A big, grand front entryway is all about making a good first impression on visitors. But often this space is only used by guests – many homeowners come in through a back or side door or through the garage rather than the front entrance. But just because the door you actually use is out of sight doesn’t mean you should neglect it. Quite the opposite: this heavily trafficked area of the home should be designed for maximum efficiency to keep the space neat and clear.
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When you get home after a long day, probably your first instinct is to unburden yourself: put down anything and everything you’re carrying, let out a breath, and get inside. But when every member of the family does the same thing, the result is a bad bottleneck and a lot of clutter. Piles of keys and mail, coats, boots, scarves, hats, purses, shopping bags, and so on can pile up quite quickly. Carefully choosing a few pieces of furniture can really help regulate the mess by giving the things you’d be putting down anyway a designated space.
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For example, my big vice is leaving mail in a heap unread. Not only is this terribly unsightly (piled up magazines and junk advertisements are some of the worst offenders), it’s also a good way for messages to get lost or – worse – for bills to go unpaid. But rather than trying to break the habit, simply try to improve it by putting a small table near the door, preferably one with a mail organizer. Not only will this keep all your mail in one place, but you can easily sort it right away. Put a small trash can or recycling bin beneath it, and you can cull quickly without a lot of papers ever making it to your kitchen or coffee table.
In a larger mudroom, there’s space to add things like a storage bench, coat hooks, or even a shoe rack, but even if your family’s entryway is a bit on the smaller side, it’s still worth trying to account for clothing traffic – especially if you live in a place with cold winters. Just screwing a few basic hooks onto the wall can go a long way, but even if you don’t have room for a large built in seat, consider adding a table that can double as a stool, or some other multi-purposed seat like a Ben Franklin chair/step stool. These look good, won’t take up much space, and make it easier to remove boots at the door.
Much of the struggle with entryways – especially ones that are on the smaller side – is a simple lack of surface area. Because back or side entrances are usually narrow, there isn’t really room to set down a full sized table. Console tables offer a nice compromise, as they’re tall and wide but sit very close to the wall – some are only a few inches deep – meaning that they have a decent amount of surface area, but don’t protrude very far into the space. A very thin console table can easily be placed in just about any entryway without blocking the flow of movement.
When deciding how to furnish an entryway, first you really need to pinpoint your problem areas: what items get left laying around and what items end up getting lost in the mess. If your biggest problem is a big, unsorted pile of car and house keys, hanging a small hook or knob for every family member is a much better solution than just tossing them in a tray. If your kids tend to come home from school and leave books, bags, and lunch boxes in a heap, it might be worth investing in a more multi-purpose piece of furniture, like a bench with simple built-in storage that gives everyone a specific and obvious/easy space to toss their stuff (and makes it much simpler to find everything when you’re rushing out the door!).
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Cube storage in particular has become one of the most popular types of entryway storage for pretty much this exact reason: it’s easy to dump just about anything totally out of sight, but still find it easily when you need it. Simple square shelves can be stacked in any number or shape and filled with plastic, metal, wood, wicker, or canvas cubes that create a lovely coordinated cabinet… that hides absolutely everything inside. This type of storage is simple and clean and can be sized up or down (sometimes cube by cube) to fit just about any size space. Simply assign one cubby to each member of the family (just like pre-school!) and all the stuff you just want to set down when you get home – including boots, hats, gloves, and scarves – can easily be tucked out of sight.