A Friend’s Entry Is a Welcoming Fix for a Messy Front Door

A new shift in how we set up and use our mudrooms is reviving a highly functional home feature.

Ikea Brimmes Organization storage
Photo: Blaine Moats

A formal front entry or foyer can set the tone for your home, creating a lovely first impression for your guests from the moment they step inside. But when that door is the main entrance for your household, close family and friends, and special guests alike, you may suddenly find the space a drop zone, scattered with backpacks, shoes, coats, and all the general debris of a busy life—even when visitors you’re hoping to impress stop by. Even worse, with the rise of open floor plans, that drop zone might also be in the middle of your living room. If copious clutter is not exactly the chord you were hoping to strike when visitors come calling, perhaps the solution can be found in a friend’s entrance.

This more casual entry can be a practical option to keep your home tidy and create a warm, welcoming way for close friends and family to access the house without having to go through the more formal front door. It also offers a dedicated space for friends and family to leave their things while they’re visiting and provides a reimagined take on the mudroom.

Read on for more tips and expert advice about how to create a functional and fabulous friend’s entrance, even if you’re short on space.

entryway with botanical wallpaper
Kim Cornelison

What Exactly Is a Friend’s Entrance?

Typically, a friend’s entrance is a secondary, casual entrance.

“Usually a garage or back porch entry, friend’s entrances are often the same entry you use when coming home vs. coming through your front door,” says Cara Newhart, interior designer and founder of Never Skip Brunch, a home design site.

This extra entrance was popular in the past as a way to reduce wear and tear on your formal entry while providing a welcoming way for family and close friends to come into your home. Now, its functionality is bringing it back into some homes: House plan service The Plan Collection named the friend’s entry one of its top 2023 trend predictions as homeowners reinvent the mudroom.

A friend’s entrance provides an area that acts as a buffer between the outside world and your main living spaces, where you can store everything from outdoor gear to occasional essentials, like umbrellas and reusable totes. Ideally, this space provides an organized hub where friends and family also feel comfortable making themselves at home and leaving their coats and bags, and the setup of the space makes it intuitive enough that visitors know where things go without much help from the homeowners. In other words, a good friend’s entrance should not only make your entry neater, but it should also make your day-to-day life a little easier.

Entryway with blue door and cubbies
Greg Scheidemann

Essentials for a Good Friend’s Entrance

“Friend thru-ways are less about a first impression and more about a warm welcome. Choose design elements that help friends transition into your home, like coatracks, hooks for bags and hats, etc.,” Newhart says. So, while you want the space to look neat, you should prioritize the practical over the pretty.

Newhart has three questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to create a beautiful and functional friend’s entry. 

First, Newhart says to tackle the essentials. “What do friends need to do when entering your home?” she asks. For example, do they need to hang up their coats or have a convenient spot to leave their bags? Perhaps a place to slip off their wet shoes? Think about what functional design elements they need to do these things and make them easily accessible for your guests. This might look like visible hooks or a coat rack, so there’s no question about where to hang things, or a shoe tray next to the door with a little sign suggesting they leave their footwear and make themselves at home.

Second, Newhart asks, “How do you want friends to feel when entering your home?” Pick a few words to describe the emotions you’d like your home to evoke. Do you want them to feel comfortable and cozy or, maybe, inspired and creative? Consider how visual design elements, such as soothing paint colors and intriguing wallpaper, and sensory elements, like plush rugs and scent diffusers, can help set the tone for your home as your guests pass through the entryway.

And third, with the practical elements taken care of: “How can this space facilitate connection or create conversation?” Newhart asks. What’s a special, personal touch you can add that makes your space unique and speaks to who you are? This space is an introduction to the home, even if your friends have been many times before, so you want them to feel they’re a welcomed and valued guest by making the area enjoyable and interesting. Some ideas for this could include a one-of-a-kind piece of art, a photo gallery of favorite family moments, or a quote you live by in your household. Anything that makes a statement about who you are and your values is an excellent jumping-off point to connect with your guests.

leather loop hanging shelves in entryway
Blaine Moats

How to Fake a Friend’s Entrance

If you don’t have a space you can use as a dedicated friend’s entrance (or even a second entrance to your home), think about what you do have that can mimic the practicality of a separate entry. The key here isn’t so much how large your entry is but how well you utilize it.

For example, a hall closet can be outfitted with shelves and hooks that make it easy to organize and contain labeled spaces that make it evident to anyone entering your home what goes where, keeping excess items out of the entry. A storage bench can double as a place to sit and put on shoes, as well as a place to stash bulky bags or extra things like rain boots that aren’t used daily. And a console table is the perfect versatile piece for an entry hall hub. Place a small tray on top of the table to catch things like keys and mail for your household members and another for guests. Add a set of sleek matching bins underneath to keep larger objects out of site.

With a bit of planning, even a small space can be an orderly entry that you can be proud to use for family, close friends, and first-time visitors alike. 

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