Reader SOS – Small Entryway Ideas

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for this series is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

How Can I Make The Most Of My Small & Narrow Entryway?

Today’s design dilemma comes from Gracie in Florida. She needs help with the main entryway to their home. It’s a tight space and Gracie wants it to be a welcoming spot for her guests since it’s the first space they see when coming into her home. Let’s dive into her design dilemma and see if we can come up with some small entryway ideas and much-needed storage.

Gracie’s Design Dilemma

entryway empty hallway

My family and I recently purchased a new home. It is a new construction home, but very “cookie-cutter” and builder-basic. One part of the home that is completely stumping me is the entryway. As soon as you walk through the front door, the space is pretty tight.

entryway doors

Adjacent to the front door is our 5th bedroom which we use as a playroom. Next to that is a bathroom, and the half-wall staircase. The entryway consists of a narrow hallway leading to the home’s main part—kitchen, dining, and living room.

entryway sos before

We don’t use the front door—we enter our home through our garage and the mudroom. However, all of our guests use the front door. We have a “no-shoe” policy in our home, and it is quite awkward when we ask guests to remove their shoes. There is no seating, so they have to balance or hold onto the wall while they take off their shoes. There is no designated spot for shoes, so their shoes are just casually set aside. I would love to have a bench or chair for guests to sit to remove their shoes comfortably, and then a storage area for their shoes.


There is a space in the entryway between the playroom and bathroom, but it is occupied by my 30-year-old Yamaha Keyboard. I don’t love having the keyboard here, but unfortunately, this is the only place in our home that currently makes sense for the keyboard. I would love to either hang a mirror or artwork above the keyboard.

Small Entryway Ideas

I will admit, that this smaller space is a tricky one! Especially since the piano is taking up valuable real estate in this small area. However, I’m always up for a challenge and I think I have some ideas that could work for this narrow space.

  • Change piano chairs to one long bench
  • Add a round mirror over the piano
  • Add board and batten with peg hooks to the long hallway wall
  • Incorporate picture ledge above board and batten for art/frames
  • Install creative shoe storage on the wall
  • Lay area rug in space to incorporate some color and pattern

Making The Most Of The Piano Area

Creating a functional entryway
My Mom’s Hallway Entry

Even though the piano is staying in this small foyer, we are still going to make the most of that spot. I like Gracie’s initial idea to add a mirror over the piano. I love a mirror in an entryway to bounce natural light and give you a spot to check yourself out before heading out the front door.

I would encourage her to find a statement mirror large enough that takes up at least 2/3 the width of the piano above and follow these tips when hanging it. Traditionally, I would hang this mirror over a narrow console table or small table (like in my mom’s entryway, above), but there isn’t enough room for that. Instead, the piano could act as a table in this situation.

My best small entryway ideas to make the most of this space

Instead of the two chairs facing the piano, I would go for one long bench. I know Gracie wanted some sort of seating for her guests when they take off their shoes at her front door and this is the only viable option with this space. Instead of having to turn the piano chair around, guests can simply pull out the bench to get their shoes on and off. Bonus points if the bench opens up and has storage inside for guests to neatly tuck their shoes inside! I’m digging this one and the price point is so good.

Piano styling inspiration
Piano styling inspiration via Crystal Ann Interiors

It’s hard for me to tell from the pictures, but I also love the idea of adding some sort of lighting to this little area, especially if anyone wants to play the keyboard at night. I would try to place a table lamp on top of the keyboard area, although I’m not a musician and I don’t know if this is a “no-no”. If there isn’t enough space, I would use up some wall space and have sconces flanking the mirror. More light would help this space feel bigger and more elegant.

Bring On The Board & Batten

Adding a wall of board and batten to my sister's entryway
Board & Batten Tutorial

You guys know I love a good accent wall and I believe narrow hallways can always use a little woodworking! I would opt for a traditional board and batten, similar to what I recently added in my sister’s hallway.

Mudroom from Francois et moi
Mudroom inspiration via Francois et moi

I’m not sure about the style and color scheme of the rest of Gracie’s home, but she did mention that she wants to inject more personality into the builder-basic home. Therefore, I would go for a color on the bottom portion of the walls. I love the pale blue in the gorgeous entrance by Erin from Francois et moi as inspiration. A sage green would be pretty too!

Instead of traditional wall hooks, I think wood pegs would look sharp. Plus, these coat hooks would be a great place for guests to hang their bags and jackets when they come through the home’s entryway since there isn’t a coat closet. I also love these hanging baskets to add texture and more storage.

Picture Ledge Above The Wood Wall Treatment

Adding a picture ledge over the board and batten
Inspiration via Nesting With Grace

When installing the board and batten, I would add an extra lip at the top of the wood to create picture ledge shelves (similar to this tutorial). That way, Gracie could layer frames along the wall, welcoming guests into her home. This would be the ultimate place to display her favorite wall art, family photos, and more.

How to install a picture ledge
Picture Ledge Tutorial

I always love a picture ledge because you can easily move things around and swap things out. Shifting around a gallery wall is a bit trickier, so this offers a bit more flexibility with your wall decor, which is always a good idea.

Creative Shoe Storage

creative shoe storage
Shoe Racks

As mentioned a minute ago, Gracie could opt for a bench with secret storage. But you can never have enough storage solutions, so I came up with another idea for the shoes. I came across these wall-mounted shoe racks and I thought they were a cool solution. She could install two of these, low to the ground, behind the front door so guests could easily slip their shoes inside. I would even paint them the same color as the wall to blend in!

In many small entryways, you can often just add storage baskets for guest’s shoes. I don’t think there’s a proper spot for a basket in Gracie’s small space, so I think using vertical wall storage is the best idea because it has a small footprint.

Layer In A Large Area Rug

Normally, I would opt for a runner for a long hallway like this one. However, since we’re also including the piano area, I think it’s best to go for an area rug that goes from the front door to the stairs, and from the board and batten to underneath the piano. This floor space is another place to add some color and personality.

Ruggable Rug
Washable Area Rug

I love this gorgeous area rug because it’s washable! Not only does it hide dirt, but you can throw it in the washing machine if it gets really dirty. This is a must for an entryway space.

Small Entrance Design – The Mood Board

Let’s take a look at the new warm welcome you would receive when entering Gracie’s home. I think this would make a good first impression on any of her guests with the oversized mirror, small bench, and unique entryway wall. Plus, it proves that no matter the size of your entryway, you can still create a high impact space.

How to make the most of a small and narrow entryway

Storage Bench // Fluted Table Lamp // Brass Wall Mirror // Area Rug // Peg Wall Hooks // Winter Wonderland Art & Frame // Landscape Art // Rope Hanging Basket // Black Photo Frame

Gracie, please keep us posted if you follow through with these entryway decor ideas. I think these changes would go a long way in making it a more functional space for your family and visitors.

Taking Reader SOS Submissions For 2024!

I am taking on new Reader SOS submissions for 2024. To submit your space, send me an email at [email protected]. Please include multiple photos of your space, your style preferences, the room dimensions, and any other information about your design dilemma.


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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