Asked on May 30, 2015

What is a good Storage solution for a split-level entryway?

We're a family of 5 kids and 2 adults and we use the front door as our main entrance. The challenge is that it's a split level entryway and the space is small with no possibility to cut into the walls for storage space. We're looking for ideas to create some storage solutions for shoes, coats, hats, mittens etc. We just painted the walls and are currently replacing the living room carpet with laminate flooring. These photos show the entryway completely empty with all of our former storage solutions removed. Previously we had a board with hooks on the right wall behind the door (when the door is open) and a row of short hooks on the half wall below the railing for kids. We had a simple white wire shoe rack from Target behind the door otherwise kids would put their shoes on mats on the floor under their coats. The railing became the go-to spot for chuffing hats, mittens, tools, and other stuff. The result was a very cluttered entryway with LOTS of shoes and coats. HELP! We've been discussing removing the railing, too. Thanks for your ideas!

Front door
Railing with half wall
split level stairs with high wall
  15 answers
  • Barb Barb on May 31, 2015
    Hi Kim, I feel your pain! Use the walls. Find or create some unique hooks for coats. Some baskets with a depth that won't interfere with the door or passage of people for gloves, etc. these can hang from a towel bar or other bar (curtain rod, branch...) with S hooks so you can easily remove or rearrange them. Shoes are a battle anywhere! I can't tell if you have enough room for a small cubby but did see a cool thing on Pinterest. They attached a row of typical brass coat hook near the floor and hung a shoe on each hook. Again you could do something unique to go with your decor. Would love to see what you do. Good luck!
    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
      The hooks for shoes is an interesting idea! We are house shoe wearers, and I am thinking it would be nice to at least have these in the front entryway. There's also a closet at the top of the stairs, but so far, I've only been successful in training myself to use it. I've tried a variety of different ideas for that closet. Maybe just for shoes is the way to go and then baskets for the hats, mittens, smaller stuff. Thank you!
  • Stacey B Stacey B on May 31, 2015
    I've seen many solutions for this conundrum....this one is cute!
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    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
      @Stacey B I totally have that entryway pinned on my Pinterest board! I've pinned that shoe storage thing from IKEA, too. I like the clean look of it. We live in northern Minnesota, so most of our weather concerns are centered around snow. I wonder how muddy, wet or snowy boots would do in that IKEA dresser-looking storage? Thanks for the link!
  • Lavistany Lavistany on May 31, 2015
    what's on the other side of either wall? Could you steel a few inches or a foot to make recessed cubbies/cabinets? I would think any little bit would help.
    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
      @Lavistany One wall (the short one under the railing) is shared with my downstairs office. The other wall (the tall one going downstairs) is shared with the downstairs family room which has a woodstove with brick firewall right on the other side. Not sure if I can cut into those walls, so will run the idea by hubby.
  • Judy Judy on May 31, 2015
    Why not cut the drywall out and use the space between the studs? I know it's not deep but we made a trophy case between studs. Luan plywood on the back with 1x3 across the top to hold hooks. Narrow baskets for hats mittens. Board across font of space on bottom of space for shoe rack. Could add cabinet door to hide it.
  • Jane Jane on May 31, 2015
    First thought was an old fashioned hall tree but that may or may not go with the rest of the house. But you could do something along those lines, large mirror for last looks, hooks to hold coats and hats, bench with storage for shoes, large pot for umbrellas. OR, nothing, no reason to keep things at the front door 24/7. New concept, put things away in their rooms?
    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
      @Jane Thanks, Jane! I think sometimes training the hubby (with his 12 coats, 6 pairs of shoes and tools) is harder than the kids. Ha! We have used hooks and maybe what would help with a one coat per person system would be to label the hooks for each family member. If we did this, do you think we should create one or two for guests? My worry there is non-guest jackets will find themselves a new home there.
  • Angle Nefolyn Angle Nefolyn on May 31, 2015
    Window box around the door. you can add shelves going up the side the door, 1 side for shoes the other with a little coat rack and above the door for what ever else you need room for. Used your amagenasion by adding mirrors to give the effect of windows.
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    • Angle Nefolyn Angle Nefolyn on Jun 02, 2015
      @Kim Koster Hruba You are welcome. I am glad I gould help
  • Doyle Tami Harmon Doyle Tami Harmon on Jun 01, 2015
    We had the exact floor plan you do and our solution was to cut the wall underneath the bottom staircase and make it into a storage area. We stored Christmas decorations in the back and my husband built shelves onto the walls for shoes, etc. The opposite wall housed hooks for coats and hats. Close the door and the clutter is gone! In a split, you either have to go up or down the stairs so going downstairs to drop off coats, etc. kept clutter out of the main area of the house. Hope this helps!
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    • Doyle Tami Harmon Doyle Tami Harmon on Jun 03, 2015
      @Kim Koster Hruba We moved from the house 13 years ago so pics are not available. Establishing the "drop" spot for wet coats and shoes downstairs makes best sense to me. That way if it has to stay out for a bit to dry, it doesn't clutter up the main portion of the house. Good luck! By the way, we called the little dance you have to do to get everyone into the front entryway and the door closed, "The Split Level Shuffle!"
  • Debi53 Debi53 on Jun 01, 2015
    I, too, have the dreaded split foyer. If yours is as small as mine, there is no room for a bench. I just posted pics of our foyer transformation. My redo was decorative instead of functional, but I replaced the spindle half wall with a solid wall for a much cleaner look. You might want to look at it to see what a difference that made. I have two thoughts for your storage solution. Mine are more expensive & require some construction, but if you're going to stay in your home, it might be worth it if you want to hide the clutter. 1. Where you now have spindles, build a half wall that is deeper than normal with divided shelves to hold baskets to corral gloves, scarves, even shoes, etc. or you could even have drawers built in. Each basket/drawer could be labeled for each family member. On the stair side of the wall, do this where you can reach it from the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs,where you can't reach, have the wall open on the other side for books, pictures, decorative dishes..depending on what that room is (living? dining?) 2. Each stair step is just basically a box. You could replace the nailed in riser with drawers. This would give you tons of closed storage. You wouldn't even have to do the entire stairwell, even a few stairs converted to drawers would make a huge difference. I know my suggestions are not the normal ones, but any contractor can do these projects in a very short time. Whatever you decide, I'd love to see what you end up doing. Best of luck!
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    • Debi53 Debi53 on Jun 03, 2015
      @Kim Koster Hruba I'm so glad you liked our redo. Yes, our half wall extends to the exterior wall. Thanks for sharing the link. She did a great job & that little half wall gave her so much storage/display space. About the window over our doors: We did not order a custom window, we just had our contractor cut the biggest opening they could then a glass company inserted the double glass panes. the carpenters just trimmed out the window & painted the area. So much cheaper than ordering a large custom window.
  • HappyNanaSTLMO HappyNanaSTLMO on Jun 01, 2015
    It won't help with the bigger stuff, but don't overlook the possibility of revamping the stairs so that each stair would lift up to reveal a storage cubby underneath. Each family member could have their own individual stair, and that might help with the smaller stuff like mittens/gloves, hats, scarves, and maybe one stair for some tools. Umbrella stands can be nice, especially the thin ones, but with real estate so tight, you'd need to really ask yourself how useful it would be. If most or all family members use compact-size umbrellas designed to fit in a purse or tote, then that's a wasted use of precious space. In that case, the umbrellas (once dry) could be hung on the same hook as the coats, once you figure that piece out. As for the shoes, with that many people to get out the door in the morning, I can certainly see the advantage of everyone always knowing where to find their shoes (especially the younger kids, who are often prone to losing one or both shoes), assuming they wear the same shoes most days. And of course, if the shoes are wet, you wouldn't want to go traipsing through the house with them. But with such a tight space in the entryway, if it were me, I would nix trying to store shoes there and, alternatively, assign a designated spot in each of the kids' rooms for their shoes, so they'll always know where to find them. If they're wet and muddy from the weather, they could perhaps go on the porch for just a bit until they're dry (of course, that's a whole nother storage/organization/decor issue!). But otherwise, a designed spot in their room might be the next-best option so that the entryway is not overwhelmingly cluttered and claustrophobic-feeling. If you can do that, then just enough hooks for the coats, plus some storage in the stairs, and maybe a mirror above the hooks, plus a cute rug to catch the dirt, might be all you need to do the trick. I hope you'll share a follow-up post to show us what you ended up doing. Good luck! :)
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    • HappyNanaSTLMO HappyNanaSTLMO on Jun 02, 2015
      @Kim Koster Hruba I like the shoe basket idea, Kim. Also, re the stair/storage idea, although I've always loved the concept, I'm not the handygal/diy-type, so I have no idea how easy/hard that is to do, but keep in mind you can make stair-drawers or stair-cubbies with the top-open option. I'm sure you can find a ton of ideas and tutorials on Pinterest. It's so interesting that there are so many really awesome stair-storage ideas in the last few years, when I had never, ever heard or even thought of such a thing before Pinterest was born LOL. You could even take it a little further and add a whimsical touch to it, which I always enjoy seeing when I'm wasting time ... uh, I mean, looking for ideas [g] ... on Pinterest. :) I almost fell off my chair when I saw your comment about the cubby wall where the spindled railing was - because shortly before I got the email notice that you had replied, I had been thinking about your dilemma again. I don't know why, but it just popped into my head with the other random thoughts of the day LOL. And as I was thinking, I was remembering how you had said tearing out or cutting into walls was not an option. And then I remembered your railing. I was thinking that you could replace the railing with a cubby wall (and possibly cut just a wee bit into the bottom portion of the wall to add even more space). But you topped my idea, because I hadn't even thought about making it a dual-purpose wall by adding storage on the other side as well! I don't think you'd be giving up much light if you keep the walls white/light and limit yourself to making the cubby wall no higher than the current height of the railing. That way you would still be allowing light to pass through the space, and you would get so much more bang for your buck with storage options! Whatever you end up doing, have fun with it, and come back here with a full report and new pics when you're done! :)
  • Dee Dee on Jun 01, 2015
    What is behind the wall under the floor where the railing is? My nephew had the same problem and a contractor cut open the whole wall and put a sliding (2( doors that can open on either side. A rod was put in (2) installed from back to front for hanging coats facing you and shelves made between the 2 by 4 posts you only need 10" deep to do this.
    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
      @Dee One wall (the short one under the railing) is shared with my downstairs office. The other wall (the tall one going downstairs) is shared with the downstairs family room which has a woodstove with brick firewall right on the other side. Not sure if I can cut into those walls, so will run the idea by hubby.
  • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 02, 2015
    Thank you, everyone, for your creative ideas. It helps to get so many different thoughts on the same space and most of the ideas were things I hadn't thought or seen yet. I posted a response to each of your comments. The attention to my dilemma really is appreciated, so thank you again! I will keep you posted as we progress through the updates.
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    • Kim Koster Hruba Kim Koster Hruba on Jun 04, 2015
      @Debi53 So cool! I actually hadn't seen a photo yet, so appreciate that you posted one. Thank you! I'm very organizationally challenged, so not savvy at all. But I checked some books out of the library and am learning!
  • Debi53 Debi53 on Jun 04, 2015
    It's an acquired skill. haha! My mother used to say she might have to bring a shovel when she came to visit. Now my friends say I'm the most organized person they know. It's a learn as you go thing.
  • Alex R Cross Alex R Cross on Sep 10, 2016
    Our house is exactly like this, and we haven't found any really nice ideas. With a big family, shoe storage is essential, so we put shoe cubbies on the wall behind the door. It's not the most attractive fix, but it keeps them organized and off the floor.
  • Amir Hyman Amir Hyman on Jan 03, 2023

    There are a few storage solutions that might work well for a split-level entryway:

    1. A set of shelves or a console table: Shelves or a console table can provide storage space for items such as shoes, bags, and jackets, while also serving as a surface for décor or a place to set keys and other small items.
    2. A bench with built-in storage: A bench with built-in storage can provide a place to sit while also offering space to store shoes, bags, and other items.
    3. A shoe rack: A shoe rack can help to keep shoes organized and off the floor, freeing up space in the entryway.
    4. A coat rack or hooks: A coat rack or hooks can provide a place to hang jackets, bags, and other items, keeping them off the floor and out of the way.
    5. A small storage cabinet: A small storage cabinet can provide additional storage space for items such as hats, gloves, and scarves.

    Remember to choose a storage solution that fits the size and style of your entryway and that meets your storage needs.

  • Mogie Mogie on Jan 04, 2023

    Hang a coat rack that is not too deep on the wall behind the door (behind the door when it is open).

    Consider using the back of the door for some sort of storage. Perhaps a shoe organizer they can hold almost any small items.

    How tall is the ceiling?

    Is there any space over the door that can be used?

    You could utilize the space to the left of the door. I know it is narrow but it is better then nothing. Hooks could hold scarfs, gloves, purses, and sweaters.