Before and After: A Clever IKEA Hack Makes This Open Family Entryway Much More Practical

published Feb 28, 2024
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Grey painted entry area before renovation.

In an era of open-concept designs, walls can sometimes get a bad rap. They might feel like they cut off conversations between living rooms and kitchens, for example, or unnecessarily separate a dining area from the cooking space. But there are advantages to walls — especially in cases where it can be tough to distinguish one area from another. 

Take entryways, for example. For those lucky enough to have a distinct zone at their front door, it’s a clear spot for holding incoming or outgoing mail, welcoming guests, hanging jackets and bags, and more. But when a front door opens right into the living space and doesn’t have anything separating it from the rest of the home, balancing the form and function of the entryway becomes much more complicated. That dilemma is exactly what home decor YouTuber Alexandra Gater faced when tasked with redesigning this entryway for a client.

“The entryway was feeling cluttered and tight, even though there was a ton of open space that wasn’t being used,” Alexandra says. “The open floor plan also meant that the entryway felt like it was in the living room.”

Alexandra, whose first book “Own Your Space” hit bookstores last year, has built her design career on the premise that anyone can create a comfortable home using clever and often renter-friendly solutions. When she met Rayna, who shares this address with her husband and their two children, Alexandra understood that the family needed a command center for their comings and goings that would “set them up for success” and still come across as approachable. As she toured the adjoining living room, Alexandra saw two IKEA shelving units and had an idea: She would use them in the entryway instead. 

Credit: Carla Antonio

“Once I brought the two shelving units that were in her living room into the entryway, I added a KALLAX bench in the middle for even more storage and a place to put on shoes,” she says. “Putting the bench in between the two shelves created one long entryway piece to maximize the unused space.”

Credit: Carla Antonio

Alexandra filled the white shelves with matching woven baskets from Baba Souk for a uniform look, and sourced a contrasting black cushion from Tonic Living to give the bench a soft layer. Above it, she installed round hooks of various sizes by CB2 in a constellation-like pattern, and added three more closer to the front door. 

Credit: Carla Antonio

The project could’ve ended there, but Alexandra recognized a blank spot right next to the front door that could enhance the entryway even further. “To help create a visual divide between the entryway and living room, I added an IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet for shoe storage and also a place to drop keys,” she says. She made it look higher-end by adding a custom wood top and knobs. Farrow & Ball’s “Sulking Room Pink” covers the cabinet, the wall it rests on, and the front door to create a cohesive entryway zone. A clean-lined sconce, a cool asymmetrical mirror, and no-frills pillows finish off the rest. 

Credit: Carla Antonio

Repurposing the shelving unit and relying on the statement-making powers of paint kept costs low, and Alexandra notes that just painting the HEMNES shoe cabinet in a personalized color would make a big difference in anyone’s home, no other adjustments required. 

Overall, though, Alexandra says that she’s proud of this project because it gives an open-concept entryway something it needed: boundaries. “It is sometimes so difficult to decorate an open space, but I really love how I was able to add tons of function to this entryway while also making it feel intentional,” she says. 

This article originally published on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Clever IKEA Hack Makes This Open Entryway Much More Practical