Is your entryway a menace to your health? It very well might be. You might not realize it, but your entryway can have a profound effect on your well-being. The moment we step over the threshold, entryway clutter can cause our stress levels to rise and our motivation to plummet. Clutter is anything but warm and welcoming. Instead it says (loudly and clearly):
This is no place for joyful living – stay away or be prepared to have your energy sucked dry.
Yup, that’s clutter’s message. And it doesn’t save that message just for the entry – clutter wreaks the same havoc in the bedroom, kitchen and other areas of your life.
The fix to this issue is simple – get rid of the clutter. OK, I know simple isn’t the same as easy, but in this case it really isn’t difficult. Here are some guidelines to help you clear entryway clutter and make your space work well.
Decide on your entryway’s purpose. The answers here will vary wildly. Much of it is dependent on your home and family situation. Your entry may be a drop zone for school age kiddos. It may have a closet that is used for off season storage. Or it might be the spot where you have set up your command central. Whatever your situation you need to identify exactly what the function of the space is.
To gain clarity on function use these guiding questions:
- What is your vision for the space? I suggest you mentally move through an average day and take notes of what you see happening.
- Do you already have the storage and tools needed to fulfill its purpose? Don’t focus on perfection, think about function – it’s very likely you have things you can re-purpose to create a highly functioning space.
- What has to go in order to achieve this vision? This doesn’t necessarily mean be given away, just what needs to leave the space. You may have things that have been sitting in the entry for eons and they’ve just become part of the landscape.
- What might need to be added? Often this is more practical and user friendly storage, but it could be anything.
Clear out the clutter. This step is pretty straightforward. Remove anything that does not belong in the area. Most stuff that lands in the entryway gets dropped there by default, so take those items to their rightful homes. Once you have the space set up and ordered, default dropping will be less likely to occur because the space will have a clear function, and things that don’t belong will stick out instead of blending in so easily.
Clean it up. If things are dusty or dirty use this opportunity to do thorough dusting and wiping down.
Review your vision. And begin adding the proper storage for each of the categories that will live there. These are typical items, along with some suggestions:
– Shoes and boots: These can go on racks, in bins, or shelves. Whatever you do, be sure you dedicate specific space, otherwise you will wind up with footwear sprawl. Remember – if you don’t contain things, they will spread!
– Jackets and coats: Do you have a closet? If so, that might work, but keep in mind people are lazy by nature and opening the door to find a hanger can be a barrier. Hooks work so much better for most people, especially kids.
– Backpacks and bags: Will you use bins, hooks or shelves? Once you decide, keep this in mind: make it easy to use and make it strong enough to withstand heavy loads. You don’t want to be pussyfooting around trying make a backpack stay in place, and you certainly don’t want to worry about whether something is sturdy enough.
– Hats, gloves, mittens and scarves: I am big fan of bins for these kinds of things. One bin per person is ideal. Again, make it super easy to access.
– Sports gear: Will you allow sports paraphernalia to live in your entry? If so, a clothes hamper or bench storage can make a great receptacle. If you have a closet you can install racks and bins. You can also use duffel bags to contain the gear, using one bag per sport or per kid. And do your very best to get it off the ground (hooks are our friends!). Leaving stuff, even contained stuff like duffel bags and back packs, on the floor is the quickest way to make any space look and feel cluttered.
– Keys: Again with the hooks, but bowls and baskets work great too.
– Cellphones and sunglasses: Bowls, baskets and bins are the answer here. But if you have a narrow shelf, that’s also an ideal staging area. I keep my sunglasses on a narrow ledge shelf, just above a row of coat hooks. The bonus – they look great sitting there – kind of artsy.
– Pet stuff: Normally you would probably think to hang a leash, and that’s perfect. But you can also dedicate a bin, bowl or basket to hold your pet’s outdoor stuff. I use a big ceramic bowl. It was a bowl I loved, but it turned out not to be food safe so I re-purposed it for the furry ones. It holds leashes, throw toys and a supply of waste bags (you gotta scoop!).
Now if you have space I would strongly suggest adding a bench. Not only can you use it set down a grocery bag, but you can add storage under it. Benches don’t have to take up a lot of space, even a very small one can be incredibly useful. I would also suggest adding a mirror. Obviously great for the last minute face hair check, but the reflective quality will help brighten the space.
You may also want to hang a calendar, add a note board, or tack up a checklist. The checklist can be great if you tend to forget stuff in the morning rush. Need another tip for this scenario? Watch this video – it includes how to set up a launch pad to make sure you never forget anything again.
Of course, we mustn’t forget paper. Does your mail come in through your entryway? If it does, you need to make certain you account for how it moves through that space. Some people set up a mail processing zone in the entry, but many others use the kitchen or a home office space. If that’s you, be sure to designate a container for mail so nothing gets lost in transit. If you live in a place where you walk to get your mail, even if it’s just down a short driveway, or if you grab it while you are in the car, then choose a small bag to be your mail tote and leave it hanging in the entry for easy access. Having picked up mail in all sorts of ways – at a post office box, by car, and down a long driveway walk – the mail tote has saved the day many times (I can be a fumble fingers, so dropping mail was always a risk). Better to contain it than lose it!
Finally, add a trash can. Having ready access to a rubbish bin encourages pocket emptying and backpack purging, which helps reduce clutter.
You can pop over to Pinterest for some great visuals and inspiration on what you might do to maximize your entryway space. You can find me there too, with lots of organizing and decluttering solutions.
And if you want some extra clutter clearing help, be sure to get in on the Organizing & Simplifying E-Course – it’s free!