Many houses built in the early 1900's have what I like to call a vestibule: an area of entry before the main hall or foyer. Vestibules in WNY have so many fabulous benefits that having a house without one makes you a little jealous of those who are lucky enough to enjoy them. Most usually tiled with mosaic tarrazotine, vestibules are the perfect entry point for people with muddy, wet, or snow clad boots and coats. It saves your hardwood floors from unnecessary water damage, and can prevent staining to rugs when shoes are removed in the space. They're not uncommon, but rarely will you find them in houses under 2000 square feet.
From what I could tell from the window - the foyer is papered, at least partially, with an old gilded lencrusta. The other wall space is painted a brown cinnamon color. The window you see in my not-to-scale plan is actually a transom, probably about 5'5 feet from the floor, and about 2' x 3'. It's been covered with board and plastic, so I can't see if the original leaded glass still remains. Note the grid lines in the middle of the room. That's an arch that spans the entire width of the space. UNDENIABLY GORGEOUS!
I knew without a doubt, the minute that I looked in to see the painted woodwork, including to-die-for 18x18 recessed wood panels, and the soft curvature of the arch, that I wanted to use the rich texture of grasscloth in the foyer and vestibule, reaching up to the second floor and down the main hallway. The flexibility of style with grasscloth is unparalleled and the texture and richness makes any space feel instantly more sophisticated.
I'd choose something like this:
So, I'd add them. Simple 9-12 light french doors, stained a lovely deep rich walnut. I've always loved the pairing of white mouldings and dark stained doors. A pair of them will work beautifully leading to the living room, and one will find the perfect spot between the foyer and the hallway to the basement. All in all - the look will be similar to this:
Sorry - picture is sorta poor quality, but it's the best I could find the execute the point. So ... we're sorta cookin' with crisco here, right? We've got new grasscloth walls in a soft honey brown tone, richly deep stained french doors in the doorway to the main parlor and basement hall, and a new leaded glass window in the transom and also the stair landing. The fun part: furniture, lighting, and space plan:
I really love a secretary in the hallway. It serves as a wonderful impromptu office, a place to keep and sort mail, and often times, will allow you storage for scarves, hats, gloves, and those fun sticks you break apart to keep your hands warm! My northern readers will know what I mean! So, it's a must have in every space plan when possible, and here we have plenty of room.
I picked this gorgeous Mahogany Empire Butler's secretary for the space at the foot of the stairs. It's narrow enough (24") to serve as a permanent fixture there. Now, I love the Empire style antiques. Empire was a transitional furniture style created between traditional and Victorian styles. It's a masculine antique - filled with interesting carving and fantastic space. This particular piece (again - keep in mind we've suspended time and money is moot) is 2-pieces, and has a small drop for writing space and hidden stack storage. It's listed on Ebay for $2500, and is probably right in line with the value of such a large piece in good condition.
To either side of the secretary, I'd place the open back Victorian parlor hall chairs. They're rosewood, and the pair on Ebay is $149.95. Small in scale, they're the perfect side chairs when you need an extra seat or two, but easily tucked next to furniture like the secretary for easy maneuvering through the hall: hence - hall chair.
Keep in mind, the dark furniture will be against the warmth and texture of a honey brown grass cloth, and will sit across from a beautifully detailed staircase with custom paneling. Above the chairs, to either side of the secretary, I'd hang these gorgeous sconces by Suzanne Kasler from Circa Lighting.
I think that this vignette is particularly indicative of my style: masculine, tailored, but with a delicate, yet eclectic mix. Atop the secretary, I'd layer some gorgeous blue and white Asian porcelain ginger jars and temple jars. I love the look:
Course, I couldn't - and wouldn't - stop at 2. There's a need for a rug, and because of the L-shape nature of the space - 2 would fit the bill. I could have custom broadloom or seagrass cut - but in this space - with the amount of traffic it's sure to receive - I think a beautiful oriental or kilim will be gorgeous.
We're lucky enough to have several of these gorgeous rugs - so I think I'll pick from the best of the lot and away we'll go! Scott is anti-crystal in many cases. He'll have to get over that ... but in the foyer, I think I might let him have his way and put in this gorgeous lantern above the staircase.
The light, open feeling of it will be in perfect harmony with space, but will be the perfect juxtapose to the heavy Empire furniture. The lines are complimentary to the sconces flanking the secretary - and it's available in blackened rust finish - which I believe is a better fit.
My quick rendering:
Now, the vestibule: That space has tile floors. I love them, as they're old and wonderful and original to the house. They also make great sense when it comes to the function of a vestibule in this climate - as I explained before. So the tile stays. The walls get the same gorgeous grasscloth paper and due to the height of the ceiling and the swing of the door - we're going to have to rely on table lamps. So, furniture and lighting:
First, the corbel glass console from Restoration Hardware. Now, I'm lucky enough to live in an area where the architecture is old enough and diverse enough that I am likely to find something similar to this at a re-use store and create my own. But sense we're making believe - we'll pull this one in! Atop that console, we'll do two lamps made from these wicker wrapped demijohn bottles, topped with green pleated shades to pull out the color from the great European botanical we'll put on the wall between the lamps. Beneath the table, is the perfect place for another pop of wicker - which can hide shoes, scarves, gloves and the like - so we'll put a basket there. Accessorized with a yellow cashmere throw over the trunk and a deliciously put together arrangement of yellow flowers and magnolia leaves - we're done. The rendering:I'm quickly realizing how much more beautiful these would be colored in. Perhaps I'll work on that for the next few. So there you have it ... a piece of my brain and the way I put it all together. What do you think?