Who wants to come home after a long day, walk in the door and trip over shoes, backpacks, and computer bags? This doesn’t really set the mood for a relaxing evening. Whether you enter your home through the garage or through the front door, creating an entryway that is inviting and uncluttered can set the stage for how you, your family, and friends feel when they enter your home.

Have a designated drop spot for each member of your family to put their jacket, backpack or computer bag, keys, cell phone, and shoes. My recommended design is a 3-tiered system (see photo from the Brady line at Pottery Barn):

  • Lowest Tier – consists of bins or baskets to house shoes.
  • Middle Tier – is a shelf or bench where you can set purses, backpacks, computer bags, and lunch boxes. Within the middle tier use wall hooks or a hanging rod (suspended from the upper tier shelf) to hang coats and jackets.
  • Upper Tier – houses keys, lose change, cell phones, cell phone chargers, ipods, hats, gloves, and other small items.

Try to designate one section of the tier for each family member so that each person has a basket for shoes, a space to put their bag, a hook for their jacket, and a place to empty their pockets. Use labels or baskets in various colors to differentiate the sections and what belongs in them (e.g. Billy’s shoes, Julia’s backpack, etc.)

To create a 3 tier entry system purchase a ready made system through IKEA, Pottery Barn, and the like. OR, if you have a closet near your entry, maximize your space beyond standard shelf and rod using one of these options:

  • Complete Do it Yourself – Home Depot, IKEA and Orchard Supply offer a limited number of storage solutions as well as closet systems that are inexpensive and relatively easy to install.
  • Assisted Design and Installation – Container Store offers a variety of storage solutions as well as a ventilated shelving system (Elfa) in a moderate price range. You get the benefit of professional design consultation, good customer service, and a liberal exchange/return policy. The Elfa system is designed to be do it yourself, but the Container Store also offers installation service for a fee.
  • Professional Design and Installation – There are multitudes of companies offering customized closet systems. They offer the benefit of one-on-on professional design, solid shelving in many types and colors, and professional installation. Valet Organizers is a locally owned Bay Area company with showrooms in Campbell and Los Altos.

If you truly don’t have room by your entry to create an organized drop spot, then choose a place close by and train your family to put their stuff there. It can be another room, a closet down the hall, or a section of a bedroom.

A few other helpful containers can keep your entry looking clean and uncluttered:

  • Basket for Mail Drop – Use attractive bins or baskets to house mail before you have a chance to go through it. Try to recycle or shred the junk mail immediately or every other day, then process your mail at least once a week. Be sure to make the time to go through the basket so it does not become an overflowing mess.
  • “Out” Basket – Use it to store items you need to take with you. It can hold library books to return, dry cleaning you are taking with you the next day, or other errand type item. Check the basket as you walk out the door and grab what you need to take with you in the car.
  • Charging Station – Create a charging station for your cell phone, blackberry, digital camera, or ipod so they are ready to go when you walk out the door.

Keeping your entry uncluttered can be a challenge at times, but by having good drop spots, a place for mail, and an outbox, you’ll create a space that welcomes you every time you enter your home.