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How to Build an Entryway Organizer

Using stock lumber, glue, and fasteners, This Old House DIY Expert & House One Editor Jenn Largesse explains how to build a handy organizer for your entryway.

This project appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.

Heading out the door with my two kids in tow always requires some planning, but who needs a last-minute scavenger hunt for coats and keys? Not me! To corral our most-needed items in one dedicated space in the entryway, I built this wall-mounted organizer fitted with cubbies for mail and sunglasses, hooks for coats, and a mirror for a quick check (in case the baby stuck something in my hair).

Aside from its functionality, I designed this organizer to be built with basic tools, off-the-shelf lumber, and sundry items from the home center and online hardware stores. Everything comes together around the mirror with just glue and nails and a dozen screws. Keep reading for the full step-by-step.

Getting Started

Easy DIY:  Entryway organizer, Spring 2021
It’s best to assemble and paint this piece before adding the mirror, so that its surface remains pristine.
Jenn Largesse

This organizer is sized to fit a stock 20-by-24-inch mirror on a 1⁄8-inch hardboard backer.

To make the 4x8 sheet of hardboard easier to transport, I had the home center cut it down to 28 inches square.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Building an Entryway Organizer

Before you begin building, download and print the cut list and the two templates for the brackets. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this page for a full list of tools and materials needed for this project.

Step 1: Cut the Frame Pieces

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Using a miter saw, cut the 1×10 and a 1×2 to match the mirror’s width.
  • Lay the mirror on the hardboard backer; lay the 1×2 and 1×10 next to it, as shown.
  • Cut a 1×2 longer than the first by the width of two 1×2s; put it on the mirror’s opposite edge. Fit a 1×2 against each mirror side.
  • Mark around the frame and cut the backer with a circular saw and guide.

Step 2: Assemble the Frame

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Glue and clamp the topmost 1×2 to the backer’s rough side, flush with its edges.
  • Tilt the assembly upright and shoot five 5⁄8-inch nails through the hardboard and into the 1×2, as shown. (Test first in 1× scrap to make sure the nailheads sit flush with the backer.)
  • Glue, clamp and nail the remaining 1× pieces the same way.
  • Drive eight nails into the 1×10.

Step 3: Cut the Cubby Brackets

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Cut two sections from the 1×10, each 10 3⁄4 inches long; stack and screw them together.
  • Cut out both templates, and align their long sides with a 1×10 edge in the direction of the grain; stick them down with double-sided tape.
  • Outline them on the stack, then use a jigsaw to cut out the two inside and two outside brackets, as shown.
  • Unscrew the pieces.

Step 4: Assemble the Cubbies

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse

Glue, clamp, and nail the bottom edges of the divider brackets to the 1×4 bottom, using 1¼-inch brad nails. Glue and nail the brackets’ front edges to the back face of the 1×4, then glue and nail the side brackets to the ends of the cubby assembly. Glue the back edge of each bracket and the shelf bottom to the backer, and nail it to the brackets.

Step 5: Attach the Trim

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Cut two lattice strips to cover the sides. With the frame face up on 2×4 blocks, glue and nail the strips to the sides of the frame so they extend past the backer by 1⁄4 inch.
  • Glue and nail the 1×4 cap to the top of the frame, flush with the back edges of the lattice strips.
  • Cover the cap’s end grain, and all exposed nail holes, with wood filler; sand it smooth when dry.

Step 6: Paint, Then Add Hardware

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Spray on a stain-blocking primer. When it’s dry, brush or roll on two coats of paint.
  • After it dries, center and screw the label holders to the face of the cubbies.
  • Then center the hooks beneath the cubbies.
  • Mark and drill pilot holes for each of the hooks’ screws, and fasten them with a screwdriver or drill/driver, as shown.

Step 7: Attach the Metal Cleat

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Center the cleat under the cap’s back edge, making sure its lower leg angles away from the backer, and fasten as shown.
  • On the wall where you’ll hang the organizer, screw the cleat’s mate to a stud at the desired height, so its upper leg angles away from the wall.
  • Level the cleat, mark and set two drywall anchors in the wall, then screw the cleat to them.

Step 8: Glue the Mirror

Easy DIY: Entryway Organizer, Spring 2021 Jenn Largesse
  • Set the organizer on a worktable.
  • Use a caulk gun to apply 1⁄8-inch strips of mirror adhesive a few inches apart on the exposed backer.
  • Lower the mirror into the adhesive and press it into place; leave a 1⁄8-inch gap on all sides.
  • Wait 24 hours for the adhesive to cure, then hang the organizer on the wall cleat. Now getting out the door will be a breeze.

What You Need for This Project