Many homes are built without a proper entryway or lack a dedicated space for one. A nonexistent entryway can present challenges for homeowners in providing a welcoming first impression, storing items like shoes and coats, and maintaining privacy and security. Fortunately, there are smart solutions to create a functional entry space even in the smallest or most awkward home layouts. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore clever ideas to design a stylish and practical entryway, even when one doesn’t readily exist.
Define Your Entryway Goals and Requirements
When dealing with a nonexistent entryway, the first step is identifying your needs and goals for the space. Consider the following:
- First impressions – Do you want to create a welcoming, inviting entry space? This may influence choices like lighting, decor, and storage solutions.
- Traffic flow – Determine the main circulation path through your home’s entrance. Optimize the layout to avoid bottlenecks.
- Storage – Assess your family’s storage needs for items like shoes, coats, umbrellas, keys, bags, etc. Incorporate places to keep these items organized.
- Security – If desired, include entry door locks, video doorbells, alarm keypads, or other security features.
- Privacy – Strategically place walls, doors, or screens to obscure sightlines into your home’s interior if required.
- Budget – Evaluate affordable DIY solutions before undertaking major renovations. Consider your timeframe as well.
Once you define the must-have features for your entryway, you can zero in on solutions that address your specific needs.
Choose an Entry Point and Define the Space
For homes without a built-in mudroom or foyer, the first step is designating an entry point and delineating the boundaries of your makeshift entryway.
For many homes, the front door area functions as the main entrance. But depending on your floor plan, you may opt to use a side or back door instead. Consider which entry point gets the most use from family and guests. Also factor in adjacencies – an entry situated right off a high-traffic area like the kitchen may not allow for a sense of arrival.
Once you designate the entry door, define the physical area to serve as your entryway. This might be a corner of the living room or end of a hallway. Use furniture like bookcases or screens to carve out a space. Lay down area rugs to distinguish the entry zone. Strategic lighting and wall color can also help delineate a separate entry spot.
Build Out Storage Solutions
Lack of storage is one of the biggest downsides of not having a proper entryway. When space is limited, maximize every inch by getting creative:
- Bench seating with storage – Entryway benches provide a place to sit down while taking off shoes, as well as lift-up lids or drawers to stash items. Or look for storage ottomans.
- Coat racks – Even small coat racks can work in tight spaces. Choose tall, narrow designs or space-saving foldable racks.
- Wall-mounted storage – Install wall cubbies, rails, hooks, and shelves for bags, hats, leashes, keys, etc. Group items on one wall for contained storage.
- Under-seat storage – Store items under entryway benches or other seating using baskets, trays, or fabric boxes with lids.
- Multi-use furniture – Opt for storage-savvy coffee tables, console tables, or small dressers that can pull double duty.
- Mudroom lockers – Incorporate a bank of full-height lockers for concealed storage. These can be DIYed or purchased.
Entryway lockers provide abundant storage without taking up floor space. Image Source
Create Separate Zones With Dividers
Using dividers is one of the most effective ways to carve out entry space in an open floorplan. Dividers establish physical separation from other zones and prevent clutter from spreading.
- Bookcases – Position tall bookcases perpendicular to the wall to divide areas. The back of the bookcase helps delineate the entry.
- Room screens – Opt for folding screens, shou sugi ban panels, or other room dividers to create a partition wall.
- Textiles – Hang room dividers, curtains, or drapes from the ceiling or rods to cordon off an entry zone.
- Furniture arrangement – Strategically place sofas, cabinets, or shelving to act as barriers between the entry and living spaces.
Leave a clear circulation path so the layout doesn’t feel overly crowded. The divider provides separation while still allowing an open feel.
Build a Mudroom Addition
One of the most luxurious solutions is adding a custom mudroom, if space and budget allow. A well-designed mudroom provides ample storage plus a transition zone between outdoors and your home’s interior.
- Consult an architect or contractor to match the addition’s style to your home.
- Optimize traffic flow in the layout. Position doors directly across from each other without obstacles between.
- Include a bench or seating nook for removing muddy shoes or boots.
- Incorporate flooring that can withstand high traffic and moisture, like tile, slate, or linoleum. Use radiant floor heating for cold climates.
- Provide ample shelving, hooks, cabinets, and cubbies for organized storage. Built-in lockers offer concealed storage.
- Add a door, sidelights, or window panels to allow natural light into the space.
- Splurge on features like a charging station, message board, or recycling center.
A custom-designed mudroom addition provides dedicated entryway storage and utility. Image Source
Repurpose Closet Space
An unused closet near the entry can easily be converted into a makeshift mudroom. Remove the closet doors and replace with curtains or bead curtains to make the space feel more open. Install shelving, hooks, benches, and other organizational items. You can even add custom cabinetry or lockers for more permanent storage. Paint the walls a fresh color and update lighting. Suddenly you have a dedicated entry closet!
Add an Entry Foyer
For more significant renovations, consider bumping out exterior walls to create a dedicated entry foyer or vestibule. This enclosed space provides a true sense of arrival and transition. When planning a foyer addition:
- Size it to suit your family’s needs, accounting forfurniture, storage, and traffic flow. Avoid narrow galley-style layouts.
- Use glass doors, sidelights, or transom windows to allow natural light to penetrate the space.
- Incorporate architectural details like wainscoting, molding, or tile work to enhance the design.
- Install lighting on both the interior and exterior of the entry doors for visibility and security.
- Choose finishes and flooring that can withstand high traffic and moisture from outside.
Build a DIY Mudroom
Not ready to commit to a permanent addition? Many DIY solutions can provide semi-fixed mudroom storage without major construction:
- PVC pipe lockers – Assemble with PVC joints and hang on the wall for an instant locker organizer. Add hooks inside.
- Cubbie shelving – Build open cubbies for shoes, bags, pets leashes, etc using basic shelving and 2x4s. Stain to match your decor.
- Pegboard wall – Paint and install a sheet of perforated pegboard. Add custom hooks, shelves, baskets for versatile storage.
- Locker cabinets – Affix IKEA cabinetry or small lockers together and anchor to the wall for contained storage.
- Bench seating – Build or buy a simple wood bench. Add lift-up seat storage and coat hooks above.
Having dedicated storage spots prevents entry clutter from taking over nearby spaces. And your DIY solutions can always be adapted, expanded, or upgraded later!
Utilize Vertical Space
When floor space is limited, make the most of vertical real estate for entryway storage. Mount solutions at various heights for max usage:
- Wall hooks – Install hooks, either individually or grouped on panels, at staggered heights to accommodate coats, bags, leashes, etc.
- Ledges – Wall-mounted ledges or floating shelves provide display space for decor as well as storage for keys, sunglasses, hats, or gloves.
- Baskets – Hang baskets of varying sizes on the wall to neatly corral smaller items. Label each basket for keys, masks, dog treats, etc.
- Rack ladder – Secure a wooden ladder horizontally on the wall. Add hooks along the rungs to hang coats below and store hats, bags and umbrellas above.
- Bike racks – Wall-mounted bike racks clear up floor space. Position above benches or hooks for hanging coats underneath.
Mixing wall-mounted storage with floor solutions maximizes both vertical and horizontal space.
Add an Entry Closet
Many older homes lack closets near entrances. Adding a dedicated entry closet helps contain coats, shoes, and outerwear separate from interior living areas.
For a more significant renovation, steal space from an existing room to construct a custom reach-in entry closet. Install shelves, rods, and other built-ins tailored to your needs.
A simpler option is to convert an existing closet with the following updates:
- Remove interior shelving and replace with storage solutions like cubbies, hooks, rods, shoe racks, etc.
- Add a storage bench or other seating inside the closet.
- Install a curtain over bi-fold doors for an open entryway feel.
- Update lighting, paint color, and flooring to refresh the space.
This small project yields big organizational returns, creating a dedicated storage zone for entryway necessities.
Carve Out a Mudroom Niche
Another approach is building a mudroom niche or cubby. This typically involves:
- Narrowing an existing room, closet, or hallway to create recessed space.
- Installing bench seating, peg hooks, shelves or cabinetry within the niche.
- Adding customized storage solutions like library-style coat racks.
- Using different floor tiles, baseboards, or molding to distinguish the mudroom space.
- Extending the niche upward with vertical storage solutions.
Recessing the mudroom area rather than protruding preserves existing floorspace. This technique integrates the entry function while keeping an open layout.
Use Furniture For Separate Zones
With some clever furniture arrangements, you can define distinct zones for your entryway.
- Hall tables – Positioning a console table perpendicular to a wall or hallway creates separation from living areas while still allowing an open sightline.
- Coat racks – Free-standing coat racks or coat trees act as a partition between spaces. Position them near the entry point.
- Shelving – Place a tall bookcase or shelving unit across from the door to act as a room divider. Style with baskets and entryway necessities.
- Seating arrangements – Angle sofas or chairs to carve out an entry nook. Or place benches facing each other to form a path.
Move furniture around and try different configurations until you find one that designates a clear yet organic entry zone.
Make A Statement With Flooring
Defining the physical boundaries of your makeshift entryway comes down to the flooring. Use area rugs, runners, or flooring changes to distinguish this zone.
- For open spaces, choose a sizable entry rug that extends well beyond the door. The rug visually defines where the entryway starts.
- Runners are ideal for long hallways, leading from the entry point inward. Anchor furniture like benches or shoe racks directly on the runner.
- Switch up floor materials or patterns to differentiate the make-shift mudroom area from living zones. Tile, stone or resilient vinyl floors make sense for high-traffic entries
Marking the entry point with contrasting flooring cues guests they have officially entered your home.
Install a Door For Separate Access
If your home’s layout allows, adding a new entry door creates a dedicated access point for your makeshift mudroom. This prevents traipsing through main living areas with wet or dirty shoes.
Before cutting a new doorway, consult structural engineers to verify load-bearing walls. Carefully consider the door location for optimal circulation.
For a more cost-effective option, install a new pre-hung interior door and convert an existing hallway or closet into a mudroom. This achieves separate entry access without major construction.
Get Smart With Lighting
The right lighting elevates your entryway design and makes the space more functional.
Ambient lighting – Include general overhead lighting for overall illumination. Recessed cans work well to keep the ceiling looking clean.
Task lighting – Direct lamps or sconces above entry furniture for visibility when retrieving stored items. Under-cabinet lights are ideal for built-in mudroom storage.
Accent lighting – Use directional lights or picture lights to highlight artwork, architectural details or displays.
Exterior lighting – Illuminate exterior doors and entrances with lanterns, step lights or overhead fixtures. This helps with nighttime visibility.
Smart controls – Install smart switches or motion sensors so lights turn on automatically when you enter the space.
Mixing lighting types creates both beauty and function for maximum entryway appeal.
Add Mirrors to Expand Space
Hanging mirrors opposite doors or windows optically doubles the sense of space. This makes tight entryways feel more open and expansive.
Aim for rectangular vertical mirrors rather than small square styles – the larger reflection has greater visual impact. Position the mirror’s bottom edge about 57-60 inches from the floor for optimal reflection.
Well-placed mirrors make compact entry areas feel more grand and spacious. Just avoid placing them directly across from each other to prevent dizzying reflections.
Create a Locking Storage Zone
In shared homes, a locking storage area provides security for private items. Several mudroom designs allow this added privacy:
- Lockable cabinets – Incorporate cabinetry or shelving with locking doors. Hideaway compartments prevent private belongings from being accessed.
- Lockers – Full-height storage lockers with combination or keyed locks keep contents secure. Include lockers for each household member.
- Closed storage bench – Built-in or freestanding benches with locking lids conceal private storage below the seat.
- Hidden storage – For DIY options, build drawers or shelving concealed behind cloakroom panels or pocket doors. Add locks for private access only.
Secured and private storage prevents the need to lug personal belongings in and out of shared living spaces.
Utilize Temporary Partitions
Movable partitions allow you to carve out entry space without permanent installation:
- Curtain dividers – Hang blackout curtains from the ceiling on rods. Open and close them as needed, using overlaps for full enclosure.
- Rolling screens – Position rolling screens to block sightlines and access as desired. Roll them aside when not needed.
- Folding screens – Asian-style folding screens collapse accordion-style. Set them up as partition walls then fold flattened for storage.
- Temporary walls – Moveable partition systems assemble in various configurations then disconnect and store when not in use.
Since partitions are removable, you can alter arrangements as needs change. Close off larger common areas for parties, then remove dividers afterward for an open layout.
Smart Solutions For Small Spaces
Don’t let a compact footprint deter you from carving out entryway functionality. Even the smallest spaces can be maxed out with smart solutions:
- Use wallspace – Install wall hooks, narrow shelving, wall-mounted rods and modular storage to eliminate floor clutter.
- Go vertical – Floor space fills up fast. Add tiered wall storage like lattice cubbies to expand upwards.
- Convert dead space – Turn the area under staircases into a storage niche with shelves and bench seating.
- Multifunction furniture – Instead of freestanding racks and benches, choose storage-savvy ottomans, flip-top benches, and nesting tables that save space.
- Limit floor furniture – Stick to one compact bench or cabinet. Resist cluttering the space with multiple furnishings.
- Fold it away – Make use of fold-down benches, collapsible coat racks, and folding screens that tuck away when not in use.
With some creativity, you can develop an uber-functional entryway, even in the most pint-sized spaces. Just focus on vertical storage and compact furnishings tailored to small footprints.
Infuse Personality With DIY Touches
Beyond function, it’s important to infuse style and personality into your entryway. DIY projects allow you to customize the space on a budget:
- Photo display – Create a memory wall with framed family photos or an art display of prints in matching frames.
- Patterned wallpaper – Use removable wallpaper or contact paper to add a pop of pattern as a mood-boosting backdrop.
- Chalkboard wall – Designate a portion of wall for a chalkboard surface. Use for messages, art, schedules, etc.
- Map display – Mount a vintage map in a floating frame or under glass as interesting wall art. Track travels with thumbtacks.
- Wall mural – Apply a removable mural or apply painter’s tape geometric designs for bold impact.
Adding personal touches makes a makeshift entry feel warm, welcoming, and uniquely you.
Paint is one of the easiest DIY upgrades to refresh your entryway’s look. If your home’s interior is neutral, use color in the entry to make a lively first impression.
Full accent wall – Paint an entire wall or entry nook in