Before and After: Smart Swaps Make This Dark, Cramped Entryway Unrecognizable

published Aug 15, 2021
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Before: narrow enclosed hallway facing front door, with view of staircase
Credit: Lynn C.

At home, as in life, first impressions are a big deal — so the first space you see when you walk inside should make you feel good.

At Lynn C.’s 1986 condo, first impressions were mixed, to say the least. “As soon as I walked through the front door, I was smitten by the front-to-back sightline,” she says, “yet at the same time struck — not in a good way — by the sense of looking through the wrong end of a telescope.”

Credit: Lynn C.

The dim lighting and walled-off staircase made the whole area feel like a tunnel. And on top of that, none of it had been updated in over 20 years when Lynn moved in. “It all created a dark, cramped first impression,” she says. “Not exactly a warm welcome!”

Credit: Lynn C.
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This 100-Year-Old House’s New Entryway Is an Explosion of Pattern and Color

Lynn had a few goals in mind: She wanted to open up the staircase to make the space feel more airy and inviting, replace the mishmash of flooring finishes with hardwood throughout, and do something to make the space brighter, too.

Credit: Lynn C.

For the flooring, Lynn chose a medium-tone hardwood that pro contractors installed; on the door, she had the sidelite uncovered to let in more natural sunshine. As for lighting, Lynn chose to swap the dim flush-mount for LED recessed lighting, which goes a long way in brightening up the enclosed space. She also had all the walls and trim painted in a crisp white (Benjamin Moore’s Super White).

Credit: Lynn C.

The biggest improvement, though, was the opening up of the walled-off staircase. Cutting down the drywall and replacing it with a modern-meets-traditional balustrade in a white and wood finish completely changed the look of the entryway. “The stairwell wall is now unobstructed by the half-wall and is the perfect space for displaying some of my favorite paintings,” Lynn says, meaning she can make the entryway a design feature and not just a pass-through.

“I love how the entryway feels so much brighter and more open without actually expanding the footprint,” Lynn says of the new design. “I’m a big fan of “second chances” and I’m proud that my condo’s entryway proves that there can be a second chance to make a good first impression!”