Retro styling is all the rage today, but sometimes “retro” is synonymous with “regrettable.”
The entry hallway to our house is a case in point. When we moved in, we tried to convince ourselves that the white brick with black grout was fun and funky. The more we lived with the look, though, the less we liked it. The bricks had a rather artificial look to them, and the black grout accentuated the fact that the rows were neither level nor plumb.
We finally decided that the ugly white brick had to go. Our biggest problem was figuring out how to remove the brick without demolishing the wall. After spending several hours of painstakingly trying to pry the bricks loose, we concluded that preserving the wall was unrealistic. Not only did the bricks have to go, but so did the wall. Once we committed to a “demolition” rather than a “removal,” it was surprisingly easy to get down to bare studs.
We made short work of building the wall back up. It was amazing how much better even bare sheetrock looked in the entry; we knew immediately that we had made the right decision!
Our next challenge was determining exactly what to do with those bare walls. Because our home is a split level, and guests are looking up into the living room when they are in the entry hall, we decided to thematically unify the design motifs in the two rooms. The back wall of the living room features birch wood paneling topped by crown molding, both stained a rich mahogany hue. We decided to pick up the same elements in the entry.
Upon experimenting with the paneling, however, we decided it was too dark for the small space. The solution was to cut the paneling down and install it as wainscoting. We used the same crown molding as in the living room and an intricate picture-frame molding as the chair rail. Finally, we painted the upper walls a soft cream color to contrast the mahogany stain of the woodwork and create a seamless flow to the living room.
Surveying our completed walls, we allowed ourselves a brief moment of self-congratulation. We finally had an entry hallway that, instead of making us cringe, actually made us comfortable.