For most, getting out the door in the morning is a challenge in and of itself. Finding the right coat, hat, bag and shoes can feel like finding a four-leaf clover in a desert, especially when your entryway is overrun with unnecessary items and unruly clutter.

The entryway is a key space in any home. It’s the first thing guests see when they walk in and it’s the last thing you see before leaving home to start the day.

While entryways come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few general principles of organization that apply to every single space. Whether it’s a vestibule, mudroom, hallway or even just a tiny nook, it’s crucial to keep the area clean, de-cluttered and as structured as possible.

Oftentimes, people have only the best intentions when it comes to organization, but things still tend to pile up, especially when kids are involved. Things like tennis rackets, junk mail, skateboards and winter jackets can take over your life if you let them.

Stop the spread of clutter dead in its tracks with these nine tips from expert organizers:

Re-evaluate your needs

Reevaluate Photo: .jocelyn./Flickr

Clare Kumar is a Toronto-based professional organizer, productivity consultant and the founder of Streamlife, a company that offers residential and business organizing, home staging and among other services.

She said that one of the first things you need to do before you organize your entryway is to re-evaluate what needs to change as your lifestyle evolves.

“The interesting thing about organizing is that as your life changes, so do your systems. If your entranceway was working for you at one point and now it just doesn’t feel right, take another fresh eyes perspective to it,” she said. “A great way to do that is to take pictures of the space, because cameras don’t lie!”

Purge unnecessary items

Racks Photo: Unskinny Boppy/Flickr

Once you’ve determined that your entryway needs a makeover, the next step is to decide which objects are necessary to keep in the space. A cluttered entryway will make getting in and out of the house a dreaded chore, so it’s imperative that only a few everyday essentials are kept there.

”You have to decide the most important things to have in that space based on how you spend your time,” Kumar said. “If you’re going to tennis lessons every day, make a spot for your tennis racket. Make your space purpose-driven.”

Give everything a home

Hooks Photo: Bonsoni.com/Flickr

Linda Vanderkolk is the principal lead organizer and project manager at ClutterBGone, a professional organization service based in Toronto. One of her go-to strategies is to give each item a home within the home. Whether it’s the mail, keys or a backpack, everything should have a designated spot to avoid chaos and confusion.

“Sometimes the entryway ends up as a dumping zone, and that’s what we don’t want. So everything has to have a home,” she explained. “We like to add some kind of shelf or console table, a decorative bowl, a small basket or even a tray for keys and mail.”

Store your shoes

ShoeRack Photo: Bonsoni.com/Flickr

Laura Kay, a Toronto-based professional organizer and owner of Laura Kay Organizing, stressed the importance of keeping the floors clean and uncluttered.

“I advise people as much as possible to keep things off the floor,” she said. “Shoe racks and boot racks are a great way to do this.”

Kay also advised storing shoes in transparent pockets that hang from the inside of the closet door.

“It’s one of my all-time favorite organizing tools. You can designate a different pocket for each family member and label them,” she said.

Get vertical

GetVertical Photo: Bonsoni.com/Flickr

In the city, large, spacious mudrooms are often hard to come by. When working with a small entryway, it’s crucial to optimize the available space by thinking outside the box.

Kumar suggested storing things vertically to maximize clear floor space.

“Getting vertical is really important. Use the vertical real estate you have by building from the floor up and stacking bins and shelves,” Kumar said.

Channel your inner Martha Stewart

CoatRack Photo: Geneva Vanderzeil apairandasparediy.com/Flickr

Pinterest is full of DIYs and organization hacks to help to optimize living space. Have fun with coat racks, boxes and hooks — keeping a space clean and clutter-free doesn’t have to be boring!

“You can make hooks out of interesting things, you don’t necessarily have to use what you find in a hardware store. You could take two shelf brackets and hang a twig across them and use it as a hanger.”

Vanderkolk also had a few suggestions for creating unique and eclectic items that serve a purpose in the entryway.

“It’s all about being creative with the space and the budget you’re dealing with. You can get old, rustic crates for a couple bucks at a flea market and paint them any colour you like,” she recommended. “You can even use a stencil and put people’s names or initials on them, which is great for the kids.”

Label, label and then label some more

Baskets Photo: Unskinny Boppy/Flickr

When it comes to large families, things can get pretty hectic. Vanderkolk said that giving each child their own area for their backpacks, gloves, mitts and any other essentials can help make the morning rush run a little more smoothly.

“We suggest allocating a place for each family member. Whether it’s a drawer or a basket or a cubby, it should contain their items and their items only so that they can go to one designated place and find their things quickly,” Vanderkolk said.

Add a pinch of pretty

Beautify Photo: ProFlowers.com

A large component of the organizational process includes adding decorative finishing touches to make guests feel welcome and to improve the overall atmosphere of the space. Kumar shared a few of her tips and tricks for making a home’s entryway warm and inviting.

“I like to have a couple of things in the entryway to beautify it. Number one is fresh flowers because I find it welcoming and it just sets the tone of the space,” Kumar explained. “The other thing is a mirror to bounce extra light around because entryways tend to be dark and cramped.”

Coach your family members

Entranceway Photo: Rubbermaid Products/Flickr

Finally, Kumar emphasized the importance of getting kids and family members to follow the system. If only one person in the house is willing to stick to the routine, the entryway will begin to gather clutter again in no time.

“Coaching is pretty important. You might be great at understanding your system, but it doesn’t hurt to really explain it and label things if you want other people to follow it. It might require constant coaching, I know it does in my house,” she said.

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