Organizing Small Spaces - How to Organize the Entryway to Be Inviting and Functional

First impressions are important, and your entry way is the first thing to greet you and your guests. It needs to be both inviting and functional by providing a spot to drop your keys, bags, and coats when you arrive home. But if it's not organized, it's easy for this small space to become cluttered and unused, causing frustration as you're trying to get out the door. Follow these tips to create a useful, beautiful entryway.
* DECIDE WHAT SHOULD RESIDE IN THE ENTRYWAY - Ideally, the entryway should be a spot for coats and other outerwear, umbrellas, daily-used backpacks, purses, briefcases, cel-phone, laptop, and totes - anything you need access to as you leave your home.
* EVALUATE YOUR CURRENT STASH OF THESE ITEMS - Pare down your coat and tote bag collections. Toss broken umbrellas, gloves without mates, and boots that don't fit. I often see entry coat closets and mudrooms overrun by tote bags. How many tote bags can you use at any given time. A few is all that you need. It's time for the rest to go! Your goal here is to keep only those things you frequently use.
* REMOVE EVERYTHING ELSE - Don't let your entryway become a catch-all for things you don't know what to do with. (This is not the spot for the turkey roasting pan!) Sort, toss or donate things that you really don't use or need, and assign new spots elsewhere in your home for the must-keeps.
* MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR SPACE - Most entryways have a closet. Reevaluate its set-up. If it has a single rod across the top, could you raise it a bit and add a second rod below, doubling your hanging space. Could shelves be added above the rod or run across the depth of the closet? This makes use of storage space in the top of the closet that is often wasted. Could you add a tiered shoe rack on the floor? Or an over the door coat rack or shoe holder? I use these often to store gloves, hats and scarves. Maximize every inch of the space! While you're at it, invest in sturdy wooden hangers so your coats hang neatly. I love to use the inside of the door to hang an over the door shoe holder to hold gloves, scarves, and hats.
* USE CONTAINERS TO CONTAIN CLUTTER - This not only makes for a neat look, but it will also help you quickly find what you need. Label baskets or containers on the shelves for out-the-door items, such as umbrellas, mittens, hats, and dog leaches. If, due to space constraints, you must keep other types of items in this closet as well, be sure to categorize and containerize them, labeling as you go. I use 28 quart clear containers and smaller.
* CONSIDER SPACE OUTSIDE THE CLOSET - This is especially necessary if you don't have a closet or if it's very small. For example, a coat rack or set of wall-mounted hooks in the entryway will work wonders if you're short on closet space. Likewise, a pretty urn can hold umbrellas, a bench with storage under the seat can hold outerwear, and a wicker basket on the floor can hold shoes. By simply declaring a "home" and containing these items, you'll instantly take your entryway from messy to marvelous.
* SET UP AN OUT-THE-DOOR LAUNCHING PAD - Dedicate one basket near the door for items that need to leave the house, such as library books, DVDs to be returned, dry cleaning to be dropped off, and things to be delivered to family or friends. A charging station for all the electronics is a great addition to your launching pad. That's where I keep ours, where I charge my cell phone, camera battery and Blue Tooth.
Janet Nusbaum (AKA The Organizing Genie), owner of Simplified Spaces, is an Organizing Consultant, Author of Mom, Can I Help Around the House and Speaker. Janet loves creating order out of chaos and teaching others to do the same. For more helpful clutter-clearing tips, visit Janet's blog: http://www.TheOrganizingGenie.com

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