It's the time of year when the weather outside starts to feel a bit frightful—which means that winter boots, hats, and gloves are back into our day-to-day rotation. While many of us would love to have a separate mudroom in our homes to store all of these outwear essentials, this just isn't realistic for those who are small space dwellers. But a lack of square footage doesn't mean that you have to succumb to a cluttered entryway filled to the brim with family members' belongings. We spoke with the pros to gather insight on how to fake a mudroom setup in your entryway, even when space is at a premium.
Meet the Expert
1. Evaluate Your Existing Space
Before you purchase any items for your home, you'll want to evaluate your existing entryway and determine the space you have available. To start, find a blank wall near your entrance space, advised Kim Jones of Lock and Key Home, top-rated home organizer on Yelp. "This is your canvas to create the perfect mudroom for your space, whether big or small. People often overlook their vertical space so if you are thinking this area is too small, look up."
2. Bust Out a Bench
Placing a bench in the entryway is a no-brainer. After all, family members and guests alike will appreciate having a place to set down purses or backpacks and lace up and take off bulky shoes. But if you're looking to make the most of a small entry, you'll want to think beyond the basics and opt for a bench that offers a little something extra. "Our immediate go-to is always to incorporate a bench with hidden storage," said Malorie Goldberg, a partner at Noa Blake Design. "You can find so many amazing options now, many semi-customizable in finish and fabric, and if you have the opportunity to create a fully custom piece, you can even fit the dimensions perfectly to the best space."
3. Optimize Your Console Table
Just like you'll want to buy a bench that offers more than just basic seating, you'll want to be strategic when choosing a console table, too. Opt for a style that features a bottom shelf that will help meet your storage needs. "A really great way to merge design and functionality in a small entryway is to add an open console table with baskets that live underneath it," commented Ariel Fischer, who is also a partner at Noa Blake Design. "The table itself can serve as a stylish key-drop through simple bowls or dishes, and the baskets will become a home for tucked away shoes and accessories, keeping them hidden, organized and accessible."
4. Add Some Hooks
Once you purchase this main piece, you can add a few finishing touches that will look aesthetically pleasing and provide additional function. "We always try to create a dedicated space through a grouping of items that give that area a purpose," Goldberg noted. "Adding some fun wall hooks above a storage bench is not only an easy and stylish way to do this, but it gives you so much room for creativity."
5. Bring on the Baskets
Opting for multiple small baskets and labeling them based on their contents will help you find all of the day's essentials in a snap, even as you're rushing out the door. "The winter has so many small accessories such as scarves, hats, gloves, and masks," noted professional organizer Aileen Mitchener of Aligned by Aileen. "I suggest multiple smaller bins for each type of item versus a larger container of all accessories that you have to dig through."
6. Incorporate an Armoire
Mitchener noted that adding a wardrobe or armoire is a fantastic option for renters who have an entryway without a closet. "Whether you repurpose a used one or buy new, I suggest one that has a hanging bar and a few drawers or shelves if possible," she said. "I have recently designed a few Ikea PAX units for this exact purpose. I love that they are fully customizable and you can close the doors eliminating visual clutter!" She offered another hint for those looking to make a major impact: "The ones with mirror doors can also add depth making a crowded entryway feel more open and gives you a place for a final check before you head out the door!"
7. Try a Combo Storage Piece
If your entryway is truly tiny and you need a piece that's even more compact, Mitchener offered another solution. "For small homes and apartments I love a multifunctional coat tree and shoe bench combo," she said. "Bonus points if it has two rows of hooks and/or smaller hooks for keys, masks, small purses, etc." Mitchener owns this ultra affordable, stylish piece from Wayfair.
8. Think Outside the Box
If needed, you can always think beyond the entryway, Jones commented. "Many people freeze and can't move past the fact that they don't have a designated mudroom space," she said. "If the space right inside your door is crammed and you need to walk to get to a designated spot, think outside the box. This may include adding a custom mudroom space in the garage for everyone to drop before entering the home or adding in a pass thru area to the door. "