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4 Best Ways to Approach Decorating a Small Entryway

Today I want to delve into decorating a small entryway. It’s so hard to track down good advice in this area. Most of the mags and sites have these tips accompanied by jumbo entrances. But let’s talk real-world size rooms!

Decorating a small entryway doesn’t mean letting go of style. Because here’s the truth: cosy and cramped spaces can look fantastic too! Good things do come in small packages, I promise. Except for piccolos of champagne. That’s just a tease and I demand a full bottle!

I have a small entryway in my own home, so trust and believe that this advice is straight from the horses own abode. So let’s jump right into my divine and delicious tips for decorating a small entryway. I’ll credit all the images for this post at the end too, so you know where they’re from.

round entryway mirror above slimline entry table by h and g designs

1. The Entry Table & Mirror Combo

This is a classic staple when decorating your entryway, regardless of size. It’s a cute combo because it doesn’t just look good, but it functions well too. Who doesn’t love to do a final check in the mirror before they leave the house? And who doesn’t love a spot to dump your keys and other bibs and bobs when you come home? An entry table and mirror combo gives you both of those essentials.

In a small entryway, size really matters.

It’s so important to choose the right entry table as your starting point. And yes, I’d buy the table first and the mirror second. That’s because you never want the width of the mirror to be longer than the width of your table. It’s a proportion no-no. It’s also way easier to find the ideal mirror than it is the table. So hunt down the hardest item first and work from there.

So with a small entryway, you want a table with a depth no bigger than 30-40cm. This can vary, of course, depending on the size of your entryway, but it’s a safe bet. Nothing worse than buying an entry table and getting it home to discover it engulfs the entire area. Allow yourself about 80cm walking room from the front of the table across to the opposite wall. If you take these measurements before you even start shopping you won’t make any mistakes 😉

I prefer to use entry tables with either no drawers or minimal ones in small entryways. You want a slimline profile, and often a table with drawers all the way down is just too visually heavy. If anything, two shallow drawers at the top of the table is OK. But don’t go for a full unit with drawers all the way down. You want a delicate moment, not a beast.

chris carroll tlc interiors large round black mirror in bathroom

Choosing your Mirror is an Adventure

And it can be quite a fun adventure. But you do need to keep a few things in mind. Mainly what sort of vibe you want to create when you first walk in the door. The shape of your mirror is going to dictate how the space feels, and so will the frame. So here are some quick things to think about regarding shape:

The mirror frame can change everything too. A simple black frame on a round mirror, for example, feels quite modern and clean. Simple and minimalistic. Whereas an elaborate frame with a lot of embellishment feels more dramatic. In a small entryway, I’d avoid the latter: too much visual interest in a small space can feel overwhelming.

If you have questions about product choices, drop a comment below or come join my private Facebook group so we can help you out!

white panel entryway with white bench seat with cushions and hooks on entryway wall

2. The Bench Seat and Hook Situation

This is an especially good one for quite a tight entryway. And let’s face it, some entryways are so tight you could barely even call them an entryway. More a small slither of wall by the front door. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress the wall to give it some purpose. And the bench seat and hook situation is a killer option.

Choosing the Right Bench Seat

I am living for bench seats right now. They’re really having their moment, and loads of stores are stocking them. This post has a list of the best benches on the market right now. So click the link and explore it after you’re done with this article.

Choosing a bench seat for your small entryway all comes down to size and style.

Regarding size, you can have the seat to take up the entire length of wall. But only if you want it to feel more built-in, like in the image above. Notice how the material on the bench is the same as the wall? It feels like one purposeful unit – and painted the same colour too, which is key.

But if you’re buying a freestanding bench seat, you’ll want some breathing room either side. This will help give the illusion of more space because air can flow in and around the piece of furniture. I’d also opt for a seat on thin legs and one raised off the ground so air can flow underneath. This is crucial in a super-tight area.

When it comes to style, take cues from the rest of your home. If it’s a coastal or boho scheme, go for a light timber with a rustic feel. If your home is more luxe, a bench with a velvet fabric top could work well. It’s nice though to choose a colour and material that’s different to your floors.

small entryway with ottomans and wall hooks and floating shelf

Hooks Should Team with the Theme

There are loads of hooks and hangers on the market at the moment. And to be honest, don’t invest too much money here. As long as the style of hook speaks to the style of the bench seat beneath it, you’re onto a winner. It’s actually far more important to consider what you’ll use the hooks for than it is how they look.

The function the hooks will serve will help determine the height you hang them. Are you displaying hats here (if so, this post has amazing tips on a decorative hat wall)? Or long scarves and coats? Do kids need to hang their school bags on them? Ask yourself these questions and play-out hanging things up on the wall before you nail your hooks in. Because let’s be real: if the hooks are too high, you just won’t use them.

If you have the space, you might even want to hang belly baskets on the wall off hooks. A great storage idea if you need it (especially for kids’ stuff).

Decorating a Small Entryway: Bonus Tip!

A bench seat that’s raised off the ground on thin legs allows you to store boxes or baskets underneath it, which can be a godsend if you need somewhere to kick shoes off when you get in from work. Measure the length and depth of the section underneath your bench seat before you shop. It’ll help you calculate the amount of boxes you can fit in. And remember to leave some gap between baskets.

round black mirror in entryway above floating timber shelf small entryway decorating ideas

3. The Slimline Shelf

Some entryways are tighter than my waistband after Christmas lunch. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a glorious design moment happening in this zone. It just means you have to be super smart about what you place in this area. And as you suspected, less is more.

I don’t have a tonne of tips for this concept because the image above well does a lot of the work in helping you visualise the idea. A small wall, with a slim shelf installed, and a mirror placed above. It make the zone feel like it has purpose but by no means is it dominant or overwhelming.

The one tip I do have for this concept is just to be careful with sharp corners – especially with kids around. You might opt for a shelf with rounded edges instead, or to place the shelf higher up on the wall.

I love H&G Designs for slimline shelves. They’re so wonderfully contemporary and chic, and there’s loads of options on offer.

Don’t forget to style around the slimline shelf too. Decorate with objects on the shelf itself (but keep it minimal), and don’t forget underneath. I love the shot above because it shows you how a small plant, some ‘lived-in’ moments, and a runner on the floor can make a small entryway feel really welcoming.

large artwork inside front door decorating a small entryway

4. The Magic of Just One Artwork

Last but not least is decorating a small entryway when it really is barely an entryway. A lot of homes (especially smaller apartments) open up into what feels like a hallway. Not enough space for a table, not enough space for a bench seat. And potentially not even space for a floating shelf.

But we still have to give this entryway a design moment. It doesn’t want to stand naked for the rest of its days. The solution, of course, is a glorious one: the jumbo artwork.

By all means squeeze in a chair if you can (like in the image above), but don’t underestimate just how gorgeous a large punchy artwork can look alone on the wall.

This idea gives you a great first impression the moment you walk in the door but it takes up no floor space. And if you’re looking for a stunning pieces of abstract art that’ll work in your small entryway, here’s a list of my fave abstract artists.

wall mounted coat rack for entryway wall from would you buy

Decorating a Small Entryway is about Mix & Match

The concepts discussed here can of course be mixed and matched. You could do an entry table with art above, or a bench seat with a mirror above. There might even be scope to do a bench seat, with a mirror and some hooks.

The key takeaway though, is not to over-clutter this area. This is the first impression you and others are going to get when they walk in the door. The last feeling you want as you walk into your home is stressed by mess. So keep that in mind when selecting your pieces and ensure the zone feels minimal and designer, but purposeful too.

SHOP THE LOOK: I am in love with this piece above from Wood You Buy. A nifty little wall-mounted shelf that can hold onto loads of different belongings. Great if your entryway is so tight on space you can’t even squeeze in a table.

I Really Hope this Post Helped You

If you have any questions about decorating a small entryway please do drop me a comment below and I can help you out. And as mentioned initially, I’ll credit all the images here: Image one and four via Adairs, image two via H&G Designs, five via Room and Board, the rest via Pinterest. Last but not lease, you can join our Facebook Group here and get decorating questions answered on the daily.

decorating a small entryway with a bench seat and wall hooks on vj panelling


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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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12 Responses

  1. What would you suggest for a small entry with four doors? Every wall has a door so that there is no space to put a bench, table or mirror. Essentially there are just four smallish corners.

  2. You have read my mind today lol… I am decorating a small entry and you have given me a few idea’s… thank you

  3. Love your work Chris thank you so much.
    How do you style a rug on carpet? Our apartment is 3 stories with wool carpet everywhere but the wet areas. The carpet is lovely – natural light grey in colour. Would love to place a rug under the coffee table on top of the carpet for some contrast, but confused as to how to do this? Any suggestions?

  4. Great post Chris with really helpful hints. The only place in our entry that we can place a table or console is against a stair case so there is not true ‘wall’ behind the table to hang a mirror or art or hooks! Do you suggest just a table and trying to add height and interest to the table styling instead??

  5. Hi Chris ….we have built a Hampton home I have purchased a white Sorrento 2 draw console . I brought a black arched window from provincial not sure if I should have brought white instead . Love to hear what u think thanks. We built the bayvielle Metricon in Brighton same colouring thanks

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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