Happy Monday, everyone!
I am obsessed with entryways. They're the home equivalent of a first impression, greeting you and guests with an intriguing "Oh, hello! Welcome to this fabulous home!" Entryways serve as an immediate focal point when you enter a home and get you excited to see what else is inside. They're high impact and can often be achieved in a small space.
I am going to do a few posts on entryways, but thought I'd start with an overview of how our entryway came to be.
Our entryway has evolved over time, and I am really pleased with the results. It certainly came from humble beginnings (I would show you the before photos, but they're trapped on an old computer), and we've been working on "boosting its self-confidence" so now it can shine with the glamour and grace that a good entryway should have (it either has it, or it doesn't, right?).
When we first moved into our apartment three years ago, the entryway was a disaster zone. The previous owners had had huge ugly semi-built-in bookcases flanking the wall, and before considering the outcome, our first move was to ask the super to remove them.... which left gaping holes in both the wall and along where the baseboard should have been. Instead of actually fixing the offending wall, we dealt with the problem by covering it with whatever we could find. That red armoire (in the right of the photo - a $250 2007 Craigslist purchase that I recall required doorman bribery so the seller and I could haul it ourselves into my tiny apartment at 11pm on a week night... smarts and safety all in the name of décor, right?) flanked the wall around where the mirror now hangs (in part because the armoire won't fit through any other of our slim doorways to get into another room of the apartment - it is so fat that it is permanently stuck in our entryway). For several years, the armoire covered up the most egregious holes in the floorboard and walls, and we put up a room divider along the rest of the exposed wall, which served both to hide our suitcases and the wall. The room looked really strange and was not the first impression I wanted it to give. Every time I walked through it, I thought about how much I hated it and dreamed of one day changing it.
We lived with our bizarro room for the better part of two years, always apologizing to guests for the state of the entryway. But eventually "Oh, you know, we just moved in and..." wasn't really an excuse anymore. To me, there are three components to a great entryway: a great lamp (or pair of lamps), a great mirror (or art, though I prefer mirror for its functionality), and a great table. The additional requirement is that one of those items needs to be an antique of some sort. Below is the story of how our components came together.
In late 2012, when I was in Kansas City visiting my parents, my mom took me to the antiques district on 45th & State Line Road (if you live in/near KC, go here - it's awesome!). My mom's friend Barbara Farmer owns a ridiculously awesome antique shop called Perrin & Co. (1717 W 45th St, Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 753-7959) that carries just about anything fabulous and European. I walked in with the "I have no money, I'm just browsing" mindset, but when I saw a pair of green antique Parisian opalescent lamps, I practically passed out. After coming to terms with just how little money I actually had in my bank account, I finagled a deal with my mom to split the cost with me because, now that I'd seen these lamps, I couldn't imagine life without them. Even splitting the cost stretched Matt and me pretty thin, but when it's love at first sight, there's really nothing you can do to change destiny. I knew I needed the lamps in my life, and it's one of the few home purchases that I didn't even bother to run by Matt -- I knew he'd love them (and honestly, I didn't really care if he didn't love them -- that's how into them I was), and I also knew they were the key to transforming our pathetic entryway. Also upon further research, I've realized that we got a seriously good deal on them. Truly great opalescent lamps do not come cheap.
When the lamps were delivered to our apartment, that was the impetus to get the entryway renovation going. As you know, once I get a home décor idea in my head, it becomes a mild obsession and I need to act on it as quickly as possible. We put the lamps in a "temporary home" as bedside lamps (they were huge but they looked sort of great) as we set out to finalize our mission of entryway awesomeness. I finally got around to asking our super to install a baseboard (learning later that you need to ask for it to be painted white or else it's just raw wood), and then I got my DIY groove on. Against Matt' wishes, I moved the armoire over to be where it is now (he refused to believe it would fit!) and caulked up and papered over the gaping holes in the wall (I wouldn't say it was a professional job, but it did the trick). I was totally pleased with myself.
Next we needed a table and a mirror. Mirrors can be very expensive. The one that was featured at Perrin & Co. with the lamps was an incredible Louis Philippe mirror (that I still, two years later, dream about) that was at least $2,000, which was about $1,900 more than we could spend. I searched high and low for a cheaper equivalent and couldn't find anything in the price range we could handle (it turns out that real Louis Philippe mirrors -- or even reproductions -- are a $2k+ investment). I gave up on Louis Philippe and finally just decided I wanted a gilded mirror of any kind and started scouring Craigslist for "gilded mirrors" (you get better results that way than saying "gold mirror").
When I finally found the one we purchased, I practically tackled the seller via email and dragged Matt immediately to the gal's apartment on 97th & 3rd to procure the majestically discounted piece. It was listed at $120, we offered $100, and I still fell like we stole from her... though she lived in a ginormous apartment, so I didn't feel all that bad about it. Though the mirror is clearly a reproduction, I have no doubt it would cost at least $1,000 in stores and I am very pleased with the quality. It's very heavy and really beautifully ornate without being too much (though if put with the wrong things, it could be too much). When we got home, I immediately ran to the bedroom to see the mirror next to the lamps (total excitement despite all the messiness) and did a little dance to celebrate our major score.
Then I became obsessed with finding a table.
With the lamps and mirror in our possession, things came together rather quickly. We were due to host a "Jack and Jill" bridal shower the next weekend, and it became suddenly clear that we needed to get an entryway table -- fast. I had for some time been eying the mirrored Parsons console table from West Elm (now $599) amongst other table options (I also would have loved an antique chest, but again, that price range is another ballpark), and as luck would have it I noticed that it was on sale at West Elm the same weekend that we had procured the mirror. I showed it to Matt thinking there was no chance he'd go for it, but he did! He loved it! "That's really cool, let's get it." Matt's home purchases are made exclusively on whether the item "looks cool" or "is comfortable" and this one looked cool (yes!).
We called West Elm with the idea that we could put it on hold and pick it up, like, immediately, but it turns out that's not how West Elm works. So we ordered the table online (first signing up to receive email, which gives you an additional 10% off) and crossed our fingers that it would arrive on time, and because we knew the table dimensions, we were able to hang the mirror without having the table in our possession. Sure enough, the next day, West Elm called to schedule delivery for that Friday. Matt's mom very kindly offered to wait at our apartment for the delivery and make sure the table was put in the correct place, and when we got home that night, we moved the green lamps into place.
When everything was in place, it felt downright magical. Nearly two years after we'd moved into our apartment, and we finally had an entryway that garnered a "wow" out of guests. I love the juxtaposition of antique and modern, high and low. I switch out the centerpiece relatively frequently depending on what we have around. Our Aunt Helen recently sent us that fabulous orchid as a "get well" gift after my surgery, and I'm horribly obsessed with it.
What's Next? A Bench!
I desperately want a bench or two to put underneath the table. I have two woven baskets (Neu Home Water Hyacinth Large Tapered Basket with Cut-Out Handles, $30.99 each from Casa.com) that we keep there to hold shoes and such (all of that stuff that gets removed when you walk in the door and that you need when you walk out of it), but I'd love to have a bench as well. I am currently eying this grey one with white piping from Lamps Plus, $179.99, and this Safevieh taupe grey Dante bench from Overstock.com. Thoughts?? Why are benches so darn expensive?
And that is my very long story about how our entryway came to be! I will post some more entryway ideas later this week. Is your entryway in need of transformation? Or is it already there? Tell me all about it!
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.