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5 Small Entryway Mistakes That Make Interior Designers Cringe

Small entryway design mistakes

PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

When we step into a thoughtfully designed entryway, we notice the hallmarks of a well-styled space immediately: the perfect proportions that make the area feel at once grand and inviting and the welcoming, lived-in aesthetic of a space that's organized, yet not overly contrived. However, meticulously designing an entryway in a space so small there's scarcely room for a wall-mounted hook rack can make attaining a well-appointed entryway a challenge. To find out how to make the most of an entryway lacking in square footage, we decided to consult a pro on the topic, Los Angeles-based interior designer Emily Henderson.

"The first thing I always notice in an entryway is the organization system. I am not a naturally organized person, but ironically, and unfortunately, I absolutely hate visual clutter. I really appreciate a great clutter-reducing system—like a basket for shoes, a console for keys, and hooks for jackets and bags. All in a cohesive color palette and style, of course."

So what sets a stylish and functional entry apart from the rest? Ahead, we asked Henderson to fill us in on the small-space entryway mistakes that secretly make interior designers cringe (and how to fix them). Here are the design discrepancies a pro notices immediately when she walks into a home.

Mistake #1: Not making your entry usable.

Seating ideas in a small entryway
 PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

Just because you don't have a formal entryway doesn't mean that you can't curate an organized and welcoming space on a smaller scale, Henderson tells MyDomaine. "All you need are a few hooks for coats, some kind of shoe storage, and a small seat or table/console if you can fit it," says the interior designer. "Honestly, even a little shelf with a mirror can be enough, if that works for your needs," she explains." Doing something small like placing a small bench and a shoe catch-all in your entry can make your space feel so much better and organized, reassures Henderson.

High Back Bench
Rejuvenation High Back Bench $899.00
Faux Sheepskin Throw
Serena & Lily Wool Sheepskin Throw $198.00

Mistake #2: Not having a place to put your things.

Small entryway ideas
 PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

For Henderson, one of the keys to designing a functional entryway is ensuring that there's a place for the everyday items you grab on your way out the door—and stash away as soon as you come home. "Only you know how you walk through the door, so think that through and design an organization system for your lifestyle needs," advises the designer. Take style notes from the entryway above and install a wall-mounted hook rack in a small-space entryway that lacks the space for a table or console.

West Elm Extra Large Mid-Century Hook Rack $120.00
Industrial shoe rack
West Elm Industrial Shoe Rack $160.00

Mistake #3: Not considering it the first impression of your home.

 PHOTO: David Tsay; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

"Your entry, no matter how big or small, is the first thing you and your guests see when they walk into your home," explains Henderson. "It's a huge opportunity to show your personality and character. Don't treat it like it's a throwaway area," she cautions. "Put up a great mirror, paint it a bold color, bring in something vintage—whatever it is, it should say something about you."

Round Mirror
Rejuvenation 36" Round Metal Framed Mirror $529.00
Abstract art
Jean-François Le Minh Untitled (6), Oil, Pigment, Charcoa, Collages on Paper $750.00

Mistake #4: Not including a place to sit.

 PHOTO: Sara Tramp; DESIGN: Emily Henderson

Another mistakes that plague entryways everywhere, according to Henderson, is forgoing furniture that offers a seat. "This is plain ol' simple function and form all rolled into one," explains Henderson. "A place to sit when you are putting on or taking off your shoes is so nice (even if it's small). Plus, it's a great place to show off your style with a cool piece," she notes. Follow Henderson's lead and curate a small vignette at the end of a long bench to add visual interest to the space. Here, a tall terra-cotta vase filled with palm fronds and a stack of design books lends personality to a minimalist entryway.

Jens Bench
Jens Risom Jens Bench $1,895.00 $1,611.00

Mistake #5: Not remembering the importance of scale.

PHOTO: Tessa Neustadt; DESIGN: Mel Burstin for EHD

"Don't overcrowd your entryway," warns Henderson. "Make sure the pieces you choose aren't too big. Real estate is usually pretty precious in a foyer so you don't want to open your door and feel like you are going to bump into things," she notes. "Claustrophobia is real in an entryway with too many things." If you're short on space, edit down to the essentials, as demonstrated by the entry picture above, which features a simple bench, a small catchall dish, and an eye-catching triptych. Then—and only then—layer in a few aesthetic extras, such as linen pillows and a faux sheepskin throw for texture, or a potted plant for a lively pop of greenery.

Marietta Cohen Abstract Birch Trees Triptych
Marietta Cohen Abstract Birch Trees Triptych Canvas Art Print $400.00
Yvonne Mouser Modern Long Ash Bucket Bench
Yvonne Mouser Modern Long Ash Bucket Bench $670.00