Having a lavish mudroom complete with shelves, hooks and monogrammed baskets for each member of the family (including the dog) is something of an urban dweller’s fantasy. But no matter how many catalog pages you tear out showing spacious mudrooms with barn coats and wellies lined up in neat rows, if your home lacks a devoted entrance space, you’ll need a different plan of attack when the mucky boots and raincoats start piling up this fall. To help, here are 11 solutions to four of the most common storage problems: shoes, coats, paper and miscellany. Pick and choose to find the organizing strategy that’s right for you.
Storage Problem: Shoes
Solution: Mixed living room shelving. Instead of devoting all your living room shelving to books and media, alleviate some of the doorway clutter by reserving space for shoes and the like. A modular shelving system like the one shown here can easily handle books and shoes, as well as provide a spot for sitting.
Solution: Storage bench. When your front door opens directly into the living room, shoes inevitably pile up near the door. If walking a few steps farther to place your shoes in a cubby system (as shown in the previous photo) is not likely to work for all of your household, a storage bench could be just the ticket. Placed beside the front door, it looks like part of your living room scheme but can hide a good number of shoes inside.
Solution: Slim table. For some reason, shoes by themselves on the floor tend to look messy, even when neatly lined up — but place them under a slim table and the row of shoes and boots suddenly looks like it’s supposed to be there. It’s not easy to find extremely slim tables, so if your available space is narrow, you may need to look for a customizable option or build one yourself.
Solution: Cupboard under the stairs. If there are stairs near your home’s entrance (and you’re willing and able to have some construction done) an under-the-stairs spot could prove quite useful. Put that wasted space to work!
Storage Problem: Paper
Solution: Retail-style display. A wall-mounted wire rack near the front door makes a handy spot for organizing incoming and outgoing mail. To keep the organizer from looking messy, make a habit of going through it each week, and front each slot with a pretty art card, photo or small print.
Solution: Skirted table. With a tailored, floor-length cloth covering it, a table can hide all sorts of stuff underneath. If paper is what’s giving you a headache, hide a filing cabinet or file boxes under a skirted table and position it in the nearest available space to the door. When you come home with a pile of mail to file, you can place the items you want to read on a tray on top of the table and file the rest away out of sight.
Storage Problem: Coats
Solution: Unique wall hooks. When your entry is also your living space, wall hooks for holding coats can be an efficient way to keep the area around the front door neat. But instead of plain hooks or pegs, which can easily get swamped by a few coats, why not choose something more eye-catching? A cluster of large, bright hooks like these can handle even heavy winter coats, and they look great when empty too. Or repurpose a bunch of mismatched doorknobs by hanging them at different levels for a quirky, vintage-inspired look.
Solution: Coat tree. If free wall space is in short supply, consider a coat tree. Slim and tall, it can tuck into any available corner, ready to hold coats, hats and umbrellas. Look for one that works with the rest of the decor in the room where it will stand.
Solution: Corner built-in. Have an unused corner? A custom built-in is a great way to maximize a sliver of space and get exactly the type of storage you need. A high shelf, coat hooks, a bench and shoe storage can all fit within a compact space if it’s well-thought-out.
Storage Problem: Miscellany
Solution: Storage added to a console. A row of neat wooden crates or lidded baskets lined up beneath a console table (either on a lower shelf or on the floor) can help sort out those miscellaneous items that tend to migrate near the door — the dog’s leash, a stockpile of mittens, your gym bag. If the console is a bit farther from the door than you’d like (in the dining room, say) you can at least use it just before friends arrive as a quick tidying-up spot to stash things that have cluttered up the entry.
Solution: Closed storage in the next room. It’s a great benefit to have a bit of closed storage relatively near the door to hide messy-looking items. If the closest room is the living or dining room, you might utilize a credenza or storage cabinet. If your entry is in the kitchen, consider clearing out part of a cupboard or closet to use for stowing away your bag, scarf and boots.
Tell us: Do you have a dedicated mudroom? If not, how do you corral shoes, coats, paper and more? Share a photo in the Comments