As the first space visitors see when they walk in through your door, your entryway needs to make a good impression. While a small entryway can pose challenges, it doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful – or functional, if you need it to be.
So when you're looking for entryway ideas that need to work harder in terms of style and function, it's about using what you have to enhance the space visually.
Clever small entryway ideas for a stylish foyer
‘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 (opens in new tab) .
1. Make the most of awkward spaces
You might have more space in your entryway than you think – what might seem like an unusable nook can often be transformed into something quite lovely, and often useful, too. Whether it’s a built-in cabinet for hanging coats or a bespoke bench like this gorgeous design from Mindy Gayer (opens in new tab), custom-made designs are a great way of utilising awkwardly shaped spaces as, unlike shop bought pieces, they can be tailored to fit.
Photography by Vanessa Lentine (opens in new tab)
2. Create your own art gallery
Hanging a gallery wall full of art is one of the best ways to showcase your personality, and what better place to do that than in an entryway. Visitors will get a sense of you and your home as soon as they walk through the front door, not to mention you’ll be welcomed home by your favorite pieces every day. Visually expand your wall space by stacking pieces up to the ceiling and pick a consistent style and colour of frame to avoid an overly cluttered feel.
3. Think practically
Pulling on shoes is often one of the last things you do before walking out of the door, so an entryway bench is a handy addition to a smaller space. Opt for a thin design that doesn’t impose on the room and double up on function by choosing one that has shoe storage underneath. Keep a basket next to it for extra pairs or ones you don’t want out on display – think old trainers and soccer boots! Look created by Jenn Pablo Studio (opens in new tab).
4. Draw the eye up with striped stairs
Often the focal point in an entryway, stairs have the power to truly dictate how small the space feels. The trick? Keep your staircase ideas striped. Whether they feature on carpet, a runner or hand-painted onto wood, vertical stripes draw the eye upwards creating the illusion of a longer, more spacious stairway. Horizontal stripes trick the eye too, making narrow stairs appear wider, so this clever small entryway idea should not be overlooked.
Space created by Michelle Berwick Design (opens in new tab).
5. Add in a mirror
‘Hanging a mirror in your entryway automatically makes the space feel bigger and brighter by reflecting light – even more so when paired with a minimalist colour scheme. ‘It’s also handy for that final ‘do I look presentable?’ check before you head out the door for a night on the town!’, says Betsy. This entryway feels so wonderfully vintage with its white walls, wooden floor and rustic accessories, we love it.
6. Trick the eye
It’s easy to create the illusion of a lengthy entryway with just a few simple design tricks, as demonstrated by this pared-back scheme from Gray Space Interiors (opens in new tab). ‘I like to use accent walls to make the space feel larger as it draws your eye in’, says designer Rasheeda Gray. Breaking up a darker color on the wall with natural wood paneling then hanging a circular mirror across both tricks the eye into thinking the space is longer overall – a handy tip for elongating hallways, too.
7. Utilize your space on the stairs
If your stairs are one of the main reasons why your entryway is so small, don’t hate on them – embrace them. Steps can work brilliantly as little shelves for houseplants, books or even propped up artwork. While this design solution doesn’t work in every home (floor-level displays may not last long with young children and pets around), it can be a unique way of adding a decorative touch to a small entryway without needing to squeeze in extra surfaces. This look was created by Lindsay Wallstrum of @leafandlolo (opens in new tab).
8. Find space underneath the stairs
Often one of the most wasted spaces in homes, this cozy little nook can be transformed into the most wonderful entryway addition. There are so many ways you can make the most of the space. Imaginative under stairs ideas include a mini mudroom, a home office or even a wine cellar no less… the possibilities are endless! We love this sleek, built-in seat by designer Erin Williamson; patterned upholstery and cushions add warmth, color and texture, and can easily be updated as trends change.
Look created by Erin Williamson Design (opens in new tab).
9. Add a little pattern into a simple scheme
We love the simplicity of this boho-style design by Folkway Design & Wares Co. (opens in new tab) 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, too. ‘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 the adverse effect’, advises Amy.
10. 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, and a solid block of color is a great way to define an area. 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.
Look created by Michelle Berwick Design (opens in new tab).
11. Go wild on walls
There’s nothing like a large-scale wall mural to add 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 are handy if you want the option to update quickly and easily – Etsy (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), a white background allows the illustrative design to stand out while keeping the space feeling bright and airy.
12. Let natural light in
Often entryways suffer from lack of natural light, which can be more of a problem when they’re on the small side. One solution is to install a front door with large glass panels to let as much in as possible. This elegant scheme by Erin Williamson Design (opens in new tab) is a perfect example of how beneficial this can be. It also shows how less can be so much more – an oversized plant, rustic rug and a woven basket for catch-all items go a long way in keeping this entryway both beautiful and practical, despite its petite proportions.
13. Be savvy with storage
Wall-mounted storage is your best friend in a small entryway, even more so when it doubles up on function, like this rustic shelf and coat hook combo. Since it doesn’t rest on the floor, there’s plenty of room underneath for a well-placed shoe basket while a stylishly hung bag is the perfect place for keeping gloves, hats and scarves together – a great mudroom storage idea, also.
14. Create something out of nothing
Non-existent entryway? No problem. ‘You can easily create the illusion of one’, says Jenn Pablo of Jean Pablo Studio (opens in new tab). ‘Depending on your space available, you can position a sofa 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’, she says. 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.
15. Hang up your hat
If your hat 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 coherent look. You could even vary it up according to season – colorful bobble hats in winter anyone?
Look created by Mindy Gayer (opens in new tab).
16. Create height with clever paint techniques
If you’re not blessed with the highest ceilings in your small entryway, this paint trick can make all the difference. By leaving the top half of your walls white, you’re effectively making the ceiling appear higher than it is, giving the impression of a bigger space overall. It’s also a great way of introducing a darker color without bringing the room in on itself too much – particularly if there’s not much in the way of natural light coming through. We love the addition of a plant shelf too, there’s nothing like a bit of greenery to inject positive vibes into a room!
17.Stamp your personality
Let people know your passion as soon as they walk through the front door by incorporating your favorite things into your small entryway. Here, a music fan has carved out space for a vinyl player and old radio, as well as introduced vintage artwork and accessories on floating shelves, instantly setting the tone for the rest of the home.
18. Consider your layout
If your entryway leads straight onto a small set of stairs, get a little creative and incorporate a built-in bench alongside in what would otherwise be unused space, like designer Amy Leferink at Interior Impressions (opens in new tab) has done here. A small console table fits neatly into the leftover gap, offering the perfect place to stow away keys, purse and mail. Amy also emphasises the importance of soft lighting; ‘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’, she says.
What should I put in my entryway?
If you’re lucky enough to have a mudroom or separate storage space, you’ve got the luxury of focusing primarily on aesthetics. ‘If your front door needs to be styled for a great first impression only, a combination of a bench or console plus thoughtful artwork, stylish rug, greenery, accessories and an oversized mirror guarantees a warm welcome’, says Betsy Moyer, Co-founder of Retreat (opens in new tab).
Those who don’t, on the other hand, might need to incorporate a few mudroom storage ideas where they can. ‘Organization is key when it comes to small entryways that need to capture clutter’, says Betsy. ‘It’s all about wall hooks, coat racks, cubbies and beautiful baskets, then introduce greenery and fresh flowers for a touch of outdoorsy style’.
If a console table is just not an option, consider a wall-hung organiser 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.
What can I do with a house with no entryway?
If you don’t have an entryway at all, you can easily carve out a designated space in your home for a transition zone. ‘Consider creating an accent wall differentiate from the rest of the room, perhaps using paint of a fun printed wallpaper to add some flare’ says Michele Vig, Founder of Neat Little Nest (opens in new tab) . ‘As you’re likely adding them to a living space which you spend a lot of time in, consider investing in stylish hooks as stylish to bring more character to the room’.
Interior Designer Jenn Pablo (opens in new tab) says ‘depending on your space you can position a sofa back towards the entry door to create a hallway vibe, then add a floating shelf for mail or keys, and a bench or console table, if space allows’.
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 certainly be achieved in any space, regardless of size.
‘You know that feeling where you walk into a place for the first time and it just feels like home? That’s the goal’, says Amy Leferink, Owner & Designer at Interior Impressions. ‘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; ‘forgo harsh, overhead lighting in favour of a soft ambient glow – this can easily be achieved with a dimmer switch or a well-placed table lamp’.
Betsy also advises ‘layering with various textures in neutral shades to create a cosy and inviting feel’.