Pro organizers say these are the 5 must-haves for small entryways

Non-negotiables for a welcoming and well-ordered entryway, even when tight on space

console table and mirror with wooden armchairs in entryway
(Image credit: Future PLC)

The entryway is the opening chapter of your home's story, and unlike the mudroom, it's the entrance into your home that guests will be using. 

So, whenever we are planning out or organizing a small entryway, we must be highly selective about what to include.

The first step to a well-ordered small entryway is to ask yourself what you (and other household members) come through the door needing to put down, and what you need as you head out the door.

5 must-haves for small entryways

'Mudrooms and foyers receive a lot of attention as ideal entryways, but small entryways can be just as organized and functional,' says Caroline Roberts, professional home organizer and Homes & Gardens' contributing expert.

What you need in an entryway will, of course, be personal to you and your household, but these are five features that any entry will benefit from – catching the day's miscellany and ensuring a warm welcome.

decluttering and organizing expert caroline roberts
Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts is a KonMari consultant and founder of the home organization company The Simplified Island. She and her team help clients declutter their belongings. Then they find the best places for your items so that their family members can find things and put them away. She is also a contributing expert at Homes & Gardens.

1. Furniture with storage

Modern entryway bench ideas with a grey shoe storage bench installed under a staircase with blue wall and blue and orange cushions

(Image credit: The Cotswold Company)

A piece of furniture that doubles up as hallway storage will elevate your entryway immediately. This might be a bench with a cushioned lid that lifts off, in which you can store shoes, dog leads, and so on, or a console table with drawers with baskets tucked underneath, as pictured above. Large wicker baskets (or hooks) are a great way to create entryway drop zones, which kids can use to hang up backpacks after school so things aren't left on the floor.

'A small entryway needs a piece of furniture with great storage. Think about what types of things tend to collect in your entryway and create a drawer or section of a drawer to hold those things,' advises Caroline Roberts.

'If you don’t have space for a shoe tray or rack, consider storing your most-used shoes in the bottom drawer of the chest.' Shoes are a common bugbear in entryways, as they take up lots of space. If your current shoe storage ideas are not working, try investing in a new solution, as well as encouraging family members to keep some of their shoes in their closets.

2. A key hook

Life is a lot simpler when you have a designated spot to set down your keys. Chiana Dickson, Homes & Gardens' junior writer says a key hook is, well, key.

'I have a key hook with a shelf from Amazon that I love to put house and car keys on,' she says. 'Then I can put smaller things that maybe need to go out to my car with me (sunglasses etc.) on the shelf, or mail that I need to do more with than just open and throw away.' 

A key hook with a small ledge is handy for giving everyday essentials a home and is a great idea if you sometimes find it hard to get rid of paper clutter.

Chiana Dickson
Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers.

3. Hidden storage

Tongue and groove hallway cupboards

(Image credit: Future)

Provided that there is some closed storage in your small entryway, an over-the-door storage rack, at Target, is essential. Caroline Roberts says, 'Remember to use wall space or the inside of a coat closet door for hanging purses, jackets, dog leashes, and umbrellas.' 

Look for storage solutions that take belongings and objects up from the floor and to eye level, instead. By storing items on the inside of doors, you can reduce the visual noise, making the space feel calmer and larger. Plenty of hidden storage will make an entryway far more practical, and reduce the number of trip hazards. 

Struggling for space? Edit down the jackets, shoes, sports gear, and so on by following entryway decluttering rules experts always follow.

4. Seating

Modern entryway bench ideas with white shiplap walls, boot bench built into alcove with shelves above head height

(Image credit: Marlaina Teich Designs/Patrick Cline)

If you have a 'no shoes in the home' policy, which we would argue you should for hygiene reasons and to protect your floors, make sure you include a streamlined bench. Somewhere to put on your shoes ups the level of comfort, and if you have a narrow hallway with absolutely no space even for a slim bench, try one or two storage ottomans, at Anthropologie, tucked under the console table ready to be pulled out as needed.

5. Mirror

Round mirror

(Image credit: Brenna Morgan Interiors)

A mirror may not make things more organized, but it is both practical and space-enhancing and therefore earns its place in a small entryway. A mirror resting on your storage credenza or console table is always useful when rushing out of the door, and an aged mirror with some patina offers a way to create a more moody, weathered, and rustic look, so a mirror can even double up as artwork. 

Ideally, a mirror shouldn't be placed directly facing the front door, according to feng shui mirror rules as it sends positive energy back out the door, but positioning it at a right angle is fine.

How do I make a welcoming entryway?

Make your front entrance welcoming by first thinking about practicalities; is there somewhere to hang your coat, set down your keys, and remove your shoes? Is there enough room to comfortably move through this transitional space into the adjoining rooms? Ticking off functional aspects is key, and then you can think about adding a lovely signature scent through candles or fresh flowers, and ways to lift the spirits with artwork or photographs, patterned and textural rugs, lighting, wallpaper, and so on.

Don't forget personal touches, from framed artwork and photographs to sentimental trinkets and plants. These will create a welcoming and homely atmosphere; after all, decorating isn't about creating a show home. 

Another practical tip for everyday life is to add a table or floor lamp set on a timer to come on as you come home, or one with a switch that you can simply step on. This will help you see what you're doing as you triple-check you have your cell phone before you leave.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is the Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. She has six years of experience in digital journalism, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York. She then gained experience writing for women's magazines before joining Future PLC in January 2021. Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home before taking on the position of Section Editor with Homes & Gardens. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.