Bye-bye, mudroom and hello, 'drop zone'

A room where you can put all your junk down as you enter the house is becoming popular. But soaker tubs and breakfast nooks are losing favor.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Nov 2, 2011 2:24PM

Family room & open kitchen (© Look PhotographyBeat/SuperStock)Here's a home trend we can all get behind: a special room where you can dump all the stuff you and your family bring home every day.

Such a room, called a "drop zone," is replacing the mudroom in new construction and remodeling projects, according to The Wall Street Journal.


These rooms, which can be as big as 10 feet by 10 feet, may include baskets for mail, places for backpacks and coats, storage for winter outerwear and maybe even lockers.


"A closet with a pole and hanger won't do," Washington, D.C., real-estate agent Laura McCaffrey told The WSJ.


The "drop zone" is part of a trend away from the showy and toward more practical home design, perhaps inspired by the times in which we live or maybe because people are just getting smarter about their space.


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Another trend on the way out — and one we are happy to see go — is the two-story foyer, deemed impractical and too expensive to heat and cool.


"Value and need are driving the home-purchase decisions, not the potential investment value," Stephen Melman, an economist for the National Association of Home Builders, told The WSJ.


A survey by the NAHB late last year predicted that the house of 2015 would have no living room and would instead have a great room that encompasses family room, dining room and kitchen, a trend that has been ongoing in recent years.

On the way out are sunrooms, media rooms, mudrooms and skylights, the NAHB members said. But laundry rooms and walk-in closets will survive. The survey also predicted more use of energy-efficient features.


Here are some of the features The WSJ says are in, and some that are out:

  • Formal living rooms are out; open family rooms are in.
  • Second staircases are out; spaces for elevators are in
  • Home offices are out; "lifestyle centers" are in. A "lifestyle room" is a room off the kitchen where parents can use their computers or do crafts and other tasks, keeping an eye on cooking and children.
  • Soaker tubs are out; steam showers are in.
  • Breakfast nooks are out; outdoor rooms are in.

I never saw much use for two-story foyers, soaker tubs and breakfast nooks, but then I've lived mostly in small, older homes with no foyers at all and dining nooks off the living room. I'm not sure I need an outdoor kitchen, either, though a table and chairs outside are certainly nice.

If you could remodel your house or buy a new house, what features would you want and which ones do you think are useless?

Sep 4, 2012 11:30AM
1) Soundproof room for music; 2) outdoor gas cook top and oven for summer dinner prep; 3) exercise room/home gym; 4) cave/cool room for wine/cheese/beer storage; 5) small, quiet, out-of-the-way room for personal space/mediation/reading/napping.
Sep 4, 2012 8:56AM
Remodeling would entail having a larger master bath (with a steam shower AND a soaker tub).  I also like the idea of the "lifestyoe center"; a place where I can do crafts or wrap presents or pay bills out of the way, but still in contact with everybody.  Also like the idea of a bathroom accessible from outside (great while doing yard work or visiting "over the fence").
Jun 16, 2012 2:27PM
I am happy with what I have.  Thank goodnesss I don't try and keep with the trends, but do I what I like and what I can afford with my home.  Otherwise, I would be remodeling every 5 years and who has the time and money to keep up with that? 

I love this article, It's pretty much right on.  The only thing I would question is the master bathroom soaking tub.  In higher end homes, buyers really want to have it included in the bath.  Whether or not they actually use it...who knows.  They just feel

 that for the $ they are spending, they should have it.  The hugh steam shower is a definite must have!

Dec 15, 2011 8:00AM
To "neveragain242" :
Wow! You just described my dream home!
Totally agree with what you said, but we've been looking for years for the right home, and builders just don't build this type of home, unless it's custom.  We've noticed in our area, that all the homes must have been built by one of four construction companies, because there seems to be only four basic designs.  Every house looks like a cookie cutter of the last four we've seen.  Unless a person is wealthy and can build their own or afford a custom built, then you have to 'settle' for the 'boring' designs out there.  It's obvious they are cheaply designed for profit, not function, in mind.

Dec 15, 2011 7:16AM
never heard of a "mud room" in my life... and I've been in or seen of a lot of houses on all those shows on tv.  weird.
Dec 14, 2011 6:02AM

I like the drop zone idea but it is just semantics for the large laundry -mud-drop zone room we have always wanted and builders didn't give us.  I hang a lot of clothes to dry and could really use a space for this other than the door or backs of my chairs.  All builders should work with a woman when designing a house especially the kitchen.  They just do not make them practical. Kitchens should have large drawers instead of cabinets.  And what is with the dust catcher space between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling.  Fill it in with more cabinet or sofit.  I am short (5'3" ) and try to avoid the upper cabinets anyway.  I certainly don't want to dust baskets and plants and other dusty items I can't reach.  Islands too close to the counter make the kitchen feel cramped and your family can't get in to help with meals.  Makes it a 1 butt kitchen.  Galley kitchens should be outlawed.  Give me a nice U shape with an eating counter for the kids to eat and work ( not the bar height, counter height).  I love the open living, eating, dining room, kitchen but It needs to be big.  I have a large family and want to seat 12 at my dining room table sometime.  Not 4.  2 baths minimum for any house.  One for guests and one for the home owner. Large closets in the bedrooms for kids toys and the adult's clothes.  Large master with ensuite bath.  That soaking tub needs to be separate from the shower and don't get rid of it.  An hour in the hot bath is "me" time and on cold nights I need it.  I want a master that gives me room to walk around.  Holds a queen size bed or bigger, two dressers, and two bedside tables and maybe a chair or two.  It does not need to hold an entertainment center and an office area.  The office should be a separate room with a door . I agree a two car garage with enough room to store my seasonal decorations and the Christmas tree is a must.  Last house did not have this and I don't want to clean my car of leaves, pollen or snow every morning. My other must have is a fireplace. it makes a home comfy and cozy.   Builders need to put the craftsmanship back into their work. smooth walls not the cheap textured kind, wrapped windows and doors (get rid of the cheap hollow ones and go with paneled doors always.) crown molding and baseboards (always minimum of 6-8 inches.)  No millwork of less than 3-4 inches wide.  It just looks like you were too cheap to do it right. I find wood floors easier to maintain than carpet with pets and kids.  In my dream home all floors are wood or tile maybe laminate in the laundry.  Hate laminate counters and please put in a back splash in the kitchen. The painted walls are not easy to clean I don't care what the paint manufacturer says. Outdoor space is great and I prefer a sunroom, porch or patio for easier maintenance verses a deck. bottom line is space in the rooms not small chopped up rooms but large open spaces, practical for use and attention to detail. That millwork really adds to the warmth and appeal to a home. I know builders want to build up because it is less expensive but I like more space on a single level.


Dec 14, 2011 5:38AM

My husband and I just bought our first home six weeks ago (38 and 40) with our four your children after making through some very rough years.  We relocated from Orange County, Cali, in 2009 after husband loosing decent job with home builder and no other jobs to be had.  We lost everything, loaded up family and surf boards for some reason, and headed to a more reasonable place to raise a large family. 


 We had some serious OC detox as to what we thought life standards to be and such for about two years.  So, this August when we knew it was time to house hunt we were not very picky.  Our standards really had nothing to do with your question, but being many people have been hard hit or know someone who has been hard hit I would like to answer it that way, if i may. 


Of first importance to us was neighborhood.  We had a neighborhood that our children had many life friends in, as did we.  We had a budget that we knew we could not afford to go over and would not be tempted to go over if remodel needed it asap.  We found a 1920's brick home in our neighborhood, metal roof, both things that my master tradesman husband are not skilled in working on, that do not need attention.  The house has adequate room for our family size.  We will not go into debt with remodel, not in a hurry, and will pay for everything in cash.  We will model to our children the value of working hard for your money and working hard to put your money to work.  They are excited to join in on the whole house remodel and help with the planning stages,as that is only where we are. 


Now, as for a soaker tub, haha, our original 1920's five valve shower/tub knob, the tub knob is completely stripped and corroded.   We haven't got that far in the re-pipe yet so tub use isn't even possible for my youngest anymore!   We are just thankful to have hot water, to have learned the lessons we learned, to be together, and to share along the way.  Anything else is like icing on an already supreme cake! 


This is how i answer the question "If you could remodel your house or buy a new house, what features would you want and which ones do you think are useless?"

Dec 14, 2011 5:21AM

Not into keeping up with the "Jones"...

Be happy with what you have..

Dec 14, 2011 5:10AM

I would love to have a bigger kitchen; something besides the narrow walkway I have now.  When you start adding a husband, kids and pets to my kitchen something has to give.  I don't like kitchen "islands" either.  They just take up needed space to move around.    My new house has a tiny kitchen with a separate dining room that blends into the living room.  I am not sure where one begins and the other ends.  They are only separated by how the furniture is placed.  My old house built in 1904 has a wide open kitchen with informal dining.  I liked that setup much better.


I would also love to have real walk-in closets.  Not the ones that are deep enough to stand in, but have about 4 feet of hanging space to share with your husband.  I would love a walk-in closet room.  Someplace big enough to put all my casual clothes, work clothes, and an entire separate military wardrobe that takes up an entire closet by itself. 


I like soaking tubs, but they should be the larger jacuzzi style tubs, not the single soakers that are the industry standard, and maybe a separate shower that is also big enough for two. 


The other household feature I would love to have is a separate library room.  I like the old fashioned solid wood, wall-to-wall bookshelfs (not some modernistic version).  With a large table for study, and plenty of cushy chairs/sofas and reading lamps; maybe a fireplace.   

Dec 14, 2011 5:08AM

Built-ins are the best space savers, beside you don't have to buy to many furnitures like dressers which are useless. Walking closest are a waste of space: built-ins with drawers, shelves, etc.

An attached-heated long garage with a drain in the middle (melting snow) and with a back wall with a large sink to wash all kinds of gardening and mechanic stuff. 

I like old houses, they have a good family gathering feeling. I live in a 1930's bungalow and I love it.

I love the front porch and the back porch.

A nice size room for TV (12' x 14') next to the kitchen and by the back porch.

I don't fallow trends; unless something is really outdated,  then I will remodel.

Dec 14, 2011 3:53AM

I like cottages, and mid century modern....

I do not like HOAs.

I like decent sized bedrooms but do not like the mega sized master bedrooms that take half of the house.

I like a separate living room and separate dining room with pocket or french doors.

I like a separate kitchen with a door to close it off from the rest of the house.... who wants cooking odour throughout one's home especially in the winter months..... perhaps that is why people are hesitant to cook these days.

I like a heated sunroom or enclosed 4 seasons porch.

Must have is a garage.... for my car

I like a small room for an office preferably with a door.

I would like a room  with a door that can be used as a library/den

I would like a walk in tub with jets...

If house is more than 1 story then would love an elevator..

Skylights provide light in rooms where more light is needed or wanted.... It also warms up rooms in the winter months...   There are skylight treatments that decrease the sunlight and heat during the summer months.

Wood floor and stainless steel appliances are not as easy an upkeep as people imagine. Having lived with carpet and with wood floors, I prefer carpet.

I like cook tops and wall ovens.

I like drawers as opposed to shelving in the kitchen.

I like dishwasher drawers instead of  the full size dishwashers.... more energy/water efficient imo.

I already live in a house with many of the things that was mentioned in the article and can say that i do not like the great room thing with kitchen dining and living room all in one....

I would prefer a house with a foyer where the person at the front door  cannot see throughout the whole house from the front steps...LOL

A more intimate house is ideal. 2 beds plus den with 1- 2 1/2 baths  or 1 family bathroom with 1/2 bath for visitors  or even a 3/4 bath..... It would be best if the toilet was not next to the tub. At least the den can be used as a bedroom if needed.

Too many homes are being built with wasted spaces.

Folks need to buy as much home as they NEED not how much they WANT.... there is a difference.

Homebuyers need to buy their forever house to start with, make it into a home and be prepared to stay there until the mortgage is paid off.

If you think your house is too small and you just need more space then have an architect or interior designer take a look first... they may be able to rearrange or find hidden space that you may not have thought of...

By the way.... do not convert the garage into a permanent room.... there are many folks that use their garage for that other expensive purchase... the car.

Main thing is to declutter.... why do you need all that storage space? For what?  The stuff that you never use, will never use, just taking up space? 

Buying a house for more storage space is questionable at best.... declutter first and get rid of all those clothes and shoes  and stuff that you do not need or want.

Get rid of the children toys and clothes if they are not age appropiate or fit... and only keep what you and they need.

Always remember that it is not about how much you can spend that is important, it is about how much you can save .... especially towards your retirement.

I'd love a garage.  Living in a condo has been more disappointing than expected.  I feel like an orangutan in a glass cage at the zoo.  There are so many rules.  It does not feel like a home some times.

Our payments are double the local rental rate for the same home and the balloon payments will bankrupt my family at retirement.  It is a 1 bedroom room condo 40 miles from my work. I dread the commute.  I graduated from college with excellent grades and have been working in the biotech field for more than 15 years.  Even someone many levels above me in our company would find the payments disagreeable for such a tiny place so far from everything.  

All it took was 1 signature to ruin my future.  What's the point of working?
Dec 13, 2011 10:08PM
I would love to have a real laundry room - not a laundry closet they call a room.  This room would not only have the washer and dryer, but a table to fold on then you could immediate put it in the linen closet in the room. As for the clothes - you can either hang them there and carry them to the appropiate bedrooms and then iron them throughout the week at the spot where the ironing board is always left out in the laundry room. Or if you rather, you can iron all your clothes right away since everything you need is ready for you. I would want sortable basket so I can put my dirty clothes there throughout the week so I don't have to leave them in my bedroom closet with the clean clothes. I do it now even though I think it's disgusting because I have noother place to put put them.
Dec 13, 2011 7:52PM
My kingdom for a garage.  I am so tired of scraping my car windows every.... single.... morning.  And when it snows some more, no amount of brushing off will keep that last little clump from falling in on the driver's seat when I open the door!  And having to wear another pair of shoes just to go the 15 feet to my car because I'm not making it across the ice in heels.... 
Dec 13, 2011 6:41PM
Lived in Japan with deep soaking tubs, they are wonderful.  Also loved that toilet was separated from tub room, as was the sink.  Of course!  Much more efficient.
Dec 13, 2011 6:25PM
Efficient kitchen cabinets!  I want a lazy susan in my new kitchen. My kitchen is so 70s.
Dec 13, 2011 5:35PM
I'm 65 and my house is 6.  The master bath has a Jacuzzi with a heater to keep the water warm.  Ben Gay and the Jacuzzi are my bff after a weekend of doing yard work.   
Dec 13, 2011 5:35PM
My current & 1st house has no basement or attic access.  I didn't realise quite how much storage I was going to need.  So the next house will have storage... OR I could add a 2 car garage with storage room, since it doesn't have a garage either.    It also has a 3-season porch that cannot be accessed from within the house!   It's a weird house, but it was relatively cheap for our area (just south and west of Boston MA) and we were going insane from the house hunting process, so we took it.  At least we're not house-poor or underwater.   We can afford to update & upgrade a bit at a time: This 1962 front to back split house still had an old bulb fuse box when we moved in, located in the furthest corner of the crawlspace from the access hatch.  Now it has a 20 circuit 100amp circuit breaker box in the utility room.   Next up is the kitchen: the formica counter is bubbling & peeling.  I'm going to do all new cabinets & countertops, plus install a dishwasher & disposal, next spring.  In our area, the bubble never really burst, so we will probably earn back our upgrades when we sell.   
Dec 13, 2011 5:13PM

Guess what - not all of us want to give up our soaking tubs for steam shower. 


Are you suggesting that all older houses are small - where the heck do you live and do you look around you when you are out and about???!!


I like breakfast nooks and formal dining rooms - if a room is in the kitchen - guess what folks - it is an eat kitchen, regardless of how fancy the furniture.


Never liked 2 story foyers - I grew up in New England - heat is pricey. But I think they may work better in the South - different climate.


My husband likes modern and Prairie style, I like Victorian - yet we have lived in Capes, Ranches, apartments and a Four Level.  We should enjoy the diverse and stop suggesting everyone ought to like the same thing.  I like going in a Cape and finding Spanish furnishings, or a Queen Anne and finding Art Deco - I don't have to want to live with it- but it is great to see!


And by the by I've lived where there are lots of older homes -they weren't all small some are huge - you know from the 1700's and 1800's and 1900's and 2000's - you can't get the molding or wood or flooring  anymore or the carved decorations or the huge wooden beams. 


Just tired of so many articles telling us what we ought to want, use and think.  You just do not want my home to be my castle - you want it to be yours.


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