As mentioned at the end of BSIY Elevated Garden, Dom and I have been working on a Drop Zone for the area just inside our garage door. When we built the house, there was supposed to be a diagonal nook that connected the oven/micro to the wall behind it. We asked them to build a valet / drop zone instead, and they said blah blah no blah blah fire code. So we said, fine, leave out the nook; we’ll build the drop zone ourselves.
Our requirements were simple:
- A place to hang jackets for the two months out of the year that it’s cold in Texas.
- A bench because we’re getting old and can’t put on our shoes standing up anymore.
- A place to store said shoes so we don’t track dirt into the house.
Dom put in months and months of Pinteresting to find designs we liked, and then we set to building!
Step 1: The Tools
Even with my ever-increasing arsenal of tools, we still had to stop by the Home Depot to pick up a new toy.
I don’t believe in any tools that can shoot nails into my eyeballs, so I left this guy to Dom’s steady hands. Much like the dogs, I ran and hid in the other room anytime she used it.
Step 2: The Design
We went for the simplest design we could find: MDF over bead board. Here is Dom’s initial sketch.
You can get all of the materials from Home Depot. Choose your bead board based on how wide you want the slats. As for the MDF, you’re going to need a few different widths.
- Large — to form the baseboard
- Medium — for the sides and horizontal braces
- Small — for the shelf that will overhang the top of the wall
We also got:
- Liquid nails
- Electric sander
Step 3: Prepping the Site
Luckily, the wall we were working with had no outlets and no light switches on it. The only teardown we had to do was for the shoe molding and baseboards.
This was pretty simple, and since we had plenty of leftover molding in the attic, we didn’t need to salvage what we removed. Okay, yeah, we were just lazy with the whole reuse recycle thing.
Step 4: Cutting the Bead Board
Dom really wanted to do most of the work for this project, so I just sat back and helped where I could. Although her circular saw form needs some work, you can’t argue with results.
Step 5: Attaching the Bead Board
For reasons I can’t remember now, we decided to mount two sections of bead board, leaving space for the middle horizontal brace. If we had to do this project again, I think we’d leave out that unnecessary step and just stack the second row of board right on top of it.
This part took way longer than it should have thanks to the cheap-o caulk gun I’d had for years. We bought a better one from Home Depot right after we finished this stage.
Why no pictures of Dom using the nail gun to secure the boards? Because I was in the room hiding with the dogs. We went over that already.
Step 6: The MDF Cometh
I don’t know what it is about MDF but they cut like they already want to fall apart. We sized the boards and used liquid nails to attach them to the wall. Once they were dry, we drilled holes for the cross braces and secured them with screws, since they will be supporting the weight of the hooks.
Step 7: The Shelf
We used a smaller MDF board to lay across the top of the wall to act as a shelf. Home Depot sells white cove molding, so we used that on the underside to break up the right angle. We don’t expect to put anything on the shelf, but it looks damn good. That was all Dom’s idea, by the way.
Step 8: Make it Pretty
Now that all the easy work has been done, it’s time to crack a bottle of wine and prepare for two months of finishing working. We filled in all the nail holes and joints with caulk, waited for it to dry, and then sanded. And sanded. And then we bought and electric sander. And sanded one more time.
I could write an entire other post about the hoops we had to jump through to get the right paint for our drop zone. We really wanted it to match our interior trim. Easy, you say, just ask the builder what paint they used. Yeah, it sounds simple. After multiple trips to Sherman Williams, half a dozen people all telling us different names of paints, it took Andrew from CalAtlantic (formerly Ryland) to come over with his painter and then just straight give us paint from a current build down the street. He didn’t have to do that at all, so it was a nice ending to what was weeks of head-shaking torment.
Still, Dom did a great job with the finishing, often staying up until midnight while I slept soundly in a soft bed.
Once the paint had dried, we reinstalled the shoe molding and door stop. Again, Dom had to use the air gun and I can still feel the echoes of that terror.
Step 9: Hook it up
We couldn’t figure out what color we wanted the hooks to be, so we went ahead and mounted them as-is to see how black would look. If we decide later that we want another color, we can just unscrew them and paint. Drop Zones vary in the number of hooks they use. We went back and forth between 7-across and 5-across. I think we made the right call with the less-cluttered look.
Aren’t you done measuring yet?
No matter what your future wife tells you, take your time with measuring and spacing out the hooks. All of this work will be for not if they aren’t distributed evenly or aren’t pointing straight up. Measure first, measure second, drill third.
After we were done, Dom and I shared one of our classic high-fives and looked in awe upon that which we had created. We both acknowledge that this took much longer than it should have, mostly because we’re still learning. One day, we’ll graduate from BS-it-yourself to Do-it-yourself, and then we’ll be unstoppable. We’re going to take a week or two off and then figure out what we’re going to do next.
Dom wants crown molding. I’d like a sliding barn door for the master bath. We’ll see.
Send us pics of your drop zone if you end up building one!