This year I decided to host Thanksgiving, but there’s one project I wanted to tackle first. You see, whenever family and friends comes over, especially in the winter, I feel like our entryway is inadequate.
So after the success of our pantry makeover a few weeks ago, I turned my attention to our entryway closet.
In the past, I’ve grabbed the first guest’s coat and opened the closet to discover there are NO FREE HANGERS. The closet was stuffed with our off-season coats.
Even worse, I’ve repeatedly noticed when my parents are getting ready to leave, it’s hard for them to tie their shoes or put on boots with no where nearby to sit down.
This year I wanted to address those issues and make our entry more inviting for all of our guests.
When I’m working on a makeover like this, I always focus on making the space more functional first and foremost, and along the way I squeeze in pretty updates where it makes sense.
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Here’s what I did to make our entryway more inviting:
(Pay close attention, because these are all quick fixes you can do before your guests arrive on Thursday.)
1. Create Space to Hang Up Coats
No more tossing coats over the back of a chair. It’s unbelievable that we never had space to hang up coats. We have a small closet in our entry, but it was full of coats we forgot we owned and other off-season outerwear.
The first thing I did was remove everything from the closet. From here on out, it’s for guests. Our stuff moved to the coat closet off our mudroom.
Next, I invested in some new hangers. I do NOT recommend plastic hangers for heavy winter coats—it’s laughable how many we’ve broken from the weight of a coat alone. Wooden hangers are nice, but I prefer specialty coat or suit hangers. They’re bigger and sturdier. We use these no-slip velvet hangers.
If you don’t have an entry closet or can’t free up space in it, then consider a coat rack. You don’t even have to leave it out all the time. You can store it and just pull it out when you’re having company over.
Another option is to use an over-the-door hook rack on the outside of your closet or the back of your front door. Store it away and just put it out when you’re expecting company.
2. Designate a Spot for Shoes
The type-A part of me goes a little crazy when there are shoes littering the entryway.
The first few guests are always well intentioned and put their shoes on the rug. But pretty soon there’s no space left on the rug and the shoes spill over everywhere.
I downright hate it in the winter when all the boots sit in puddles of melted snow on my wood floor.
Lately, I started keeping a utility mat in our entry closet to put shoes on. Since we have a puppy, I usually like to keep shoes safely away in the closet. The utility mat catches any dirt or melting snow.
If we have a lot of people coming over, the puppy goes away in his kennel and I pull out a utility mat or two (you could also use boot trays or welcome mats) where guests can set their shoes.
3. Make a Spot for Handbags Too
We used to let guests set their handbags on the ledges in our entryway. But some larger bags don’t fit, and just like the shoes, it quickly makes the entryway look cluttered and messy. It’s not the most inviting look for guests that come later.
I want it to look like this before and after guests arrive:
My favorite new addition to the entry closet is this over-the-door hook rack reserved for handbags.
If space is tight, your coat rack or over-the-door hooks can do double duty for coats and handbags.
4. Have a Landing Zone
Now that the handbags have a special place, it frees up the ledges in our entry niches to create a temporary landing zone for food or gifts that guests bring.
Our kitchen is almost the furthest point in our house from the entryway. So I graciously accept food and gifts and set them right on the ledges, freeing up my hands to take coats and handbags to hang up. While I do that, my husband whisks away the food and gifts to the kitchen or straight to the basement where we do all our potlucks now (even Thanksgiving dinner).
5. Pull Up A Chair (or Bench)
We have a large bench at the far end of our very long entryway near the dining room. But guests, especially in the winter, don’t want to drag their shoes all the way over there to sit down and put them on. It’s awkward.
So I’ve decided to start putting out a small, sturdy bench right by the front door. So much more convenient.
Once the guests are gone, I can tuck the bench in the entry closet until next time.
If you don’t have a spare bench or room to store one in your entry closet, then just plan on pulling up a dining chair or a small bench from another room right before guests are about to leave.
6. Bonus Tip: Keep To Go Bags Handy
The best part about all these improvements to welcome guests is it makes their departure a lot smoother too. One extra thing I added was a place for “to go bags” inside the closet.
I’m always sending people home with extra food, gifts, or the dishes they brought food over in. Having tote bags at the ready helps when it’s time to send them on their way. I got this idea from a tip on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier.
I used a command hook to hang one decorative tote on the inside bottom of the closet door. Then I stuffed the others canvas totes and reusable bags inside. Ready to go if someone has an armful leaving the house.
Now, the pretty stuff…
I couldn’t resist making a few pretty updates to this area as well. Ever since we relocated the artwork from two of the three niches to our bedroom, the entryway has felt a little naked. But I was waiting to find just the right thing to put in the niches.
And the patience paid off. I love these simple brass framed mirrors that I got for less than $40 each at Target. They’re a generous 28″ diameter.
I love how the new mirrors bounce light down this once dark hallway.
Once the new mirrors were up, flanking our family portrait, I did a little styling. I really wanted to keep this space simple and calm. I could have filled the ledges with decor, but I didn’t want to overload them or my guests.
In the niche closest to the door, I added a plant for a little life. I chose a low-light lover that will do well in this area. We also keep a jar of dog treats and poop bags by the door. I put the roll of bags in a pretty little bowl (I love these dipping bowls for decorating)…it’s about as classy as you can make poop bags look.
I’m really happy with our entryway now and ready for guests on Thursday!
If you’re hosting guests this holiday season or anytime throughout the year, take a moment to think about their experience when they come over to your house. How could you make it better? I hope the quick fixes above can help you improve your entryway and give your guests a warm welcome.