Does your home lack a mud room? This simple DIY project will help you build an affordable and functional garage drop zone.

When I built my home in 2005, mudrooms were just becoming popular.

The idea of a drop zone with storage lockers wasn’t even a thing!

My husband and I chose a model that featured a second floor laundry room. After all, there’s a LOT of laundry to do for a family of five.

A LOT a lot.

And the idea of not having to lug laundry baskets up and down the stairs? Well that made me feel a little giddy!

There was just one little down side: the garage door opens right into the kitchen.

But that was fine: we had a cute little coat closet right beside the door! The shoes and jackets would have a place to go.

It would be just. fine.

Fast forward 10 years…

Garage landing with shelves overflowing with shoes and clutter

My cute little kids grew up and started wearing much larger shoes. And that little coat closet just wasn’t cutting it.

My husband tried to build some extra shoe storage on the landing of the steps in the garage, but it still wasn’t enough! I suggested donating some shoes, and even then?

This landing was ALWAYS a mess.

I developed serious mudroom and drop zone envy.

Until one day, during quarantine, when I asked my hubby if the freezer could possibly slide over a bit…

And it could!

Wall next to steps in garage with cluttered shelves and overflowing hooks

The freezer used to sit flush with that wooden support brace with the hook on it.

Suddenly?

I had an extra 30 inches of space at the bottom of those stairs!

Creating a Drop Zone in the Garage

My brain went into overdrive! What would be the best way to use this new space? I knew I wanted to turn it into a functional drop zone, but what exactly did “functional” look like for our family?

I took a little survey of the items we struggled with in the garage:

  • Shoes
  • Reusable bags
  • Cleaning tools
  • Jackets
  • Bulk paper products

Next, I took a look in that cute little closet off the kitchen. You can see we had tried to make it more functional with cubbies for the kids. But when the kids are in high school and college those cubbies stopped being useful.

Small closet under a stair case with three tall cubbies overflowing with pool towels, hats, totes, and shoes

The things we were storing in the closet included:

  • (more) Shoes
  • Baseball caps
  • Tote bags and purses
  • Sunscreen
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Pool towels

There was some overlap, so I decided to turn the garage space into a drop zone. The closet was going to become more of a cleaning closet and home to our pool towels and sunscreen.

Clearing the Space

The first step was to get everything moved out of the area in the garage. We were in quarantine so I ended up also taking time to go through every bucket in the garage for a big purge.

Garage filled with tubs and clutter

Building a Storage Bench

I might’ve hit the jackpot with this guy right here. Not only is he super cute, but any time I even suggest a project where he gets to build something? He is on. the. job!

Man sitting on wood steps in a garage next to a built in storage bench.

We completed our entire garage drop zone project by using scrap wood, hardware, and paint left over from other projects around the house! It added an extra challenge to be creative.

The bench has a hinged lid so it offers extra storage.

Installing Hooks

Behind the bench was a perfect spot to install hooks. We actually had hooks there at one point. But, we didn’t anchor them properly in studs (rookie mistake). If you look closely in the picture above you can see the hole in the wall. Just above my hubby’s head. Covered with packing tape…

We had some pre-primed bead board left over from building the doors for our family room built ins. It was the perfect way to cover up those holes!

The 2×4 at the top of the bead board will make a sturdy place to attach the hooks.

Garage wall with 2x4 wood framing primed bead board paneling above a wood storage bench.

As I mentioned, this entire project was done using leftovers from old projects. The goal was to not have to go to the store for anything!

The Shoe Wall

The old shoe cubbies compartments were too high and not quite wide enough. They each held 3 shoes.

Three.

Yet everyone in our family generally wears two at a time…

If you’re doing the math with me, you can see they weren’t really as functional as we needed!

Wood steps and landing in a garage with a ladder on the landing. Shoe cubbies are built on the back wall and are being primed.

We did more planning for this new “shoe wall.” Each cubby can now hold four (and sometimes 8!) shoes! And each one is not as high, so we now have way more cubbies.

There’s even room on the top to hold our snow boots, and the taller spots on the side are perfect for rain boots and hiking boots.

Paint Brings it All Together

Friends, this project is using a complete hodge podge of materials. All different types of wood. And I probably could’ve just let it be.

We would have had the functionality I was craving.

But.

I know myself.

And I know my family.

If we had left things looking that way, we wouldn’t take the time to put things away the way we should.

Which is how I spent the next 8 days painting…

It all started with the wood framing the bead board. But then the storage shelves above looked bad…

Woman balancing with one foot on a wood step and the other on a wood bench. She's holding a can of paint and painting a shelf over head.

Which meant the entire shelf and supports needed to be painted…

Woman standing on a step stool in the garage painting a wood storage shelf that sits above peg board holding tools.

And the walls…

Woman on a ladder that is on a wood stair landing in the garage painting the wall around the door to the house.

Obviously the bench needed some painting too…

Woman sitting on the floor painting a wood storage bench in a garage drop zone

Which brings me to a helpful tip! My favorite tape to use when I’m painting is Frog Tape! But sometimes my husband buys the blue kind because it’s a little less expensive. I figured the garage was a good place to use up that roll.

But keep scrolling and you’ll see why Frog Tape is the only kind I buy!

Girl on step stool in a new garage drop zone painting a wall of shoe storage cubbies

One night one of my daughters was bored. We were about 2-months into quarantine at that point. When she offered to paint the shoe cubbies I was happy to hand over the brush!

Um, yes, please!

Adding Some Contrast

Wood landing with railing and steps in a garage with a coat of primer and frog tape

I saved painting the steps and landing until the end. By this point this project was feeling like that children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!

Garage drop zone with wood steps with a landing and railing after being painted

I painted the treads and landing the same grey we used on the shoe cubbies. It’s Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore. You’ve got to see how it looks on the cabinets in the girls’ bathroom!

As you can see, I used the blue tape to protect the steps…

Close up of freshly painted steps in a garage drop zone where gray paint has bled onto white paint

And as you can see, you get what you pay for! This is why I love Frog Tape so much!

So when AnnMarie suggested I paint the lid to the bench the same grey to break up all the white on that wall?

Wood storage bench with bead board wall behind in a garage drop zone

You can bet your sweet granny I was sure to use my trusty Frog Tape to protect that paint job! By this point in the project I was not looking to do any additional touch-ups!

The Finished Garage Drop Zone

And here’s how it all turned out! We now have plenty of shoe storage.

There’s a place to keep reusable bags and plastic grocery bags before recycling them.

We organized and can access the area under the landing.

And thanks to purging 10 large plastic tubs of stuff, the shelf above the bench is free to store the bulk paper products!

Finished garage drop zone with a wall of shoe cubbies painted gray, storage bench, overhead shelving, and a row of bead board hooks. Two painted wood steps go up to a wood landing with railing that lead to a door to the house. Storage baskets are under the landing

The fresh coat of white paint brightened up the entire space. Having a space to actually put everything away neatly really is a great feeling!

Finished and decorated garage drop zone with a wall of shoe cubbies painted gray, storage bench, overhead shelving, and a row of bead board hooks. Two painted wood steps go up to a wood landing with railing that lead to a door to the house. Storage baskets are under the landing

If you have any questions about this project, contact me or leave a comment! Follow us over on Instagram and Facebook to see everything we’re up to.

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8 Comments on How to Create a Functional Garage Drop Zone

  1. It looks fantastic! I would have loved to do that when my boys were small, but the are in their early 50’s now but I will pass this along. They have “children” coming home from college creating your “before” look!
    Mary C.

    • Thanks, Nan! It’s definitely been so nice to have a more organized system. Completely off-topic, my best friend growing up graduated from UD and used to work in the Admissions Office. Go Blue Hens! 🙂

  2. I like that you made a beautiful space for your family to use every single day. So often, 90% of our efforts go into a much smaller percent of our living.

    • Thanks, Ann! It’s so true that it’s something that has made an improvement in our daily life. My only regret is not doing it years ago!

  3. I absolutely love your finished project, your before/after photos,your detailed explanation of how-to’s, and tips. You inspired dad to re-do our garage storage and a landing into our kitchen porch. I love how you and Ann-Marie use your homes, to upgrade with class, for us. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Mom! Dad sent me pictures of your new garage landing and it looks great! So glad that we inspired an awesome project for your home!

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