The entryway to your home serves as both a workhorse and a showpiece. Your foyer has to have both form and function because it’s the first impression, the place you drop all your stuff, and the last thing people see when they leave. But how do we make sure it’s a welcoming space for both our stuff and our guests? It’s all in the design.

The first thing an entryway needs is a rug. The rug counts for both: it needs to be practical — people will wipe whatever they just stepped in outside on it, after all — but it can also be beautiful and give your guests the first glimpse of your home’s style and aesthetic. Definitely make sure that the rug is easy to clean. Synthetics are a good idea here. Think indoor/outdoor. Also, a pattern is nice because it makes dirt harder to see, so you don’t have to clean it as often. Keep scale in mind as well; too small, and it looks like an afterthought; too grand, and it overwhelms the space. Try putting down newspaper in the size of the rug you’re thinking about to see how the scale looks. Keep in mind that your door needs to open smoothly over the rug – there’s nothing worse than having to fix a crumpled rug every time you open the door. Lastly, think about the shape of your door. Do you have an arch? A round rug would repeat the shape and look elegant.

Next thing: somewhere to sit as you put on your shoes and just to rest your weary bones. If you’re short on space, find a cool stool. If you have a large foyer, an upholstered bench may be nice. This can also do double duty as storage.  If you can find something like a cool antique trunk, you can keep scarves and mittens inside and sit on it, too.

You’ll certainly need a place to set your stuff, a table for keys, bags, mail, and phones. Have fun with this; it really sets the design tone for your home. A painted vintage dresser gives an eclectic vibe, while a metal and wood console table suggest more modern environs. If you lack floor space for a piece of furniture, a shelf can do just fine. Find a couple of great brackets and a piece of barn wood, and you’ve got yourself some surface area for whatever you need to set down. Just make sure there’s a landing pad for keys – perhaps a small copper bowl, or something you find at the thrift store, or a trinket your grandma gave you.

A coat rack or a couple of hooks help to keep everything more organized, especially when it comes to kids. Hang a couple at their level, and the little ones are more likely to hang up their coats and bags instead of leaving them in a pile on the floor. Remember, this is your buffer zone so that unwanted clutter doesn’t end up all over the house.

Now for the best part, time to accessorize! A mirror by the front door is a must. It prevents mishaps like going out in public with jam on your face and lets you make a quick hair fix before running out. Full length is best, and the bonus is that it makes a small space appear much larger. If there’s more wall space, consider hanging a pretty print or tapestry, or create a statement wall with a fabulous paint color, or even wallpaper. Think about an umbrella stand; it’s practical, and you can find some that are pretty cute, too. Fragrance from a candle or oil diffuser is a great way to welcome people into your home. And lastly, the lighting. A chic chandelier is an easy, quick way to transform a space.

Now you have all the components to create the most welcoming entryway for you and your guests to come home to. If you’re short on space, find things that do double duty – a mirror with hooks, or a bench with shoe storage. Can’t afford to buy new stuff? Shop and swap from the rest of your house. That dresser in the spare room may look great as an entryway table, and that rug in the kitchen might be calling for front door duty. Mix it up, make a space you love, and have fun!