Maximizing a Narrow Entryway
Q: I need a new storage solution for our narrow front hallway. I really want a new gorgeous piece of furniture to replace the white Ikea cabinet. It would be great if we could also incorporate the fish tank within it... I've seen some vintage record cabinets that are good, but getting the size to fit that space is tricky as it needs to be quite petite! I also love the pigeon holes on the wall as they're so useful, but they just become a dumping ground for stuff. It has the feeling on a back door entrance, but I want it to look beautiful and inviting! Help!
- Claire, London U.K.
A: Hello! And thank you so much for sending us your question. You are on the right track with your instinct to look for a piece of furniture better suited to the space in terms of scale. Your ideal piece would be a bit narrower both in depth and length, so it would sit comfortably in the little corner of wall created by the edge of the coat closet. While I do love the Ikea cabinet in itself, that spot is just begging for a stylish and functional upgrade. As the very first impression visitors have when they enter your home, it's a wonderful opportunity to do something really special.
The first image that came to mind, was a vintage telephone bench--you know those benches that that have a little table attached to the end. The bench would be an inviting and welcoming spot as you enter the house, and you could place the fish tank atop the table. A bench would not protrude beyond the little recess into the hallway, and would also allow for more landing space at the base of the staircase. At the moment, the cabinet feels slightly too close for comfort to that first step.
Now, as much as I like the look of the bench, it really only ticks two of your requirements--it's inviting and has a spot for the fish tank! It definitely is lacking in storage, and won't help you to streamline your entryway from that standpoint
Another option would be a piece of furniture like this shelf, also from MADE. (Sidenote: Why don't we have MADE in the US?!?) The taller, narrower proportions are better suited to the space than the current cabinet, the pair of drawers offer a bit of concealed storage for the inevitable bits and bobs that accumulate, and the open shelving could hold shoes, or baskets for shoes/hats/gloves, or possibly even a fish tank! The fish tank would also look nice on the top the shelf unit, and would of course be much easier to access for cleaning and feeding. The top of the shelf would also be a lovely spot for a pretty new lamp.
The next option is a more specialized piece of entryway furniture, a leaning wall rack, that is tall and narrow, and quite compact in terms of depth. It packs a good deal of storage between the hooks for your bag or coat, the table top for the fish tank, the drawers for keys and mail, and then I'd add a few baskets on the lower shelf and floor to corral shoes. It's an all-in-one solution, that is also quite stylish! Of course I wouldn't play favorites, but...let's just say I really like this ;) If you wanted to add some lighting, a plug in, wall mounted sconce would look fabulous to the the side of this setup.
My last suggestion, would be to put together a solution similar to the all-on-one shown above, but using separate pieces to achieve a similar goal. A coat stand and a small console table (and a little stool if you can fit it!), grouped together against the wall would make for an inviting and functional spot. I'd tuck the coat stand into the corner of the recess, with the console table to the left of it by the stairs. Again, the tank and maybe a lamp could go on top of the table.
Finally, each of these options also invite a rethink of the wall decor. With the exception of the tall leaning wall rack, I would encourage you to think about moving the mirror over the new bench/shelf/console table, and then the (amazing!) gallery wall could perhaps migrate to the stair wall. I love those pigeonholes, but I do think they encourage clutter in their current location, and perhaps could be reused elsewhere. The blank wall where the mirror used to be is an excellent opportunity to add some more storage in the form of wall hooks for coats and bags. Shaker peg rails are a simple, classic and elegant solution that would look beautiful hung along the length of that wall. You could even select a rail with a narrow ledge on top, and then lean some of the frames from the gallery wall along the length like this:
I hope these suggestions give you a bit of direction as you tackle your front hallway. Please do send us pictures so we can see where you end up!
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