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  • Writer's pictureHeatherAnne Norbury

7 Tips for Creating a Tidy & Welcoming Entryway

Updated: Jan 24

The reality of modern life is that we have a lot of accouterment when we come and go from our homes. Backpacks, car keys, mobile phones, wallets and purses, water bottles, masks… the list goes on. And that’s just what we’re trying to leave with! Coming in, we have Amazon deliveries, mail, paperwork, and artwork from school… the list goes on and on and on…

Optimizing your entryway is essential to getting out the door with everything and handling the influx in an orderly way, so it doesn’t pile up. You want to enter your home and feel peace and calm, safety and that special sense of “home”. You don’t want to be visually and mentally assaulted with piles of “to-dos” lurking just inside your front door.

Here are a few tips to help you make your entryway a welcoming space:

Corral shoes

More and more, we are learning the importance of leaving the dirt of the world at the door and changing shoes when you come home. If you don’t want a pile of Pumas to trip over, make sure you have a shoe containment system.

I caution against those fancy shoe racks with the wires that you are supposed to put each individual shoe on. It’s not going to happen! Don’t kid yourself. A basket or cubbies where shoes can be tossed works a lot better.

If you have the space, have a container for each person in your house. In my house, most of our shoes are in our closets, but the most commonly worn shoes live in cubbies where we converted an old kitchen desk into a bench with shoe cubbies underneath and hooks on the wall. This brings me to…

The mesh bag is for masks going to the laundry. The flamingo bag holds library books.

Go vertical

Install hooks on the wall for coats and backpacks. Be sure to get sturdy hooks - check the weight rating. And install them properly. The wear and tear of heavy backpacks and grabbing coats will pull the hooks out of your wall if not installed properly. Attaching the hooks to a sturdy piece of wood and then screwing the wood into studs in the wall is a good choice.

You’ve got mail!

Set up a paper processing station as near the front door as possible. Send all mail and other paperwork through the system before it goes anywhere else in your house. I have a trash can, recycling basket, and a paper shredder under the cabinet in my front hall. Mail gets left on that counter (my mother-in-law, who lives with us, usually gets the mail every day). Before moving to the inbox beside my desk, I open everything, recycle what I can, trash the rest, and shred credit card offers and the like.

What about school paperwork?

Our kids often bring home the most paper of all from school - backpack flyers, art, and completed homework assignments add up! Have a special “inbox” for each child. Make a craft project out of it.

Be sure the inbox is something easy for kids to dump things in. School papers rarely come home neat and tidy, so something like a pocket folder isn’t your best bet. Look for a basket or something else they can just dump into.

Every day, have them offload all the paper into that inbox, leaving out anything that needs to be dealt with in the current week. For the rest, have a Paper Party once a week. Make a game of it by trying to get through all the paper as quickly as possible. Set a timer - start at 5 minutes, then see if you can shorten it more and more.

Have them share a little bit about any art that they especially liked or homeschool papers. A lot of kids often don’t like to talk about things from school, but make it part of the game that they have to say at least one thing about each item. As you hurry through the stack, sort into a recycle pile and a revisit pile.

Once the timer goes off, recycle the one pile and process the revisit. Hang beloved artwork on the fridge (swapping it out each week as new art comes in if necessary). Put school events you want to attend on the calendar - then recycle the paper. Follow up on any homework your child needs to go over with you. Try to do this quickly too. All told, you want the Paper Party to be 10 minutes or under.

Once you’re done, CELEBRATE! Do a little dance. High-five each other. Whatever feels a little special. This not only helps you get through all that paper, but it’s also a little weekly date with your child AND is modeling good practices on how to handle paper in the future.

Keys, Water, Wallet

That’s my husband’s little mantra as he leaves the house. Have a place for your keys, wallet or purse, and the water bottle you leave the house with.

Always. Put. Them. Away.

There are few things more frustrating than needing to be someplace, and you can’t find your keys. Whether it’s a hook on the wall, a bowl on the counter, or a drawer (ours are in a small kitchen drawer above where the old desk was removed), always, always put your keys away as soon as you walk in the door. The same goes for your wallet and purse. If you have more than one water bottle, that one may not be as important to always put in one location, but something to consider if you use the same one all the time.

Add to cart

Online shopping is a fact of life now. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE IT! It is so convenient, and it helps me to be more mindful of my spending. But it does come with a lot of boxes, plastic mailers, and those little pillows of air. When a new package arrives, it is very easy to rip it open, jump right into playing with whatever doodad or gadget we got, and leave the packaging right where you opened it.

This one is going to take a little more willpower - never open a package unless you can also deal with the packaging at the same time. If it’s a plastic mailer, that should be easy if you already have your mail setup. Put it in the trash can.

The little pillows of air might take a little more time… but they are a lot of fun to pop before putting them in the trash. These can also be recycled when you recycle your plastic grocery bags. Most grocery stores have bins for thin plastic recycling.

If you do a lot of shipping yourself, you might save some of them - and some of the boxes - but put them in their storage location right then. Don’t wait! Break down any boxes you aren’t keeping and take them right to your recycling bin.

Home Sweet Home

In feng shui, an ancient Chinese tradition that helps individuals harmonize with their environment, the entryway is one of the most important areas of our home. It is considered “the archway that leads to victory and progress in life.” That’s a big responsibility for what is often a small space.

To help your entry live up to these grand ideals, add some personal touches that make you smile every time you come and go. A cute welcome mat, a vase of flowers, pretty baskets and bins, and a mirror to check your appearance before you leave to take on the day - these all can go a long way to making the entryway warm and inviting. I love family photos in this space too. Be careful not to add too many things and clutter the space with decor, but a few intentional additions can have a big impact.

The flamingo is Franny. She belonged to my mother and came with outfits for every occasion. She makes me smile!

Wrapping Up

You know I’m going to say it - small, consistent actions…. Don’t try to tackle all these things at once. Pick one and implement it. Give it a week or two or however long you need for it to stick. Then pick another one.

We do all these things in my family, and our entryway still needs a quick tidy-up once every week or so. Because we do all these things, it takes me less than 5 minutes.

We live in our homes! Clutter will never truly go away, but good habits and systems can keep it at bay and make resetting and cleanup take up way less of your valuable time.

Small, consistent actions add up to big changes. Declutter your life today!

Note: links are Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, at no cost to you, I will receive a small fee. This helps support my family, so thank you!

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