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February Challenge: Entryway

The entryway is one of the most challenging spots in the house so of course it is one of our themes in A Year of Details project.

The entryway has to perform so many roles, often at odds with each other. It has to provide storage for so much of our stuff: coats, shoes, bags, mail, keys, etc. It is also the first impression your home makes to visitors. Like it or not, this space is an introduction to your home. It sets the tone and the mood. And that’s not just true for guests. It’s also the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

Ideally, we would all like to be greeted by a calm, gracious and tidy entryway. That is certainly what we’d like our guests to see. In reality, especially with kids or pets or both, the entryway is often cluttered. If space is an issue (it sure is for me!), then storage is a struggle.

This month, let’s tackle our entryways and give this space a little refresh. You don’t need to magically add built-in closets (boy would I love to!) or hire a butler to create a great first impression to your home. You just need a critical eye, be willing to look at the space from a new perspective and put in a little work decluttering and organising.

Yes, once again we will be decluttering. But before we get to that, I want us to take a good look around to see what the situation is. How does the space make you feel? What isn’t working? What drives you crazy?

Make a list of all the categories of things that need to be stored and have a home here. Your list might include some of the following items: coats/jackets, shoes, handbags, school bags, mail, keys, outdoor gear, umbrellas, etc. What else do you store here? You probably have something that’s not on the universal list. For example, we keep the kids bike helmets right inside the door. I also have a basket full of things to keep the kids busy at restaurants (markers, paper, dice, playing cards) that I can grab on the way out the door.

From your list, what is working and what isn’t?

Keep this in mind as you declutter the space. Get rid of things that don’t belong here and put them where they do belong. Set aside a time to go through every pair of shoes and every coat. Donate anything you can.

When it comes to shoes and coats, think about seasons. Are there items that you actually wear in spring or summer taking up valuable space that could be stored somewhere else? This often happens to me as the seasons gradually change, I just don’t notice how many ballerinas and loafers are still on my shoe rack in the middle of winter when I never wear them. The same with coats.

Set yourself a limit. If possible, only keep a limited number of shoes and coats at the entryway. Only the things you wear on a daily basis. Store the rest somewhere else. The same can be applied to umbrellas, handbags, etc.

I recently set up a limit of 2 pairs of shoes for the kids (boots and sneakers) and 3-4 for the myself and husband. In winter, this is the amount of shoes that we all wear 80% of the time. The shoes that we sometimes wear in winter (like snow boots, hiking boots) are stored in the basement at the bottom of the stairs, easily accessible. My shoes that I only wear occasionally are stored in my clothes closet. All the shoes that are for another season are stored away out of site.

Kids shoes are next to the door in our entryway and adult shoes and coats are behind the curtain.

This has made a huge impact on our general feeling of (dis)orderliness in our entryway. There is now always space on the shelves for our shoes. I have eliminated the feeling that I didn’t even have space to put away my shoes because my husband’s shoes were in the way! (Outrage!) Really I was ignoring the 6 pairs of shoes belonging to me that had no reason to be stored in the entryway at the ready because I wear them at most once a month.

Could you do something similar with coats? With umbrellas? With handbags? What do you use 80% of the time? What is necessary for daily usage? Can the rest of the occasionally used items be stored somewhere else?

What are you overlooking/ glossing over? What I just described about the ballerina flats sitting on my entryway shelf in the middle of winter is a great example of glossing over stuff. I didn’t even notice that they were there, but by finally getting rid of them I solved a big space problem.

We all stop seeing things when it comes to clutter. Once in a while it really helps to take a critical look at a space and question why things are there and if the way you’re doing things is the best way.

I can give you another example of this regarding the black dresser in my entryway. I designated what belongs in each drawer about 3 years ago when we got the dresser. Until about a week ago I hadn’t given what goes in those drawers another thought. The third drawer down originally held fleeces and sweatshirts for the kids, but for some reason over the past years, we no longer use this drawer for these items. Without realizing it, we never actually use this drawer at all.

These drawers hold mostly my handbags and scarves. The bottom drawer is for guest slippers. The basket is for all the kid hats and gloves.

Meanwhile, my handbags were causing a clutter problem in this space. I have one bag I use most of the time, but other handbags and a backpack that I use often enough that I like to have them at hand. I didn’t have a designated space for them and it was driving me crazy. I had bought some hooks but they never managed to be hung up and I was often frustrated at the situation.

When I took the time to look at my entryway and declutter the dresser, I discovered the solution. I had a whole unused drawer to put my handbags and backpack in. Problem solved! It was such an obvious solution, but it’s amazing how we can go months or years without realizing what we are overlooking. This is why it is so useful to take some time to assess the space and think about if it makes sense. Ask yourself: What other way could you do things? Be open to new ideas!

I really encourage you to take a critical eye to your entryway and get decluttering! Mid-month I will be back talking about the essential pieces in an entryway to make it shine and how to insert your family’s personality to tell your story.



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