When the seasons change, my front hall is a magnet for clutter and dirt. When mud and dirt start to creep their way inside, it's time to declutter and reorganize so that it's easier to keep the space clean. Besides, come summer, a welcoming entryway gives my spirits a lift every time I walk through the door.
The first step in cleaning up the front hall.
• Remove off-season clothing and sports equipment, like hockey gear and snowsuits, and store elsewhere.
• Store infrequently used items, even skipping ropes and in-line skates, in the basement, garage or a storage locker.
• How many pairs of boots and shoes are too many? If there's a fashionista in the house, limit the number of pairs kept here per person. Same goes for coats.
• For each person's knapsack, briefcase or purse, hang heavy-duty hooks or wall-mounted cubbies if you have room. If not, bags go in the bedrooms.
• Find a handy container for incoming mail, such as a basket or tray, and empty it at least every couple of days.
Here's what every entryway should contain.
• A closet. Don't laugh -- some of us don't have one. Alternatives: a rolling coat rack, a coat stand (antique or contemporary), wall hooks or a peg rail, or an armoire in a nearby room if there's no space in the entryway.
• A peg rail. It's essential, especially if you have kids. Hanging a coat on a peg is just as easy as dropping it on the floor or draping it over the banister. Position one rail high and one low in order to accommodate big and little people. No wall space or a very formal decor? Hang hooks on the back of the closet door.
• Containers for mitts, scarves and hats. Choose baskets, cubbies or plastic containers. Put them on the top shelf or on the floor of the closet. I use vertical shoe racks that hang in the closet -- some cubbies hold shoes, others mitts.
• A boot or shoe rack. If it fits on the floor of the closet, great, but it's OK to leave the rack in full view, too. There are many variations on the market, from simple plastic mats to perforated trays that allow boots to drip-dry. Avoid mats on which boots sit in melting muck -- it's not good for the leather, and the boots won't dry properly. A smart choice, especially in a contemporary space: put dripping footwear on a cooling rack that sits atop a deep stainless-steel baking tray.
• A place to sit. It could be the bottom stair, a chair or a bench that you can slide boot racks and baskets under. If you're short on space, try a vanity stool that tucks under a demi-lune table.
• A tabletop or shelf for stashing small items like keys, gloves and sunglasses when you walk through the door.
• A home for keys. A plate or bowl on a shelf, a drawer in a hall table or a key rack on the wall (labelled, if you like).