Experts share their go-to tricks for decluttering the mess-prone area
By Anna Kocharian
There’s an unspoken rule that an entryway should serve as a drop-off point for all sorts of gear—shoes, coats, mail, and keys are just the start.
And while some homes have a mudroom, hall closet, or garage with dedicated storage, others lack the necessary framework for concealing clutter.
With that in mind, we turned to professional organizers for their tried-and-true tips for bringing a little more method to the madness that can be a home’s entry.
Start With a Plan
In a mudroom or entryway, function should always come first, says professional organizer Lucy Milligan Wahl, founder of LMW Edits. “You can make any system look good, but you have to create it first,” she says.
Photo: Linda Raymond/Getty Images
Everything from a home’s layout to your lifestyle and even the climate can affect the way the area is arranged.
If you live in a region where it’s always raining, having a dedicated and easy-to-reach spot for umbrellas and rain gear is important. If your family is involved in a heavy rotation of sports and music lessons, you might want to carve out a nook for the gear they’ll be toting back and forth.
Finally, think about how often you’ll be able to organize the space—and be realistic about it.
“Are you willing to put in a few minutes every day to tidy up or does it all need to be grab-and-go?” Wahl says. Once you’ve figured that out, analyze your space and make a thoughtful plan from there.
If your home is lacking a mudroom or an entryway altogether, you may have to fashion one.
“First, find a space that is a good one-stop-spot for jackets, shoes, bags, and more—a catchall on the way in and out where your family can store things and have easy access to coming and going,” says home improvement and lifestyle expert Kathryn Emery of Be the Best Home. It doesn’t need to be a huge area; all you really need is a little bit of wall space.
Make Room for the Kids
Carving out a kids’ zone can be a helpful way to encourage them to stay tidy—or something close to it. Emery suggests dedicating a cubby or shelf for each child, to help them form a habit of stowing their belongings the moment they walk in.
Photo: Tria Giovan/GAP Interiors
“A bench with storage drawers is great for kids, as they are low to the ground and simple to get in and out of,” she says.
Though if you’re looking for a more simple approach, wall-mounted hooks are the way to go. Be sure to install them at a height the little ones can easily reach for convenience when hanging coats and bags.
Swivel hooks, which can often feature three to five movable hooks, are a great option for maximizing a space and keeping one person’s items confined to a dedicated spot, Emery says. And if you have enough wall space, install a few of them in a row.
Corral Smaller Items
Keys, wallets, and similarly sized items can easily get lost in the shuffle, so it’s always worth having a dedicated spot for them. “Use containers that are just large enough for the items you need,” Wahl says.
Photo: Tria Giovan/GAP Interiors
Keys can go in a small dish or tray, phones can live on a charging station, and mail can be stacked in trays, Wahl says.
Take things a step further and give each member of the family their own tray to make the process a bit more streamlined. The entry is an area that’s already filled with lots of stuff, so avoid adding anything extraneous because it will instantly become clutter.
“The area should be for the things your family uses on a daily or near-daily basis,” the organization expert says.
Bring in Alternate Means of Storage
If you have more belongings than storage space in your entryway or mudroom, a freestanding cabinet can be a good solution. One that incorporates an array of useful features—think a coat rack, shoe holder, and bench—can be a great way to consolidate the basics into one neat zone.
Photo: Kilito Chan/Getty Images
The sort of cabinetry you choose to bring in can include features like a clothing rod, drawers, hooks, or shoe shelves, says certified professional organizer Schae Lewis of Mission 2 Organize. It all depends on your needs.
Play to the weaknesses of the area. If you’re lacking a designated zone for a specific category, be it shoes, coats, or bags, find a storage unit that can cater to that.
“If you are creating the space from scratch without any cabinetry, plenty of hooks and a shoe solution are crucial for this space,” Lewis says.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2023, Consumer Reports, Inc.