Reader SOS – Creating A Living Room Drop Zone

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for this series is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

How Do I Create A Living Room Drop Zone?

Today’s design dilemma comes from Lily. She recently moved into a new home and is really struggling with the layout of the living room/entryway. As you’ll soon see, this room poses a lot of challenges with a fireplace, three doors, windows, and an entryway to the kitchen. This doesn’t leave a lot of wall space for furniture placement. But the biggest challenge is that it needs to become a living room drop zone, since it’s right off of the front door and garage. Let’s read more about Lily’s dilemma…

Lily’s Design Dilemma

How to create a living room drop zone

This room has three exterior doors and one walkway into our kitchen, making furniture layouts tricky. This room connects our garage to our kitchen which makes it the everyday entrance to our house. It’s also become the entrance our family uses because it’s closer to the driveway than our main front door. The front of the room essentially acts as a foyer and hallway from the garage and front door to the kitchen. 

Lily's design dilemma. how to create a living room drop zone

I would love to use this room to hang out with family and friends when they come over (we have a separate family room that’s more casual/kid friendly). We have a big family so we need a lot more seating, but it’s hard to figure out where to put it so it’s not cramped or blocking entrances or walkways.

Reader design dilemma, how to create a living room drop zone

Coming from the city, this paneled room and fireplace seem so country to me and I’d really like to make this a more modern chic room for adults to talk, have cocktails, and listen to music. Here are some additional needs:

  • Drop zone that is out of sight. I don’t want to see the mess of coats and bags hung up.
  • More seating and stools we can stash away.
  • Modern fireplace update
  • Window treatments

My Design Gameplan

My best tips to create a living room drop zone

Wow, this was a super tricky one for me. This space really is difficult to figure out. I can see why Lily has been stuck! Since we can’t move windows/doors/fireplace there are only a handful of furniture layout options that work. But, with that being said, I think we can make some nice upgrades that will make this room function better as a living room drop zone and chic hangout spot for the adults.

  • Add an 8×10 rug to the couch area
  • Add a runner near the garage and front door
  • Hang curtains across the large windows near the couch
  • Hang matching Roman or solar shades for other windows
  • Consider a garage drop zone (more details below)
  • Find a large bench to float for seating
  • Add a small console next to fireplace for living room drop zone essentials
  • Incorporate small stools and ottomans for extra seating

The New Layout

Creating a living room drop zone

Here’s a peek at the new layout I would recommend. I used the free program to create these plans. Disregard the style/colors/furniture in these renderings. It’s more to get a general sense of the new furniture placement and layout.

Tips to create a living room drop zone

We would start with a large 8×10 rug in the living room space and a long jute runner near the two entryway doors. I would keep the couch underneath the windows and bring the leather chair next to it. The coffee table could stay too and we would add this modern credenza.

Creating a living room drop zone

Then, I would add a floating bench/chaise between the front door and the couch area. A small console for shoe storage would go next to the fireplace. Additional ottomans/poufs would be placed in front of the fireplace for more seating.

Living Room Drop Zone – Ideas

Since Lily’s number one priority is to figure out how to make this a functional drop zone for her family, I want to start there. I don’t have any photos of their garage situation, but my first thought was to create a drop zone in the garage. Stay with me here…

Creating a garage drop zone

Photo via North Carolina Charm

There simply isn’t enough space in this living room to account for all of the storage that they need with shoes, bags, and coats, while keeping everything out of sight. If there is space in their garage, it might make sense to finish off the area near the door to create the drop zone of their dreams with storage for all.the.things! Just an idea that Lily can start to tinker with…

Floating Bench

Creating a living room drop zone

Now, if that is not an option, I still want to offer some suggestions for the living room drop zone. First, I would add a runner in front of both doors to differentiate it from the rest of the space. Next, I would add a large bench or chaise that floats in between the front door and the couch. This would be a great spot to sit and take off shoes. Plus, it acts as additional living room seating so people can sit and face the couch for conversation.

Adding living room bench seating

Photo via Chambers & Chambers Architects

In terms of style, Lily mentioned that they’re looking to go a little more upscale/modern, so I really like the look of this velvet bench. It would look good from all sides (a must when floating in the middle of the room), PLUS it has storage! Simply lift it up and store shoes, hats, and more right in here.

Concealed Shoe Storage

How to create a living room drop zone

There is not much wall space near the garage and front door area and I don’t want to impede the path from the doors to the kitchen. Therefore, I think the only good spot for some shoe storage is on the wall to the right of the fireplace.

Shoe storage via Yellow Brick Home

Photo via Yellow Brick Home

I know I’ve shared this here before, but I absolutely love the shoe storage that Kim & Scott from Yellow Brick Home have in their entryway. It’s slim, modern, and holds lots of shoes, out of sight. I would add something similar to that wall to hold shoes. On top, Lily could add a tray for keys and maybe even a little mirror to bounce some light around the room.

Paint The Fireplace Brick Black

Painting a brick fireplace black

Photo via Leanne Ford Interiors

Lily mentioned that this home is feeling a bit too “country” for her taste and she wants to modernize the space. I would recommend painting the brick black. This would instantly get rid of the country brick look and make the space sleeker and more contemporary, all on a budget.

Bringing In Cozy Elements

Now that we’ve got the layout and fireplace figured out, let’s really bring this look together with the room design. The large windows behind the sofa are a great spot for some curtains. I would follow my curtain hanging tips and go with a black rod, almost to the ceiling, with these gorgeous green velvet panels flanking the window. These would mostly be for looks. On the actual windows themselves (throughout the entire room), I would opt for either solar shades (like the ones in our living room) or Roman shades.

Adding a bar area to the living room

Photo via Lydia’s Reader Home Tour

I like the idea of adding a little bar and record area next to the couch. This console is beautiful and offers storage underneath to hold bar essentials. On top, I would place a table lamp for moody lighting and their record player. Plus, they could hang some of the gorgeous art they already have tucked in that corner.

Lily emphasized the importance of seating in this room and the addition of the bench definitely helps with that. I would also add a footstool near the leather chair and two additional x-benches in front of the fireplace. These could be out all the time or brought out when entertaining and easily moved around to accommodate a large crowd.

Living Room Drop Zone & Hangout Spot

Okay, let’s take a look at the new living room drop zone and adult hangout area. I tried my best to make this modern and elegant for Lily and her family. What do you think?

My best tips to create a living room drop zone

Storage Console // Record Player // Table Lamp // 8×10 Rug // Jute Runner // Velvet Bench // Leather X-Benches // Footstool // Shoe Cabinet // Leather Chair // Art Print // Gold Bowl // Canvas Art // Barware Collection

I don’t know about you, but this new room doesn’t feel country to me at all! Bring on the modern chic, Lily! I can’t wait to hear how this transformation goes and if Lily is able to add a drop zone to her garage.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.