Entryways are one of the most used areas of a home, yet there's rarely a dedicated space for the various functional and storage needs that our daily lives command. This guide breaks down why these spaces are so important in the slow home, their components, and how you can create your own (even if you live in an apartment!).
Entryways have both practical and psychological qualities. They provide the first impression of a home and so when there's not a real space to greet us, it doesn't feel quite right (we've all lived in that apartment or home where the door opens awkwardly into the middle of the living room!). An entryway also serves as a physical and mental transition from outdoors to indoors. In fact, in residential design it is a common practice to bring people into a home through a small transitional space before revealing the more gracious living areas. While it's easy to think about the things we put into entryways, it's also important to consider how these spaces should feel. Successful entryways are usually comfortable, inviting and utilitarian all at the same time.
Functionally, entryways and landing strips (often thought of as a drop zone for everything that goes into these spaces) need to be durable and well-organized. There are no stringent rules for what a entryway needs to look like, but here a few common components:
1. Hanging storage: Entries need space for hanging items like coats, scarves and dog leashes. One common mistake is to install too many hooks, which can leave the space feeling visually overwhelming. Instead, keep only a few things on display and tuck other out-of-season items in closets.
2. Shoe storage: Shoe storage is an important part of a functional entry. Like coats and jackets, only keep shoes out that you wear on a regular basis. (Those special occasion shoes and winter boots can live in a closet or other concealed space until needed.) While it's tempting to hide shoes in a basket or shoe bin, if you can't see them, you may forget you have them. An effective and efficient solution is to keep shoes under a low bench, where they can easily be accessed but aren't a focal point of the space.
3. Keys and other small items: Smaller items like keys, wallets and handbags work well when stored on a waist-high cabinet or shelf. Since these items are usually the subject of l'm-running-late scurrying, it's best to keep them in a visible location.
4. Mail: If you pass by the mailbox on your way in, it's a good idea to have a dedicated spot to drop the daily stack of letters, catalogs and (inevitably) junk mail. Although sorting through mail right away is best, if that's an unrealistic expectation try finding a tray with different compartments so you can put important things together so they aren't accidentally forgotten about. A small basket or bin could serve as an easy recycling bin for envelopes and unwanted mailings.
5. Seating: Aside from their practical and emotional qualities, entryways are also important for indoor air quality. By providing a location for people to remove shoes, dirt and debris is kept out of the main living areas. (Bonus: this practice also means less frequent cleaning!)
6. Mirror: A mirror isn't necessary, but it's a good way to do one final check before you're out the door.
7. Mats or Rugs: A mat or rug serves as a catch-all for incoming dirt before shoes are removed and helps protect floors in a high traffic area.
So here's the clincher: many homes and apartments don't have an entryway or landing strip. Fortunately, there are several strategies to create this space while working with what you have.
- If your door opens directly into the living area, try using a bookshelf or other piece of furniture as a room divider. While adding a few coat hooks or a small table is a good start, any opportunity to create an actual space will make a big difference in how the space is used and perceived.
- An entryway doesn't have to happen at the front door; if it's more convenient to use a back or side door, treat that space as your landing strip.
- Some older homes have generous porches but no formal entry. Consider closing off a portion of the porch to get the best of both worlds.