This post is sponsored by IKEA. Use our ideas to organize your hallway, and avoid having your entryway be an obstacle course.
Images and text by Gabrielle.
Do you have a mudroom? And by mudroom I mean a place to put jackets and bags and school work and backpacks and cellphones and on and on as you come into the house? We don’t have a mudroom at the moment — in fact, I don’t think we’ve ever had one. So in every house we’ve lived in we have to figure out an alternative solution. In The Treehouse, our entry is very simple — no coat closet or any storage at all — and it opens immediately to the living room. It was filling up with backpacks and jackets and deliveries every day after school and we couldn’t quite figure out how to best use the space — until I spent some time considering the hallway.
The hallway in question is just off the entry, and you don’t see it when you first come in, so it’s not part of the first impression of the home — making it a potentially good option for stashing that mess that was piling up each day. As I’m sure you know, hallways have a reputation for being a sort of waste of space — square footage that you can’t really live in. But the more I looked at it, the more I wondered if we could make the hallway more functional, if we could transform it into our “mudroom”. IKEA really shines when you need to problem solve a solution like this in your home, so I was delighted as can be to partner with them on this project. They have so many options that work in a tight space!
At first, I was mostly thinking hooks. Hooks everywhere! As many as we could fit. But then I started really thinking about how we would use the space, and hooks didn’t quite cover it. We needed a place to gather papers and mail as they came into the house. We needed a place to corral keys, cell phones, ipods, etc. We needed a place to tuck away heavy teenage backpacks (the sort that are too heavy for wall hooks).
So I went to IKEA, measuring tape in hand, and walked through every space in the store making notes about products that might work, snapping reference photos, and jotting down ideas — I particularly kept my eyes open for narrow pieces that would leave plenty of pass-through space in the hallway. Though it might look more generous in these photos, the hallway measures a typical 45″ wide (see the “before” pic at bottom for reference). Then I sat down at home and sketched out some options.
Here are the solutions I came up with:
1) Disappearing Wall Hooks. I adore these! Pull them down when you need them, and fold them up when you don’t. They’re handsome and sturdy — in store, they even showed these hooks holding a skateboard. We use them for jackets and hoodies, scarves and hats, for our reusable shopping totes, and the lightweight backpacks of our youngest kids. When they’re open, the hook is deep enough to hold multiple items — like a bag and a scarf.
We have hooks at 3 heights — two hooks were installed especially for June, at a height she can easily reach.
2) Storage Cubbies. These are essential for keeping things off the floor and tidy. We use the bigger cubbies for heavy backpacks, and the smaller ones for shoes or packages from the mail box. I played around with a few options here (you can see my alternative sketches below), and eventually decided on this piece, which is actually a sofa table! It’s made to sit along the back of a sofa and hold magazines, books and decor. But that’s one of the genius things about IKEA — discovering new uses for their smart pieces. We can imagine this same sofa table having a second life as a book shelf in the reading nook — it’s solid wood, so we could even repaint it!
During the day, when the kids are at school, the cubbies sit mostly empty, but they fill up again by the evening.
3) Table & Writing Surface. I considered a long desk, but when we decided on the sofa table for backpack storage, we knew the top surface would do the trick.
But it was a little too low to be a comfortable writing surface, so we added wheels! This gave the cubbies a boost in height, and also makes it easy to move around — in case our needs change and we need to add anything to the space.
4) Paper Organizer. We have a home office where the heavy duty paperwork happens, but it’s in the opposite corner of the home, and upstairs, from the front door. And instead of making it to the office, papers end up in all sorts of places as the family comes home with notes from school, and mail from the mailbox, and receipts from errands. I needed a place to gather all those papers until it’s time to take them into the home office. And some papers, like field trip permission slips, never need to make it upstairs at all, and just need a temporary place in our home. This wall-mounted magazine rack was just the thing! It doesn’t take up much space and I can assign each pocket to different needs (school, mail, etc.).
Related, we added a paper bin directly below to gather recycling as we sort papers — junk mail goes immediately there without ever seeing the file rack.
5) Color Palette. It’s a tight space, and with those little windows, it can feel dark and gloomy on foggy days, so I went with mostly whites, and natural accents, to keep it open and bright and welcoming. I started with a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and added a strip of color around the base to add some interest and weight without being too heavy. The colors are Origami White and Silverpointe from Sherwin-Williams in semi-gloss Harmony. I know flat is recommended to hide wall imperfections, but this is a high-traffic area and I need to be able to scrub those walls! I’d rather have clean than perfect, so semi-gloss it is.
I intentionally kept the opposite wall completely empty to make sure the hallway didn’t feel crowded.
6) Gathering Tray. A place to corral phones, paperclips, pens, notepads, wallets, keys… all those little moving parts that we need to keep the house running smoothly. We own a serving tray in glossy white with a low profile that was perfect!
7) A Place To Sit. Somewhere Little June can sit while I tie her sneakers, or Maude can sit to pull off muddy running shoes. And someplace I can sit to write a note or a shopping list. We have this gorgeous handmade stool, and it fit the space perfectly.
(Speaking of notes, I keep a little stack of these tiny notes from Emily McDowell in the gathering tray to add to lunchboxes.)
8) Decorate. Once the hallway was functional, I was able to decorate. I added a collection of beautiful succulents (only $3 each in the IKEA garden department!) in simple, inexpensive pots, and I hung one as well in a pretty woven basket. I put my favorite Matisse print on the wall — it was actually the first thing we had framed when we married, we’ve had it for 18 years and it wouldn’t feel like home without it.
I added a long narrow rug — somewhere to wipe your feet or put wet shoes. This rug happens to have some family history. It’s a Navajo rug handed down to me from my parents. My parents spent many years working on the Navajo Reservation — in fact, my oldest brother is a Navajo. So this rug means something to our family. I filled one of the cubbies with this wide lantern, just because it was so charming.
Lastly, I added a sweet, simple garland made of acorns and twine.
This is also one of those instances where our non-decorative belongings also get the chance to function as the decor — like our jackets and umbrellas. Since they’re on display, it’s great incentive to own beautiful things! : )
What we didn’t include, but considered? A shoe rack! We’ve had homes where we went shoe free in the house, but here, we’ve had so much remodeling that we’ve had more of a shoes on policy — no stepping on a forgotten nail with bare feet, please! Plus, with all the decks, it’s such an indoor/outdoor house that keeping shoes on often makes sense. So everyone’s shoes have mostly ended up coming off in their bedrooms. Which frankly, is kind of nice. But if the time comes when we start to see a pile of shoes forming near the door, there is plenty of room in the hallway for a handsome shoe rack.
The very best part is that we took a previously unused space in the house, and made it truly functional — and beautiful too! And the cost to get it functional (3 packs of wall hooks, sofa table + wheels, magazine rack, trash can) was only $270. Not bad!
I have to tell you, this is the first space we’ve actually painted and put together and decorated in The Treehouse and it feels so good! Now I’d love to hear: Do you have a mudroom? If not, how do you handle keeping chaos out of the entryway? Also, do you think this space would work for your family?
P.S. — Here are sketches of other options I considered, plus a before and after pic:
For this one I thought about working in some bolder colors. For backpacks, flexible fabric bins in black (to hide the dirt) on a simple board (like the board on this shelf) — with wheels added to take it off the floor. I like things off the floor because it makes sweeping and dusting easier. On the wall, I’d put this tall, glossy red bathroom cabinet to corral cellphones, waterbottles, etc. I thought a long bench next to the bins could be great, but ultimately decided the cubbies made more sense.
Two of the same sofa tables side-by-side. This would provide 8 of the square cubbies — and there are 8 people in our family! But using two of these really ate up the space for wall hooks. So I nixed this idea. We need those hooks!