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How to Create an Entryway in a Small Space

March 10, 2016

I rarely use my front door. I only open it to collect the mail or a delivery of take-out. But our side door, that’s the door we really use (and the one that tells me we’re friends, because you know to use it, too). It’s closer to the garage and it opens into the kitchen—it just feels like the homier option.

The only downfall to the side door is there’s nothing close to an entryway or foyer (nor is there near the front door, visible in this post), so we’ve long struggled with what to do with the stuff you tend to want to be able to deposit near the door: keys, bags, shoes, etc.

Photo by Linda Xiao

If you struggle with this issue too, know that even a small amount of wall space can be transformed into a functional entryway. Start by identifying your pain points: Do you grapple with where to set your keys? Do you wish you had a place to sit to remove your intricately-laced boots?

We had two pain points: shoes and coats. We don’t wear shoes in the house, so the mat intended for wiping our shoes ended up becoming a spot to deposit them, creating a pile of shoes that was neither functional or visually appealing. Our coats get stored on the other side of the house—we don’t live in a mansion, so it’s not a huge deal to traverse the length of the house and hang them up, but if we knew we were going to be leaving again soon, storing and retrieving them was a minor annoyance.

Before and after: Small changes make a big difference.

The inconveniences we’d dealt with for years were fixed with minor, relatively inexpensive changes. I found a bench with shoe storage, that not only looks better than an overflowing mat-o’-shoes, but it also provides a place to sit. And we replaced a picture with a few hooks for coats and bags (use wall anchors if you plan to put heavier items on them). Simple, yet effective. Why did I wait so long?!

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Top Comment:
“There are lots of examples of small hooks and shelves and narrow console tables. I'd love to see some examples of small scale seating!”
— Chzplz

Once you’ve figured out what you need in your entryway, try using one or more of the following items to create a more functional space:


Hooks provide a convenient spot for your coats and bags—and your guests' belongings too.

Photo by Pinterest
Photo by Pinterest


Whether you use a floating shelf or a narrow console table, having a small flat surface can provide a good home for keys, mail, and a knick-knack or two. And the space underneath it can be used as well—store a row of shoes or a couple of baskets.

Photo by Pinterest
Photo by Pinterest


Mirrors help to define the space as an entryway—and prevent embarrassing "hey you have spinach in your teeth" moments.

Shoe Storage

Creating a spot to corral your shoes needn't take up a lot of space—the DIY shelves (above left) are so small they almost disappear when there aren't shoes on them, while the copper pipes (above right) are still minimal, but become more of a design feature.

Photo by Pinterest
Photo by Pinterest


A bench or a chair will not only provide a spot to take shoes on and off, they can also be a handy place for setting down bags and can often incorporate storage below them, too.

Photo by Pinterest
Photo by Apartment Therapy

In the end, work with what you have: The pictures above demonstrate that even a narrow hallway or a staircase can be transformed into useful space.

Furnish your foyer:

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Wendy
  • Betty Martinez
    Betty Martinez
  • Chzplz
  • Amber Strazzo
    Amber Strazzo
  • Lindsay-Jean Hard
    Lindsay-Jean Hard
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Wendy March 21, 2022
Can you provide any information on the white 8-section storage cabinet in the last set of pictures? It is perfect!
Betty M. November 9, 2019
Where do I find the small round wall mounted shelf as pictured?
Lindsay-Jean H. November 9, 2019
It used to be sold in the Shop (the maker was Lostine:, but sadly isn't available any longer. It was a favorite of mine, too!
Chzplz March 10, 2016
There are lots of examples of small hooks and shelves and narrow console tables. I'd love to see some examples of small scale seating!
Lindsay-Jean H. March 11, 2016
If you're really tight for space, I would look for a single-seat bench or a stool, either of which are likely to be shallower than a chair.
Amber S. March 10, 2016
I have a ~700 sq ft house with no foyer and I was struggling with somewhere to hang a coat and bag and keep keys, sunglasses, dog leashes, etc. Found this at IKEA, it's been great! Can't handle a heavy purse and can only accommodate two jackets on the furthest pegs, but since it's usually just me it's worked well.
Lindsay-Jean H. March 11, 2016
Looks like the perfect find!