It’s amazing what a little paint can do to liven up a small entryway…

A Convergence of Ugliness

Our first home came with an abundance of unfinished touches. Among these were rough-cut stair railings, missing or mismatched moulding, dated interior doors, and a total lack of closet doors. All of these came together with mauve tile to create a less-than-inviting entry. Thankfully it was nothing fresh paint and some new finishes couldn’t remedy.

Painting the Doors “Black”

One of my favorite changes to this house was the impact of painting the interior doors black. I knew I wanted to do this before we even owned the house. Technically the doors aren’t black; they’re “Magma” by Valspar. Magma is a neutral gray-black that looks bold without being too harsh. When painting the doors, I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra Paint & Primer in One in an eggshell finish. It held up well, was easy to clean, and has a soft sheen that was sophisticated without being too formal. I love the contrast the black doors added to light-colored entryway. The paint worked equally well on the new, primed closet door and on the original steel fire door.

Painting the Stairs

Painting the stairs was an easy but beastly project. It took longer than I originally estimated and I spent the better part of two weekends working on it. Painting stairs is just plain tedious work. It’s all edges and no rolling. Plus, I wanted a two-tone look, so I had to tape off all the white areas before painting the black areas. All that said, it wasn’t difficult and the results exceeded my expectations. My essential tools for anyone thinking of painting stairs: a good paint brush, a long playlist, and a lot of patience.

Finishing Touches

To give the entryway a more finished feel we added a white mirror (IKEA STAVE #002.235.24) and a custom shelf with hooks. Scroll down for a how-to on building your own shelf. We also installed a floating vinyl plank floor in our basement which continued into the entryway–I’ll cover that project in a future post.

Here’s a look at our finished entryway. What do you think? Have any tips for making the most of a small entryway? Drop me a comment below.

How-To Tips: Building A Custom Shelf

I wanted our small entryway to have a convenient place for hanging coats, keys, and bags without taking up too much space. I also knew I wanted a mirror in the entryway, so I chose to install a shelf below the mirror. As a vertically challenged human, I was okay with a slightly low shelf. You can adjust the size and placement to suit your needs. Follow the steps below to build your own.

  • Collect your materials. You’ll need a 1x6 and 1x4 common board, about 10 2″ finish nails, 3-6 coat hooks in the style of your choice, and paint if desired. I recommend satin or semi-gloss for easy cleaning and stain resistance.
  • Measure the space where you want to hang the shelf. Since our entryway was rather small, I built mine to span the entire wall, but you could also size it to fit below a mirror or frame on a larger wall.
  • Cut both boards to the desired width.
  • Attach the two boards perpendicular to each other using finish nails. I placed one nail every 12 to 18 inches. Make sure the 1x4 is positioned as the top of the shelf with the 1x6 below (see photo).
  • Paint the shelf if desired. You will likely need two or three coats for good coverage on unfinished wood.
  • Attach the shelf to the wall. I used the same 2″ finish nails and made sure to drive the nails into the wall studs for a safe and sturdy hold.
  • Cover the nail holes with paint (and optionally spackle if needed).
  • Mark the desired locations of your hooks with a pencil and install them using their included hardware. I found it easier to install the hooks once the shelf was on the wall, but you could also do this prior to hanging.