28 May 2013

A foyer with a purpose

As you might remember from the apartment tour video, we have a giant entrance... foyer... hallway... room thing.

I struggle to even give it a name because it’s mostly just a giant, oddly-shaped waste of space. The first time Mr. P’s aunt came over for dinner, as soon as she walked in, she said, “Oh, it’s like you have a ballroom!”

Yes. Our square-hallway foyer ballroom. Doesn’t your house have one? Surely it’s standard.

It’s not just the name of the room that I’ve struggled with. In the last almost-year since we’ve been here, I’ve had trouble defining a function for the room. Having a square hallway/aquarium room/storage space for our old barstool-height bistro table and chairs wasn’t making a lot of sense. But at the same time, doing the standard “round table in the middle of the room with a big vase of flowers” foyer seemed equally useless. What purpose would that serve?

At first, I thought I’d eventually try to create a cozy little seating area in there. But it’s an awkward shape, with all those doors and the big cabinet and the window stuck back in a nook, and I couldn’t figure out the furniture placement.

So I kept it empty and mostly used it for this:

(Why yes, I do paint only at night in horrible lighting.)

While it is nice to have a big open space (with hardwood floors!) within our apartment for my painting projects, we do have an entire room in the basement where I could paint. Using this room solely for my occasional painting whim is a little ridiculous.

Then Sarah from TDC decided to convert her dining room into a library, and I suddenly decided we needed that aforementioned cozy little nook where our dining room table is, in the kitchen. That would require moving the dining room table elsehwhere, so I experimented with moving the dining furniture in there (waaay back at Christmastime... yup, those are boxes of decorations in the foreground):

But I didn’t even get as far as moving in the table, only the chairs. That was enough to let me know that while it’s a big room, it’s not quite big enough to plunk a big dining room table in the middle of it and easily navigate around it. That’s a dealbreaker, as this room is the central hub of the apartment and we cross through it frequently.

Also, that is eating way too close to the bathroom. Ick.

Oh, and any dining room table would have to be moved out of the way for attic access. Did you forget that there are not only doors on every wall but also in the ceiling of this room?


So the square-hallway/aquarium-room/bistro-table-and-chair-storage went back to being my painting space for the next several months. Until one day, when I was painting in the window-nook for ventilation...

(sneak project peek shhhhh!)

... I had to drag the table out to the middle of the room, away from the window., and I lit a candle to try to mask the paint smell. After I finished, and it got dark, I glanced up from the couch and was struck by this view:

Huh. You know. That silly “round table in the middle of the room thing”? That traditional foyer look that I nixed without trying? It looks kind of good in there.


So I started mocking it up with stuff I had on hand. The white rug from our dining room in the old house, a Walmart vase I’ve had forever, a scarf as a faux runner:

I left it just like that, in all its cobbled-together glory, for well over a month. I wanted to see how annoying it was to have a table plunked in the middle of the room, how much wear and tear a rug would get in that area, whether or not we’d actually find a purpose for the space if I left it like that.

And I learned... I want to leave that table there. I want a nice pretty rug for this space. And I’m ok with not eking a function out of every square inch of space.

I’ve got a few question marks still, like what on earth to do with the leftover chairs. Throwing some clearance Target pillows on them looks nice, but it looks a bit silly to have those chairs there. I certainly don’t sit in them.

And I’d still like a more defined “landing strip” (a la Apartment Therapy) by the front door, though I’m not sure how just yet. Still, it helps to know that my landing strip will be by the door, and not in some seating area or bookcase+divider situation in the middle of the room.

Perhaps it’s classic, perhaps it’s cliché, but for the first time, this room is starting to have a purpose. And its purpose is looking like a foyer. It took me this long to realize it, but it finally feels right. Slow decorating for the win!


Janice said...

I like the chairs by the aquarium. Though you do not sit there often (if ever) it provides a location that LOOKS inviting TO sit if one so chose to do so to watch the calming fish! It also provides a location for the chairs without looking out of place.

Foyer looks pretty!

Tina said...

I've walked around furniture in this small house for years and have apparently gotten enough okay with it that it just comes natural... mines even worse than that would be... (think of MY three main eating areas...) So for me, I like that room as a dining room... it's even more perfect than the dining room-turned-office for practical usage and the diagonal to the walls furniture placement is inspired in that huge room. Bonus: Shopping for a more intimate 4-seater in the kitchen dining area high-lighting the fireplace better. :-)