An Effective Entryway

Mudrooms & Entryways

Few spaces get as much use in a home as the entryway. We come and go through this space multiple times a day, dropping shoes, clothing, keys, gear and more each time we walk through. As a result, this space tends to be cluttered.

The change of seasons is a good time to clear out your entryway and get it ready for the months ahead. Here are a few guidelines to help you get this room under control:

Take everything out and group it by category, e.g. shoes, activity bags, coats, hats, etc.

Remove anything that will not be used during the upcoming season. For instance, as we head into fall, remove the swim goggles and sunscreen. If you have a large mudroom, you may be able to store out of season items in less accessible locations in this space. If not, now is the time to move them to another area of your home (e.g. an attic, crawlspace, garage) until they are needed next year.

Evaluate the shoes. I suggest families limit the number of shoes that are kept in the entry area to the footwear that is worn “every day.” This may be a pair of sneakers for children, or the daily shoes worn to work for an adult. If you have enough room, you might allow two or three pairs per person. The shoes that are seldom worn, such as dress shoes for Sunday, should live in the bedroom closet.

Designate a “dirty” zone. Wet boots, muddy cleats and snow boots will make a mess on the floor. Consider getting a tray where these items can be placed. If you have an attached garage, such a zone could be established in the garage, intercepting the mess before it can enter your home.

Ideally, you will have three different types of storage structures in this space.

  1. Hanging storage for coats, bags and umbrellas. Hooks are my first choice, as most people avoid hanging coats up on hangers. Set up a bag for each activity (e.g. sports, dance, music, clubs) and keep the associated supplies inside. In-season bags are hung on a hook, while out of season bags are removed into long-term storage. Remember that you can add a strap or string to items that do not have one in order to make them easier to hang up.
  1. Drawers or bins for accessories. These will vary by season, but include things such as hats, baseball caps, gloves, scarves, sunglasses and bug spray. In season activity and/or sports gear like shin guards or karate belts may also go in a bin. If you don’t have built-in drawers, baskets on a shelf can work just as well. You can also use an over-the-door storage rack or bag for small items.
  1. Racks or bins for shoes. You can place a large basket near the door, but be aware that this can be hard on the shoes and might lead family members to dump the whole bin to find the pair of shoes they want. Another option is horizontal shoe racks or even simply lining the shoes neatly along the floorboard or under a cubby. If your space is narrow, a product like this one from IKEA can be a good solution.

A few additional points to keep in mind…

~ You don’t need to have all of your supplies in one “room.” Not everyone has a large mudroom. You may hang your coat on hooks right inside the door, and then walk around the corner to hang your keys up, and then down the hall to remove your shoes and plug in your phone. What matters most is having a designated area for each and every belonging, and making sure family members put things in the appropriate places.

~ You may design varying solutions for different times of year. For example, in the summer you may decide to establish a “flip flop” bin just inside the back door or designate an area for wet towels to be hung. In the winter, you may set up a rack in the garage for snowy clothes to drip dry. During the school year, you may assign each child a location for his/her backpack.

~You don’t have to have built-ins. While built-in solutions can be lovely, there are a variety of freestanding options that work very well. Things such as a coat rack, a couple of shelves, a bench or a set of cubbies are versatile, affordable and flexible.

Every home is different, so don’t feel you need to create a photography-worthy space. Function and durability are the most important factors in your family’s primary entryway. Below are some photographs that might spark some ideas for how to best use your space.

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Regardless of how well you design your space, you will need to be diligent in maintaining it. A weekly effort to restore order will go a long way in keeping your entry working well.

What is your best tip for a well functioning entryway?