How To Design a Smashing But Small Entry!

Hi Everyone,

The renovation has stalled for a few days because the final plans aren’t quite finished. And, they won’t be finished until I send the architect some more feedback.

Since I also need to do a blog post, I thought I would do the mid-week post sharing my design of the front entrance hallway, upstairs.

In addition, for non-designers, this information might also be helpful to you if you’d like to play with designing your own spaces.

Yes, you can. I learned how to do this in one day. I learned it in one day because I had no choice unless I wanted to flunk out of interior design school.


Anyway, the upstairs is finished except for the small entry, off the kitchen.


What’s happening downstairs? The floor plan is 99% finished. I say 99% because I haven’t received the final draft of the floor plan. There are a few small changes from the last version you saw here. The best one is the bedroom closet under the stairs is now accessible without having to move the nightstand. I figured that one out about a week ago and gave myself a massive high-five for figuring that one out.


By the way, today, June 21st, is the 30th monthiversary of moving to my Boston duplex.


Imagine if I had attempted this renovation two years ago. Well, fortunately, I didn’t.


The rest is just tweaks on some lovely drawings sent by my architect. I know I said this before, but I’m so glad I listened to my guardian angel, who very gently screamed in my ear:




Well, he probably could’ve done okay with most of it but not all of it. The embrasure door hall, I’m calling it, was a bitch to design. This is where the architect has been super helpful.

As for the small entry downstairs, we have worked out a contingency plan in case the building department decides to enforce the absurd building code that lumps my private, non-egress staircase in the same category as ANY staircase in a dormitory, convent, or monastery.

However, everyone is sick of hearing me bitch about that one, including myself. haha


Okay, for today, I am sharing a design for the main, upstairs small entry.


But first, let’s look at it, as it now is.

front entry horrible closet

And below, is how you’ve seen it for over a year! (just the small entry, not the kitchen)


March 7th kitchen render my new kitchen wall perspective

This is the conceptual design. If you don’t know that term, it means what it says. It’s the design concept, not necessarily 100% what it will end up being. We can see that it will be a white kitchen with big glass doors in the back and a checkerboard floor. The small connecting entry has a gorgeous panoramic wall mural and dark green wainscoting.


I realized today that whenever I’m working on a space architecturally, I’m ALSO decorating it.


Duhhh, Laurel. Doesn’t everyone do that?


Uh, well, yes, they should. However, it appears not to be the case.

I can’t tell you the number of times I spent pulling my hair out trying to figure out why the architecture was done the way it was. Did they give any thought to where the window treatments would go?

One of my favorite examples is the client from about 20 years ago who had built a lovely custom home in northern Westchester County, New York. It was lovely except for the fact that they had built the living room with the windows ONE INCH away from the fireplace. On the other side of the window was three feet of wall.

The solution was either Roman shades or drapes pulled back to one side.


The client didn’t favor that look but realized she had no choice.


Okay, I have a few images to share with you.

The Mural Source kitc
Let’s begin with another The Mural Source gorgeous panoramic mural.


Regency Views mural from the Mural Source. Exquisite panoramic view and colors!

Those colors!!!


Now, let’s look at the technical drawings I did today.

Elevations Entry - jib d

At the bottom of the page above are the plan view of the closet and the new wall that’s getting pushed back about 18″, shown in the correct orientation, and then, to the right, turned 90 degrees so that I could do the wall elevation on the same page.


For non-designers who might not understand what’s going on, I shaded the corresponding areas in the plan and elevation in green.


An elevation shows elements as they are in real life, not how they look in perspective. So, it’s representing what you see in the plan view as it is on the vertical plane. It’s an important element in the design phase as it gives the designer and builder additional and important information.

LBern Entry - Jib Doors Wainscoting Elevation mural
Above, I took it a step further and indicated where the mural would go. It shows how the jib doors relate to the mural and wainscoting. The doors are 2′-11″, and I placed them so there will be minimal cutting into the wainscoting panel moulding.


To the right is the new wall that’s getting widened from 4″ to 10″ and pushed back about 18″.


LB Entry - Jib Doors Wainscoting Elevation mural

Above, just having fun showing how the mural will look with the jib doors when it’s finished.

I think this small entry is going to be smashing and functional too.


Laurel, aren’t you worried about the paper getting wrecked?


No, remember? I don’t worry about anything. ;]


Not even this darling man who wishes me dead.


Well, now, we can’t end on that depressing note.


I adore hidden storage. Well, who doesn’t? There’s just something so satisfying about a beautiful wall that’s hiding something cool behind it. Therefore, please enjoy two of my favorite posts from the summer of 2020, where I highlight hidden storage and, in this post, hidden doors.

I hope you enjoyed this post about the design plans for my small entry. If you’d like to learn more of the renovation backstory (or are having trouble sleeping), this post details many reno challenges.




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13 Responses

  1. Hi Laurel, I enjoy reading your blog and am very interested in your renovation. I am sure it will be beautiful. I really wanted to comment on that hateful comment that was left for you. I am sure that was upsetting to read. There are a lot of angry irrational people out there. I hope you are able to focus on the supportive comments and fans out there instead.

  2. Laurel, Sheldon Slate (upstate NY, Vt, Maine) has ‘sample’ squares of various shades and tones that when mixed on floor or wall hold some alchemy that, in the right room and right light and right wood, can evoke the same color sensations of your mural (I love, also). Maybe a tiny floor somewhere?

  3. Hi Laurel,
    I love the way this all coming together and I love, love, love the mural. What do you think of having a mural on one wall only? I’ve seen it successfully used on the headboard wall of a bedroom but I’m considering placing a mural on the space above the washer/dryer/sink in my laundry room ( Nine foot ceilings ). It’s really the only wall one gets a peek at from the kitchen.
    Anyway, wish you all the best!

  4. I am enjoying seeing the plans for your lovely home. So beautiful! I have a question about the Scott Yetman space. That staircase is fabulous! However, in my town, it would NEVER pass code. Our spindles have to be close enough that a baby could not get their head between them and, potentially, fall through them. This staircase is just waiting for such a situation to occur. Can you offer an explanation???

  5. That hate comment is seriously disturbing for me to read. I see it was posted after 1am so I suspect the man was drunk or under some influence though. It can be a hateful place on the internet these days but I’m holding onto the positive stuff like your blog and other design blogs I love. I hope the powers that be see the common sense in your staircase issue. To me it’s ridiculous and needs logical thinking not categorically just looking for which rule to follow.

  6. I can’t wait to hear what your solution for the bedroom closet door is either. You’re being cruel not telling us! 🙂 We are all so invested in your project. I had forgotten what you had planned for your entry, the fact you were doing a hidden closet behind your mural. It is so clever. The entry has a totally different vibe when you walk in than it does with the closet doors. My one question about your plan is why are you painting the wainscoting green in this area? I realize the green goes beautifully with the mural. Will the crown mouldings be green, too? I think my mind’s eye struggles when I look at your conceptual photo because all your other woodwork is white and you see both at the same time. Obviously, I have no design training, so my observation has no merit. I’m trying to understand when it is appropriate to have wainscoting different colors. Is it the same as painting rooms different colors? We do that all the time and think nothing of it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the powers that be see the light and realize your stairway is not a public fire escape route.

  7. Laurel, When bloggers say that they get messages from trolls I imagined it was something like “I hate your design” NOT “I would be delighted to see you vanish from the face of the earth.” What is wrong with people!!! I hope you don’t get many of those messages.
    Thanks for the update. The number of time that you have refined your plans (making them better each time!) has been eyeopening. It shows how much attention to detail is required for a smashing outcome.

  8. I’m really enjoying “watching” you plan and solve! Your ideas are creative and practical at the same time. I appreciate you writing about the whole process and I’m anxious to see the finished home. It will be exquisite!

  9. Hello Laurel,
    A time or two ago you showed the drawings of your nightstand which was sort of in the way of your door under the stairs – rather tight. Sorry if you went over this already with a solution. The idea that occurred right off the bat was to just make the door one of those concealed/secret doors that are flush with the wall – no trim etc. – one push and they open, one push and they close. Today you mention the “jib” door(a nautical term?) – maybe that was your solution for this? Since you had mentioned the items stored would seldom be accessed, the nightstand could stay in place. Just a thought. Always fun to try and solve a “puzzle”.
    Best to you, – B.

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thanks so much. No problem. I’ve talked about this in many posts and it’s true that it’s difficult to know what’s been gone over and what hasn’t. That door, in most iterations, has been a jib door. However, I’m planning to do wainscoting, so it will be further concealed by the moulding.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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