Thursday, February 27, 2014

House tour - foyer & entryway

Welcome to our foyer and entryway!  When we designed our front entryway, there were a few things that were important to us: lots of natural lighting, a coat closet and a place to house the antique dry sink that came from my grandparents' house in Chicago.

In order to allow lots of natural light to come into the front of the house, our architect added a large dormer window which faces west.  Originally our architect had added a plant shelf under the window, but since I tend to be a clean freak, we did away with the plant shelf (aka: dust collector).  We also wanted the Rejuvenation Neoclassical Pendant to be the focal point of the entryway space.  

I've decided that it might be helpful for my blog readers if I went through things that I love and things that I would do differently.  

Things that I love about our entryway & foyer:
  1. Rejuvenation Neoclassical Pendant.  I honestly cannot say enough good things about this light.  It's perfect.  Perfect for the space, perfect for the overall feel of the house and it didn't break the bank.  I have worked with Rejuvenation now for a second time to change out the light over our kitchen table, and they have been wonderful to work with.  Our Rejuvenation Neoclassical Pendant is on a polished chrome chain designed for vaulted ceilings as there is a slope to the ceiling at the point of installation.  That's one thing you'll need to remember if you order any light for a custom build house.  Is the ceiling flat or vaulted?  The last thing you want is to get your beautiful new light and realize that you forgot to order it to be installed on a sloped ceiling.  
  2. The feeling of light and openness.  Somehow our entryway and foyer turned out to be a really inviting space that doesn't feel too formal or pretentious.  From the very beginning in designing our house, I wanted people to feel welcome in our home.  I've always wanted our home to feel like a place where you can kick your shoes off and feel warm, relaxed and invited.  I think the details of having a dormer window with a 90 degree turn in the staircase as well as the broad opening into the everyday living space really captured that feeling.  Originally our architect had the stairway coming straight down all the way to the ground level.  With that sort of layout, we lost the requisite coat closet.  That's how we ended up with a 90 degree turn in the staircase but I like the way that the turn in the staircase makes the space feel a bit less formal.
  3. The coat closet.  Our entryway coat closet is a great space to put coats, hats, boots, umbrellas and it also houses our wireless access point (thanks Dad!).
Things that I would change about our entryway & foyer
  1. The false treads on our stairs.  You'll see in the picture that the "custom stained" false treads that our builder insisted we order from our millwork supplier leaves much to be desired.  Each tread came with several dings and bare spots in the wood.  It's also not exactly a custom match to our flooring, but that would be extremely hard to tell unless you were looking closely.  One of the biggest suggestions I can give to new home builders is to order your false treads and coordinating stair pieces from your flooring supplier.  In other words, whomever you used for your flooring product should be the same manufacturer that you order your false treads from.  In this case, we should have ordered our false treads from Kentwood to coordinate with the Kentwood Originals Maple Del Rio hardwood flooring.  Some day I'm going to touch up the false treads myself, or bring our painter back to add a deeper stain and finish to the false treads.  
  2. Put a small light in the coat closet.  Thankfully my Dad installed an outlet above the inside of the closet door, so we'll be able to install a light in there eventually.  The last thing you want when guests are tired and waiting to leave your house is to be fishing around in the coat closet looking for your guest's items.  There have also been many days where I'm searching around for a specific hat or pair of gloves before taking our kiddo to school.  Having a light in the closet to illuminate the space would be really helpful.  If you're building a new construction home, don't forget to have your electrician install a small light in closets that aren't illuminated by hallway lighting or adjacent room lighting. 
Now that we've gone through what I like and what I would do differently, let's take a look at our entryway and foyer.  Here's the view of our Rejuvenation Neoclassical pendant light in the foyer.  It gives just enough detail, but not too much to take away from the space.  I took the picture with the light fixture off, so that you can see the detailing on the glass globe.

Rejuvenation Neoclassical Pendant
Here's the view of our home when you walk in the door.  Like I mentioned above, I think it's a really inviting space that doesn't feel too formal.  While I like the look of the false treads on the stairs, I think in hindsight I might consider closing in the stairs to save money and the hassle of matching false treads to the flooring product.
The entryway view from our front door
Another great way to add natural lighting into your home is to have a front door with small windows.  Our front door puts quite a bit of light into our entryway, but also allows for privacy as we only have windows at the top of the door and side panels.
Looking back towards the Simpson front door
Another suggestion I would make is to put a security alarm control panel adjacent to the front door.  Our panel is literally right next to the front door and is programmed with a panic code in the event that we need the police right away.

Alarm control panel and light switches adjacent to front door
Here's a picture of the coat closet, adjacent to the stairway.  It's a fairly deep closet as it shares a wall adjacent to the wall of the garage.  It houses all of our coats, scarves, hats, gloves, a few pairs of shoes and a large golfing umbrella in the event that we need to dash out the front door on a rainy day.
Entryway coat closet
One thing you'll want to remember to purchase with your hardware package is a door stop for the front door.  This is a simple polished chrome door stop that our finish carpenter installed.  The door stop will prevent your large front door from banging into the millwork and surrounding walls.
Polished chrome door stop for front door

I mentioned that we changed our staircase from a straight shot to a 90 degree turn.  One of the best things about the small alcove created by the turn in the stairway is that it created a perfect space for our family's antique dry sink.  This piece comes from my grandparents' home in Chicago and it's the perfect conversation piece for when people come to our house for the first time.  I get so many compliments and questions on this piece and it truly is one of my favorites.  You'll notice that behind the dry sink is an open railing that goes to the basement.  During the design of our home, my husband was insistent that we keep the basement stairway open.  I had a really difficult time envisioning how that would look, but I can say that I love the look of the open railing.

Antique dry sink
In the following picture, you'll see the latch on the antique dry sink.  It's one of my favorite features, and I even looked at putting this style of latch on some of our kitchen cabinets.
Antique latch on dry sink
I use the dry sink mainly to store kitchen linens, candles and a few fragile glass pieces.  
Antique dry sink
Another piece that I was excited to display in our entryway is this antique brass lamp, also from my grandparents' house in Chicago.  My Dad recently took apart the entire lamp and refurbished it with a new cord, new switch and lots of polish.  It's another great conversation piece with lots of history in our family and it puts off great light in the evenings.
Antique brass lamp
On the top of our dry sink, I like to have a few seasonal items.  Since we're in between Valentines and Easter, I've kept the decor pretty simple.  I have an antique turquoise Ball jar from my aunt's collection and a very small jade plant in a sugar bowl.
Jade plant in a sugar bowl
One of the best features of the dry sink are my dad's initials "MBN," which appear to have been carved into the top.  While he denies ever doing this, I also deny skipping classes in college and trying to smoke cigarettes (don't worry mom & dad, it was only a handful of times and my physician has assured me that I still fall into the "never smoked" category).
Top of antique dry sink
I thought I'd throw in a few pictures of our box newels.  These are a standard size of box newel from our local millwork supplier.  They came with a more detailed trim, which our finish carpenter ripped off and replaced with a more boxy trim as shown in the photo.
Custom box newel trim
The width of the actual newel post put them at just shy of 5".

Custom box newel and false tread stairs
You may have remembered that one of the things I would have done differently is to order the false treads from the flooring manufacturer.  Here's a shot of the false treads "custom stained" by our millwork supplier.  The fact that we can see bare wood is unacceptable for a custom stained product.  Eventually I'd like to either stain the treads myself or hire our painter to give them a bit more depth and color and a semi gloss finish.
False treads with bare wood exposed

As always, thanks for reading!  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the comment section.  

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