Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Design Challenge: Korrie's Entry/ Living Room

Hi Everyone!

Today we're talking to Korrie from Red Hen Home.

She has a smallish Living Room/ Entry Room
that she wants to remake in the worst way.
Korrie isn't lovin' this compact space
 and recently sold most of the furnishings that were there.

Let's hear from Korrie and take a peek at her space.
She has a great place to work in and it's pretty much a blank slate.

"In her own words..."

One day last month I woke up and decided I couldn’t stand my front room for ONE MORE MINUTE!! 
 I’ll be frank…I have always hated this room. Why is it that the architect who designed this home decided to make a tiny front room and a slightly larger family room (that connects directly to the kitchen), instead of making ONE decent-size room (and an entry wouldn’t have killed him)?? It’s been my bane for the last eight years. It’s a room that really serves no purpose.
So back to that fateful August morning…I started the process of selling everything out of the room!  I sold the chairs.  I sold the huge monstrosity of a wall unit.  I sold the rug.  I even sold a picture off the wall!  (I did move a couple of pieces I still liked to my bedroom.)  Note:  If you want to see pics of what I got rid of, look here.
Wanna see what the room looks like now?

Here I am right inside the front door, looking slightly to the left.

Looking straight ahead (please ignore all the stuff I shoved into the family room so I could take pictures of the front room).

Now looking to the right (the window is on the same wall as the front door).

Here I’m standing in the corner looking back toward the stairs.

And last I am standing at the doorway to the family room/kitchen,
 looking back toward the front door.

Impressive, no?
So my challenge is this…how do I make this tiny, useless room (10’ x 13’) into a tiny, useFUL room??  And pretty would be good, too.

What I want is for it to have more of a “library” feel.  I love this picture from Mallairdville Manor.

I’m thinking a wall of low bookcases wouldn’t make me feel claustrophobic in that tiny space (maybe on the wall opposite the window and door).    I love the look of the two comfortable chairs (although probably not in white)
For more seating, I’m considering the idea of a loveseat by the window.

Then that leaves this wall…

…and I don’t know what to put there.  The card catalog is a new acquisition, and it seems like it ought to be in a library!  I would either like to paint it or re-stain it dark.  I am considering a china cabinet of sorts, since right now all my pretties are stashed away in a dark cupboard!  I’m not sure about style, or about how it would look to have the card catalog and a china cabinet on the same wall.
I would love to change the look of this staircase!

I’m thinking that getting rid of that half wall (and the ugly yellowed wood) and replacing it with an actual banister would open up the look of the room.  While I’m dreaming, I’d also like to rip the carpet off the stairs and put wood stair treads down.  At this point, that’s all the de-construction I can consider. (Let’s just assume for the purposes of this challenge that removing the wall between the front room and family room is not an option.)

A little more about me…I love warm colors, old woods, and vintage accessories.  I’m not too Frenchy or beachy or frilly.  I’ll choose comfort over looks most days, and practicality is a must!  (I have six children.)

Thank you, Debra, for allowing me to participate in the Design Challenge!  I would love any help ANYONE can offer!

Sincerely, Korrie (Red Hen Home)

OK, folks, let's share some ideas.
Take a look at her inspiration photo again
and let's get crackin'!
Remember, this isn't just for professionals,
Share your thoughts, please.

Leave a comment even if someone else has the same idea.
The more ideas and feedback the better!!

thanks a bunch everyone!


  1. I think turning that wall into a banister is a GREAT idea.: )

  2. I LOVE your inspiration photo & I would copy it almost exactly for the wall opposite your stairs. Changing out the half wall for a railing would open up your room and finish the look. I'd also paint the hand rails white to match your trim.

    Love your space!

  3. PS the card catalogue is great, I'd move it to replace the little table by the stairs and I'd paint it white and then rub off the paint on the edges of the drawers and the legs and corners to antique it. Or use Annie Sloan Chalk paint and wax on it. :)

  4. Oh my, I agree with everything Anne (above said)... it's like she read my mind... I'd also add a few mirrors above the new low bookshelf... to mimic the idea from the inspirations picture which has windows. I'd add the loveseat or a couple of chairs to the wall that the room shares with the next room but keep them a bit out from the wall. If you go with a loveseat I'd put the little white table from the "stair wall" behind it. Good luck! It's kind of fun to start with basically an empty room!!


  5. I think sometimes when you don't have much floor space. you have to think vertical instead of horizontal, so instead of bookcases, I think that I would get a tall narrow secretary with shelves and glass doors at the top and place it in the middle of the staircase wall. On each side I would place the two chairs that you like. You could then place books in the shelves of the secretary. The drawers of the secretary would serve as storage area. You could paint it white to match your other furnishings.i have a hard time visualizing this rooom, but if you have enough space could you place the loveseat that you have considered on the opposite wall or on the window wall with the card catalog chest serving as an end table? You might consider some kind of tall screen somewhere in the room which could serve as art and not take up much space.Good luck and let us see the end result.

  6. I am not even going to start with the layout of the room. I am sure you will get lots of great ideas. I see that you drapes are much like your desired room...but they are not enough. I think it would soften the room if you had more fabric on the windows. If you love those curtains and they are nice, I would add on the same rod on each side a solid fabric like the cream or white...make them fuller.
    Actually, I don't have the stairs...but my Living Room is set up very much the same way.

  7. Hi Korrie, I'm going to jump in now, and go with the assumption that right now you won't be demo-ing the stairway. My first thought would be for a longer version of the table you have now, or a long bench, or church pew.
    Love the drapes, they're very close to your inspiration photo. Also I would do a bookshelf, but maybe a taller one, more vertical as mentioned. I'd keep seating in here to a minimum unless you really think you'll be needing it. I'd have the two chairs and maybe a smallish table there to use for studying.(since you like the library feel) I think your inspiration photo is wonderful, and I think you can do it easily!

  8. I love your inspiration photo. I like your idea of placing a low bookcase and two chairs on the wall across from the window, then I would put a small loveseat, something with simple lines that doesn't look too bulky in front of the window. The card file could be used on the stair wall to tie the entry into the library space. Removing the half wall and using a regular banister would create a much more open feel for the whole space. On the wall across from the staircase maybe a small narrow console table that you could hang a really large mirror above or a group of mirrors to give the illusion of more depth to the room. It's amazing how much a large mirror on that wall will totally double the look of the size of the room. I have a very narrow LR/DR combo and the huge mirror I have just double the size of the room. Good luck, can't wait to see what you do. Hugs, Marty

  9. Hi Debra, I love that she loves warm colors, old woods and vintage accessories... I am by no means a decorator, but a touch (or more) or Nature always looks beautiful... can't wait to see the changes she makes... Happy Autumn to you!... xoxo Julie Marie

  10. I would copy that inspiration picture for sure. Love it and then get a leather sofa with a gallery wall over it for that wall you want help with. Leather is good for six kids.

  11. I agree with following the inspiration picture as close as possible. On my monitor the current wall paint color looks like it has a lot of red/pink undertones. I definitely like the green/gold wall color of the inspiration picture. I think changing the tan paint to something that has yellow undertones will work with the grain in the floor and not fight it as it does now. I agree opening the stairwell and adding spindles painted in a warm white such as Benjamin Moore’s Navajo white and a dark stained hand railing would look great. Adding molding/moulding to the wall above and along the wall would enhance the transition to the family room. Crown molding always looks great in any room too. I like the idea of a long sofa table fashioned like a farm table or a sideboard style table for along the wall leading into the family room with a mirror above and a lamp on the table, but I see you have a sideboard table in your family room, so I would paint the table you have now black and I would change out the 6 cutie pie pictures to skinny black frames so they would fit inside the dimensions of the table or I would move their pictures to the stairwell wall leaving room for black framed mirror and a small lamp. There is probably room for a Windsor style chair to be placed beside the wall table. I think the inspiration picture’s library shelve unit is perfect for a growing family and would definitely do that on your wall where you had the large shelve/cabinet unit. I think two wing back chairs in the right scale would easily work and there might be room for a small club/tub chair by the window-again scale is going to be the key for your new library. I am sometimes funny about furniture in front of a window, but I think the card catalog might be small enough to fit in front of the window with a lamp. You’ll have to play around with moving that piece so it isn’t too heavy for where it is placed. For the wall seen from the front door I would look at purchasing what looks like (from the inspiration picture) and I might be guessing is a black desk and black Windsor chair. If you could find a black or dark stained secretary desk I think that it would look great giving the wall some height and interest without covering the whole wall like the piece you had before. A secretary desk would be great because they can be closed if company drops by and they have shelves above for displaying treasured items. Again, the inspiration picture provides lots of ideas for the wall above the library shelves since you don’t have the little windows. You could certainly mimic the white area above the shelve unit and hang interesting pictures. As you probably know there are several sites demonstrating how to hang pictures in a gallery style.

  12. I would also follow that inspiration photo it is a great one for this space! A window seat would be perfect in here and 2 chairs on the opposing wall with a bookcase in the middle, rather than behind as in wish pic. A gallery wall above like in the inspiration room. Keep the card catalogue on the wall it's on, but I wouldn't introduce another cabinet. Not enough room. Opening the stairs with banisters would be super. In the meantime, If your not ready to tear out that staircase wall, a longer table with a bottom shelf for books and a large mirror above would open the space and stretch the library idea into the foyer. Can't wait to see what you do!

  13. We took down the half wall on our staircase and it made a huge difference! I would go for that. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

  14. If this house was mine I would use the living room as an entrance hall. You have a family room and I am sure you do not use this room much. I am guessing that the front door opens right into this room? Using this whole room as an entrance would solve that problem. I think taking down the half wall would help, but I can also see that small half wall and wall beside it done in bead board paneling.That could be done fast and not cost so much money. It could be painted white and the board trim on top white as well. I could see the rest of the room a color then. I would find a round table for the center of the room, pretty good size and add a chandelier of it hanging kinda low. I would go for a secretary with books and maybe two chairs, white wing or wood chairs with arms and padded seat. A rug under the table would tie the area together. It could be sisal or oriental or more contempary, depending on the way you want the room to go. I would just make this an entrance and if you were having a party, food and drink could be put on the center table and people could spill out into here from the family room and dining area. Just think of all the pretty displays you can do with that center table for the holidays. Pumpkins right now small Christmas tree, Easter bunny and so on. The curtains could be fancy or plain, or I might just op for cloth pull up roman shades. The sky is the limit and could be done pretty fast and easy. have fun and good luck. Richard from My Old Historic House.

  15. The first thing that jumped out at me in your inspiration photo is the use of moldings throughout the room. I would start by adding molding around your window frame, and rather than demolishing the stair half wall, add molding underneath the bannister (on the room side) to give it more presence; perhaps following it up the side of the full stair wall to the ceiling, to further delineate that side of the room. I'd add molding around the ceiling (continuing up the stairway), and if possible, add to the baseboard molding; I would paint it all white and keep the walls as is or pick another solid color with a similar depth of hue. Replace the wooden stair railing against the far stair wall with a decorative iron rail (you could potentially use a sturdy curtain rod, along with decorative finials, to dress it up; make sure it's installed safely for hand rail use.) Good luck - can't wait to see what you do!

  16. Hi Korrie. I really love this space you have...I think it can become a great useful space for you to enjoy instead of abhor. The wall color and drapes are already fabulous. I think the full wall of low bookcases would look good on the wall adjacent to the window with a couple of chairs in front of them like in your inspiration picture.

    Like in your picture, a cute round table in the center of the room would be great and it would be a great place to showcase a few more of your pretties.

    You could then put the card file on the wall where your stairs are (where you currently have your sofa table). You could display a few more pretties on it.

    Instead of a loveseat, for extra seating you could add one more chair on the wall across from the window with (sort of at the corner of the room next to the hall way facing in toward the other chairs) did that make sense? You could then place a nice taller piece of furniture next to it (like a secretary with hutch) to add some height there but also would be a place to set a drink (if the secretary was opened). There again you would be another place to set out some of your books and knick knacks.

    I would put the photos you have on your staircase wall in similar black frames and place them over the wall of bookcases (maybe in one straight line)across the wall.

    On the staircase (over the cardfile) you could put something like a starburst or round mirror which would give a reflection of your perfectly finished library.

    Anyway Korrie, I hope this helps and that it made sense. I am no professional these are just suggestions. You have a lovely home and I know you will do a great job making this room into exactly how you imagine it to be. I can't wait to see the finished result.

  17. Just one more comment. I like Richard Cottrells idea of an entry room. I had thought of that but sense that you may be wanting a more useful area and it also depends on your personal taste and style. An entry room as Richard suggests gives a more formal feel to your home. Your inspiration pic gives a more casual feel. Regardless I can't wait to see the final result.

  18. 10' x 13' is a pretty small space, but you can do a lot with it. I love your idea to turn it into a library, and I would go with this in a BIG way. Take a look at Ikea's Billy bookcases... consider lining both of the large walls in this room with white bookcases. This would provide library space, space for display and it will only take up a little over a foot of floorspace on each of the walls.

    Use the bookcases as a background for two comfy chairs floating in the room, facing the staircase at an angle to each other, on a pretty rug, with your card catalog between the chairs.

    For the stair wall, it's SOOO easy to cut back the drywall, rip off what you don't need, reframe the wall, and install a bannister. If you did this, you could scoot your arrangement of pictures to the right to center them in the new space, and your little console table would be more in proportion to the wall.

    Be sure to let us know what you decide to do.

  19. I think taking down the wall and putting in a pretty banister would help open it up a bit. The idea with half bookcases would be great or some board and batten. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  20. I think a great option is to knock out the 1/2 wall, but if that won't happen anytime soon, you should do something like this to make it an entryway on that wall:
    /Users/czoczo/Desktop/henry_hooks_l.jpg. If the picture doesn't come through google "church pew in entry way" and it is the image with boy sitting on pew & a coat rack above w/ a picture gallery above that. It would look perfect here. As for the little sitting room... I would board & batton that to make it cozy and then a small bookcase w/ two reading chairs and an ottoman. Cozy and a nice greeting when you open the door. I just did this to my front living room and it is my favorite space in the house. No china cabinet in this room!

  21. Korrie,
    You have some wonderful suggestions here and I'm not sure I can add anything further. I do agree with adding mirrors and adding fullness to your window treatments. My daughter has more "vision" than I do in these situations...I'm more tactile.

    In a blue sky world, knocking out that wall would be great as well as adding a banister to the stairs and wooden steps. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you in that regard. :-)

    You are so very talented and creative...I'm sure some of these suggestions others have offered will spur some ideas.


  22. I think one round table in the center of the room and two to four very comfortable chairs in a kid friendly fabric around it would make for an interesting and comfy library room. Add the half shelves as stated.

  23. The first thing I would do is take away "all" the walls surrounding the staircase.. open it up to a beautiful stair case... Once this is done then there will be a totally new feel to the room. Once the staircase is finished you can begin to get some wonderful ideas....Good luck!

  24. Definitely play off the curtains you already have...start with painting the wall a soft peaceful yellow. Go with the half wall book case in white on the large wall and above them put 3 or 5 antique mirrors hung with a wide band ribbon. On top of the book shelf place beautiful black and white photos in unified frames. On the window wall I think I would place two comfy reading chairs with tall reading lamps behind each...something vintage I think...with a nice table inbetween with wicker baskets on the floor by the chairs with you favorite reading material. Opposite the window wall I would put to nice cloth covered dining room like chairs inbetween a smaller sized game table...I would use the book case for not only books, but also place your kiddos most played games on the end next to the game table. Most of all have fun!

  25. Thanks for using our Little Library as your inspiration!!! I'm sooo flattered, I'm glad you liked it!!
    I can't wait to see what you do :)
    Lots of Love

  26. Love your inspiration picture! If you still have the trunk in your old picture, I would slide that in front of the window, or some vintage suitcases stacked. Think your drapes look great, too. Can't remember if you said you still have the chairs, but they would be nice recovered. That's all I've got...good luck!

  27. Ok, no it's not all I've got, the first thought I had about your pictures was that I would take out that stair railing and install wrought iron with a nice banister. I also use a wicker bench in areas such as those in front of the window, or a skinny foyer type of table.

  28. I am THRILLED with all the great suggestions and comments. I will be reading them carefully, and I will be sure to let you know as projects proceed. Thank you ALL!

  29. Can't believe you're not going with the ping-pong table idea! :) Looks like you have lots of great suggestions. Can't wait to see what you do.

  30. Thanks everyone for all the great input, Korrie, we're all excited to see what you do, be sure and let us know!!

  31. Ok, I love the inspiration photo! I would put on the wall opposite the banister your lower bookshelf. With 2 chairs in front of them. Above them I would put a series if mirrors to duplicate the look of windows, but also to make the room seem deeper. I would put wide trim around the window, like the inspiration photo. Your window is big, but I think it would give it the architectual feeling it is lacking. Your curtains are the same type (floral) as the inspiration photo. They look like they need to be fuller. I also like the idea of creating interest by putting coordinating stripe @ the bottom. Across from the window is really your only option for the card catalog- LOVE! I can't think if a library without a desk, no matter how small. A simple petite writing desk, either stained or painted the same color & the same simple feel as the card catalog, place right next to eachother. The kong wall for artwork is above that, winding something new or ok'd that you love! That leaves the banister wall. Yes deffinately change out the railing for spindles & banister. Depending on the size if what's left of the wall once the banisters are in, a very skinny, long table that better suits the scale of the remainder wall. I think the table niw is too short in length, but maybe fine after railings. A rug to tie it all together & I think your room would look perfectly cozy! I want thus room now!!! I have a diminution this size if you think THIS room is tuff, come over to it!!

  32. Does your family enjoy playing board games together? I think you should go with your inspiration photo for books and then do a round coffee table with 4 comfy but small scale chairs around that coffee table. Then you have a comfy place to play games and put together puzzles... or just to sit and relax with a good book and put your feet up on the table. Simple, serene, functional! AND definitely open up those stairs, it will be manageable to do... and make a bigger difference than even you mind's eye can comprehend!!


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