them with the names of your family members.

To corral your family’s messiest footwear, buy a boot tray; they’re designed to hold several pairs of boots at a time and to catch mud and pooling water as your boots dry. Position a hardworking boot scraper just outside your front door to keep the worst of the winter weather outdoors where it belongs.

WinterGear5Even if the floor of your entryway is tiled, invest in a pair of heavy duty, easy-to-wash doormats and position one on either side—exterior and interior—of your entrance. Throwing a doormat in the washing machine is easier than getting out the bucket and mop, and over time, the mats will reduce general wear and tear on your floors.

Make sure everyone in your family has a comfy pair of slippers, and store them by the door. Designate one basket for slippers, so they don’t mix and mingle with everyone’s dirty shoes. Your family will be more likely to wear them if they’re within an easy arm’s reach.

WinterGear3It’s All in the Arms

When it comes to keeping winter woolens organized, your best bet is to select one hat, scarf and pair of gloves for each person in your family and hide the rest away in a nearby dresser. If you’ve got the drawer space, consider assigning each family member a drawer.

When you enter the house, stuff your gloves and scarf into your hat and shove the wooly bundle down the sleeve of your coat. If the trick seems elementary, it’s because it is; I learned it from one of my son’s elementary school teachers. Anything that keeps a classroom of two-dozen school children organized can work for a small family.

Before You Walk Out the Door

WinterGear7Successfully wrangling your household’s coats, footwear and woolens is a big accomplishment. But don’t stop there.

Buy an umbrella stand so you’ll have a place to stow both wet and dry umbrellas. To cut down on the time you spend looking for your keys, pick out an attractive, wall-mounted key hook that you can hang by the door.

An entryway is a great place to hang a mirror. Use it to give yourself one last glance as you head out the door in the morning. In the evening, when you come home to a well-organized entryway, use it to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

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