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Walking through the entryway in summer is a wonderful thing. The only shoes on the floor are a couple pairs of flip flops and the hooks are empty except for a sunhat and a beach towel. And then, school starts, bringing with it with a parade of backpacks, lunchboxes, papers, art projects, umbrellas, boots and coats. By the time the holidays roll around, entering one’s home could generate stress, rather than the feeling of comfort upon arriving home.

“A place for everything and everything in its place”

This classical  quote still endures – indeed, for good reason. Perhaps it should be the guiding principle of every household (I know it is in mine). It’s tempting to fall prey to accumulating items without designating an appropriate space to tidily store them out of sight. Another good idea is to assign a purpose to each item – more importantly, it’s crucial to remain disciplined to returning items back to their rightful homes. As children head back from school, the temptation of tossing personal belongings could trump the long-term benefits of staying tidy. It might be a good idea to establish these habits early on (post-school treats or activities could come in handy here).

As you undergo the task of assigning a role and a place to each belonging, next comes evaluating the necessity of said items. Do they truly add value to your life? How often (and be brutally honest) do you use the items in question?

Okay, this might be too much to take in. Let’s summarize: Assign a role and a place to items, question their practical (and yes, even sentimental) value and their frequency of use. If the item fails the test, then perhaps it’s time to donate to your local charity, school or youth center.

As you get into the habit of de-cluttering, it might be worth establishing a mechanism where you control the flow of new items into your home by following that same logic: Do we need it? What will it bring to our home? Where will we put it?

Hooks and Shelves are an Entryway’s Best Friend

Hooks – they go a long way towards keeping your items organized. Do you have enough hanging hooks for coats, hats  and umbrellas? Can children reach them? Don’t skimp – surely the supply of hooks will find some demand in your household at some point. I’ve found that combining hooks with shelves gives me the most leverage as I combat entryway clutter – they’re a great way to keep backpacks and lunch boxes in check. Shelves are also a great way to help with my next point in entryway organization…

Shoe Organization

Many families ask children, and sometimes adults, to remove shoes when coming inside. Keeping them organized and neat is a struggle. How do you avoid a massive tangle of dirty shoes in your entryway? Designating a sturdy box or basket right inside the door where children (even the grown-up ones) can put shoes after taking them off is a big help. During the wet weather, boot trays are an attractive way to keep dripping mud, water and slush contained and off your floors. At the end of every week, take some time to sort through the shoes and put the ones that you think won’t get worn any time soon (like rain boots when there’s no rain in the forecast) back in the bedroom closets.

Mail, Papers, and Recycling

Having a designated spot in your entryway to sift through mail, newspapers, and art projects is a great way to purge the stuff you don’t want before it enters your main living areas. Establish a well-lit work space with pens, letter openers, and a check book. Create an inbox for important mail and an outbox for permission slips and other items that need to go back to school with your children. Designate a corner to position a recycling bin within reach to intercept junk mail, unwanted paperwork and any other paper waste. Permission slips can be signed and checks written and placed in your new outbox. The sorting area ends up being the spot where paperclips, coins, and other miscellany collects – try to purge it once a week to keep it tidy and organized.

Chalkboard, Bulletin Board and Art Display

An entryway can act as a command center for the rest of your home – the place where announcements are written on a chalkboard, party invitations are pinned to the bulletin board, and children’s art is on display. Chalkboards are a great place to get the family centered around the most important event of the day – whether you’re starting a new book club or organizing a field trip, here it could live. As any parent knows, children bring home reams of artwork, and it can easily get lost in the shuffle, contributing to your home’s clutter. Use the bulletin board to post favorite masterpieces, or invest in a children’s art display system – there are great options out there, from hook, clip and wire systems to changeable picture frames. Cookbook holders are great too – they can be placed on the counter top to display artwork instead of open cookbooks.

Get Family Members On-board

All your organizational work will be for naught if children and your significant other aren’t ready to do their part. That means shoes in the basket every time, coats on hooks, backpacks stashed, and lunch boxes stored.

Make it Pretty

The entryway is probably the area your family uses more than any other – so why not make it attractive? Soft lighting, a pretty rug, a mirror and a plant can help make it a space that makes you happy every time you walk through.

Once you’ve organized your entryway you’ll feel an instant release of stress and a feeling of calm and control. You’ll know where your family’s important items are and have everything contained to one area. It’s one simple way to make your home a happier place.

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