Space of the Week: Cheerful Wallpaper and Secret Storage Make for a Smile-Inducing Entryway

This historic Seattle bungalow has both storage and style.

Space of the Week, Maple Leaf Wallpaper Entryway with Wooden Benches, RealSimple

Miranda Estes Photography

Amy Vroom, the owner of design firm The Residency Bureau, describes the two civil engineers who live in this Seattle home as tidy people who like when their things are tucked away. But given that they have three teenagers and everyone shares an early-20th-century bungalow, staying neat isn’t easy.

“Homeowners in 1926 didn’t have as much stuff as we have today, so the key to this transformation was creating a place for everything while keeping the design true to the home's pre-clutter era,” Vroom says. 

When this renovation started in 2019, Vroom was hired to do a modest makeover on the kitchen. But that quickly evolved into a full renovation, simply because this one-time starter home had morphed into the family’s forever address, and they needed it to meet their current needs. Vroom’s main task was balancing function with history, and the challenge was particularly acute in the entryway. 

“At some point over the years, this front porch had been enclosed to make an entry, so you didn’t walk straight into the living room,” she says. “However, nothing had been done to create a foyer with storage. This space became a catch-all for backpacks, sports gear, shoes, and even a jalapeño plant!”

Vroom aimed to make the entryway “small but mighty” so that it would set the tone for the rest of the house. She and the owners didn’t want to touch the new windows on every wall, or the original tongue-and-groove ceiling. And after the contractor at BrightWork Builders found water damage in one of the support beams and part of the wall, all of that had to be replaced. By the time they had a brand new subfloor, Vroom was ready with a statement-making wallpaper print. “The owners immediately gravitated toward this House of Harris ‘Cambridge’ wallpaper, so that became our inspiration,” she says. 

A hexagon tile was chosen for the floor, and a fresh front door in a bright blue shade was put in. Vroom commissioned a custom quartersawn oak bench in an L-shape for seating and storage, which has three compartments for the trio of kids. (A nearby coat closet is in an adjacent room, but Vroom is happy to report that this bench can hold skateboards.) The wallpaper was hung and the ceiling and window trim were painted white. Finally, Vroom was sure to install a starburst pendant light overhead along with a few electrical outlets—an of-the-moment necessity this old home once lacked. “They’re so lights can be plugged in during the holidays,” Vroom adds.

The entire home renovation was completed at the end of 2020, and Vroom feels a sense of joy in being able to look back on work that was “an art and a science” in getting right. The property is still a historic craftsman, but now it can more comfortably contain every little thing this family wants to tuck away.

“This is going to be a space they live in for years to come,” she says. “This entryway works hard for the family, but also makes them smile when they come home.”

Get the Look

Floral wallpaper in blues and greens.

Whimsical Wallpaper

You can't go wrong with a statement-making wallpaper print that makes you happy every time you see it. Cheerful florals are a crowd-pleasing option.

A natural colored jute rug in a living room.

Jute Rug

A durable jute rug is ideal for an entryway space with tons of foot traffic.

A star-shaped flush mount light from Visual Comfort.

Starburst Light Fixture

A star-shaped flush mount gives your space some playful character without detracting from other elements in the room.

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