There Was No Where For My Kids to Put Their Backpacks In Our Small Entryway — Then I Found the Perfect Solution

published Mar 28, 2023
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Wallpapered hallway/entryway with green wooden wall hooks. There are multiple backpacks, bags, a hat, and a floral coat hanging on them
Credit: Chantal Lamers

When I entered parenthood more than 10 years ago, one of the first organization tricks I learned was implementing a system to capture belongings at the front door. So, whether it was shoes, hats, backpacks, or jackets, my kids needed a dedicated home near the entryway to put their things away before they’re strewn across the house in a chaotic mess. 

Well, a straightforward system isn’t realistic for everyone. Our home doesn’t have space for a bench, console, or cabinet in the entryway, but it does have a wee closet. The problem is, it’s oddly shallow and can’t fit a rod, let alone clothes hangers. 

For us, solving one part of the dilemma was a no-brainer. We fit bins and baskets on the closet shelves, so (for now) there’s room to juggle the wild influx of shoes coming in and out of the house, from sneakers to rain boots, flip-flops, roller skates, cleats, and ballet slippers. Yet, until recently, we hadn’t found a practical solution for the rest of the gear. Naturally, it would end up right where you’d expect: the floor. 

Then, I had an epiphany. I was on a photoshoot a few years ago when I was a full-time home editor. The family lived in a small basement-style apartment tucked under the primary home of one of their parents. To maximize the living space, there were zero closets but there was a tremendously long hallway. So the couple lined both sides of the wall with secondhand shaker peg racks, unlocking loads of untapped storage space. 

I was sold. 

Credit: Chantal Lamers

While our hallway isn’t nearly as long, there’s one wall just a tad over six feet. What’s better is it’s just off the entryway and the kids’ shared bedroom. The wall had nothing else going for it. It was the perfect blank canvas to recreate something similar to the function of a closet.

I quickly began researching, looking for inspiration that would help maximize the space. While you can buy shaker racks from places like The Container Store, Schoolhouse, Brooklinen, and Amazon, I was looking for something that would give me more storage space. That’s when I came across an old magazine story with the perfect rack: rather than just one row of hooks, it had two

I reached out to a local contractor who’d remodeled our bathroom the previous year to replicate the rack. We settled on a width of five inches, with six wide 3-inch pegs lining the top, about 11 inches apart. The bottom row also has 3-inch pegs, but they are thinner and spaced about 9 inches apart. By alternating the spacing between the top and bottom rows, the rack can accommodate plenty. Ours has a total of 13 pegs.

Once it was finished, I painted it in Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball, a color echoed in my kids’ hallway bathroom. The leafy wallpaper has a lot of movement, which is perfect for a busy hallway. It’s Willow Boughs from Willow Boughs by Williams Morris. If you need additional storage for smaller items, like keys, mittens, or beanies, you can also hang a Longaberger basket, or another type of hanging basket. 

All this said, it’s easy to overload a peg rack if you’re not mindful. Regular editing will help so there’s always a clear, delineated space for kids to hang items. Limiting the rack to seasonal items will help. (So, don’t hang your umbrella there in the summer.) Otherwise, take it from me, you’re just going to end up tripping over that jacket in the doorway.

Honestly, it’s taken years, but my kids understand what’s expected of them when they come home after school or sports. It takes some reminders, but a clear understanding of where things should go also means it’s easier to locate said items, like, in the morning when we’re rushed to make it out the door on time. 

Do I ever find backpacks on the floor? Occasionally, but when I ask them to put them away where they belong, there’s always a space waiting. 

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