The weary traveler finally finds the doorway that will lead him to the rest and comfort that he has long desired. He opens the door, only to find an empty, gaping cavern … a space that time forgot … separating him from his desired destination. He can see it in the distance … but in order to reach it, he must first conquer the vacant vortex where he is sure to be swallowed up and lost forever.
I hate my entryway. I actually feel this way when I come home from work – the ugly, empty space in front of my door is a wasteland consisting only of kids' shoes sprawled across the floor and jackets, scarves, and hats dangling precariously from the hooks behind the front door. There's no color, no furniture, no storage – it really is the black hole of my home.
Since apartment entryways tend to be small, you may also have a blank space between your door and the rest of your apartment because you can't figure out what to do with such an awkward, tiny space. But even though the entryway is small, it is the first impression of your home – don't let it be an off-white vacuum of nothingness. It's time to reclaim the entryway!
When decorating this space, think small-scale: a small bench, a narrow bookcase, an undersized chair. Lighting is important in the entryway, so be sure to add a funky chandelier or a lamp on a side table. Finally, a mirror is a great way to open up the space (and it's handy for checking your lipstick before you dash out the door).
A rug will invite visitors in, and it will hide the less-than-attractive linoleum that is so often used for entryways. Just be sure the rug doesn't run the entire length of the floor, or the door will constantly be getting stuck on the rug. Look for a patterned rug and avoid light colors since this is a high-traffic area (you don't want visitors in dirty shoes stepping all over your white rug).
If you can paint in your apartment (check with your apartment manager if you aren't sure), go with a color that reflects your personality and complements the rest of your apartment. Don't be afraid to experiment with color -- the small space can quickly and easily be repainted if you don't like the results.
I believe in decorating on the cheap – for me, bargain-hunting is a sport. And while the entryway is the first (and last) thing visitors to your apartment see, people usually just breeze through quickly so save your money for the rest of your apartment and rely on do-it-yourself décor for the entryway. You may want to find a great hall tree, bench, or umbrella stand as anchor furniture and perhaps some type of storage unit at a home improvement store, but for everything else, rely on thrift stores and garage sales.
Start collecting picture frames in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but look for the same type – for example, all wood frames or all metal frames. Go to your local craft store and pick up a packet of scrapbooking paper, or ask the local wallpaper store for scraps. Frame the different papers. Lay them out to get the arrangement you like and then hang them on the wall. (I usually trace each frame on a sheet of paper and tape the paper "frames" to the wall – this way I can move them around and rearrange them before pick up the hammer and nails.) If you don't want to frame paper, print out some of your favorite photos and use those, instead (try printing them in black and white for a more modern look).
For storage, think of what you have when you walk through the door, and then find dishes, baskets, hooks, etc. to accommodate those items. For example, an antique bowl for keys, storage cubbies for shoes and purses, hooks for jackets, and baskets for mail and other small items such as gloves, loose change, wallets, etc. Once everything has a place, you'll be amazed at how organized you are – no more lost keys as you are trying to head off to work.
A narrow bookcase in the entryway can be transformed into a storage mecca -- it only takes a little redesigning. Find an old bookcase, remove the middle shelves, and section off the lower shelves into compartments. Add hooks, baskets, clips, and even drawers to make this beautiful and functional storage nook.
As you transform your entryway, remember to think outside the box – a muffin tin, for example, can be set on a side table for storing all of those little items that tend to get lost, such as earrings or bus tokens. Paint the sides of a bookcase with chalkboard paint and leave important notes and reminders there where you're sure to see them on your way out – you'll never forget your lunch or the kids' soccer games again.
An entryway makeover is inexpensive, easy, and fast – but it will make a big difference in your apartment. Now when you come home from work and open the front door, you won't be faced with a vacant vortex keeping you from the rest of your apartment, but a warm and inviting cove welcoming you in.