Happy Home Challenge: The Entryway

This week's Happy Home Challenge is going to be a little bit different for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's about the Entryway (duh, you probably read the title...) and instead of doing the same clean it out, put it back, make it happy, I wanted to directly address your concerns. So I sent out a call for you to tell me your entryway problems. And there was an awesome response with a lot of the same concerns which was s helpful. So I am going to take your specific problems, and tell you what I would do or what I have done in my own homes to alleviate them.

Secondly, I have been wanting to share our Entryway for a while now since we've "completed" it. (Is any space ever really done?) It still has a few things here and there we'd like to address but for the most part we're really happy with it. I'm going to share all of the details of it on Thursday (so be on the lookout for that!) But for now, you can get a few little sneak peak photos of the space before Thursday when I unload a truck full of deets. 

But onto the Entryway! 

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By far (far far far), shoes were the biggest complaint in the entryway. It's pretty common, I think, especially in households with kids, to take shoes off when you come in the house. It's a game changer for keeping the house cleaner, but it makes a huge mess when you're in and out all day and shoes are piling up. I think it comes down to a few different solutions, and these are all things I follow pretty strictly because trust me - I loathe the shoe mess too.

  1. You must have shoe storage. We use a shoe cabinet from IKEA and it's by far my favorite method for putting them away. Places like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, The Container Store, and IKEA all have several different options for shoes that will fit wherever you enter the house. Over the door shoe hangers for coat closets, a storage bench, y'all... a simple basket to throw them into. Whatever it is, put something by the front door and put the shoes away as soon as you come in. 
  2. That's the key. Take off shoes and put them away as soon as you walk in. This is definitely a routine which means it's going to look different for each family and it's going to take some time to establish. But work on it. Commit to 2 weeks where you're going to really work on putting shoes away where they go and I think you'll find it becomes routine. Make sure kids know that it's their responsibility to come in, put their shoes away immediately, and if they don't.. don't do it for them. Reinforce that rule and routine until it's second nature for them. 
  3. Every day or every other day, relocate non-daily wear shoes back to the closets they belong to. Your Sunday church shoes don't need to hang by the front door all the time, so don't let them clutter the space all week. Do it a few times a week as you're doing your nightly clean up, and put them where they go. 


Coats are similar to shoes in that you need a system for them. But there are fewer options here. We don't have a coat closet on our split level entry, and the one that is upstairs just doesn't make sense to use for a coat closet. So we use hooks to hang coats on. But a coat closet can easily get out of hand since it gets so much use and there's so much stuff. Hanging organizers, baskets, and hooks will go a long way but don't try to overstuff it with things you're not regularly using. I.e. don't clutter your coat closet with your vacuum and board games...

I'd also say the same advice I applied for shoes also works here... but especially putting coats back where they go. If you all cycle through 3-4 coats, you don't need them all hanging by the door all the time. Keep the one you're using out, the others in the closet, and put them away if they're taking up too much space. And if you're not wearing them pretty often, your kids have outgrown them, etc, donate them to shelters who could always use coats this time of year. 

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Too Small

Several of my local friends have split-level entries. And whereas I think we're probably the exception to the rule with a split-level entry that has a bit of space, our last house was about 3 feet from the door the stairs, and that's how most are. And if it's not a split-level entry, it's a small weird space that doesn't have room or walls to organize, or perhaps it's like our first house where there's no real entryway at all and it just opens up to the living room. I've dealt with all of these problems personally, so here's what I've done...

Small Split Level Entry: These are hard. Because they get crowded easily. Not just with stuff, but inviting guests over and having them in and out is tough. What I found to work best is multifunctional storage like shoe cabinets, rail storage systems, and big catch-all baskets. It's also a good idea to make sure you clean all of your clutter before bringing anyone else's in. If you're expecting guests, put all of your stuff away into your own closets so guests have somewhere to put their things. Try to keep as much as possible off the floor, and give hooks or wall storage for shoes/purses/etc so it's easier for more people to stand in the small space.

No Entryway: You don't necessarily need walls to define a space. Placing a larger rug, like a 4x6 instead of a small door mat will automatically carve out a defined space to enter the home. I'm a huge fan of storage benches, credenzas, or even dressers to stand in for the lack of a coat closet. A storage bench works well to hide shoes and you can hang hooks above if you have wall space adjacent to the door. You could also make it super stylish with a credenza or small dresser to add storage and a free-standing coat rack for coats and purses.Rugs and proportionate furniture are a great way to make a non-space into a functional space and you can change it up as your needs change, as well as style it to suit your decor.

Too Small to Function: It's a bummer when you just don't have any options but to relocate it, but sometimes you have to. If where your front door is just doesn't have the space to get organized and hang everything, make space elsewhere. Whether it's down the hallway, off the kitchen, in the laundry room, or a corner in an adjacent living room, pick a spot as close as possible to the front door to put together a little entryway nook. You can make it cute and functional at the same time and it's much better to have it slightly out of the way than have piles next to the front door.

Multiple Entrances

I got this one a lot too. People park in their garage and enter through the garage door where there is no real entrance, and their guests come through the front door. This is kind of a blessing in disguise, though, and I think you can really use it to your advantage. The good news: your clutter isn't the first thing your guests see when they come in the door. The bad news: you have to create two systems. If you don't have a mudroom coming in from your garage, I'd suggest creating a cubby system or a wall rail system by your garage door to keep the clutter at bay there. For your more formal entryway, make it prettier. Of course, it has to still store things, but this is more for a few people to hang coats and maybe drop shoes (a boot tray is a great thing for guests where shoes aren't being stored) but it can be more inviting and much less functional since it's not your main hub in and out of the house. 

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The biggest and best way to help with mail is to receive less of it. Three ways:

  1. Go to Direct Mail to get your name off of mailing lists you don't want to be on. It's not 100% effective but it will help!
  2. Download the Paper Karma App to unsubscribe from specific mailing lists. It's $2 a month and well worth it. All you do is open the app on your phone, snap a picture of the logo/return address and say who they need to remove from the list and they take care of the rest. 
  3. Make sure all of your bills are paperless. Over the next month keep track of any bills or statements you're still receiving paper statements for and immediately go to that account to switch to paperless billing. 

That alone will solve probably 2/3 of the mail problem. Less coming in means less to sort through. Next, you need a system. Just like you wouldn't leave groceries in your entryway, you shouldn't leave the mail. You're not opening packages and paying bills in the entryway so don't leave it there. Make an inbox in your home office or command center, maybe even a little tray on the corner of the kitchen counter and as soon as you bring mail in, put it where it goes. If you can't go through it immediately, set an appointment once or twice a week to go through it (I like Fridays). Set a reminder, leave yourself sticky notes, reward yourself with a Starbucks if you need to, but once a week, go through that pile. Pay those bills, RSVP to those parties, send out Thank Yous, print return labels, recycle, shred, file. It will take 30 minutes total if you keep it done and it's way easier than sorting through it once a month and way better than losing something in the abyss and forgetting about it. 

I think that is probably the word of the week: System. Start by pin-pointing the real issue. Like so many other spaces in our home, it's less about having too little organization and more about having too much stuff. Unless you're blessed with a huge, storage abound entryway, it shouldn't be filled to the brim with stuff. Get rid of things you don't use. Use it to only temporarily store things you're using today. And don't use it for a drop zone. Regularly clean it up (just tack it on with your evening kitchen routine!), and then create organized systems to help keep only what you need organized.  Make yourself a new entryway resolution to stick to it, and see what habits your family can form to make entering and exiting the house a much happier experience.

Happy homing this week! See you Thursday for the full Entryway post!