Creating A Central Mail Hub

It’s the end of the day and you’ve returned home from work. You grab the mail, unlock the door and enter the house. After taking off your shoes, you hang up your coat and lay down your bag. A cursory glance at the stack of mail in your hand confirms more bills and flyers and you look for the nearest surface to lay it down. “I’ll deal with that later”, you think to yourself, as the reality of kids and supper begin dominate your reality. It’s a typical routine. The bills can wait.

Kitchen counters and dining tables, those open surfaces closest at hand after entering your home, are the most common dumping grounds for our mail. Unfortunately these surfaces are used for other household functions and the mail gets moved from one place to the next until it’s finally dealt with. But all too often that important bill on its tour of the house gets hijacked by your 3 year old who realizes that the envelope makes the perfect diving board for SpongeBob’s pineapple home under the sea.

The way we solve this organizational problem is by creating a sorting space near the heart of the house. We find that people have a tendency of bringing mail into the kitchen so anticipating this is a good first step. We design the space as a control center or hub that allows the homeowner to organize the mail without interfering with other functions in the home. We provide mail slots for incoming and outgoing mail as well as for different family members and a handy trash bin to get rid of the junk mail and recyclables. The idea is to provide a place specifically for the mail so that it can be dealt with efficiently and effectively without interfering with other areas in the house.

Ideally the hub becomes exactly that: a centralized place within the home where essentials are stored and disparate functions are carried out. It’s a place for sorting mail, charging your cell phone, posting messages and leaving your keys. Providing space for a computer with access to internet allows you to take care of the bills right where the mail sits and, with the hub being close to the kitchen, it allows you to surf for recipes as well. For the more technologically inclined client we incorporate a touch pad console that allows one to adjust everything from the heating to music playing in the house.

For households with school age children it’s important to differentiate this space from the area designed for school related activity. The piles of school associated material that invariably come through the house can easily overwhelm the hub. This is why we suggest providing a specific work area for children and their material off the kitchen as well. This is another topic for an upcoming column.

Things to look for in a well designed household hub are:

A location close to, or part of, the kitchen. The hub needs to be in the heart of the house or it won’t be effectively used.

Provision of mail slots for incoming and outgoing mail. If the volume of mail warrants it an incoming mail slot for each member of the household is very useful. We generally suggest a mail slot specifically for bills as well.

Electrical outlets, a telephone jack and internet access are essential.

Allocated space for essential reference items like the yellow pages and address books is very useful as are little cubbies for keys, wallets and the like.

A bulletin board or black board can be very helpful in making the hub a place for notes and reminders.

A place for a calendar is very useful as well.

A recycling bin to dispose of junk and unwanted mail is a must.

In the end one cannot overstate the importance of creating a space that manages the piles of mail that come through a home. This seemingly small element can go a long way to easing the frustrations that come with clutter and disorganization.