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Elevate Your Entries: Design Ideas to Take Your Side, Garage, & Back Entrances to the Next Level

If you’re like many of my clients, you don’t go in and out of your home through your own front door very often. Instead, most of us use a garage, side, or even back entry multiple times a day, while our front entrances are all but reserved for guests.

A welcoming entry design with a console table and floral branch display.

No matter how tucked away the entry you use may be, I’m a huge advocate for making it beautiful and functional–after all, you’re going to see and experience it on a daily basis! Don’t you deserve to enjoy an entry space that’s welcoming and inviting, clean and free of clutter, and of course, pretty?!

Who & How

Form follows function here so when designing any entry, my first step is to establish exactly who will be using it and how I can create the space to best serve them.


Everything about an entry’s design–from the flooring to the lighting to the storage–is driven by whether your kids will be barrelling through the door after soccer practice or it’s just you coming in with the mail. Either way, if you use the entry when bringing in groceries, you’ll need to be able to walk through without tripping on anything. Sometimes the smallest of changes or additions to a space like this can help exponentially.

The Shoes Have It

Believe it or not, one of the biggest considerations for creating a functional entry is whether it’s in a shoes-on or a shoes-off household.

Entry design ideas for a welcoming home including custom built-ins with closed and open storage and an upholstered bench incorporated into the design.
Image via Sophie Paterson Interiors

If everyone’s shoes are coming off when they enter your home, a practical solution for stashing them all away is imperative so you won’t be tripping on them nonstop!

The trick is to come up with storage that doesn’t place any additional burden on your family so they’ll actually use it.

Simple baskets can be all that’s needed but when I’m working with clients, my goal is to find the very best functional and aesthetic solution rather than just default to what’s obvious.

We may decide to design something for guests and something else for the members of the household.  If there’s an adjoining space off the entry such as a closet or laundry room, we may borrow from it to create dedicated shoe storage.

Sometimes we can even create an opening behind the wall for shoe storage that doesn’t take up any additional space in the room.

Personal Space

Keeping things picked up and put away is the name of the game when it comes to entries.

I love it when there's space enough to include 'lockers,' cubbies, and/or wall hooks for each member of the family, even the pets. Baskets and cubbies are perfect for stashing smaller items, like gloves and hats, and the dog’s leashes and balls. Lockers, however, are my favorites because no matter what gets thrown in, it's behind a closed door and no one has to look at it.

When possible, I also like to include a surface like a table, bench, or chair near the door for placing items you don’t want to forget on your way out.

Pretty & Practical   

If mud, water, grass, etc. are inclined to find their way through the door, you’re going to want practical, easy to maintain flooring in your entry. I love slate and brick for side and garage entrances, but even with tile, I always want the flooring and the grout/mortar sealed well to keep it all looking clean. (Stay tuned for my blog post next month for more about how I select the best flooring for every space in the home.)

A modern mudroom entry design with a built-in bench, coat hooks, and cubbies with baskets for small-item storage.
Image via Workshop/APD

Although lighting is also very much an aesthetic choice, I feel strongly that in our entries, we need to think about keeping them well-lit for safety and security reasons, as well. Being able to see what you’re doing and not tripping on any items someone may have left on the floor is, of course, critical, as is simply having a warm, inviting glow waiting for you when you come home. Whenever possible, I love to make the most of any natural light available nearby with flexible window treatments that allow the light to come in when we want it to while also allowing us to cover the window for more privacy when that’s preferred. As with any other space, having multiple levels of lighting–wall sconces, lamps, and overhead fixtures–is ideal.


For pretty and practical finishing touches, I love adding a mirror to any entry. That way, people can get a final check before walking out the door. For small spaces, I look for mirrors with unique, eyecatching frames that double as wall art.

I also recommend having a beautiful bowl, basket, or tray available for sunglasses, wallets, car keys (if you still use a key and not just an app now!), etc. It’s always nice to have a container for wrangling those kinds of small items that otherwise tend to go rogue on you!


And finally, add at least one element that makes the entry feel personal. This could be a lovely area rug, a pretty light fixture you love, or artwork or a decorative object that speaks to you.


It’s so lovely to come home to a thoughtfully designed side, garage, or back entrance. You can’t imagine how much these relatively small, simple changes will elevate how you experience living in your home!

Do you have a small entry you want to include in your next renovation or redesign project? Reach out to talk about working together to make it beautiful and personal to you!


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