Suggestions for Main Entrance Directly into Living Room

cploverApril 6, 2011

So another quirk about my 1957 1400 sq ft ranch (for those of you who are familiar with my kitchen woes) is that the front door opens directly into the LR. DH wants to build either a full or partial wall parallel to the existing wall to create more of a defined entry way. Thoughts? I know this is fairly common in smaller/older homes. Here is a floor plan if that helps. Currently there is a small (4'x3') patch of tile that "defines" this area but it is too small to be very practical for getting wet shoes off. The rest of the room has hardwood floors.

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Could you do something like this?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 4:07PM
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I would NOT build a's too confining and you can do the same thing with furniture placement or even a bookcase.

Can you borrow some space from that second closet? I'm guessing the first one is the coat closet. What's the second one for...linens? If you could open that on the living room side, it would make a great message center/clutter organizer.

Everyone who walks in the door needs space for mail, keys, change, etc. It's also nice to have a place to dump the junk mail and throw away envelopes, etc. If you could create something like that, with cabinetry...that would look nice and be very practical.

A throw rug (with the right backing under it, so you don't slip) is also a good way to define the entry. It will catch the mud and it's easy to wash.

Since you plan to put another chair, next to your sofa...that should help define the entry area, too. I think the room will feel bigger and less 'swiss cheese' with the bigger doorway to the dining area, maybe the french doors to the kitchen and an organized entry, that still flows with the rest of the living room.

Sometimes it's the challenges, that make us get the most creative with our design solutions...and we end up with a space that we love...and would never have considered, without that challenge :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 4:16PM
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marti8a- I like that! Although I am not sure how feasible it is. Will have to think on that one--but I do like it.

lavender- the first closet nearest the front door is a coat closet and the other closet is a linen closet. The linen closet is not the best and we could put lines in the closet outside of the bathroom too.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2011 at 4:25PM
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If you turned a closet or any permanent wall across the entry to your front door, just how would you ever bring in a big piece of furniture to your house? Your back door is not set up to give you a long path, again more walls to prevent turning a sofa or anything from there. Maybe bringing your big stuff in through the garage and dining room door?

But it seems to me that where you have your closets is just fine. You might build in an alcove by borrowing about a foot of space from the other closet, maybe less, but you've shown it as being 3 foot deep, so you could spare a foot and still have enough depth for hanging clothing, or accessing your linens. Three feet is too deep for a shelving closet anyway, so you could easily use the excess space for something else.

Maybe a built in shelf with a mirror above. Do you usually enter the house by the front door? If you do, then dropping your purse and keys and the mail would be good here. (Maybe a drawer deep enough to hide the private stuff?) Otherwise, you'd never use it for its intended purpose. Think about how you use your front entry.

What I'd recommend is some of the open box display shelves in a wall divider unit. It will be a great way to create a dedicated entry way without messing with your present floor plan. It would be perpendicular to the picture window wall, between that window and the front door. Sort of give your arriving guests a moment to familiarize themselves with your interiors without feeling dumped into the middle of your family life. At least, that is how Sarah Susanka of NOT SO BIG HOUSE fame tells it.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 11:24AM
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The front door is the main entrance to the home. We only have a one car garage so the garage door is not used as frequently as the front door. The back door is only used when we are grilling or using the backyard.

DH wants to put up a full or pony wall, and I agree with Lavender that that idea will make the entry way feel cramped. I also like the idea of moving the closet, but then again I did not consider having to move things in and out through the front door. So that idea probably won't work. I would like seating so that people could sit to take off their shoes and a place to put keys, mail, etc. But DH real goal with the wall is to create a more formal entrance.

Does anyone have any photos? ML- I think I know what you are talking about--

Thanks again for your suggestions.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 12:29PM
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Newbie- You have a few challenges in this space. First, your front window is not centered on the living area, it's centered on the entire wall, between the fireplace and any divider you put up is going to make the window even more off center.

You also have a long narrow room, which would look even more long and narrow, if you moved the closets. I'm sure you need the coat closet for storage and the natural place to put a bench, maybe with hooks above, is along the back of your second closet. However, this will be completely open to your living room. That means, it will have to look nice and maybe have a mirror or picture rather than storage above the bench.

Now, what is that little one foot space, against the second closet, facing the bathroom? Is that a bookcase or some kind of built in? That might work for a small message/clutter area. You'll need a place to charge phones, dump mail and have some storage for your 'stuff' as you come in the front door.

Where do you put these things now? Do you need to make part of your pantry, overflow for clutter, but get it organized. Organization is really the key. A combination of baskets and hidden storage (behind doors) is the best way to deal with the inevitable stuff we all have and need to keep at easy access.

Chances are, if your mail area is in the office, junk mail and bills won't make it that far, in the first few hours. That will get dumped, near the front door or in the kitchen, and dealt with later...possibly losing a few things in the process. If you plan a 'place' for these things, then they're not clutter, they're something that has a home and is put away, as you come in the door.

Now's the time to figure out where you want to store it...and what you want to see (pretty bench, nice picture or mirror) and what you don't (cell phones charging, mail sorted, gloves and scarves). Make a plan for every thing and you'll be very happy with the results...and don't forget boots and shoes! Either put them in the closet, or place a plant or big basket, by your seating area, to screen the bottom of the bench from sort of hide boots and shoes :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 3:54PM
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What if you did a half-wall as a room divider - on the left side just as you enter the house? The wall doesn't need to be permanent if you don't want it to be. Plus - it could give you more storage space, define the area, but if it is a half wall then it won't be so dark and feel so closed in.

Here is a link that might be useful: Something like this...

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 5:34PM
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I was thinking maybe I could do two of these instead of a pony/full wall. Maybe even put them on casters so I move them if/when I have to move furniture into the room. Thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: open basket storage

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 7:25PM
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The open basket storage looks too low-end to suit you.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 8:10PM
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One house we had had a shallow closet. kitchen was on other side. Wished it could have been one foot deep would have been wonderful. As it was I used it for books and you can just barely see hooks under the upper shelf to hang coats.

This is it closed and it did work well but one foot deep would have made it wonderful . Would have bee room on the shelves for shoes or baskets. AND not having the double sliding doors would have made it better too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shallow Closet

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 8:53PM
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Some people put up half walls, and others tear them down. Sometimes it seems that the only criteria for who will do which is whether the wall is there already or not! Really, in a home like this, nothing is ever perfect and you will change your mind about what you need near the front door many times while you live there.

I like ML's idea of making the back foot of the linen closet into a built-in foyer alcove. You could have part of that space be a bench (with a lift top for storage) and the other part a built-in credenza. Maybe with deep drawers where winter hats and gloves could be stored, another drawer with a power strip for charging things...whatever you need. But I kinda had my eye on that closet for a laundry!

You can use so many types of furniture as a room divider that will define the space without building a wall. I have used a sofa in that capacity, myself. A sofa with a sofa table behind it can be just as substantial as a wall, and using the furniture this way gives you a more square area for the living room seating. You could also check out CraigsList for room divider screens, a cubby-hole etagere in which you position art or interesting objects - or even a used entertainment center. You could put your TV in the open side of an entertainment center and then put a nice furniture grade plywood back on it so that a nice side is presented to the foyer side. Maybe add a few shallow shelves to display things on the foyer side. Or put a mirror, decorative hooks, and umbrella ring to hold guests' coats and things. Stain and poly, and there you have a totally custom, two-sided furniture piece!

There are lots of ways to be creative without building walls.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 9:40PM
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Brit-n-rick - I really like that photo you found. I think DH is all about putting up walls of some sort. I on the other hand like the idea of something less permanent like a shelf or piece of furniture that can move/change with our needs.

I agree with ML about the open shelving. I tried finding something premade online but could not find much. I also like the idea of stealing room from the linen closet. As is the closet cannot be used to its full capacity since it is too deep. Right now I use it for linens and the vacuum cleaner.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 11:35AM
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Okay..what about something like this open shelving unit in lieu of a wall?

Here is a link that might be useful: Crate and Barrel shadow box tower

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Nancy- I like that you are saving my linen closet for laundry! :) I did bring that up to DH and he said-- well why would we ever go in the basement? Good point on his part, but I think the extra opening in the LR wall will make my laundry trek better. If not--good bye linen closet!

I like everyone's suggestions for the linen closet/message center area. However, I am just wondering if it pays to do some sort of room divider-thing-a-maboby between the door and the picture window. More great ideas Nancy-thanks!

Lavender- I am not sure why the owners of this house did not like things centered! The fireplace is not centered on the wall, the picture window is not centered in the room, and it goes on and on. And the funny thing is that I did not notice most of these things until well after we moved in!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 12:07AM
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Newbie - tell DH that the basement is reserved as a mancave, workshop and future playroom!

Here is the picture of Claire De Luna's beautiful laundry closet. I love the pull-out bins. If you do this laundry, the platform for the washer and dryer has to be very well supported. Front loader washers want to sit on cement floors. So after the platform is built really well supported, I would put cement board on top. Claire has a drain pan underneath hers. It will contain a spill or leak and goes right to a drain.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:05AM
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Newbie, that is EXACTLY what I had in mind, but the photo came up really tiny on my computer, don't know why. But it is like open squares which have no back, can be attached to the ceiling if need be for stability. Make as long as you need, but also as SHORT as you wish. I do think that IKEA sells one too. But I think the Crate and Barrel unit is what I saw most recently. Spent about two hours looking for it amongst my INSPIRATION photos, never found it. Something wrong with my system I'm afraid.

What I like about that type of unit, it is a mental barrier more than it is a physical one. Air circulates through it in case there are air ducts which could be blocked by solid walls....and that is a big expense to relocate. Plus, it adds a lovely architectural element to a long room without making it feel shortened. And, you still have a clear shot into the room when you need to haul big furniture items into the house.

BTW, that shadow box tower can be made wider with more units, but you can do it cheaper by making one to size yourself out of plywood. Get a good grade of the wood so it will be a smooth finish. Then use it for display. And for books.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:06AM
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I went to and got the link for that tower. It is used in various ways, and I was surprised that this one is made of cold rolled steel. But, the series of uses they show makes it a real jewel in your decorating wardrobe.
They use it as a room divider, as a display unit in the dining room or a family room, and it would definitely never be without a use. Quite sturdy if it is steel. However, $900 is a lot for one thing, even though it is a hefty design.
If one unit would do it, then that would be great.

But look at this link and click on the different images showing it used in several room layouts.

Here is a link that might be useful: SHADOW BOX TOWER 184856

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:13AM
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ML- I have a very handy uncle who is a carpenter by trade. I am sure he can build one for me for far less than $900. I like it and I do love its multiple functions. Also I like how it almost like giant wall art!

Although for my kitchen I doing white painted cabinets and soapstone. I think this unit is a little more modern? I need to make sure that the kitchen does not turn into a period-style kitchen.. b/c that would not fit in 1957 ranch! But I would like to blend some more modern-ish pieces with some cottage like pieces. Does that work? I think this may be the start of a new post!!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Again, I think you can mix cottage and MCModern easily. This tower is very modern, but you could also have the edges covered in screen molding which would bring it back to a cottage feel. Painted or varnished, it would suit a cottage I think.

I don't worry much about the era of the furnishings or fittings, I just do what I like. Somehow it seems to work. But then, I'm no designer and my tastes are fairly simple. If in your kitchen you are doing soapstone, it could be a traditional material, so would painted cabs. But so many kitchens have those things, and they are not totally traditional. It could be a bit EURO STYLE.

The tower is as it looks now, modern, and would fit in a MCModern living room. French style doors painted white like your woodwork and cabs, would lead nicely into ANY style kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:49AM
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ML- I guess I like what I like too! I like simple and that is why I like the bookcase. DH is very eclectic But I do not like "cold" modern. Or anything that looks too space-ship like. Simple. I thought a dark stained case would be nice since I do not have much non-painted wood, other than the hardwood floors.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 3:37PM
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Hi, Newbie!

Here is the picture you requested. I'm sorry for the delay. I had company then left town. I understand your struggle with the lack of foyer. I move my furniture ALL the time, even after 4 years in our home. I've yet to find something I love. Keep playing with ideas.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 6:44PM
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YG- Your house is very cute and thanks for posting the photo! Yeppers your living room looks very much like mine, or at least from this angle. Only difference is that to the right of the piano I have a coat closet. I would put my couch with its back to the door, like you have but the only true wall I have to put my tv is on the wall opposite the front door (where you have the larger framed photo), since further down on the door wall I have a big picture window and the wall opposite the piano has an oversized fireplace. I wish I could test out moving the couch around, but canoto since our couch is over 90" long and 40"+ wide. Yeah, not exactly the best couch for a bowling alley type room. But we are planning to buy a new couch--just to help improve the flow in the room.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 12:04AM
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Newbie- If you're buying new furniture, you could have a sectional that would divide up the room a bit, but would still allow the TV to go on the wall to the kitchen. Would that work, rather than the two chairs? You could still have your 'comfy' chair, next to the fireplace, too :)

Here's what I plan to use in my living room...the size of the first one, but more the color of the second...maybe in a chenille. The chaise part, would divide the entry from the living room...and you could even sit down on it, to take your boots off!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 1:03PM
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Wow, they sound a lot alike! The wall with the bird picture is where our TV is, too. Just outside of the picture is a cabinet that I have the tv in. I have to angle myself on the couch to use it, but we don't have "tv," just use it as the monitor for our computer. So, I sit on the couch with a wireless mouse and keyboard and use the tv from there. It's not the best, but when I put the couch under the window I felt too far away from the screen. Oh the woes of entry-less houses! You should post pics of your space. I'm anxious to see it. I bet it's cute! I certainly envy your coat closet!!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 9:51PM
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Hi, Newbie, can you see the laundry closet picture? I can see it sometimes when I go on this thread, but not all the time. I am trying the picture again, here, and below is a link:

Here is a link that might be useful: Claire de Luna's Laundry Closet

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 5:58PM
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I wouldn't want to be the one to lift the washer up on that pedestal, but I love the laundry baskets below!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 6:27PM
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It looks nice. I see the front loader washer, but I don't get the way you access the dryer? I assume it is a front loader as well, but don't see a handle. And if you need to work on it, how do you get to it? Like one of the commercial laundries where there is an opening behind it?

Marti, I agree, it is a lovely laundry and the bins below are really fine. I'd like to use the surface of the equipment to fold clothes.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 9:05PM
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IKEA has the same type of room divider/shelving unit for far less, in different sizes and finishes. Plus there are so many other ideas in the catalogue for defining spaces.

Here is a link that might be useful: IKEA unit

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:26PM
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Shelayne, bless your heart, you found it! I think IKEA is wonderful, and very modern and hip. Plus the heart and soul of ECONOMICAL.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:03PM
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Shelayne!! That is awesome! I do not know how I did not find that before! Best thing about Ikea is that it is less than 10 minutes from my house! Now the difficult part is convincing DH. He REALLY had his heart set on a partial or full wall. And after I read Susanka's "Not So Big Remodeling" I am left wondering too. She suggests building walls!! :( Although I am not sure she would do it in our space. I wish I could afford an architect. Well, maybe I can-- I am just afraid to hear all the things he/she would suggest!!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:11AM
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Well, anyone that knows me--and my home--knows that I do know my way around IKEA! Haha! ;^)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:32PM
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