I am a huge fan of the "drop zone - command center" idea and have always had one (even before it was a term I guess). However, no matter how much I try it still gets neglected and cluttered. Between mail and school papers and electronics it's hard to keep up.
So, I set out to clean up the area. I wanted to keep it simple and not make any major changes because everyone uses this spot and, believe it or not, it's already set up in a way that makes sense. But, it did need some love on the organizing and de-cluttering front.
It's a small space just as you walk in the kitchen door from our mudroom. It consists of some old wooden boxes on the wall, and old red cabinet, a few small cigar boxes for holding various items, and some things clipped to the wall.
Not horrible, but not neat and tidy either.
The biggest clutter problem was mail and random things that needed to make their way to another location.
Inside the cabinet we keep cords, magazines, our budget binder, papers that need to be filed, etc.
We also have an old cash register in this area on our counter that we use to hold pencils, pens, notepaper and stamps (and I guess the random egg of silly putty!)
The first thing I did was empty everything out. Okay...deep breath.
I started with new baskets for the inside of the cabinet. I found these cheap, matching baskets at the local dollar store, and I decided to make some chalkboard labels for them. See this post for the DIY.
I organized everything into the proper baskets, with the proper labels. That made a huge difference already.
After cleaning the cash register drawer, I added some scrapbook paper. Then I went through all the pens and got rid of the ones that didn't work and just neatened everything up.
I added a cute framed burlap bulletin board from Home Goods that I used to put the current calendar month printed from my computer. (This works great for us as opposed to a regular calendar because we send all of our events from our phones to our calendar anyway, so it saves me having to transfer them to the calendar a second time).
I also made the clip board look a little cuter with some scrapbook paper and mod-podge. The clipboard holds our meal planner and grocery list.
And, the best thing I added was a wall file from Ikea. It has a slot for each person in our family for mail and school papers, plus one extra slot. I guess I could have labeled the slots, but I figured it could just go oldest to youngest and that would be easy to keep straight.
The oval shaker box holds receipts that I clean out at the end of the year. The boxes on the wall are where we put outgoing mail or bills, and the small cigar boxes hold business cards, gift cards, sunglasses, etc.
The picnic basket holds my everyday bag and anything that needs to be returned or magazines that I save for my friend. The big glass jug holds coins (when it's full it can be enough to go out to dinner!)
Small changes in this area made a big difference for us. It rarely gets super cluttered anymore and when it does it's really quick to put things where they belong because everything has a place.
Here's the before and after:
Not a major huge difference when you look at it, but it is a big difference in the day to day function of that space. It's the little things that make a big difference and you don't have to spend a lot or do a complete overhaul to make it work more efficiently.
The total cost was:
$7. bulletin board
$4. spray paint for chalkboard labels
$2. for brass fasteners for chalkboard labels
Everything else I had on hand.