Before and After: This Blank Apartment Entryway Is Unrecognizable After a Daring Redo

published May 20, 2023
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Entryway before makeover: gray walls, white door, white console table
Credit: Sandy Saintilus

Entryway redos are a common sight on Apartment Therapy for a reason. For one, it’s nice to have the space you see immediately upon entering your home reflect your style and personality. Aside from that, the typically small square footage of an entryway can offer you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to styling. You won’t need much furniture or decor to fill the space, but you can certainly make a dramatic impact with things like wallpaper, mirrors, and lighting.

That trifecta is exactly what renter Sandy Santillan (@myuglyapartment) reached for when it came to her, well, ugly apartment entryway (or, if not exactly ugly, at least very builder-grade and beigey-gray). “Before, this entryway was so boring and uninspiring,” Sandy says. “It looked like all the other gray and white apartments with no character or personality.”

Credit: Sandy Saintilus

All that changed, thanks to dramatic wallpaper, ceiling paint, a new console table and mirror, and upgraded lighting. First, Sandy hired a Taskrabbit to paint the ceiling, trim, and doors of the space in a dramatic black (Clare’s Blackest).

“I was torn about painting the ceiling because I was afraid the space would feel too dark, but I ultimately decided the entryway was small, and I would approach it the same way people approach powder rooms,” Sandy says. “It’s common to see bold patterns and colors in powder rooms because they don’t interfere with the rest of the colors in your home. Although my entryway is kind of open to the rest of the home, there’s still enough of a separation, so I decided to embrace making it drastically different.” 

Credit: Sandy Saintilus

One thing of note: Sandy says to proceed with caution with dark paint colors if you’re in a rental. “If you choose to paint things, I recommend hiring professionals to change it all back,” she says. “For example, I painted my doors black, and black is VERY HARD to paint over. When I move out of my rental, I’m willing to incur the cost of having a professional paint it to make sure I don’t get into trouble with the leasing office.” Sandy also recommends getting your hands on the name of the exact paint color your apartment was originally painted so that you can reset it when you leave.

Sandy says her dark paint gives the entry a “chic boutique hotel vibe” and was worth the design (and deposit) risk. “I was on the fence about painting the doors, but it made a HUGE difference,” she says. “I don’t think it would look the same if I left the doors white.” 

Credit: Sandy Saintilus

The new wallpaper from Rebel Walls, the sleek black console table, and the circular gold mirror also add to the luxe vibes, as does the upgraded lighting in the space. Sandy also hired help from Taskrabbit when it came to installing the lighting (converting a recessed light to a flush-mount setup using this kit) and the wallpaper. Stacey kept the old apartment flush-mount on hand so that she can reinstall it when she moves out (she’ll be able to take her new modern white and brass one with her).

And speaking of lighting, Sandy added an LED strip behind her mirror as well as a motion sensor-equipped light under the console (it comes on automatically when she enters the apartment — ingenious!). “I’ve used LED lights with mirrors before, but I’ve never put the light behind and come up with my own mounting system so that was a challenge, but it worked out,” she says. 

Credit: Sandy Saintilus

Stacey glued wood strips to the back of the mirror to help it sit out slightly from the wall and allow the light to shine through. Monkey Hooks helped her hang it without even pulling out a hammer. Sandy says the mirror and console table are stylish, yes, but also functional. “I needed a mirror to check my outfit before I leave, and we needed a longer console table for more shoe storage and a place to put my purse and keys,” she says. 

Overall, Stacey’s entryway is much more practical and more pleasing to her than the all-beige, builder-grade before. “The ‘after’ feels so funky and fresh,” she says. “I wanted to create something I hadn’t seen before, and I’m really happy with it.”

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