Before and After: A “Stuffy and Dark” Entryway’s Sliding Doors Were Blocking a Beautiful Design Feature

updated Jul 6, 2023
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About this before & after
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Before: Entryway with brown paint

On a site that’s featured thousands of real homes across the world, Apartment Therapy has run into its fair share of quirky, questionable design features: shutters to nowhere, stairs to nowhere, weird photos or items in walls, entire rooms behind mirrors — you get the idea. These are often the result of shoddy remodels, larger homes being split up into apartments, or just simply eccentric builders.

Here’s another strange one to add to the list: a window in a closet. “There was a beautiful geometric window in the coat closet completely hidden behind blocky sliding doors,” homeowner Caitlin Chase (@chasestyling) says of her self-described “stuffy and dark” entryway. “This gorgeous little window that deserved some breathing room,” she adds on Instagram.

Before, the Closet Concealed a Window

Caitlin wanted the entryway “to feel welcoming and full of light,” but she also wanted to keep things tidy, and the storage the closet offered really helped there. “It’s the first space people see when they visit, and I wanted it to make a good first impression!” Caitlin says. And when she first moved in, the space really wasn’t.

It had dark brown paint, and the inside of the closet had old yellowed wallpaper and water stains that needed to be removed. It also had banisters flanking the right and left, making for tight quarters when you first entered the space. In general, “it made an awkward first impression for anyone entering the home,” Caitlin says.

Glass Doors Brighten the Entryway

Caitlin started with the priority: taking the dingy closet wallpaper down. Next, to make things less awkward and more bright and welcoming, she removed the closet doors to reveal the hexagonal window, an instantaneous room brightener. To make the window even more of a focal point, she used a deep green paint in the closet to create contrast. It creates “a dramatic, clean look,” Caitlin describes.

“Months later, we hired help to renovate our rooms, tearing up the glossy white tile and replacing it with red oak hardwood,” Caitlin says. (The hardwoods and overhead light aren’t included in her $300 entryway project cost.)

Caitlin still wanted doors to separate the closet space, so she found the perfect pair that would still allow the light from the window to shine through. Best yet, they were only $35. “I drove an hour and a half to get them from a seller on Facebook Marketplace,” she says. I had to sand them down and refinish and paint them myself. They were a lot of work but totally worth it!”

Wallpaper Adds Whimsy

Lastly, Caitlin added some minimalistic styling to keep things light, bright, and airy. “I got the peel-and-stick wallpaper and installed it myself,” she says. She selected a cream-colored forest-patterned wallpaper from Amazon, which keeps things bright but adds charm and personality.

Caitlin’s favorite part of the redo, of course, is the new (to her) doors, but the massive arched mirror from Amazon is a close second. It, too, helps to make the small space much brighter than it was before, and “it matches the arched entryway wall nicely,” Caitlin says.

“I love everything about it!” Caitlin says of her new space. “It’s gorgeous and light and has sweet personalized details.” And as for the window in the closet? “Someday I might build a small desk or “fort” into the closet so my daughter can use it as a fun lookout to spy on the neighborhood,” Caitlin says. A fun solution for a surprising and quirky detail!