How to Declutter Your Small Entryway in 2023


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May 28, 2023

How to Declutter Your Small Entryway in 2023

Even a small entryway can showcase your style while remaining clutter-free—it just takes some organization and the right gear. We asked four designers for advice on smart storage and then spent 20

Even a small entryway can showcase your style while remaining clutter-free—it just takes some organization and the right gear. We asked four designers for advice on smart storage and then spent 20 hours testing tools.

From mats and rugs for keeping dirt out to hooks and bins for keeping things tidy, these 10 essentials work together—or easily blend in with what you already own—to maximize space and keep you sane.

We asked four interior designers for advice on how to create a beautiful, functional entryway. They included: interior designer Perry Sayles; Cheryl Eisen, designer and president of Interior Marketing Group, a firm that mainly does luxury interior design; interior designer Anne Chessin; and interior designer Caroline Smith.

We’ve been writing about organizing and decorating small spaces for the past five years. Though most of the organizing tools here are unique to entryways, many organizing strategies apply throughout the home. We were able to use much of what we’ve learned from researching and writing about small bathrooms, closet organizing, hooks, and coat racks to inform our advice on entryways.

Our experts stressed the importance of limiting entryway decor to the essentials and maximizing organization by giving each item a place to live. They helped us define these principles to find the sweet spot between useful storage and style.

This key rack was the only one we found with either magnetic or screw-in mounting and it offers storage for keys, mail, or a slim wallet. Its compact size holds just the right amount.

The Yamazaki Rin Magnetic Key Rack is part hook rack, part mail storage. At just 7 inches long, its compact size and multifunctionality make it ideal for small entryways. It’s smaller than similar racks we tested, like the Umbra Wall-Mounted Metal Mail and Key Rack or the Most Modest Walter rack but still has room for five sets of keys and one to two days’ worth of mail. If you don’t want to drill holes in the wall, it’s the only key rack we found with a magnetic back that can stick to a metal door or the side of your fridge. I’ve been using the Rin for a year and the magnet is strong enough that ours has stayed put despite always being fully loaded. But if you do want to mount it to a wall, it comes with screws and anchors. It’s available in two colors and finishes: white and pine, or black and walnut.

Add a pop of color to your entryway with this fun but compact mail organizer. It holds as many kinds of mail as larger organizers we tested but is small enough to fit on a shelf or side table.

May be out of stock

No one likes dealing with piles of mail, but the Poppin Fin File Sorter might actually make you look forward to sorting your bills. It’s the cutest, most colorful organizer we found. It comes in 11 hues—with neutrals and brights—so you’re bound to find something you like. It also easily accommodates letters as well as large envelopes and magazines while taking up less space than others we considered. Many organizers we tested were big and unwieldy, like the CB2 Gilded File Holder (which now appears to be discontinued). The Poppin’s compact, 6.5-by-6.4-inch dimensions fit nicely on our recommended shelf (8 inches deep) or Yamakazi shoe rack (10 inches deep) and would bring some color to those more minimal designs. It accommodates many types of mail—from magazines to letters—and holds a lot. But to avoid pileup, we recommend keeping a recycling bin or shredder nearby to deal with junk right away.

This 30-inch-long single wall shelf looks nicer and is more compact than competitors but still has plenty of space to hold mail or other organizing accessories.

There are numerous floating shelves you could buy or make, but we like the Yamazaki Wood and Steel Wall Shelf because it’s perfectly sized for a small entryway and looks sleek and minimal. It holds plenty but it’s not so large that it accumulates lots of clutter. This shelf is slim and compact (30 inches long by 8 inches deep) but it still has space to fit accessories like our favorite mail sorter from Poppin, the smaller felt Pudda basket we recommend, and even a plant or two. It also comes with four small key hooks. (It’s the only shelf we found that included key storage.)

The Yamazaki’s minimal design will fit in with almost any decor. The exposed mounting brackets and wood surface are stylish but don’t draw too much attention. Mount a mirror above it, put a boot tray down below, some hooks to the side and you’ve got yourself an effective entryway setup. The Yamazaki is available in two finishes: black and walnut (pictured), or white and pine, and comes with matching mounting hardware.

The Pudda bin looks more expensive than it is, with its sturdy felt and brass buttons. Unlike competitors, it can fold flat for easier storage.

The IKEA Pudda was the nicest-looking bin we found and our favorite if you want a bin that will sit out in the open. Its gray felt hides dirt while looking attractive, and the shiny buttons and folded design look more modern than woven baskets we tested. The Pudda is also more versatile than many other bins—its soft, moldable sides can squeeze into places where stiffer baskets might not be able to fit, and it folds completely flat for easy, convenient storage. This nearly 12-inch-square bin also holds an ample amount of stuff. We especially like it for hats, gloves, and scarves in an entryway but it would work for many types of items all over the house.

Compared with the iconic Muuto Restore Basket we looked at from Knoll, which costs at least $150, the Pudda is a steal at just under $10. It also comes in a smaller size, perfect for storing keys or mail and useful if you want a matching set. We wish the Pudda had handles—if you need bins that you can move around a lot, try The Container Store’s Water Hyacinth Storage Cube with Handles, which we recommend below.

This structured basket is better for holding heavier stuff. It’s made of soft, woven material and has handles that are easy to grab when you’re in a hurry.

Compared with the Pudda, The Container Store Water Hyacinth Storage Cube with Handles has stiff sides and large handles that make it easier to slide onto and off of high shelves, or quickly grab if you are in a rush. Opt for it over the Pudda if you’re storing heavier things like bike locks or toys in your entryway. These baskets have a more natural look than the felt Pudda, they’re made from a durable, soft, and thick reedlike material woven around a metal frame, making them sturdier than softer woven baskets we considered, like the The Container Store Natural Seagrass Belly Basket or IKEA Flådis. The Water Hyacinth baskets are neutral enough to fit in with most kinds of decor and are available in three sizes (length by width by height, in inches): 10 by 10 by 6¼, 10 by 10 by 10, and 12 by 12 by 12.

The Container Store’s customers like this basket, too—it has 10 times or more reviews than the other baskets the company sells. Reviewers like its looks and versatility for items like clothes, pantry staples, and outdoor gear. While most of the reviews are positive, one two-star review mentioned that the baskets shed fibers. We didn’t have this issue in our tests, but we’ll keep an eye on it long term.

The Pax is more customizable than any wardrobe we considered—the possible combinations of doors, hardware, and lighting for a custom design are nearly endless.

If you don’t have a closet in your entryway, consider the IKEA Pax Wardrobe System to keep coats and clutter hidden. This popular storage system from IKEA can be customized in more unique ways than any other armoire we’ve seen. The doors, interior storage, and hardware have numerous options available, so you can configure the Pax to store almost anything and match most decor. If you think you can’t fit a wardrobe in your cramped entryway, consider the smallest Pax —it’s a slim 20 inches wide by 23 inches deep. If you have a little more available space, the 40-inch-wide option offers a lot of interior storage for its relatively small footprint.

Other wardrobes we considered (like these from Home Depot or Overstock) were between 60 and 70 inches tall; the Pax is nearly 80 inches tall, so it should more easily accommodate long coats and still have extra room for shelves or drawers. Our organizing experts all told us that using vertical space is the best way to eke out more storage in a tiny area, and the Pax does this better than any other wardrobe we considered. Wirecutter staffers who live in small spaces love the Pax for keeping their entryways contained. Editor Winnie Yang uses two Pax wardrobes, one with a mirrored door, in her New York City apartment in lieu of a coat closet.

The Mollie Hook’s small frame fits as much gear as significantly larger coat racks and it can squeeze functionality out of the tightest corners.

This simple hook highlights the natural beauty of wood and can hold up to 30 pounds of weight, more than many hooks we found.

This rack’s large and heavy base makes it more stable than other coat trees and it wears well over time. Its fold-down hooks are customizable, too.

For a place to hang your go-to jacket or everyday bag, consider a wall-mounted coat rack or hooks. We have plenty of recommendations in our guides to coat racks and hooks, but for a tiny entryway we’d specifically recommend the Schoolhouse Mollie Hook or Simple Wood Goods Coat Hook, which are sturdy, take little space, and add a pop of style. No coat rack or hook can replace a coat closet—consider the Pax for that—but they are useful if you have a few items you need to grab on the way out the door. If you have an oddly shaped wall or are especially tight on room, consider staggering hooks to fit the wall space available. In larger areas, a larger wall-mounted coat rack, like the Eames Hang-It-All or Room and Board Crew Rack, is a great catchall option. If you can spare some floor space, we like the Umbra Flapper freestanding coat rack—its design is minimal and the heavy base makes it virtually tip-proof.

This wood and steel console is more compact than others we looked at, yet it does more: it has space for 24 pairs of shoes, two accessory hooks, and a shelf.

We didn’t test any consoles in person, but the Yamazaki Home Tower Shoe Rack is the most compact yet functional one we found in our research. It’s the only option we saw that is both a console and a shoe rack: with five large shoe shelves (Yamazaki says the rack can hold up to 24 pairs) and a wooden top that’s useful for stacking mail and storing keys. The tower is the only console we found with accessory hooks that could hold an umbrella or a set of keys. The slim Yamazaki is more likely to fit in a small entryway than any other rack we found. At 26 inches long, 10 inches deep, and 34 inches high, it’s one of the most compact models we found. We considered many beautiful consoles, like the Article Taiga console (now discontinued), that just felt too big to be practical for a small entryway. We did find two reviews on Houzz about the Yamazaki being wobbly (an issue with many shoe racks), but the same reviewers rate it highly because it looks nice and works well. Based on our testing of other Yamazaki products, we generally like what this brand makes.

Although we usually advocate keeping items stored out of sight, the Yamazaki was the most functional console we found, so the visible shoe rack wasn’t a dealbreaker. If you’re set on hidden shoe storage, consider the IKEA Bissa, one of our favorite shoe racks.

This mat comes in more sizes and designs than its competitors, and its densely woven polyester loops can handle dirt and grime better than more textured mats.

Keep dirt outside where it belongs with the Gorilla Grip Original Door Mat. It can take a beating and still look clean, and it’s available in more colors and sizes than most mats we considered. The mat’s looped polyester surface is plush enough to absorb water or slush, but its relatively flat weave traps less dirt than more textured mats. Its smooth fibers also attract less lint than rougher coir or polyester mats we tried, which always seemed to be covered in fluff. After using it for four weeks, the Gorilla Grip was noticeably cleaner looking than my previous coir mat, the IKEA Trampa, that never looked good no matter how much I vacuumed it. The Gorilla Grip’s grippy rubber back prevents it from slipping around, even if your floors are damp. It stayed in place better than both my slippery Trampa and the Home Depot TrafficMaster that I tested.

This mat is available in three sizes. We ordered the smallest size (17 by 29 inches), which we found ideal for placing outside an apartment door in a cramped hallway. The Gorilla Grip was the only mat of the four we tried that’s available in this compact size. Its two larger sizes provide more coverage. Depending on size, it’s available in up to 15 colors and patterns, mostly neutrals, the widest variety of any mat we found during our research. Amazon reviewers love the Gorilla Grip mat, too, awarding it an overall rating of 4.4 stars (out of five) across just over 800 reviews.

Available in a ton of sizes, colors, and patterns, these cotton rugs are easy to match with any decor and they stand up better to wear and regular washing than standard rag rugs.

If you’re looking for something that you can throw down in your entryway and not worry about destroying, we suggest a flat-weave rug like the Hook & Loom Flatweave Eco Cotton, one of our favorite area rugs for the past three years. Its cotton-and-polyester weave is durable and slim enough to fit under low-profile doors. It’s also easy to live with: This rug won’t trap dirt like a high-pile rug, and it’s machine-washable, making it a much more practical option than the rugs we considered that need dry cleaning. The Hook & Loom rug is also the most versatile one we found; it’s available in seven sizes and a whopping 82 colors and patterns, so you should be able to match almost any decor. We’ve found that patterned rugs do an especially great job of hiding dirt, making them a perfect choice for a high-traffic entryway.

Wirecutter deputy editor Christine Cyr Clisset owned several Hook & Loom rugs for over three years before donating them because they didn’t fit with her new home. As far as how durable the rugs were when she was using them, she said, “They’ve all held up well after about a dozen washes. They’re woven more tightly than a standard rag rug, which helps them hold up to more abuse. They come in a range of fun prints and are easy to wash in a standard washing machine.”

This pad is thinner than most others we tested, making it versatile enough for placement anywhere, and you can easily cut it to fit rugs of any size.

To keep the entryway rug in place, we suggest using a thin rug pad, like the Rug Pad USA Super Lock Natural, which we recommend in our guide to rug pads. For an entryway, a thin mesh pad works best because it won’t add too much height to the rug, so the door can still swing open easily. Mesh is also easier to clean than a felt pad, and washability is important for a high-traffic (and possibly dirty) entryway.

This article was edited by Daniela Gorny and Christine Ryan.

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We spent 42 hours on research and consulted five professional organizers to find the best tools for tackling messy closets of every size.

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After rigorous testing, we found six wall-mounted coat racks and two freestanding racks that impressed us with their functionality and style.

Perry Sayles, interior designer, phone interview, March 21, 2019

Cheryl Eisen, interior designer and president of Interior Marketing Group, phone interview, March 21, 2019

Anne Chessin, interior designer, phone interview, March 25, 2019

Caroline Smith, interior designer, email interview, March 24, 2019

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