Sneaking in Storage:  De-Cluttering Your Home with an Entryway Storage Bench

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Sneaking in Storage:  De-Cluttering Your Home with an Entryway Storage Bench

Imagine walking through the front door of your home.  What greets you?  Is everything perfectly in order, tidy, and welcoming?  Or do you step into a quagmire of cast-off shoes, bags, junk mail, lunchboxes, umbrellas, and that pile of overdue library books intentionally left there to remind you of your tardiness?  We humbly suggest that you shouldn’t have to beat an obstacle course to get into your own house.  Here are some tips for clearing the way.

The rest of my house is pristine.  Why should I care about the entryway?
Coming home is a powerful experience.  A person’s relationship with their home affects their behavior, relationships, and attitude.  The return into a safe home is a natural act of letting your guard down.  The pretensions of the day come off at the door, and so do shoes and coats and briefcases.  Taking off your shoes is a sweet physical reward, especially coming at the end of a long workday.   Now, instead of being “put together” and sitting, standing, or holding your body in tension, you can literally come home to your body and attend to its needs.
It makes sense that our entryways get cluttered, because this is where the transition from “away” to “home” happens.  This is where we shed the burdensome things that belong outside in the world.  But this clutter becomes a wall.  It becomes one more thing that has to be conquered before you can relax.  It sets the tone for your entrance into more comfortable surroundings.  If you’ve already had a stressful day, wading through clutter (even if it’s on the way to a wonderfully kept room) is not going to do anything good for your attitude.  Just think:  this is the first impression, the beginning.  It is the first impression your guests have as they enter your home.  It is also the last little contact you have with your home as you leave to begin your day.  While the foyer is a small space, it is a big deal; these are impressions that last, that matter for hours and days longer than the few seconds you spend entering and leaving your house.

What can I do to keep my entry space organized?

When it comes to organizing, attitude is everything.  If you come up with a system that’s too strict for you to obey, clutter will return.  Be realistic about the changes you’re going to make, and commit to sticking to those changes.

Use Hooks.

Make sure there are enough hooks on the wall for the number of people in your household.  Things will stay tidier if every person has their own hook (or hanger, if you’re using an armoire or a closet for jackets).  You can designate spaces with labels if this is helpful.  Think logically when you assign storage space to the people in your home.  (For example, the highest hook on a hall tree belongs to the tallest person.)  Agree to use your hook, and only your hook.  Always keep a spare hook for guests, so that people know there is a place for them when they come into your home.  It is a meaningful act of hospitality.  Preparing a space for your friend’s coat is a sign that you cared enough to think about them even before they were physically with you.

Contain Shoes.

You need a designated place for shoes to be kept, otherwise they’ll be flung anywhere and everywhere a scrap of floor is showing.  Keeping shoes in a pile is a problem for lots of reasons, as I’ve said.  A big one is that piles make it near impossible to keep a pair of shoes together.  You need spaces for shoes that will house them in pairs, in case you ever need to get out the door in a hurry and don’t want to sift through fifteen left-footed shoes to find anything at all that matches.

Cubbies are a great strategy for shoes.  You can use the same system we talked about for coats – each person has a designated (and, if necessary, labeled,) storage space.  Keep a space open for guests.  Some storage options have open cubbies, and some allow you to hide your organization behind doors.  Winter poses some problems because many winter boots are taller than a shoe cubby.  This is where a storage bench is a marvelous solution.  It gives you a place to sit down, containing your melty, slushy boot mess to a small area while you battle your frozen laces.  Once the boots are off, just lift the lid of the bench and tuck them away inside.  It’s helpful to place a boot tray at the bottom of the bench to contain any nasty messes.

Other Tips:

A hall seat is a wonderful way to enforce your new systems of organization.  It invites you to sit down and take off your shoes and coat.  This keeps you from walking all the way in before you’ve shed your baggage.  It is an invitation and a reminder:  slow down, switch gears, remember why it’s important to put things in their place before you barrel into or out of the house.

Keeping a mirror by the door is an opportunity for a check-in on the way in or out.  If your front door has or is near a window, a mirror will also catch the daylight and brighten your threshold space.  A mirror makes any space seem bigger, and an elegant design makes a pleasing decoration.

Be realistic about your needs.  If you live with many people, it can be helpful to have a designated slot or drawer for keeping each person’s mail, so nothing important gets lost.  If you always put your big, bulky bag on the floor right in the walkway, hang a pegboard on the wall specifically for holding bags.  Keep winter gear like mittens, gloves, and scarves tidy by hiding them away in a drawer.  Store umbrellas in a drawer when they’re not being used and hang them up to dry over a plastic boot tray when they’re wet.

And, perhaps most importantly, allow yourself one junk drawer.  If the idea of totally eliminating all clutter sounds impossible, fear not!  It is ok to allocate one small drawer for keeping things that you don’t need right now but don’t want to throw away and don’t have a good place to keep them.  Just don’t let the junk drawer breed a mess that grows larger and larger until it takes over the whole room.  And don’t put anything important in there either, because it might be a long time before it surfaces again.  Those are the two guidelines for effectively allowing a little bit of mess to keep from disrupting your whole system:  Junk ONLY goes in the junk drawer, and ONLY junk goes in the junk drawer.

To make your home space more welcoming, you only need a few simple strategies and tools for de-cluttering your entryway.  Many storage pieces are very attractive designs that combine all the tools you’d want.  If you’re interested in a made-to-order or totally customized storage solution for your entryway, contact Plain and Simple today.