05 November 2013

DIY: landing strip out of wall-mounted photo frames

If you read Apartment Therapy, as I do occasionally, you’ll know they’re big proponents of the “landing strip”. The basic idea is to make the entryway fully functional for all the things you need as you enter and leave your home – a place for keys, mail, notes, coats, etc. Like a mudroom, but more streamlined. It makes sense to keep things you need ONLY when you leave your home by the door, both for efficiency and to reduce clutter.

But. BUT. Our current setup is just not ideal for landing strip principles. Yes, I did decide that the foyer should be a, uh, foyer. But even given that, there’s still not prime “landing strip” space. There is literally zero room for a decent-sized table by the door – you’d think maybe I could tuck a table back behind the cabinetry, but nope! The door to our bedroom is hidden back there.

So I had to work with the limited space I had, and in that limited space, I wanted three things: a place to hang my purse and coat, a place to put incoming and outgoing mail, and a place to write notes and reminders. Oh, and I wanted it to look nice – it’s right by the entrance to our home, and first impressions are important!

For a spot to hang things, I considered getting a free-standing coat rack. But Mr. P nixed the idea, pointing out that we’d just pile coats on it and neither of us would be a fan of that look. So instead I decided to just use these two hooks that a previous tenant attached to the cabinetry:

No worries about holes in the antique cabinetry, they’re command-strip hooks (with surprising, AMAZING staying power). And Mr. P was right – two hooks are sufficient for me without letting it get too cluttered. When we have company, I can stash my own purse and coat away in favor of space for guests, so I really don’t need a big coat rack. (Oh, and as for the faux plant, well, it’ll go as soon as I can find a real plant that can live in a dark corner...)

But I still needed a spot for mail and notes. And for that, I turned to the single empty wall we have by the door:

Because the door on the left is the functional one, I really couldn’t put a table on that wall. Instead I needed to make a landing strip on the wall. And here’s what I came up with:

I didn’t take step-by-step photos because I made it all at night in the dark, but it’s a pretty simple idea. I picked up three matching frames (with mats) from HomeGoods, and a yard of toile fabric from Hobby Lobby. One frame got a photo of Mr. P and me that I just printed from the computer, but another simply got a scrap of fabric to serve as the background for a “dry-erase board”:

I worried about being able to see writing on the high-contrast fabric, but it worked out really well! If anything, the notes are legible while also sort of blending-in to the background.... which is preferable, because it’s not like everyone who comes over needs to know when I need to take my laptop to work. That worked out as well as I could have hoped!

But the third frame, the one for mail, feels like my true genius moment. I found this pin (for a now-sold item on Etsy) and it inspired me to create this mail holder:

For that, I stuck a piece of fabric behind the glass for another dry-erase surface on the top. But then, I cut two panels of fabric to put in front of the glass to make pockets! I finished the edges with hem tape and took great care to line up the design. As a matter of fact, I succeeded so well at lining it up that you might not realize I actually made two pockets. The second one is nearly invisible!

For now, the front shallower pocket is all I need, but larger or flimsier pieces of paper could be stuck in the larger pocket. And when it’s not in use, you won’t notice it!

I love this solution because, like the writing on the “dry-erase board”, it’s obvious that it’s for mail while also being décor-centric and unobtrusive. But I also like it because there is NO WAY mail can pile up there – it won’t FIT. So we have to deal with it ASAP. As a matter of fact, we’ve already mailed that envelope and deposited that check, so our mail center is empty save for the letter opener!

So that’s how I finally solved my landing-strip issues!

And actually, I solved a second dilemma: how to incorporate toile in this room! Ha!

I do have a few ideas for a creating another landing-strip space just outside that door, but that’s down the line (I have to find my perfect midcentury dresser first – it’s a long, convoluted story). For now, this is a vast improvement to stacking mail on the kitchen table and sticking post-its on the door! High five for efficiency and functionality!


Tina said...

Love it! But what happened to your long mirror with hooks??? Another victim of a purge surge? Durn. I liked that piece.:-) And I'm positive I could find or design some kind of chair, bench, table, hall-tree for the plant place... But you know how I am so never mind - you've done perfectly good.

Janice said...

love these! Perfect for simple mail that goes out or just came in. Hope you don't get any catalogs though :)THEN you'll need a table! ha I love all the different things you do when decorating!

Emma Kantrowitz said...

Hi Sarah!

I sent you an email but figured I'd comment here as well. I'm an editor over at Woman's World magazine and we're interested in featuring this project in one of our upcoming issues! If you're interested, send me an email at ekantrowitz@bauerpublishing.com.