If there’s one place in the home that cries out for organization, it’s the foyer. Navigating it can even become a safety hazard, not to mention other dire consequences: Lose your car keys? Be late for work. Missing homework? First grader’s tantrum. Can’t find the dog’s leash? Uh-oh, puddle on the floor.
Whatever the size of your foyer — whether it’s a grand, two-story space with commodious closets or barely a space at all — here are the essentials for a more functional foyer that’s also more fun.
1. Wall Color
Conventional wisdom often dictates that the use of white paint creates the illusion of larger space, but unless you have a really tiny vestibule, you can afford to go bold in a room you pass through quickly. So go ahead and wow visitors with a pop of something fearless. Orange? Scarlet? Teal? Washable high-gloss paint makes short work of scuff marks and fingerprints. A gallon should do it. $36
Do keep the ceiling white, though, to head off claustrophobia.
Related: How to Pick Paint Colors
2. Easy-Clean Flooring
A foyer needs a floor that can handle the wear and tear of comings and goings. Sure, ceramic or marble are nice, but self-adhesive 12-by-12-inch vinyl squares go down easy, can be laid on a diagonal for a diamond pattern, and cost only 69 cents a square foot. Black and white checkerboard is classic and graphic, but you can also create stripes, a contrasting border, and any color combo you like. Just make sure you choose something that works with the colors in the next room.
3. Room Divider
Don’t have a dedicated foyer? Create one — or the illusion of one — with a room divider to ensure the foyer and all the stuff that ends up there doesn’t leak into the living area. It could be a bookshelf, a screen, or a couple of IKEA’s new vertical 3-pot plant stands for a welcome-home filled with greenery. $40
4. Boot Tray
Providing one or more trays for wet boots and shoes is a game-changer if all you’re used to is a pile in the corner. Go decorative if you like, but a large aluminum baking sheet with a lip, available online for $7, works just as well.
You need something to sit on while taking off those muddy boots. If it’s built-in and hinged for inside storage (think soccer balls, ice skates), so much the better. But a less-expensive option is to gussy up an old blanket chest or old camp trunk with fresh paint. Find one on eBay or in a thrift store or flea market and you’re good to go.
Related: 4 Neat and Tidy DIY Storage Ideas
6. Key Rack
Make it an ironclad family habit: When you come in, hang keys immediately on a dedicated key rack on the wall just inside the door, like this one. $12. DIYing one with the kids makes it fun.
7. Coat Hooks and Shelves
Be as generous with coat hooks as wall space allows, but don’t let things get out of hand. Stash anything not currently in season or in use in the nearest closet. If you need more space for hats, bike helmets, and items only the grown-ups need access to, add a shelf. A continuous shelf running around the room just a foot or two short of the ceiling makes use of vertical space and keeps less frequently used items out of the way.
8. Umbrella Stand
Another must: a spot for umbrellas in a corner near the door. Buy a pretty one, or repurpose a tall wire wastebasket.
9. Table or Console
If you have room, go for a narrow table or console for library books that need returning, outgoing mail, a lamp. Many available online for around $100.
10. Lockers or Cubbies
Really squeezed for space? You can still give each kid his or her own little cubby for books, homework, gym gear. Cubbies are available at all price points.
A wall mirror for last-minute hair check and tie-straightening is vital. Bonus: It reflects additional light into the room.
12. Good Lighting
The all-important entry area needs ample illumination. Did you know that outdoor lanterns tend to be much less expensive? Nowhere is it written you can’t use one indoors. Styles vary from rustic to traditional to Arts and Crafts. $50