• Melissa Sanabria


Image Credit: Elizabeth Roberts

In some pretty little row houses, you walk in and BOOM, you’re in the living room. In others, you have a nice, albeit small, foyer space just before you meet a set of stairs. I’ve only been in a few row houses that have the coveted functioning coat closet. About 90% of our client projects specifically include entryway design because it can be such a pain point. 

The entryway is the workhorse of the house. It’s the place where we set down our essentials, take off our shoes and coats, grab the leash for the dog, and park the stroller. But it’s also, awkwardly, the space in our home where we welcome guests and the first thing people see when they enter our homes. It’s a place where we’re all a little afraid to leave stuff for fear of appearing messy, but then stuff naturally seems to pile up there. At S&Co, we’ve realized when the entryway is not properly designed, stuff ends up all over the house. 

Because we’ve designed this space a few times, here are the 5 key elements we often include to create a functional and pretty entryway in a small space so that you have a home for all the things AND you are not embarrassed to have people over.

Image Credit: Room & Board

Step #1: You must have a drop zone.

What does this mean exactly? What does this look like? Honestly, everyone has a drop zone, landing strip, clutter filter, whatever you want to call it… Some are hidden in drawers, others are ALL over the house, and some happen right at the front door naturally. We recommend including some kind of surface area in the entry and keeping the everyday essentials corralled. Put your mail in a beautiful tray that sets on a floating shelf, bench top, or mirror shelf duo. Make sure it’s practical (i.e. big enough) and remind yourself to clean it off daily (or at least weekly!). Add a bowl for keys (or kid tchotchkes) and a pretty catchall for your wallet, sunglasses or other small things that must go out the door tomorrow, etc. Establishing a dedicated drop zone keeps clutter from overflowing into the rest of your home, including kitchen countertops and dining room tables. It also means you always know where your keys are. 

Image Credit: A Stylist Guide

Step #2: Try to add a mirror if you have the space… If entryway mirrors are not your preference, try a large piece of art.

If you have the space and the appreciation for it, add a mirror. A quick glance at yourself while you’re headed out the door is usually a good idea. Anyone else leave the house with food in their teeth or spit-up on their blouse before? It’s not just me, right? 

Get comfortable with switching up proportions here. A large hanging mirror can look incredible above a narrow, vintage bench. If you have the space for a full-length mirror, consider a narrow leaning version paired with a few floating shelves. 

If mirrors aren’t your thing, we love a piece of large-scale art if you have the space. Behold the lovely example of this below…

Image Credit: Kara Rosalund (left) & Christopher Sturman (right)

Step #3: Hook Up Your Space…Your Coat and Bag Need a Home.

Many of our clients are hesitant to use coat hooks and racks because they’re concerned it won’t add beauty or it will look cluttered. Our perspective is that your house has to function first, then make it beautiful. And remind yourself that you don’t have a coat closet, so it’s okay that some are on display and the display can be beautiful! Use the right pieces and be mindful to use the space for its intended purpose. Give yourself a gentle nudge / reminder that the coat hooks in a small entryway space is for your coat and bag of the day, not every coat you’ve ever worn or may wear in the next month (don’t worry, we’re guilty too). That’s what your basement/guest/master closet is for – assuming you have those! In my case, my winter coats are stored in Bea’s closet. 

Image Credit: Food52

Step #4: Add a Small Stool, Bench, Console or Place to Put Shoes

If you have the space for one, a small bench or stool is a super versatile piece. It provides a place for things to rest when you come in and out of the door (bags, packages, etc.). If you have a kid, it’s a great place to sit and put their shoes on. It’s also a great place to slide a basket or tray underneath that can hold some of your shoes, key word there is some (not all the shoes you’ve ever owned, although right now we admittedly have about 8 pairs of shoes hanging out in our entry). The below examples from Room & Board and Rhinov are just so good.

Image Credit: Room & Board (left) & Rhinov (right)

Step #5: Bring In Color or Pattern Into Your Space With A Rug

For this high traffic area, we recommend adding a durable rug with pops of color, pattern, or texture that provides some camouflage . Keep in mind this rug will handle all the dirt, mud, and rain/snow water (and other gross things) that can be tracked in on the soles of our shoes. A rug that both hides dirt and is easy to clean is key. We often like to use indoor / outdoor rugs in entryways. And this dhurrie in Camille Styles collab with Pottery Barn is a very cute option.

Image Credit: Pottery Barn & Camille Styles

So, how do you accomplish this beautifully designed entryway so that you never lose your keys ever again? What pieces do you buy? In our next post we’ll provide the deets and links on specific items for pulled together entryway looks we love. How’s that for a cliffhanger?!  Did we miss anything? Do you have more ideas on how to make your entryway work? Share in the comments! We love to hear from you and we can even include your ideas in our next post!

Image Credit: SoLibIch (left) and Better Homes & Gardens (right)

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