5 So-Simple Ways to Make Your Entryway More Useful — and Look Better at the Same Time

If you want an entryway that works harder for your home, these designers have so clever tricks up their sleeves

Modern wood paneled entryway with contemporary white vase and indoor tree by Paris Forino, Hudson Garruppo
(Image credit: Genevieve Garruppo. Design: Paris Forino)

Muddy shoes, coats flung everywhere; a beautiful entryway that is living its most useful life is hard to come by. This space witnesses us at our most stressed hour, and also at the (arguably) most relaxed. Even still, it is not big news that the entryway isn't always given the design attention it deserves, but considering how it is put through its paces on the daily – seeing us off in the morning rush, greeting family and friends (furry or not) – we could be kinder to it.

The reality is that after a long day out, we are usually so thankful to have reached our front door in one piece, that this can feel like enough in itself. But entryways are much more telling of a home than we realize, and they have the potential to bring sheer joy and function to your daily routine too. 

Just like too many unnecessary items can interrupt the flow of a bedroom, bathroom, or other space, the first step to achieving a harmonious, and good-looking entryway is to eliminate mess. 'Clutter tends to pile up quickly in entry spaces,' says New York-based interior designer, Paris Forino. So once you've nailed decluttering, how can we keep this space working hard but also looking nice? And not just any kind of nice; a designer, envy of our neighbors kind of nice. Obviously, we asked the pros.

1. Let storage set the tone

Painted beach white console with decorative plate and plant

(Image credit: Anna Maria Studio. Design: Ritter & Co/Christine Ritter Designs)

For a warm welcome and streamlined departure that doesn't feel chaotic – visually or in practice – keep entryway storage at front of mind. 'Ensure there is a closet to put things away,' continues Paris. The key is to keep what you can, under visual wraps. Not everyone necessarily wants to see the household shoe polish or a spare charging cable... But alas, this is the kind of item that always manages to land in this space. Investing in entryway organizers can help stay on top of the unavoidable amalgamation of everyday things. Even narrow consoles for smaller entryways can come with drawers (and good looks). The key is to choose wisely. 

'The style of console sets a tone to the home you are walking into - so I make sure this console is the perfect representation of the families I design for,; Christine Ritter, CEO and founder of Ritter & Co shares with us. "This (above photo) is a repurposed shoe cabinet that I decided to hand paint to work the beached wood aesthetic from California," says Christine. For those of us that can't be so trusted with DIY, Anthropologie consoles and other favorite home decor brands have got our back.

2. Invest in the right seating

Modern wood paneled entryway with contemporary white vase and indoor tree by Paris Forino, Hudson Garruppo

(Image credit: Genevieve Garruppo. Design: Paris Forino)

Every entryway, amongst decorative elements, needs seating for pulling shoes on, or for posing the morning's cup of coffee. 'I always have a beautiful mirror, console, and a seating element in an entry space,' continues Paris. But for a functional element, make sure you get the design of your bench right. Avoid a plain built-in with no storage, as this is pretty limiting, providing only a seat and not much in the way of concealing items. It is actually one of the biggest entryway storage mistakes you can make too.

Choose a beautifully bespoke build with drawers if you can. Or, find a stylish entryway storage bench, with a colorful fabric seat to bring zest to the room.

3. Curate the visible space where items can land

Entryway with sculptural round mirrors, wooden console, decorated with table lamps and plants

(Image credit: Anna Maria Studio. Design: Ritter & Co/Christine Ritter Designs)

Sure we want to hide the unsightly, but once that is done, we can't deny that some items will naturally be on show, even if it is for just a night. 'I am a big fan of consoles, benches, and hooks in an entryway,' says Christine. 'Key features must include (i) a space to put keys, (ii) a space to put handbags other than the floor, and (iii) a space to hang coats, bags, or children’s school bags.' Using the wall doesn't just go far in a small hallway or entryway, but it can help even a large space maintain a tame and streamlined look, in a stylish way. Nowadays, wall hooks and hangers can bring a design element to a room, shaping the space and adding visual interest which will subtly attract the gaze of guests, all while they carry necessary belongings.

'These Normann Copenhagen DROPIT wall hooks from Finnish Design Shop provide the perfect coat and bag hanger, especially when flipped upside down,' says Christine. 'They are also very sculptural and fun to play with on a wall - placed 'randomly', they become artworks.'

4. Use mirrors and lighting for visual dimension

Lightly patterned wallpaper in entryway with large mirror and artistic lighting

Courtesy of Paris Forino

(Image credit: Courtesy of Paris Forino)

To ensure that your entryway is serving the entire household as it should but working extra hard at looking beautiful for you and guests too, keeping it well-lit is essential. Entryway lighting may not organize an entryway in and of itself but done well it can make a small entryway look bigger and far more welcoming. Table lamps and architectural pendants can add dimension to a bland space, allowing it to pull double duty as we'd hoped. To bounce natural and artificial light around even more, mirrors are a must, and mirrors are one of the things every good-looking entryway has too.

5. Ensure it welcomes

Entryway corner with decorative wall hook and hat, stylish rug, fabric chair and wood sculpted hare

(Image credit: Madeline Harper. Design: KSDesigns LLC)

And finally, let's address one of the most important jobs of an entryway: welcoming guests. This has to have a personal element to it, so use art and other selective bespoke additions to reveal a little of your style and favorite interior design trends too. This will give friends and family a taste of what's to come in the rest of your space. 'An entryway is the first impression of a home and a great place to make an impactful statement visually,' Keira Schultz, interior designer and owner of KSDesigns LLC tells us. 'Adding a piece of art that you are drawn to giving a peak into one's personality and aesthetic has a strong impact regardless of the size of the space,

'Using a great bench or chair with a bespoke pillow will provide additional charm and visual interest,' continues Keira. 'To complete an entry, use a runner or small rug to add warmth and define the space from the rest of the home.' Consider florals, a candle that will make sure your entryway smells incredible, always, and an interesting tray to corral items like keys and phones, stylishly. A courtesy send-off tip from us is to choose washable rugs. It will make sprucing up your entryway an absolute breeze.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is a freelance interiors writer and the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including DIY, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and it was during her year abroad studying in Bologna that she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille has a passion for art and beautiful spaces. When not writing or refreshing her home, you will find her gallery hopping, taking photos, painting, and traveling to seek out interiors inspiration.