Fall has a way of reminding us how much stuff we have. Jackets and bookbags and soccer cleats join the dreaded front door pile, soon followed by snow boots and scarves and mittens. Which is a shame, because the humble entryway has long been walked all over. Tired of hunting through a stack of junk mail to find your keys? Follow these designer tips.

Organize your essentials

As a high-traffic area that introduces your home, the entryway is a delicate balance of form and function. But first thing’s first — that tangle of umbrellas and dog leashes need to go. “Most of us struggle with the issue of the ‘drop-spot’ upon entering the home,” says Carol Grundy, creative partner at interior design firm Homeesque. “Remember, clutter is consuming for you and your guests. First impressions are everything.” Baskets are an easy, affordable way to make piles more palatable, and if space allows, a bench with storage is an ace shoe solution.

Add personal touches

Although your entryway should be practical, there’s also plenty of opportunity to welcome family and friends with personal touches and statement pieces. “Because entryways aren’t normally very large, you can use interesting design elements which would be too overwhelming in a larger space,” says Kelly Nelson, principal at Kelly Nelson Designs. “Think about using a spectacular wallpaper or an interesting pattern on the floor or a wonderful, larger-than-life light fixture. Don’t just use plain hooks — find interesting ones that look good even when nothing is hanging on them.”

Let there be light

Like any space, an entryway can only be as successful as its lighting. “Lighting is important not only for the obvious reason that we need to see, but for the detail and design that it can bring,” says Grundy. “Illuminating any space will help it feel larger, warmer, cleaner and brighter.  Add a soft area rug for texture and definition and it’s easy to start to feel at home.”

Work with the space you have

No matter your square footage, creating some type of entry moment is important. “Even if you don’t have an entry per se, but just more of a wall leading to the door, think wallpaper or paint to set it aside” says Nelson. “I would do great hooks on the wall and a floating shelf — even if it’s narrow, you have a place to leave your keys and collect the mail.”