People are drawn to modern houses because the clean, uncluttered look can be very calming. Achieving this does not mean putting the kids up for adoption, consigning your spouse to the garage or hiring a full time housekeeper. The solution is to plan a convenient and easy for place for your belongings.

One of the biggest clutter magnets is the front door. This is where the debris of everyday life—the mail, backpacks, coats, shoes, dog leashes and electronics–comes in and out like the tide, leaving a pile in the hallway. A well-designed area–I like to call it the drop zone–can help tackle this mess. The idea is that you don’t pass through your drop zone; it is a small separate space about the size of a walk in closet near the front door. It should have a door on it so that you can close it just in case you need to use it to talk on your phone away from the kids or hide something like balloons for a party.

To make a drop zone work it needs closet rods, shelves and drawers. These can be custom built or put together from IKEA. An ideal layout has a closet pole that runs the length of one side for hanging coats and jackets. Above the closet pole is a shelf divided into four cubbies with baskets for each family member’s gloves, scarves and hats. Above that is a shelf for bike helmets or nicer hats. If the closet pole is at 68 inches it allows for a shelf below the coats for two levels of shoes.

On the opposite wall a countertop with drawers below and a bulletin board above it. This is the communications center for the family. The family calendar, school schedules and invitations and kid’s art can be pinned on the bulletin board. The drawers below the countertop can be dedicated to cell phone charging (hide an outlet behind the cabinet), incoming mail such as bills or the family pet to hold leashes and toys. Drawers can also be turned into filing cabinets that hold files for take out menus, school information or receipts.

One variation is a tall cabinet with doors that can house the controls for the audio system for the house. It can also hold a shredder and recycling so that unwanted mail can go directly into it instead of piling up. It can also be a place to stash briefcases, laptops or sports equipment.

Whatever the arrangement, it’s important to make a space for all of the things that come in and out of the house every day. In this case, good design can make life much easier.