As the first space visitors see when they walk in through your door, small entryway ideas are non-negotiable when trying to make a good impression. Yes — I know — a tiny hall can pose challenges, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful or as functional as you are once you've had your venti Starbs order.
So when you're looking to decorate your apartment, you might need to get extra creative. The best piece of advice from interior designers is to keep it pretty simple, focusing on function first and foremost, and as always, being clever with any elements you bring into the space.
1. Add a mirror over a thin console table
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"Do you always feel the need to run to the bathroom to check your makeup before you leave the house?" says Lilli Morgan of LS Design Studio, NY. "Consider adding a mirror over a thin console table." There's plenty more where that came from so you can create a super gorgeous (but organized and easy-to-navigate) entry space, no matter how tiny.
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2. Strip back to enhance space
Small spaces and decluttering go hand in hand. "The ultimate trick with small entryways is to eliminate all clutter, this instantly makes the space feel larger," says Megan Dufresne, principal designer at MC Design.
Choosing function first can be a wise move when you're working with less square footage. "I like to keep a minimal aesthetic and focus on function first," says Tina Barisky of @smallspacebiglife, who lives in a 400 sq. ft. space in Vancouver.
Barisky knows a thing or two about organizing a tiny space to make it more liveable and notes how using vertical space to your advantage, for coat hooks and shelving, is a wise move. "While the entryway is the first impression of the home, it's also a transition space — so you want to ensure that you can move through it freely." This way your design choices don't interrupt the flow into the rest of your home.
"With that in mind, I go for simple, clean pieces that hide clutter and neutral accents that don't overwhelm visually," adds Barisky, noting also how choosing lighter colors and reflective surfaces like mirrors will help bounce light around the room.
3. Show off your personality
Morgan notes how you can use your entryway as an opportunity to add character to your home. "The entry is also a great way to really show your personality, especially since it is the first thing guests will see when they enter your space."
You can easily combine style and function by hanging wall art alongside hooks for coats and more essentials. We love the skinny leaning console as a mail and key drop space in this space created by designer Noah Turkus. Morgan recommends looking on Etsy for unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, saying that "they can make a statement in the entry and allow your personality to shine."
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4. Hide shoes and add height
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Shoes could easily overtake a small entryway unless you invest in a good tall shoe rack that keeps kicks and platforms concealed in a cool way. Plus, it will give you another surface to use for mail or that last cup of coffee before you shoot out in the morning.
Use the vertical space you have with coat hooks and shelving. "Shoes tend to take up lots of space so find a neat way to organize and store your shoes," says Barisky, who tells us that the shoe rack is from IKEA and the mirror and key holder are both from EQ3 homeware.
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5. Keep it simple, yet practical
For a well-balanced finish, you don't want to overwhelm the space. "My favorite way to style a small entryway is to make sure it feels inviting and it also needs to be practical," says Shay Lechner of Modular Millenials, adding that it's the first thing guests see when coming into your home, so it's important to keep it aesthetically pleasing to give them a great first impression. "Don’t feel limited with a small space, it can be very efficient — by ensuring that it can contain all of your daily items as you come and go from your home." Shay uses stunning but affordable products to style her entryway.
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6. Make the most of awkward spaces
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You might have more space in your entryway than you think. What might seem like an unusable nook can often be transformed into something lovely and useful. Over-the-door hangers are also your BFFs when your friends come over and you've not literally *nowhere* to store their coats and jackets.
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7. Create focal points and catch clutter
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To keep the space interesting and mimic more room, think of creating different focal points. Keep to one piece like a mirror, a cute area rug, or a patterned cushion on your bench (or all three for a layered approach). This will be subtle enough to give a polished finish that is also super practical.
"A thinner bench or console table works perfectly to define the space. A mirror adds depth and allows the space to feel larger," says Lechner, who recommends combining decorative items such as books, plants, and lamps with practical pieces that will keep clutter to a minimum like catch-all trays for keys, baskets, and hooks.
You need the space to look good but to also work well for storage and grabbing items on the go."It can be helpful to be more of a minimalist when decorating a high-traffic space, like an entryway, as it can easily get cluttered." Lechner highlights.
8. Add a little pattern into a simple scheme
We love the simplicity of this boho-style design by Folkway Design & Wares Co. The humble peg rail looks oh-so-charming and is so easy to style, too. Hanging plants add character while net shopping bags can be used for either decorative touches or practical needs. A rug is a clever way of defining a small space with color and pattern as well.
"Don’t be afraid to go oversized on a floor rug; the temptation is to keep it small to avoid an overcluttered feel, but this actually has an adverse effect," advises Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions, who also emphasizes the importance of soft lighting in tiny entryways for more lived-in appeal. "There’s nothing like a soft glow for ambient atmosphere when you first walk into a home, so consider a small table lamp or a dimmer switch on bright overhead lights."
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9. Be clever with color
When you’re limited on space, the trick is to work with what you’ve got. However small it is, an entryway is guaranteed to have two things — a floor and a front door. Adding a solid block of color to an entryway is a great way to define it, even if it's tiny. Here, a lovely shade of mint green on the door and floor tiles is carried through the room across accessories, uniting the entryway with the hallway decor and room beyond so it all becomes one unified space.
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10. Ghost traditional wallpaper for peel-and-stick
There’s nothing like a large-scale wall mural to add a wow factor to a small entryway. While hand-painted designs look stunning, they can be expensive. Wallpaper is often a more affordable choice while wall transfers and peel-and-stick wallpapers are handy if you want the option to update quickly and easily. Etsy has a great selection of these. We’d recommend working with a lighter hallway color palette if you can. In this scheme by Brexton Cole Interiors, a white background allows the illustrative design to stand out while keeping the space feeling bright and airy.
11. Create something out of nothing
You know what they say: fake it until you make it. Non-existent entryway? No problem. "You can easily create the illusion of one," says Jenn Pablo of Jenn Pablo Studio. "Depending on your space available, you can position a small couch back towards the entry door to create a hallway vibe, then place hooks on the wall to keep things organized, a floating shelf for mail or keys, and a bench or console table, if there’s space." Keep the aesthetics consistent with the rest of the room if you want it to blend in or consider creating an accent wall to differentiate the space as a designated drop zone.
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12. Be inventive with the wall space
@josiemdavis ♬ Darling - Trees and Lucy
If your hat or handbag collection is as stylish as it is practical, swap the wardrobe for your wall and hang them up in a thoughtful arrangement that’s guaranteed to turn heads. A handy idea for a small entryway where storage options are limited — just grab and go!
Combine with artwork, floating shelf ideas, and hanging houseplants for an eclectic display, or keep it simple with coordinating designs for a more cohesive look. You could even vary it up according to the season. Colorful bobble hats in winter, anyone?
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What should I put in my entryway?
Lechner shares that must-have items in an entryway include: "pretty woven baskets, which are perfect for storing things and hiding them from view" as well as helpful organizational hardware like hooks, which "are another great item for hanging purses, coats, keys, and other everyday essentials."
If you have a small entryway, it's likely you don't have a mudroom or much space elsewhere either, so keeping items contained is essential. "Organization is key when it comes to small entryways that need to capture clutter," says Betsy Moyer, co-founder of Retreat. "It’s all about wall hooks, coat racks, cubbies, and beautiful baskets, then introduce greenery and fresh flowers for a touch of outdoorsy style."
This will help you keep sight of important items like keys and your dog's collar even. It also largely depends on your lifestyle. "Are you someone who misplaces their keys often?" asks Morgan. "How about installing a few hooks to hang your things as soon as you walk in?"
If a console table or bench is just not an option, consider a wall-hung organizer for sorting mail, storing keys, and any other bits and bobs you need to grab as you walk out the door. A small foldaway chair is also a space-savvy alternative to a bench. Just prop it up against the wall when you don’t need it. When choosing a bench for a small entryway, favor a thin design that won't impose on the room but that could also double up on function by leaving room underneath for storage.
How do you make a small entryway inviting?
Everyone wants an entryway that makes them feel happy and comfortable as soon as they walk through the door, and this can be achieved no matter what size entry you have.
"You know that feeling where you walk into a place for the first time and it just feels like home?" says Amy Leferink, owner and designer at Interior Impressions. "That's the goal. My top tip for a warm welcome would be to include a wonderful-smelling candle or wax melt to instantly set the tone." Lighting too is something to consider, adds Leferink who encourages us to forgo harsh, overhead lighting in favor of a soft ambient glow.
Barisky adds that above all an entryway serves as that place where you shed all the items you bring home, but once you have storage sorted for all those things you can make it feel homey and more personal with small finishing touches like a potted plant or paintings.
Ultimately it's about creating a cozy, warm welcome that says a little about you to guests but that also makes you feel happy and organized whenever you leave or come back home.