Small entryway ideas – this is how top designers turn tiny spaces into amazing entrances

These small entryway ideas can make even the most compact of spaces into a warming and welcoming space of its own

An entryway with a tree
(Image credit: Annie Elliott)

A small entryway may not be ideal, but they're still be an important part of the home to design well. They are high-traffic zones that we pass through to journey from the indoors to outside. If you are a guest, entryways are the preview of what lies ahead. No matter the size, your entryway's design shouldn't be negated, and there is always a way to make the very most of them aesthetically.  

'Entryways are thresholds; they are the first space to welcome you home,' say Tal Schori and Rustam Mehta, partners at Brooklyn-based architect and interiors firm, GRT Architects. 'They should reflect something of the character of the home and people that lie beyond.'

'Often entryways are tasked with doing too much - they become the repository of shoes and coats and umbrellas and scarfs,' add Tal and Rustam. 'They can quickly become a dumping ground instead of a peaceful transition from the outside world to your home within.'  

Read on for our handy decor hints to elevate this often-overlooked space.

Small entryway ideas to get the most out of a tiny space

Whether your entryway is lacking in space because it is narrow, or because it opens straight into a large room, there are ways to create a dedicated entryway. Think about what you want from your entryway - is it a drop zone for outside clothing, is it a place to make a design statement, do you want to increase the size through clever optical illusions? Whatever the purpose of your entryway, we've got small entryway ideas for you.

1. Add a console table

An entryway with console table

(Image credit: Chad Mellon. Design: Lindye Galloway Studio)

A table is an entryway essential and whatever size entryway you are blessed with. 'No matter how small your front hall is, you must try and squeeze in a table for keys and mail. One of our favorites is only 8" deep,' says interior designer, Annie Elliott (opens in new tab).

Go for a stylish console table or double up and use your space for an extra bit of entryway storage with a cabinet with draws or doors. The chunky piece of furniture can go far to break up the space, but also is a great place for those last minute leaving the house essentials, and a place to put ornaments and create a small vignette. 

'Regardless of the size of your entryway, it's a perfect place to create a visual moment in your home,' says Shauna Glenn of Shauna Gle (opens in new tab)nn Design. 'Practically speaking, an entry table should have a lamp, bowl for keys and change, a rug, a mirror for last-minute reviews before heading out of the door.'

This entry area also doesn't need to conform to the design and style of the rest of your house. 'As a design vignette in your home, an entry table provides an opportunity to maybe have a little fun with design and not worry so much if the favorite table you find goes with the rest of your interiors,' says Shauna. This scheme is from Lindye Galloway Studio (opens in new tab), with the table acting as a nice space for a plant, mirror and a selection of coffee table books. 

2. Impress with a beautiful hardwood floor

An entryway with hardwood flooring

(Image credit: Phil Crozier. Design: Reena Sotropa In House Design Group)

An entryway, no matter how big or small, can impress with a spectacular floor, and wood flooring makes for the most dramatic entrance. It's a material that is suited to the space and any wear and tear from being in constant use only adds to wood's charm. 

There are many different kinds of wood available for hardwood flooring, but according to  Reena Sotropa of the Reena Storopa In House Design Group (opens in new tab), the best maple and walnut, but white oak, as depicted above, is having a real moment.

'Oak is a classic natural hardwood material that has been used in residential interiors for many years. Now more than ever white oak is having a 'moment' in terms of current design trends. While natural white oak has been the most popular choice over the last few years, darker tones are slowly making their way back into the mainstream.' White oak takes any color of stain beautifully and is, therefore, a popular choice with homeowners.

'We love taking advantage of open floor space opportunities to introduce a chevron or herringbone pattern that matches the stain and size of the hardwood used everywhere else in the home,' adds Reena.

3. Get clever with paint

A hallway painted teal with the door in yellow

(Image credit: @jessalaviellis )

Think outside of the box when painting this small space, a bold lick of paint or a clever color contrast can go a long way to add real impact and drama to narrow entryways. Hallway paint ideas might range from a monochromatic look, with a coat of paint going up and across the ceiling, to color blocking, as used in this example. 

Here, doors and walls are painted in Golden Square No.131 and Burlington Arcade No.216 on the walls, both from Mylands, and the impact is an embracing of the tight space, rather than trying to make it feel airier and larger than it is.

4. Create a beautiful arched entryway

An arched entryway

(Image credit: Shade Degges. Design: Sarah Solis)

Sarah Solis (opens in new tab) of the Malibu-based interior design company encourages you to lean into a bold moment and accentuate interior or architectural details. 

'Figure out what this bold moment is, and then accentuate it. If it's a small area with tall ceilings, use a small, but tall entry table. Leaving the walls light and bright is always going to open up the space, but you can also lean into architectural details such as molding and arches to give it more interest. Bringing in natural elements through free greens and flowers is always welcoming and can create great mood and artful inspiration.

'These clients wereart collectors and travelers, so one of the biggest challenges was editing how the art connects with the spaces I was designing. For the home itself, the restoration of a 1920's Mediterranean was rewarding challenge as we wanted to preserve all the architectural details with careful thought.'

5. Create a mudroom moment

A mudroom look in a small entryway

(Image credit: Sharpe + Grey Interiors)

If you're entryway is pretty lacklustre and lacking in size, a good way to add some character is by devoting a corner to recreating an entryway mudroom. Make the most of the meagre space and recreate the cozy boot room look of a countryside home. 

This space is designed by Sharp + Grey Interiors (opens in new tab). 'If you don't have space for a full mudroom with cabinets, a great way to get some storage and create the mudroom look in little space is with a drop zone - a catch all space for your everyday items' says Libby Rawes from Sharp + Grey Interiors. 

'A long table or bench can make the perfect drop zone and add a basket for keys, a spot for mail and a place for shoes and scarves as you come in so they are tucked away and not taking up more precious space.'

This space has been warmed up and softened and given the entryway mudroom look with a textured rug, cushion and a throw - making the small entryway space feel all the more welcoming. 

6. Add some tasteful hooks to the wall

A Brownstone hallway with hooks on the wall

(Image credit: Hanna Grankvist. Design: Studio Natoq)

If you're lacking in space for storage, you can cleverly add hooks to your wall to create more space for coats. They needn't be purely functional either. In this Brooklyn brownstone, designed by Studio Nato (opens in new tab), a beautiful arched door welcomes you into the home, and with the lack of specific entryway space, the designers have created a dedicated area for hanging coats with beautiful hooks on the wall that are both artistic and practical.

7. Welcome guests with an indoor tree

An entryway with a tree

(Image credit: Annie Elliott)

For a beautiful welcome into your home, the perfect statement tree can act both as a focal point and give the space a bit of natural charm. The simple placement of a tree can work to add height by reaching up to the ceiling, and are a nice touch of the outdoors to your interiors. 

The best indoor tree for a stairwell of an entranceway will be a nice touch to draw your eye to the space, and gives a homely touch.  A classic go-to indoor tree for this space is the fiddle leaf fig tree. The tree is known for its large, heavily-veined leaves and sculptural look.  

'The fiddle leaf adds an architectural addition to a living space,' says Thomas Broom-Hughes, director of Horticulture at Petersham Nurseries (opens in new tab)

8. Add a large statement mirror

An entryway with a large mirror

(Image credit: Veronica Rodriguez. Design: Interior Fox)

If you're looking to create an optical illusion and make your small entryway appear larger, try the simple addition of a largescale mirror. This can create the effect of more space, reflect light and make a beautiful focal point. It's also pretty handy for checking your appearance on your way out the door. This design is from Interior Fox (opens in new tab).

'Maximize the wall space by adding in an oversized mirror that will bounce around the light and make a narrow hallway appear much larger,' say founders of the interior design studio, Jen and Mar. 'By positioning on the opposing wall, a focal point is instantly created, drawing your eye into the home from the entrance.' 

9. Add an interesting wallpaper

A multicolor faded wallpaper in a small entryway

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: GRT )

Make the most of the small space with clever decoration, but don't be afraid of going bold and doing something out of the ordinary with a bold hallway wallpaper idea.

'An entryway is often a chance to have some fun and be bold, but one strong design idea is enough,' says Tal and Rustam GRT Architects (opens in new tab)

'It should not feel busy or overcomplicated. In our Narrow Townhouse Project, the Aurora wallpaper by Calico provides the perfect embrace of color to serenely welcome you home.'

10. Add a beautiful rug

An entryway welcomes guests in with a rug

(Image credit: Stevie Interiors)

Lead your guests into your home with the simple addition of a rug. This will instantly evoke feelings of comfort and warmth in your home. 

'An entryway must be the space that welcomes you home at the end of the day,' says Meghan Basinger of Stevie Interiors (opens in new tab) whose team designed this project with a classic black and white marble floor covered in a beautiful rug.

'We love to use vintage, one-of-a-kind rugs in entryways. They bring instant character to a space. We think entryways offer a great opportunity for unexpected decor, like a stool with a plant or floral arrangement or a rug. We pass on the more traditional entryway items like coat racks that just add clutter.'

What color is best to paint a small entryway?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to picking a paint color for your entryway, but if it's a small space you might want to go for a neutral look. With earthy colors, the space can look open, bright and comfortable, and trick the eye into feeling the space is larger. The addition of a couple of plants will keep that airiness. Alternatively, go moody and dark for drama, or bold with an eclectic wallpaper print - giving ample personality to the home.

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.