How to decorate an entryway table - 4 quick ways designers make a perfect first impression

Designing a stylish yet functional entryway table is the most impactful way to welcome guests as they walk enter your home

Entryway with spiral staircase, wooden floor, and console table decorated with ceramic vases
(Image credit: James Merrell)

As the very first space in your home that guests will see, your entryway should really make an impression. But with limited furnishings (and often limited space) designing an inviting entryway that instantly makes visitors feel welcome can be difficult. That's why extra effort should go into decorating your entryway table. 

Decorating a table might sound simple enough to you, but there are some common problems we all encounter when it comes to tables in an entryway. As much as they serve an aesthetic purpose, there's also functionality to keep in mind. Whether it's the place you deposit keys or stack your mail, this surface should be practical as well as beautiful. 

Some of us have a natural eye for home decor while some of us need a little guidance and inspiration. For those of you that fall in the latter camp, we've compiled some expert tips on how to decorate an entryway table that serves style and function. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to helping readers make the best design choices in their homes by answering all their style related questions. For this piece she asked designers for their advice on how to decorate an entryway table for stylishly practical home decor that invites guests. 

Why decorate an entryway table? 

a large entryway with a table with seats around

(Image credit: Aimee Mazzenga. Design: BBA Chicago / Pam Maher Design)

If functionality is so important, you might be wondering why it's worth curating a stylishly decorated entryway table in the first place. As the space your guests first lay their eyes upon when they walk through the door your entryway can really set the tone for the rest of your home, and a decorated table is the best way to show off your personal interior design style from the offset. 

'Entryways capture guests' first impression of your home, so you want to make sure it's warm, welcoming and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, whilst also being functional and practical for your everyday use,' says Yvonne Keal, senior product manager and design expert at Hillarys

Besides your visitors, your entryway table is also a space in your home that you pass frequently each day yourself. 'We tell our clients that having a decorated and tidy entryway table sets the tone for the rest of your day,' adds Ben Kuhl, Home Remodeler & CEO of Shelf Expression. 'It’s the last thing you’ll see as you’re leaving your home, and the first thing you see when you come home. Having a table that is decorated in your style and looks put together will leave a positive impact on wherever you’re heading next.'  

How to decorate an entryway table

1. Use a console table to maximize space

Hallway and stairs, vintage console table

(Image credit: James Merrell)

 While we all dream of a large entryway, unfortunately it's not a reality for most of us. Typically, this is one of the smallest spaces in the home and often very narrow. For that reason, a console table or sofa top table the best choice if you're hoping to maximize space. 

'For narrow or small entryways, we recommend long and skinny console tables that have slender legs,' says Ben. This way, there's more floor space for items like shoes or umbrella holders as these can tuck in below the table. Sometimes the tables even another lower shelf to stack magazines or mail. 'For really limited space, we’ve recommended stacked floating shelves to give you the effect of an entry table without the lost floor space,' Ben adds. 

If you're lucky enough to have the large entryway and sweeping staircase we all dream of, you have the freedom to opt for circular tables or larger sideboard. 'If you have a more formal space, a larger table with bold legs will set the tone for the rest of the home,' Ben suggests. 

A table with drawers can also be handy for storing items out of sight. 'Use it to house items, like shoes and bags, that everyone dumps as soon as they step foot through the front door,' says Yvonne. 'A traditional style table with light oak wood will match any color scheme and interior style whilst also providing that cozy and warm finish.'

White Reclaimed Barnwood Farmhouse Console Table, from Kirklands
Get the look

White Reclaimed Barnwood Farmhouse Console Table, from Kirklands

Stylishly simple, this white console table has lower shelves to help declutter the table's surface. We love how well the distressed wood lends itself to a rustic farmhouse look. 

2. Use decor that compliments the rest of your home

an apartment entryway with a layered lighting scheme

(Image credit: Ryann Ford. Design: Cravotta Interiors)

When it comes to the home decor ideas you use to style your table, be sure to choose items that compliment the rest of your interior to create a sense of flow and cohesion. 

Although technically not a tabletop item, a painting or a mirror is a good place to start when it comes to decorating your entryway table. Chose one that's roughly the width of your table to create a focal point on your wall that will help lead eyes downward to your table. 

Don't underestimate the power of sweetly smelling fresh cut flowers in a vase to greet you every time you walk through the door. 'Other items I recommend using for an entryway table can be a lamp, a candle, a decorative bowl or basket and perhaps a plant,' says Kasia McDaniel and I am the owner of Blue Diamond Staging & Design. 'You don’t want to overdo it because then it can feel cluttered and small.' 

With all of these items, make sure they compliment one another and contribute to your overall style, be it modern rustic or mid-century modern

3. Arrange items thoughtfully 

Grey entryway with a large painting and console table decorated with foliage in a vase

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

When styling such a small area, make sure your arrangement of the items is intentional. There's no point in just throwing decorative ornaments down willy-nilly; only purposed and considered styling will have the right visual impact. 

Consider the height of the decor and make sure there's a wide enough range of sizes and shapes. The rule of three is a good lesson to keep in mind with any type of side table decor. 'Arrange three items in one corner of the table according to height, arranged in a triangle,' says Kasia. 'Try placing a tall slim vase in the back, a candle in front and a small air plant to the side.' For an even better illusion, turn everything inwards slightly towards the center of the table.  

Set of Three Ansen Handmade Ceramic Table Vases, from Wayfair
Brighten up your s...

Set of Three Ansen Handmade Ceramic Table Vases, from Wayfair

Is there anything more striking than a shiny, bright vase? Perhaps three of them! We love this metallic set from Wayfair. Arranged together in their varying heights, they'll add depth and dimension to your table.

4. Maintain functionality

A small entryway with a credenza decorated with wooden candle sticks

(Image credit: Hillarys)

Knowing how to organize an entryway will help you to keep your home decluttered. There's nothing worse than being met with an untidy space as soon as you walk through your door, and this is where maintaining the practical benefits of an entryway table come in handy. 

'Avoid letting your entryway table become a catchall for your life,' says Ben. 'If it does, think of ways to collect your keys, wallet, and mail by utilizing already placed decor pieces. This means that instead of having keys sit on the table, use a bowl or basket to collect them. This way, it keeps the table looking tidy and doesn’t look out of place when it’s not being used.'

To keep the space looking organized, Kasia suggests limiting your table-top to three decorative items. 'Any more than that and it can collect a lot of clutter,' she says. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.