Okay, so you’ve decided to make your home more welcoming. You’ve spruced your walk, porch and front door to make it inviting and safe. Now you’ve got your guests inside your front door. What now? How can you make those first few moments in your entryway as welcoming as possible?
Plan for Weather
You’re entryway might change season to season and, not only is that okay, it’s pretty smart too! In the wintertime, you need to be prepared for guests to remove coats, hats, gloves, and possibly wet or snowy boots all in that location. Try and free up a coat rack by your front door primarily for guest use. If your entry way has the space, relocate a chair or a bench from somewhere else in the house to provide a spot for people to remove shoes and help children get bundled and unbundled. Some sort of a boot rack or tray is also great for making sure that melting snow doesn’t run all over your floors and get stocking feet soggy.
Shoes or no shoes? That is the question.
There seems to be a great divide in American households over the shoe issue. Some families couldn’t care less if you wear your shoes in the house and other families find indoor shoe wearing to be the ultimate offense. People are really opinionated on this so I’m just going to go out on a limb with some basic guidelines. It’s your house so you can do what you want.
Some guests are very uncomfortable removing their shoes. They may have their own cleanliness issues and not like going barefoot or in stocking feet in someone else’s home. They might have a foot condition that makes them self-conscience to go barefoot in front of others. Or it may be laundry day and they have mismatched socks. Whatever the reason may be, you want your guests to be comfortable so, in my opinion, there are only a few of legitimate reasons to be the shoe police. First, if you have new carpets you really are trying to protect. Once your carpets are over five years old though, this excuse becomes a little tired. The second reason is if you have someone with particularly bad allergies in your home and you’re trying to manage allergens. If this is the case, of course you need to do what’s best for the health of your family. Thirdly, if your family is part of a culture that removes shoes such as many Southeast Asian cultures.
Otherwise, if you’re a home that prefers no shoes, set things up just like that, provide a place to sit for people to remove their shoes, provide a rack to put them on. Make it obvious that you prefer no shoes, but don’t be difficult about it. Just like with the coats, try to have a reserved area for guest shoes. It’s not very appealing to walk into someone’s home and be greeting by 15 pairs of smelly shoes in various states of repair. If you do leave your own shoes by the door, try to limit it to one pair and, if possible, find a bench or box to store them in so they are out of sight.
Where to put Belongings?
Besides coats, guests might be carrying other belongings like a purse, backpack or tote. It’s thoughtful to provide a place for guests to leave these where they can easily access them. Women especially may need to discretely access their purse during a visit and it’s awkward for them to have to ask where you’ve squirreled it away to be out of sight. A great option here is a bench with canvas cube storage underneath. Guests can drop belongings into a tote and tuck it under the bench where it’s free from prying eyes and prying little hands but can be easily accessed if needed. Make sure to warn guests if you have a baby or toddler who’s prone to unpacking purses and bags.
If you’re having a large party, your normal entryway conveniences might not work. Especially in the winter, make sure you have a plan for coats. A common approach is a back bedroom or an office area that off the front entry way. Wherever you decide to stash them, make sure guests know where they are so can access their things. When you’re having a big party, you might be hard to locate when a guest needs to leave or retrieve something from their coat.
This especially is not the time to be forcing people to remove shoes. One party will not ruin your carpet and no home is prepared to handle 20 pairs of loose shoes by the front door. My husband tells a hilarious story about attending a large Bible Study in college where the hostess made everyone remove their shoes and pile them in the entryway. She also had a new puppy that wasn’t quite house trained and he lifted his leg on the entire pile. My husband escaped unscathed because he’s shoes were near the bottom of the pile but not everyone was so lucky. Pets and loose shoes don’t mix so don’t tempt fate with dozens of shoes in the entry way at a big event.
I hope you this gives you some ideas to rethink your front entryway. Do you have any ways you set your entryway up for guests that I forgot to cover?
READ THE WHOLE SERIES:
(Links will become live as each blog is posted)
Introduction | Creating a Hospitable Home
Your walk, porch and front door | Beckoning in your guests
Your entryway | Helping guests feel at home
Your bathroom | Creating a comfortable “intimate” space
Your pantry | Making impromptu entertaining a breeze