There’s No Place Like Home: A New Beginning…


So when I finally arrived in Tampa a week after my husband, I was faced with the somewhat daunting task of putting our townhouse together. My poor husband literally had a suitcase of about a week’s worth of clothes (all dirty at that point), basic toiletries, and leftover pizza in the fridge. He said to me one of the first nights I was there (in a non-complaining, more “homesick”-type of way) that he felt unsettled; that it was stressful to come home and see all the many, many boxes- our entire life, packed away- and no wife. He said it just didn’t feel like our “home”. I felt bad for him. He’d been working so very hard, basically building this new part of the company from the ground up, and he was exhausted to say the least when he came home. Yet another point in my life where I realized the importance of home. I knew I needed to create order from chaos and turn this place into something that felt comfortable, restful, and familiar to him (and to my two cats, Butters and Sam, who had been camping out in their carriers, afraid to come out)…Picture1

(a “box cave” I made them which they took to right away)


So I rolled up my sleeves and started right away- climbing two sets of stairs in our tri-level townhouse, up and down, up and down, every day, unpacking boxes and trying to snap the place into shape (along with my calves and hamstrings). After getting some basics pulled together- my husband’s clothes, the bathroom, the kitchen, and laundry detergent- I started home-making. First things first: the foyer.

Everyone knows how important the entrance of a home is. It’s your first impression of the place. If it looks bad and is dysfunctional, that sets a bad tone for the entire home… and you’d be surprised how it can affect you mentally and even physically. (Not to get all feng shui, but coming home after a long day at work, opening your front door and seeing a mess, bumping into things, not having a place for your stuff- this can keep your stress level high, raise it, and even affect your mood and blood pressure. Something to think about… definitely not the effect you want your home to have on you and your family.)

So let’s get this place off to a good start,” I thought. The first level of our townhouse-turning-townhome is a “bonus room” (which we made into the office) a foyer, a small storage room, and a garage/laundry space. As you can see below, the foyer doesn’t lend itself to many grand, beautiful design options. With two main entry doors and their swing space to consider, I was presented with a bit of a challenge. But that’s fine by me. I love design challenges. And small spaces can be much more charming than stuffy, vast vestibules…CCI07082011_00001

(foyer is about a 5x6 space with the doors closed)


So, I make my list…

  • place for keys
  • place for sunglasses
  • more light
  • much more light
  • place for other small items (change, pocket lint, random weird things that make their way into your pockets)
  • place to set mail

And as I would soon learn after lots of rain and several trips to the beach…

  • place to put dripping umbrella
  • place to put dripping towels
  • a buffer zone for the many pounds of sand we somehow manage to carry home on our persons
  • place for sandals- also filled with lots and lots of sand

Very short on space with a very tall order to fill.

So after deciding that I couldn’t just turn my foyer into a giant sandbox and call it a day, I came up with my plan. I started by making the decision to put up mirrors horizontally…

Picture2  (thestir.cafemom.com)

Kevin Sharkey’s (of Martha Stewart Living) NYC West Village Apartment (right) inspired by Karl Lagerfeld’s design of the Chanel private dining room in Paris (left)


Picture4(Vicente Wolf)



(from InStyle magazine on apartmenttherapy.com)


I think it’s such a cool look and I needed mirrors to make as much of the existing (or should I say non-existing) light as possible. I also knew it would help it not feel so crammed, like you just opened a door into a wall…

Picture16 (there is just that one sad little ceiling light for the whole entry and office space- which I was standing in to take the pictures)

I already had these $5 door mirrors, but the last thing I wanted was to put a bunch of dark items down in the already dungeon-like room (the dark table I used is a antique, so it had to be left that color), so I spray painted the mirrors white…foyer


And here is the result…

Picture9 On the right- a carved wooden hanging thingy from India. On it now are an old hat and walking canes that belonged to my late granddad, but perfect for hanging umbrellas (which can also be propped in the corner) and towels to drip dry onto the tile floor. The basket is for sandals and flip-flops. The perfectly-sized antique table has a wooden bowl for keys, etc., a porcelain lotus bowl which I filled with spearmint lifesavers for cool, refreshed breath coming in or going out, and a vase filled with dried grass from Brazil. Everything I needed.


Picture12 The grass introduces something organic as does the wood (which I love to mix) and the woven basket. The bowls, vase, and table base add some much-needed curves. And I opted for a clear glass vase because, since it needed to be kind of large to hold the grass and have some presence, it would’ve seemed too heavy in a solid color.




Picture17( And as you can see, the mirrors multiply the little light that is there.)


One thing that didn’t work out perfectly was- I ordered a rug with tassels that ended up being too fat for the doors to pass over. I ended up moving it to my kitchen, but I’m debating on whether to go sans-rug, just do a rug in the office space to define the two areas, or give it another shot. I’m considering using a beautiful Turkish hammam towel. I get my tassels (which I’ve been obsessed with having for some reason), some subtle pattern, and when it gets dirty, I can throw it in the wash.


Opinions? Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Stay tuned. I’ll be posting about the adjacent office space soon!