Wednesday, January 18, 2012

making an entrance

Since it's January, the entrance to the year, I thought I would spend some time this month trying to do something about the entrances to our house. I have struggled for a long time with these spaces, and by "struggled" I mean "felt a vague sense of dissatisfaction and frustration each time I entered the house." It's time to actually do something about it.

This post is about to get pretty chatty and over-analyze-y, and I don't even have any pretty "after" photos to reward you for slogging through it. But I'm hoping that documenting more process will yield better results. Also, my Mr. has promised to read this post so that we can talk about it and get on the same page with a plan (always a challenge for us, this decorating thing. Nothing has ever threatened our relationship so much as shopping for a rug.)

Anyway, "entryways" is a bit of a generous term when it comes to our house. As in, we don't have them. Here is the kitchen door:

See how tight it is? That's partly the fault of the shoe rack there, but even without that it's a tight space. I can't tell you how many times I have watched people squeeze into our house. I don't really believe in feng shui, but it can't be good for our social life that our house is literally, physically unwelcoming.

And here is the front door, which opens into the living room:

Not only is there no defined entry, but there's not even space to create a defined entry (in particular, because of the lack of wall space on either side of the door). And the coat closet is down the hall at the back of the house. Seriously, sometimes I think our house was designed by an architect who had never lived in a house.

But we are going to figure out how to improve things, at least a little bit. I've been gathering images of mostly tiny, efficient entryways over here on Pinterest. You can see that I'm not looking for anything formal and grand, or even anything expansively Martha Stewart-ish. I just want a place to hang my hat. Like this:

I've also been thinking about what I want in an entryway. This is not rocket science of course, but here is my list:
  • A durable rug or mat
  • And one that is large enough to enter the house, close the door, and take off one's shoes all while on the mat (I know! crazy!)
  • A place to sit down while you put on/take off your shoes
  • A place for shoes, but not too many of them
  • A distinct and easy to reach place to put down your keys
  • A place to hang up your coat and your bag
  • A place for reminders, both generally and for things you need to take with you when you leave the house
  • A place to stash sometimes-needed things (hats/gloves/umbrellas/sunglasses/sunscreen/etc.) so that they are easy to grab on the way out and easy to put away on the way in
  • A place to corral and control the mail
  • A little piece of artwork or something that makes you smile when you enter
  • Ideally, some kind of setup that encourages a result other than this:

(Well, a girl can dream anyway.)

So let's take another look at the kitchen entry:

  • The mat is too small (which is why, 5 minutes after sweeping the floor, it is littered again with hemlock needles from outside).
  • It's also not very durable (that mat is less than a year old and it already looks a worn-out mess)
  • That shoe rack is bulky and encourages us to leave a whole bunch of shoes in a jumbled mess. Or me, really--I am by far the biggest offender here. And so this will surely provoke skepticism in some quarters, but I think we actually need space for fewer pairs of shoes by the door. (Also, the shoes on the lower shelves just get filled with dirt and leaves/needles shed from the soles above. Dumb.)
  • And of course, no place to sit down. This might not be fixable in this space.
  • No hooks. Bags end up in front of the microwave or on the kitchen floor, and coats end up…well, you've seen where.
  • No place for the mail. So it just gets thrown on the counter and piles up. Again, I'm the offender here, but I can't help thinking that I should be able to find some physical setup that encourages better habits.
  • That drawer to the left of the shoe rack has space for sunglasses and other sometimes-needed stuff but is poorly organized.

And the front entry:

  • Too small mat.
  • No place for coats, bags, shoes, keys--anything. We rarely use this entry, actually, but I think it has the potential to be much more functional than the kitchen entry, just because there's a little more space to play with here. So I guess I'm arguing for an "if you build it, they will come" sort of approach here--create something functional and that will encourage us to use it.

So here's my plan for the kitchen entry:
  • A bigger mat (I'll cut it to size, and perhaps use the leftovers at the slider to the backyard--yeah, another non-functional entry that I haven't even touched in this post)
  • Lose the shoe rack
  • A pouch for the incoming mail
  • A hook on the wall (already owned)
  • Step stool (already owned) in the corner to sit on. Might be too big but worth trying.
  • Or if not, a boot tray?
  • Clean out/reorganize drawer
  • Switch-hook for keys?
  • Paint wall to left of door with magnetic and/or chalkboard paint?

And my plan for the front entry:
  • Another mat (4x6 is the right size for this space, I think)
  • Move or get rid of those way-too-enormous plants
  • Move cedar chest (to bedroom)
  • Sewing machine table goes back to Goodwill whence it came
  • Sofa table behind sofa
  • Tuck shoes underneath sofa table
  • Stool (already owned) next to sofa table for sitting to put on/take off shoes
  • Hook to left of door for coats
  • Another hook at kid height?
  • Bowl for keys and tray for mail on top of sofa table
  • Baskets (already owned) in small cubbies of sofa table for hats/gloves/sunscreen/etc.
  • Paint trim around door white
  • Paint door--white? or chalkboard paint? (too much?)

I just bought some art to get us started…


  1. I believe I have the entryway of your dreams. (Don't hate me because my house was designed by an architect who had lived in one.) And yet, we still have coats on the floor or the railing, bags everywhere, and we sit on the adjacent stairs to put on our shoes because the bench is always covered in crap. Telling you this is not to discourage you, however. My favorite way of feeling like the house is in order is to tidy up the entryway. And the feeling of order sometimes lasts a beautiful 20 minutes or so. Pure gezellig gold.

  2. Cheering you on and encouraging you in your process-y posts! :)

  3. Emmie, yeah, I know what you mean--a certain amount of disorder is inevitable. But I'm hoping that by doing some work here things will be, if not easier to keep tidy, then at least a little easier to tidy up. Just exactly as you describe! I am jealous of your architect, though.

    Darcy, I am grateful for your cheering presence (you can read that both ways, too)!