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All-Purpose Hallways: Your Home’s Entryways

We’ve all seen movies or read books about great mansions with enormous front hallways reaching up two or three stories, filled with paintings, and leading – across a great, empty expanse – to curving staircases. And for back hallways, the term “mud room” was coined for pre-entry rooms dedicated to stripping off gardening or riding gear before entering the house proper.

Most of us don’t have that luxury of space, and our homes are not designed with large, separate entry areas in front and back. The result is that often, our hallways are extensions of main living areas, or, if separate, are within view of living rooms and kitchens. Thus the need for the all-purpose hallway: a practical space for donning or removing outerwear, dumping keys, mail, and shopping bags or other packages, and dispensing with umbrellas and rain gear. All this, and managing to look attractive and welcoming, too – that’s the tall order most hallways are expected to fill.

If you have a large family, the pile-up at the doors can get out of hand in a hurry. Even with just a couple or few people in residence, the entryways can feel cluttered in no time, especially in rainy or snowy weather, when there are more (wet or muddy) items to contend with.

Some simple solutions are available that will help contain the overflow of busy peoples’ comings and goings. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

  • DIY Decorating and Design host Nancy Golden outlines the elements every foyer needs to provide guests with an inviting first impression. These include items such as tables, mirrors, and rugs with non-slip matting. Her practical suggestions end with some of the splurge-factor: “A foyer is a good place to get a lot of decorating mileage out of big-ticket items that would be too costly for use in larger rooms. This is the place to use decorative moldings, wainscoting and expensive wallpapers.”
  • Life Made Simple features some really down-to-earth ideas in a gallery of before and after photos. The solutions include taking advantage of dead space next to laundry areas in the back entry, vertical shelving for mail and papers, and portable shoe and boot racks for use in inclement weather.
  • House Beautiful has a slide show with photos of designer Elizabeth Mayhew taking you through a step-by-step of creating a lovely foyer that even doubles as a small entertaining area for special occasions when more space for guests is needed.
  • Apartment Therapy San Francisco takes a creative approach with posting a “problem” entryway photo and asking readers to provide ideas. Some of these include adding a bench to provide seating for taking off or putting on footwear, adding a jewel-toned runner that won’t show dirt, and adding a small chest to hold mail, cell phones, and packages.

Check out CalFinder’s gallery of custom hallways, designed and created by our certified contractors: Hallway Photo Gallery.

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