thrift-store decorating tips: the entryway

view of main room from apartment entryway

Welcome to my home! Or at least this is how it all looked up until a few weeks ago before I started selling things off in preparation for moving (because of skyrocketing Portland rents and the major demolition/construction party next door). I already gave you the kitchen tour, and you do have my apologies for proceeding out of order, but things have gotten hectic around here. So it's better, at least for me, to offer up what comes out of my head when it does come than let unfinished posts pile up. (Please also forgive and don't look too closely at the embarrassing line of dust bunnies hiding under the sofa. Though I do vacuum often because of sharing space with that cute, furry cat in the photo above, the vacuum cleaner head does have a hard time reaching certain spots. And yes, I should just move the sofa once in a while. What can I say other than I like decorating more than cleaning?)

This house-tour series is my way of celebrating and grieving at the same time—a wake of sorts for the past year-and-several-months of my life. It's ironic that just when I had the apartment styled almost how I wanted it, the Universe yelled, Time's up! Truly, this is the hardest apartment I've ever had to leave because a) it's been all mine, b) it's in mostly original (early-1900's) condition, c) I finally have decent light (temporarily), and d) the layout is just about perfect.

In this charming vintage apartment with original oak floors, you walk into an actual entrance room—though, granted, this does eat up square footage—a holding area of sorts in which to remove or put on shoes and outerwear. Especially for shoeless homes like mine in places with cold, wet weather, entryways function as physical and mental way stations enabling the transition between indoor and outdoor life—clothing as the attired "armor" in which we face the outside world.

To that end and to the right of the entrance, I'd placed a small trunk for double-duty scarf-hat-glove storage and temporary seating, plus an extra-large vintage beveled mirror leaning against the left-side wall and another glossy-black-painted bamboo mirror hung above the trunk on the opposite right-side wall, in addition to a rotating shoe tree for pretty high heels (all secondhand, of course) and various thrifted hooks on two walls for scarves, coats, umbrellas, and shopping totes. For guests, I set a large white planter in the corner, holding like-new grass slippers, though hand-crocheted or handknit ones would be even more comfortable and quirky.

entryway mirrors with original antique Western Electric wall phone

Also in the entryway, there's even a built-in delivery box, formerly accessible from the exterior hallway, as well as the original vintage phone hung on the wall with a corded earpiece that still buzzes visitors into the building's front entrance (though the manager and maintenance buttons no longer ring downstairs for anyone). I love thinking about long-ago residents opening the tiny square closet door each morning and picking up their new creamy milk in glass bottles and their freshly shined shoes. These days, the building's little delivery closets lining the interior hallways are all blocked off and intentionally made useless for safety reasons, but they offer a quaint glimpse into a more trusting and convenient past.

entryway trunk/bench, pot of slippers, and antique delivery wall box

Simple Entryway Decorating Tips:

  • Double up mirrors to visually expand a dark, narrow space.
  • Add a storage bench for shoe donning and removal.
  • Include a shoe tree or cubby system for tidy shoe storage.
  • Drill up vintage hooks and a small shelf to hold tote bags, umbrellas, and outerwear. 
  • Hang original art, preferably made by friends. (Hi Carol!)
  • Place a console table (if space allows) with a lamp and tray for keys, mail, and assorted emptying-the-pocket items.
  • Offer a basket of clean slippers for guests (especially if a shoe-free home).
  • Place a little rug, something hard-wearing like jute or coir by the door for foot-wiping or, if the clearance threshold is too low, something textured or colorful that can easily be cleaned.

left-side entryway viewed from main room

The entrance to a home sets the stage and mood for the life lived within. Ideally, an entryway would frame a dramatic view—the Ta-da! effect—or hint at the quiet coziness and lovely surprises to be found ahead.

What are the essential elements of your home's entryway?

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