How to organize an entryway – 7 easy ways to make your home beautiful right from the start

Looking for tips on how to organize an entryway? We asked the home organization experts so you can declutter like a pro

a modern entryway with a stylish console table
(Image credit: Brian Wetzel. Design: Far Studio)

There's a lot of pressure on an entryway. We ask so much of this space in terms of practicality – storing shoes, coats, bags, dog leads, umbrellas, rarely used sporting accessories, etc. – and yet it's a space seen by all so needs to look good too. And the key to getting this perfect balance between practicality and prettiness is good organization. 

You can invest in the most gorgeous entryway wallpaper, or the chicest pendant lighting, and yet all anyone will notice is the evergrowing pile of trainers shoved under the stairs. So we've asked top home organizers for their tips on how to organize an entryway, so you can get your home  working efficiently and looking gorgeous right from the moment you step foot in the door.

1. Start with a declutter

Small hallway with build in window seat

(Image credit: Claire Esparros)

Yep, it's got to be done. Before you start the actual process of organizing your space and investing in entryway storage, you need to have a cull. 

'Declutter first.' says Sue Spencer, founder of A Life More Organized. 'If you’ve got a tight space make sure that the things that are stored in the hallway are things that are needed every day. Make sure any coats and shoes are for the current season (you don’t want winter coats cluttering up the space in the summer) and check that any children's clothes and shoes are all current and fit them – there’s no space for outgrown items in hallways.' 

Professional organizer and founder of A Tidy Mind, Kate Ibbotson adds, 'To most effectively declutter, gather together belongings in categories (similar items together) e.g. deal with all coats together, then all keys, then all hats, etc. This way, you can see what you have and identify where you have duplicates. Go through the items category by category and declutter what you don't use, need or love.'

2. Order things into categories 

'Then decide what is going to 'live' in the hallway and what isn't. For example, you might choose to pack away out-of-season coats and shoes. Or store occasion wear shoes in the wardrobe but everyday shoes in the entryway. Once you're clear on what you want to store there, assign a home for everything.' says Kate.

Once you have gotten rid of anything that doesn't need to be stored in your hallway, it's time to categorize again. Organizing whatever has survived your cull into groups will help you clearly see what you have left, what needs prioritizing, and how much room you are going to need. 

'Sort the items into categories; favorite items to display, and items that are used every day, such as keys, and umbrellas. Consider packing away the objects that you don’t need on display into cupboards, display your favorite pieces like books, vases, or photographs as beautiful console table decor or on freestanding shelves, that also offer easy accessibility, and for everyday items.' suggests Rob Ellis, Head of Design at dwell.

3. And order things by household members too

Hallway storage by IKEA

(Image credit: IKEA)

'A hallway storage unit with baskets for each family member is a great idea, even better if it doubles up as somewhere to sit when you are putting on your shoes (IKEA Kalla hacks work great like this).' suggests Sue. 

'In my family, everyone has a couple of baskets (the spare one is used for the dog towels and leads). We use it for our shoes and bags – it was great when the kids were younger as they knew which baskets were there’s no more lost school shoes or bags and no more leaving stuff on the floor in front of the front door. It makes leaving the house each morning a lot less stressful.'

4. Prioritize shoe storage

'If shoes have a home that’s easy to put them in then they are less likely to end up scattered around the hallway. I really like using baskets as it’s easy for kids to pop their shoes in or you can also get shoe cabinets that easily fit into a narrow space in the hallway. If you go for a shoe rack make sure it’s the right size for the number of shoes you need to store on it – there’s nothing worse than an overflowing rack where you have to hunt for a matching pair.' explains Sue.

Marcella Caricasole, founder of Think Tidy, suggests 'Always have closed hallway shoe storage. Shoes scattered in the hallway is never a tidy look. If you don't have space for a bench that combines shoe storage with hanging space, use a basket where you can place your dry shoes.'

'I often store shoes in their own box, with paper inside to keep their shape. For everyday trainers, I have repurposed an IKEA Trofast that used to be a toy organizer and each plastic basket belongs to one of us. As it doesn't go with the rest of the decor it's hidden away in a nook just outside the downstairs toilet.'

5. Get your hangers organized

'Lots of coats hung up on top of each other on pegs can create a bulky mess. One quick tip is to hang the large coats on coat hangers and hang these up first. Lighter/smaller coats can be hung from the hooks on top of these and it makes a big difference to both how it looks and how easy it is to grab the coat you need.' suggests Sue Spencer.

'Do not overcrowd your coat hanger space, your hallway is for the items you wear at the moment not for the entire winter collection. This will allow you to see what you need (don't put more than 1 coat on one hook) and to add to the hanging space other items such bike helmets, dog leads, umbrellas or tote bags. If you have children, make sure you add hooks at the right height so that small people can learn to be tidy from an early age.' adds Marcella.

Jen and Marr, founders of Interior Fox have a good tip – 'If you want an easy and inexpensive way to hang up hats and coats, then a solid hook is the way to go. Steer clear of coat holders with multiple hooks, instead opt for single hooks evenly spaced out. This will avoid the area feeling cluttered or piling up with coats that will never see the light of day again.'

Hallway storage

(Image credit: Project: Imperfect Interiors / Photography: Chris Snook)

6. Maximize hidden storage

Hidden storage is essential in an entryway. It gives the allusion of a neat and tidy space and keeps any un-aesthetically pleasing items, like neon running trainers and bulky golf umbrellas out of sight. If you have the space and budget, built-in under stairs storage can house almost everything but if you are working in a small hallway, baskets, bins or even a slimline ottoman would work.

'The best way to maximize storage is to have hidden storage, either built-in or through dual-purpose furniture. There are lots of clever furniture options that can incorporate storage in a hallway, such as a side table or bench.' suggests Rob Ellis of Dwell.

'Anything that keeps your belongings out of sight is a good thing in a hallway.' adds Caron Dhaouadi, founder of Homefulness. 'Don't go for an open shoe rack: a piece of furniture such as a bench with storage, or even large baskets with lids are perfect alternatives. Shoes, school bags, and umbrellas can all get in there. And make sure that you have at least a little shelf with a nice little container for keys or incoming mail.'

7. Dedicate a spot to small items

When it comes to organizing an entryway, don't just focus on the big items, think about where the small stuff you use or encounter every day. For most of us, that's keys and post. 

'Have a basket or letter holder for the post to be put in when it arrives – this stops it from spreading around the house. Obviously keeping on top of dealing with your post is another thing – paperwork is an issue in many of the homes I visit. I suggest that any direct mail is dealt with immediately (recycling) and other mail is either filed quickly or popped in the basket to be followed up regularly/when you have time.' suggest Sue Spencer.

And dedicate a spot for your keys too so you always know where they are and are within each reach for you to grab when leaving the house. If you have a console or an entryway table, add a trinket dish for keys, or if space is tight a small shelf is perfect for keeping your smaller bits and bobs organized. 

Hallway with wall lighting

(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

How do you keep an entryway tidy?

Honestly? To keep an entryway tidy you have to just stay on top of it. You might do a couple of seasonal reshuffles each year to switch out coats and shoes but to keep on top of it, have a quick daily tidy. 

'Before you go to bed each night get into the habit of checking whether anything in the hallway should go upstairs and take it up with you. The same goes for popping things back into the kitchen or living room. Once you’ve tidied your entryway a simple 5-minute evening check will help to maintain the calm welcoming space you’ve created.' suggests Sue Spencer.

How to you organize an entryway closet?

If you are blessed with all the storage space a hallway closet offers, you should be maximizing that by keeping it organized. It can be a spot that gets easily cluttered and where things just get shoved – out of sight out of mind and all that. But it's not a big job to get declutter and make it a practical space again. 

Start by getting everything out, and have that much-needed cull we've already talked about. Then categorize. And then it's just about finding a system that works for you, whether that's a box for each member of the household or you want to organize by item instead. Our top piece of advice is not to fill a closet to the brim, you want to easily be able to access everything, not be fighting the hoover to get to your coat. 

Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.