Entry & Re-entry

Most of last week was spent battling my way back through forty-eight hours of 102-degree fever, three days of waiting to hear back from the property appraiser and bank, one extremely bloodshot and possibly possessed-by-the-devil eyeball, two inches of snow, and the distinct possibility that at any moment my head my rocket off my shoulders and explode into cloud of sawdust and anxiety.

When I look back at the last seven years of tearing up houses and putting them back together again, I can’t think of one time when I lost my ability to laugh at the absolute insanity of it all– to, at the very least, find a lesson in it, or turn it into a good enough story to tell on this website– but last week about did me in.

However, I’m happy to say that I’m officially re-entering The Land of The Living & Mostly Sane this week.  I’ve managed to shake the fever and clear most of the legal hurdles and red-tape that were standing between me and The Liberty House– a story I’ll share with you in the next week or two when the final bumps are ironed out.

In the meantime, to celebrate my re-entry into civilized society I thought I’d share another glimpse into the Liberty House. This, appropriately, is the front entry of the house. Something I also like to refer to as the biggest hallway that ever existed, since I can’t for the life of me figure out what to do with this space.

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That’s the kitchen to the left, and the pink parlor to the right. And a very tall wall with a lot of awesome 90’s wallpaper that means I’ll be spending some quality time with a gallon of Diff and a scraper in the near future.

Here’s an overhead view from the other direction.

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You can see the front door out to the covered porch straight ahead, and through the glass doors to the right is another good-sized room that will likely be the study.

While I don’t think the front door will be used all that often, this space is still basically going to be a walkway between the parlor (aka living room), kitchen, study, and upstairs.

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One of my friends suggested plunking down a round table in the middle of the room with a big old floral arrangement on it and turning it into a formal entry. Except I know myself well enough to foresee that on every day except the very first one that table would end up being the world’s biggest catchall for junk, and I’d be staring at a dead flower arrangement for the next 50 weeks.

So my question is, what would you do with this 16×19 room? (Other than sand down those floors, paint the walls, remove the carpet, put in actual light fixtures, finish the trim around the stairs, and do something about that too-short wainscoting… those are all already on the list.)

69 Responses

  1. A large rug that ties everything together 🙂

    I admit, the first thing i thought of was a round table. If not that, perhaps a pretty rug would be enough? Am sure you’ll think of something perfect for the space…

  2. Looking at that first picture, it seems to me you could create a rather sizable entry hall closet to the right of the stairs going over to maybe within a foot of that archway to the right. The door could be in line with the door that goes under the stairs, so that when you walk in the first, the door under the stairs would then be straight in front of you.

    It would likely close off the open nature of the stair case – which I’m not sure is the biggest deal in the world.

    Personally, I’m not really into those staged foyer/fake entryway rooms that no one ever uses. Just seems like a waste of space to me. Making a huge closet here would break that wasted space down, and likely free-up all your other first floor closets for other uses.

  3. Welcome back to the land of the (?) living. We missed you.
    Put a puller on the bottom of the staircase, give it a little curve, and call the space “The Grande~ Foyer”. (Ha?)
    That oil/boiler/hot water heating system has been touted as the most efficient ever! Big plus! Liberty House looks better and better with every post. “Well Done” (he said with an undertone of envy).

    1. Thanks… I did okay, but she’s definitely going to cost me just to get up to par. Fixing all the radiators, new roof, and new master bath? It’s going to be a crazy 6 months.

  4. Obviously this is where you’ll keep your 33-piece drum set. Or install speakers and make it an official ballroom for all your at-home dancing needs!

    Honestly, I’d leave it basically empty except for a few enormous plants. A space like that will feel weird with furniture in it.

    1. A full plan and everything! That’s so awesome because I’m a visual person and totally couldn’t envision what you were talking about in the previous comment.

      I definitely think this idea has merit for making it a smaller space, but I like the open stairway and I have a HUGE (11×11) “mudroom” off the back door that can be built out for most of the downstairs storage. This house has a lot of square footage in random places.

      I’m keeping this in mind. It helps to think about really needing to view the space differently!

      1. What can I say – I was feeling randomly ambitious this morning.

        Covering up that side of the open staircase might make me balk at the idea of a floor to ceiling closet too. It also might make it more difficult to move larger objects up to the second floor. Perhaps there is a way of angling the top of the closet so as not to obstruct the railings.

        My apologies for setting your mind down this path, as if you need any more projects.

  5. This is just my knee jerk reaction, but I would take out the under stairs closet and put in some open under stairs storage (for wine, maybe?) and then extend that around the corner with some sweet built in shelves, maybe? Add a comfy chair and you have a pretty nice reading nook.

    1. That was my first thought too! I was imagining one of those under-the-stairs reading nooks I’ve seen on Pinterest.

      But really, I think the space is screaming for a hot tub.

  6. Wow. My knee-jerk reaction was “Shelving” – as in, add bookcases around the walls, which would shrink the space and make it feel useful and look nice walking through. But the baseboard heaters, asymmetric windows, and occasional door flush with the wall make that a challenge, to say the least.

    Is the door under the stairs the basement door?

    I don’t think there’s any way to make that space amenable to conversational groupings, it would never feel sheltered enough because of all the exits. But a bench running along the stair wall would work and add storage if you wanted.

    Here’s a pic of an oversized hall with furniture:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/51369251969234729/

    Here’s an big craftsman hall left empty with shelving and a rug:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/51369251969256069/

    Can’t wait to see what you do with it! Feel better.

  7. We have a large foyer too and I haven’t found anything that looks right in there yet. We have a curved staircase and a bunch of large openings off ours. It looks better empty.

    I agree the wainscoting looks short, I think something like this:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/172825704419850863/
    or
    http://pinterest.com/pin/249457266829319324/

    and of course you could fancy it up with all your amazing skills. We did a similar treatment in our dining room to the second link. Best thing ever. Such a reward and quick (relatively) change.

    I’d also place either two benches on either side of your door or a bench and an antique dresser.

    Maybe something like this?
    http://pinterest.com/pin/199284352230653668/

    Glad you’re on the mend. Take care.

    1. I love the wainscoting. If you do that along the stairs, you could add a couple of faux beams, too, and it would all look like you meant it to be there. Also, it looks like you could build a decorative coat rack in the same vein to the right of the door.
      Something like this:
      http://ana-white.com/2011/09/smiling-mudroom
      or this:
      http://www.potterybarn.com/products/grant-hall-tree-bench/?pkey=cstorage-benches

      Then build a bookcase to fit along the staircase, add a couple of reading chairs, a nice big rug and some lighting and you’re good!

  8. okay, well honestly my first thought was that you need a lot more people and/or pets to share this house with you. Like you could get a roommate (or 7) and they could refresh the flower arrangement on the round table and keep it free of clutter.

    My second thought was that it would be great just to keep the space minimalist and not make it into some sitting area or whatnot that you don’t need. I could envision it with a lot of artwork and photography hung on the walls like a gallery.

    1. My thoughts exactly – gallery space! Although the windows and doorways do pose a bit of a challenge. I also like the bookshelf/bench/library idea. I don’t think I’d enclose the entire staircse for a closet, however, using half that space for a closet and leaving the stairway partially exposed could be a nice compromise. Sorry to hear you were so sick, Kit!

  9. I would advise against adding a sizable closet there. The appeal of the grand space would be lost and it would make the space awkward. I liked the idea of making some builtin type contraption in that back corner/wall and adding a rug. Let the grandeur of the space speak and everything else be a complement. GL!

    1. I know, right? And they’re ALL BROKEN. (Improper winterization rears it’s ugly head. Just one of many fun things to deal with in the coming weeks.)

  10. My first reaction would be tons and tons of art/gallery space. And paint the baseboard heaters if possible. My second thought would be lots of bookshelves like you’ve put on your pinterest (my god I sound so stalker). I would just leave it grand and open…especially if you think it would become a catchall.

    Glad to hear you’re back on the mend!

  11. Is there enough room to widen the doors to each room coming off of this entryway? I think that if you were able to do that it would make the space feel more open and less hallway-like. Maybe that’s too much work?

    1. Knocking out a wall is never too much work! They are both load-bearing, though, and there’s already a beam in the middle of the room. So structurally it could be a PITA. BUT, opening the entry to the parlor could be kind of awesome. Great idea!

  12. A) Glad you’re feeling better!
    B) Besides what you already mentioned, I would focus on the closet and ceiling. The closet doesn’t fit the room at all; and this hallway practically is its own room. Maybe an arched door? I love understair storage, but not in such a grand entry area. There are many places to store wine, but under the stairs is not one of them – too much movement and shaking. The not so hidden ductwork right in the middle of the ceiling is also a distraction. Otherwise, artwork and plants. Keep it simple and true to its nature.

    1. That’s not duct work, it’s a beam supporting the roof. I’m guessing there were originally load bearing walls there (and much smaller rooms) prior to the early 90’s addition and renovation. I’m still trying to figure out what the original floorplan was.

      1. I am still trying to determine the original floorplan of my victorian and can’t for the life of me find the original staircase that went upstairs! Maybe you have some neighbors that were in the house before the remodle and could give you a clue.

  13. Library. Floor to ceiling bookcases on all but the ridiculous tall wall. You’ve got the wallspace, you can work around those baseboard heaters. And in the center of the room, you can put a small library table with a reading lamp, or add a couple of deep cozy wing chairs for reading. You could create a window seat – or two! – building bookcases out around the window and leaving a space for a cushion.

  14. A table in the middle would be a traffic obstacle.

    I’d get the walls the way you want them, throw a rug that covers most but not all of the floor in there, and then decide.

  15. I like the minimalism idea. Besides…. you have plenty of other rooms that will need much more work, than to worry about this pass-thru room. Paint the walls, put a pretty round rug in the middle, an interesting chandelier, and worry about it a few years….

  16. I would get rid of that tiny door under the stairs. It totally sticks out and is the first thing I would see walking in the house. A bookshelf would be better but you could always just close it off and use some of the space as a built in from the neighboring room. I’d hate to waste the space but then again you have so much of it. If you’re feeling really ambitious you could do a access door or drawers hidden in wainscoting. A settee would be awesome in this space. Bigger than a chair and very inviting. Here’s an example of one in a entryway:
    http://honeywerehome.blogspot.com/2012/02/target-furniture-find.html

    1. Love those double wide chairs, I think one would be perfect. As always you’re spot on with the inspiration photos!

      Also thought of you when I was debating about removing all of the non-leaking skylights before re-reroofing the place. I was like, Robin would definitely tell me to get rid of these! lol

  17. I would try to do something functional, as much as possible. I dont’ know if you could build benches into the stairway wall and the back wall (that closet door that goes into under the stairway seems ill-placed) that could also be comfortable enough to use for a reading nook. However, if the benches are just going to get loaded up with stuff, I would go with the comfy chair routine. It kinda duplicates the idea of having a library in a nearby room, but what the heck!

  18. You’re going to hate these, but if it were me (and we have different styles), the size of that room and all of the incoming light means you can make it as dark as you want. I would extend both windows next to the doors all the way to the floor to get even more light in there, then paint the walls a medium charcoal maybe. BIG modern light that has some kind of rustic element, like antlers or something. And an angular chair that slopes against the staircase.

    Or if extending the windows aren’t an option, I’m a sucker for seating areas where I can read a book. Two cushioned benches with storage flanking both sides of the door would let you do that and get rid of clutter when company comes over.

    Or, final thought: skateboard bowling. At the very least, it will make yours “that awesome house where you are a human bowling ball the moment you walk in the door.”

    Only two of these ideas are serious. You decide which.

  19. Gorgeous space. I like the minimalism idea also. A nice big rug, pretty pictures on the walls, and plants all around. It’s a hallway – I wouldn’t try to make it into a living area. Also, if you don’t want to do anything drastic to the closet, you could just paint the closet door to match the wall so it won’t stick out as much.

  20. I can’t believe the quality of the comments here. Awesome.

    The basement door won’t stick out once you do away with the contrasting colours.

    For everything else, I defer to your AWESOME commenters (but like the gallery idea the most).

  21. I think you should keep it big and spacious. This “first impression” area should be an expression, or statement, of you. It is ok if it is non-functional. You have plenty of other rooms for that. Take your time on this one. Make it you.

  22. Open the space under the stairs for coat/hat/boot storage (add doors if you want, but the existing door is out of place). Put a bench or a few chairs on the perpendicular wall under the rest of the staircase. If your climate has real winter or a lot of wet, put a small washable rug near the door to soak up muck, and then a bigger one a bit further in to look pretty. Add a console table, chest of drawers, or similar near the door, to catch keys and mail. Put a pretty bowl on top for keys. If you use a chest of drawers, then it’s easy to have a mail sorting spot with no visible mess — assign a drawer to each major topic. Then when you are ready to do your paperwork, you know where all the tax slips and bank statements are hiding. Then use all the rest for gallery space.

    Those look like electric baseboard heaters not hot water radiators to me, but I haven’t seen a lot of non-artsy modern radiators. I’ve lived in an older building with hot water heat for about 10 years now, and I like it better than forced air — less dry, no blowing dust to aggravate my asthma, and really really warm. You have to tap the air out of the system at the start of heating season, but that isn’t difficult. I have no idea about the utilities cost since it is a rental, but you do need to keep the heat high enough to avoid the pipes freezing. Our landlord sets it high enough to spoil us completely.

    1. You’re lucky on the heat. These are definitely water, and the pipes definitely froze and broke… so awesome.

      I love all of your organization ideas, and I’m definitely going to use them in the 11×11 mudroom that will be my main entryway into the house. (Another oddly large space!)

  23. Everyone has had great ideas that would all work. My ideas: Keep open stairway…board & batten stairway wall completely to tie in odd door…continue board & batten around with built-ins that work for you shelves/bench w/storage – whatever you will use ( in my head all is white satin), beautiful & colorful circular rug that is “you”, nice chandelier and an antique style coat/hat rack (you know the single pole style). Take board & batten up stairwell (though not to the ceiling!), white risers on stairs with rich cherry or mahagony for treads/bannister rail, white for remaining bannister. With enough white, someone’s idea of a beautiful charcoal gray above the board and batten would not darken the room and would be more contemporary with the colorful rug. Maybe Valspar’s “Dark Platinum”? At Christmas time put a huge tree in the center and have one heck of a decorating party! Oh I do envy you that entryway!

  24. May have been said already…

    I’d refactor that staircase to be wide, sweeping, and curvalicious.

    I’d make the entry door a double door and center it in the wall.

    And is that a legit covered beam I see, there? Or is that HVAC. Something. Do it to that. 🙂

  25. Since space isn’t an issue, I would lose the closet door and furnish that corner with chairs or comfy furniture. Maybe a small built in bench to the left of the front door and a long thin table or console along the wall to the kitchen. Love the mail sorting idea from Bronwyn. Such an awesome house! Congratulations!

  26. Pool Table. Bar. Pool table and a bar. Large salt water aquarium, right in the middle. Make the whole entry floor into an aquarium, so your walking over fish swimming below you. LOL. How about a sculpture of a six foot drill, right in the middle. Or maybe like a museum display of old tools that you don’t want to throw away, but they just don’t work anymore or have been upgraded. Have like a little history report by them and encase them in glass. “This was the nicad Dewalt 18v(1994-2010), very nice drill, now since replace by the 20v Mikita L-ion. :(” You know.

  27. I have spent two late nights reading about your adventures and I am in awe. Your enthusiasm is infectious. I am relieved you are not under that build a place in six months deadline. What building style is your house? If you have a historical society close by they may have early photos of your house.
    About that center hall. Remuddle first: remove the wainscot,wall paper, and hideous paint. Step back and evaluate. Typically, these rooms were meant for show and round center tables do look good in them. I’m with you on the flower thing but a sculpture of a donkey would look good too. Who knows, you may walk down those stairs as a bride someday.
    Liberty house suits your place. Perhaps you will name one of the out buildings Bray Hall. thank you for some wonderful reading. MH

    1. So glad you’re enjoying the adventures! (I’m also kind of relieved I won’t be building a place in 6– now 4– months, but this house has still given me seventeen gray hairs already. lol.)

  28. Either during or after the master bath project (which I’m assuming may be first on the schedule) I would probably remove the wallpaper, finish the stairway trim, paint the walls & install some sort of light fixture. That will get the foyer to the point where the worst offenders are under control.

    Wait to do the other foyer projects & live with it a while until you see how the you live in the entire house. Something amazing may come to you that you might not think of immediately. You are so very good at thinking outside the box!

    I do like the gallery idea – especially the old tool display idea – you could use various short columns to show them off like sculptures! The archways to the kitchen & pink parlor are fabulous – hope those are keepers. Not so sure about the short wainscoting – did I see it in a picture of another room also?

    Glad you’re feeling better and hope all the red tape is on the way out the door!

  29. You don’t need flowers to make it attractive. A suitable vase or somesuch would work without having to be maintained.

    Still preferring a narrow rectangular table against a wall as opposed to a round table in the middle blocking traffic.

  30. When I saw the size of your entry it reminded me of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Entrance Hall http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/entrance-hall. You could use it as a place for your blog-visitors-who-want-to-see-the-Liberty-House-in-person to wait until you receive them, as Jefferson did with his visitors. Maybe instead of Lewis & Clark expedition artifacts, you could have antique power tools 😉

    Not saying my suggestion is a good one…but your entrance DID remind me of Monticello!

  31. So I’m reading the last few years of your life like a book, don’t mind me. I also know you have probably done something with this area by now, but for the sake of my book-ish experience, I have yet to look ahead. Have you thought about opening up both walls so that you have a larger opening to the pink parlor and have two rails on your stairs? Instead of a closed off semi-“formal entry”, you would have flowable, workable space.

    🙂 You have done some really amazing things! Completely looking forward to reading more about them…

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