How to make a narrow entryway look wider, according to designers

It's actually possible to make a narrow entryway look wider with a few easy steps

Two narrow entryways with runner rug and console table
(Image credit: @sundayharris / Wendy Smit Interiors)

If you need to know how to make a narrow entryway look wider, the chances are you are dealing with a pretty unique space. After all, the entryway, big or small, greets and sends us off day in, and day out. 

But if you hardly want to step foot in there because it feels so cramped and uninviting, we have a problem. A small entryway is easily dealt with, but there is something a little more challenging with a space that is particularly narrow.

Thankfully, this isn't the first time I've scoured the design world for looks to love and that will actually make a difference. So how do you decorate a small entryway so that it looks less narrow?

How to make a narrow entryway look wider

As with lots of small space decorating ideas, making an entryway appear wider is all about tricking the eye (in a nice way). You want to add visual depth in the right places to bring balance and make it more of a pleasure to be in.

1. Keep it styled but understated

Cream-hued entryway with long jute runner, and wall mount hat a coat storage

(Image credit: @sundayharris)

Jess of @sundayharris shows us how a pared-back aesthetic can do great things for a narrow entryway. Running the same texture throughout, natural rattan and jute, along with a warm, neutral color scheme makes the space feel open without looking empty and uninviting. 

"For smaller entryways, I like to keep the pattern to a minimum as a busy entryway makes it look even smaller," says designer Amy Youngblood. This doesn't mean that more 'statement' pieces are not allowed in a minimalist entryway, it's all about keeping it subtle with decor and even entryway lighting. 

"However, one trick to enlarge your space is large simple artwork on one of the walls which will give the illusion of greater size," continues Amy. "You can also add an elongated simple overhead fixture that fits the space and adds interest." We love the wicker ceiling light in this space, Target has a farmhouse rattan light with a glass bottom which gives off the same vibe. 

woman with brown hair smiling and leaning on brick wall is Amy Youngblood interior designer.jpg
Amy Youngblood

Amy Youngblood creates stunning interiors that thoughtfully blend lifestyle and design preferences. With extensive experience in the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio markets, as well as Northern Kentucky and beyond, Amy Youngblood Interiors continues to take the design world by storm.

2. Include colorful detail

Cream colored narrow long hallway with colorful geometric patterned rug and gallery wall on the left wall

(Image credit: @picsfromcandice)

For those who like their homes with a dose of color, @picsfromcandice is sure to inspire. If you want a rainbow shade rug, Home Depot has got your back. 

To make bright colors work in entryway table decor, focus on scale and condense detail to one side of your narrow entryway: "For furniture, go for a thin profile console or even a small table/stand," recommends Amy. "Also, don’t forget about an appropriate runner that fits well and elongates the space."

3. Add an accent exit mirror

Entryway with tortoiseshell tile-framed rectangular mirror and blue door in narrow entryway

(Image credit: Lauren Engel for Victoria Holly Interiors)

Mirrors and small spaces go together like rosé on a Friday. Choose one with an interesting frame for intrigue. "Adding a mirror to a small entryway allows for the practicality of checking yourself before you head out, but it also helps to open up the space visually," says Victoria Holly, principal and founder of LA-based Victoria Holly Interiors

"An entryway is a perfect opportunity to include a unique statement mirror that you might not use in a more practical place such as a bathroom. Choosing an asymmetrical mirror or bold material or color is the perfect pop for an entrance without cramming the space." For more impact, you could even consider a full-length mirror.

We love this French country style mirror from Target for an elegant look.

White woman with long blonde hair in cream suit sat on large couch is Victoria Holly
Victoria Holly

Victoria Holly Interiors is led by experienced designer Victoria Holly, who boasts an impressive reputation in the field of interior design. With over a decade of experience, Victoria Holly is known for her artistic skill, meticulous attention to detail, and exceptional talent for curation.

4. Tuck slimline furniture neatly to one side

Side of taupe colored hallway with slimline waterfall console, accent lamps and mirror

(Image credit: Wendy Smit Interiors)

This space by Wendy Smit Interiors shows how slimline furniture looks best in a small or narrow entryway, not to mention its subtle hallway storage. Maggie Samson, design consultant executive at House of Hackney US shares how to make it work: "While I would consider avoiding large furniture items, a thoughtfully placed piece can create the illusion of a more expansive space. 

"Whether it is a small ottoman to add print and texture or a vintage console for history and charm, a gentle suggestion would be positioning your items to one side of the entryway. A mirror is also essential to adding the illusion of a wider space. These minor adjustments can make the change from cramped to cozy."

White woman with red hair in long floral dress in dark floral room is Maggie Samson from House of Hackney
Maggie Samson

Maggie Samson thrives as House of Hackney's resident design consultant in the vibrant landscape of New York City and the go-to expert for all things color, print, and texture. 

5. Keep wall colors earthy and refreshing

Jadeite-807 painted entryway and stairwell with gallery wall, chair rail molding and leopard print accent stairs

(Image credit: House of Hackney)

If you have the opportunity, using the best paint colors for small entryways is a surefire way to change the vibe of the space, making it feel far more open and appealing. An expansive green emulsion like Jadeite Paint n27 House of Hackney is a killer look. Maggie tells us why this hue can make a great choice for a memorable welcome home: "Enhance the welcoming atmosphere of your entryways by choosing hues that are bright, fresh, and lighter, steering clear of chilly, sterile tones."

"Consider shades like our Jadeite, Apple, Alabaster, or Achillea, that strike the balance between warmth and vibrancy, setting the stage for a fantastic first impression. This little tweak doesn't just make your entry space look bigger visually; it also makes it feel more inviting."

6. Always include a great focal point

Black and white entryway with geometric runner and cactus in the corner

(Image credit: Life Created for Living with Lolo)

Be it a large or small entryway rug, or a showstopping chandelier like in the above space by Lauren Lerner, designer and founder of Living with Lolo, don't be afraid to make some style statements. For maximum impact, keep a small entryway decluttered

"If dealing with a narrow hallway or limited space, a valuable trick is to establish a focal point at the hallway's end," says Maggie. "This draws the eyes outward, creating the illusion of greater width. Achieve this effect with a burst of color in the adjoining room, an eye-catching wallpaper print, or a visually engaging runner."


Is paint or wallpaper best in a small entryway?

Paint can be transformative in a narrow entryway with designers recommending muted tones a lot of the time. "The best type of colors are lighter shades of neutrals or more muted colors," says Amy Youngblood. 

Wallpaper, however, can add a ton of detail, and if you rent, a peel-and-stick option could give a stunning finish, ideal for those with slightly more eclectic taste.
"In compact spaces, you have the opportunity to embrace a more adventurous design, setting a playful tone that resonates throughout your home," continues Maggie from House of Hackney. 

What is the best way to store shoes in a narrow entryway? 

Standard storage will not always cut it when you have a lot of shoes and a narrow or awkwardly shaped entryway. Plus, there are lots of small entryway storage mistakes that are ready to trip us up. 

Victoria Holly tells us this is where a lot of her clients stumble first off: "I see a lot of entryway mistakes when it comes to shoe storage," says Victoria. "Many people seek out a storage bench, believing it to be the ultimate solution. However, a more flexible and space-saving practical alternative is a loose basket." We do have a few favorite benches that made the cut into our shoe storage suggestions for smaller entryways.

A narrow entryway doesn't have to feel claustrophobic. With a few simple design trips, you can easily make this space look and feel wider. We'd recommend keeping excess items like shoes, jackets, and umbrellas to a minimum to pull off a minimalist small entryway look. Whatever your style, the less clutter means the more open and airy your entryway will feel.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Former Deputy Editor

I'm Cam, the former deputy editor of Real Homes who worked on the site from 2020 to 2023. As a renter myself, sharing a home with two friends (and my cat) in London, I know all too well the challenges that this can pose when it comes to creating your perfect setup. As someone who has always loved everything interior design-related, I cannot rest until a home feels right and I am really passionate about helping others get there too, no matter what their living situation, style, or budget may be. It’s not always the easiest to figure out, but the journey is fun and the results are so worth it.

After interior design, travel, art, and photography are my next big passions. When I’m not writing or editing homes content, I’m usually tapping into other creative outlets, exploring galleries in London or further afield, taking photos, scribbling, or drawing!