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Well, it’s time I share what my very FAVORITE secret of our home build is.

It’s that when we spent months (literally, months) designing and then perfecting EVERY single square foot of our floor plan…one of our TOP priorities that we focused on was functionality with our kids.  As a busy family of 5 with 3 littles 7 and under, we knew what our previous homes lacked in terms of easy functioning with and for our kids- and we wanted to maximize some of those factors here.  And I am so pleased to say that it has been a DREAM come true so far in each of the rooms we worked hard to do this for!

So I am going to share the main factors with you that have worked so well in this new design with you in hopes that it can give you some inspiration of what you can do with your current (or future!) space to add functionality and ease of use! The first space to share about is our drop zone/landing zone off the garage.

The Drop Zone

Our whole drop zone was designed for functionality with the kids.  While we looked at lots of plans with the laundry and drop zone combined, that didn’t end up making the most sense for us.  I like the idea that you can come in from the garage and put dirty/wet stuff immediately in the washer– so luckily for us, our washer is right across the hall!  But I didn’t like the idea of our hang to dry clothing being visible to anyone who walked in the door, and I knew I didn’t want a door on this space for flow and I like a door on a laundry room to cut the noise of the machine sometimes.

I’m honestly nerding out a bit about sharing all of the factors that we considered when designing this room to make it so functional for us and the kids!  I know all of these ideas won’t work for every other family, but maybe one or two of these could be helpful for you if you are looking at adding functionality to your space, whatever that looks like for you!

Also, a small pre-warning. What you are NOT going to see in any of the posts I share of our new home in this series is a PERFECTLY clean, organized, styled home.  The purpose of these posts is to help inspire you with what you can actually LIVE with– not spaces that I meticulously style for photos for my blog!  While I LOVE those photos (and rare moments!) in my home, I don’t think they are helpful for the purpose of helping give you ideas of how to LIVE well in your space! So be warned- real life included here! 🙂

Designing a drop zone for functionality with young kids

  • We wanted a set of open, easy to access lockers! We had a set built at our last home and find this to be the easiest, most convenient way for kids to store EVERYTHING!  For lockers, we recommend a wood stained or painted bench part (ours did not end up that way due to a miscommunication with our builder and I already regret it and will fix it soon!).  I also recommend open bottom cubbies if shoes will be stored there- our last locker set had enclosed cubbies (so there was a “bottom” vs the floor being the bottom) and they were really hard to clean out of all the mess that comes off of shoes.  It’s much easier to just sweep the floor!  We thought about how many hooks, where they went, how deep the bench should be so that we could store kid gloves/hats in little bins and also sit for shoes…all of it makes a big difference in the functionality of your space!  You also want to consider making sure that one set of hooks is high enough for long coats!  Michael doesn’t love locker storage for his stuff so he has his own coat closet in the hallway…and the 4 lockers are for the 3 kids and I!
  • We wanted the lockers to be away from the “flow of traffic” in the room so that the kids could go to the lockers– and we could go in the house!  We didn’t want the lockers to be right inside the door where we would then be tripping over kids/coats/shoes as they were getting everything taken care of just to try to get past if our arms were full.
  • A must have for us in this space was that we wanted a separate spot for backpacks.  In our last house, book bags hung on the lockers with the coats and as their bags get bigger and fuller, that becomes tricky.  If they take off and hang up their bag first and their coat goes on top of it, it is also challenging to empty their bags!  So we knew we wanted a separate space where we could have a hook for each kids and their bags, and we made sure that stayed no matter what else changed in that room!
  • I knew we needed another empty wall for a basket system of some sort that the kids could reach so they could empty their take home folders themselves!  Right now, only 2 of them have school papers obviously (the other one we are using for mail sorting, which is for a whole other blog post!) but it has been so great for there to be a spot for them to put all their papers without them going all over the island or me having to do it!  If you want to read more about how I organize my kids school/artwork after it goes in these baskets, click here!
  • We knew while designing this space that we wanted a long empty wall that we can adjust to our needs over time.  Long term, I imagine it will have a large family calendar the kids can put their activities on. For now, in our plan (that we are hoping to work on right after the new year!), that big long wall is going to be magnetized on the bottom half (we have some ideas about how and will share once it is done!) so the kids have somewhere to play with magnets, we have somewhere to hang important notices from school that we want to see easily, and also somewhere that the kids can hang favorite artwork and papers from school!  I think this will be both super functional and sweet– Coming soon!
  • Lastly, we are still working on a larger way to organize the kids accessories (hats, gloves, purses, wallets, sunglasses, etc) because the little bins at the bottom of their lockers aren’t quite large enough for the older kids (and they can’t reach the bins up top yet, though long term those will be a great solution).  I don’t want anything sitting on the floor and there isn’t much available wall space left so I’m not sure what to do with this yet… the little bins used to be more than enough but their stuff is getting bigger and multiplying so it’s trickier now!  Maybe an organizer of some sort in the garage will be the solution in the end.

Here you can see the pullback shot of the lockers (head into the house via a hallway to the right, so kids head forward into locker cubby and we can go into house with full hands as needed) and also our sorting for the kids school work! They empty their folders directly into those sorters (the bottom is being used as an extra mail sorter for us now until E3 has school papers!).

This is the entrance into the drop zone from our house, where we have keys hanging and our main mail sorting!  On the right, you can see a close up of the lockers (in their own space, past the flow of traffic into the house!). I’m planning something decorative up top here but haven’t finalized my vision yet!  We LOVE our 9 foot ceilings (they might be the number ONE thing we think made a huge difference in how this house feels, but we will come back to that another day!)…but were unprepared for how “empty” it would make everything above cabinets/doorways/windows seem! I kind of love the empty space at the same time though. And here are the backpack hooks- they are RIGHT immediately inside the door so that is the kids first stop!I hope this was helpful for you and maybe provides some inspiration of things you could do with YOUR space to make it function better for you and your family! More soon!

If you want to learn more about our building our #GumFarmhouse:

Click HERE for part I with big details about our build!

Click HERE to see Part II about our build about framing!

Click HERE to see Part III of our build  when we got windows and a roof!

Click HERE to see Part IV where everything began to look like a home!!

Click HERE to see our floor plan tips for building!

Click HERE to see our first real sneak peek of the finished home (and Christmas decor!)!

Edit your cell phone photos with just ONE click to either "fix" an issue or add beautiful "flair" and style to your photo!

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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!). 

As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids.  I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!

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