Reader Kate — who has a 1961 ranch and a darn nice name, te-he — also has a Retro Design Dilemma. Her entry way has a beautiful random multi-color slate floor, a tall window that lets in loads of light, and an original built-in corner planter. Her problem — how to put the planter area to good use in an area that’s kind of a tight squeeze. So, she is asking for our ideas to decorate this this space — which is small, but still so important, because it’s where “welcome” happens.
How to decorate a foyer with a built-in planter?
Here’s the full backstory. Kate writes:
Hello Pam and Kate!
I am looking for ideas on how to decorate my entry way planter. We recently purchased our 1961 ranch and have been working very hard on getting it cleaned up and fresh. We bought it for the amazing woodwork, built-in china cabinet, shadow box, and original kitchen and bathrooms.
It has a great retro feel that we searched hard and long for. It has been a lot of fun to start collecting mid century furniture and décor. However, we have not been able to find the right thing to fill the space of the entryway planter.
We are open to taking the planter back to its somewhat original state, but we were not fans of the fake, dirty palm-like tree that was in there when we moved in. We are also open to covering it with a nice piece of wood to be able to set whatever we fill the space with on. Another thing we were thinking of was covering it with the wood and then just showcasing art on the wall above it. There is nice natural light that comes in the window and a recessed light in the ceiling above.
The entryway opens to the basement stairs, main level hallway and living room. We would love to have the area make a statement when people walk in the door but we need your help!
Thanks, Kate, for sending in your question. This is a good one — we haven’t talked about foyers much. Fun!
Kate’s idea to decorate this entry way with built in planter:
In order to make Kate’s entryway more inviting, add mid century style and make it feel more put together — I made a few key changes that focus on highlighting the planter — helping make it feel more unified in the space:
- Remove the shelf on the wall opposite the stairway — the shape was chunky and it sticks out into the space, obstructing the clear path and view to the front door.
- To break up the beige and add more interest, I’d paint the wall with the entry door one color (I chose a burnt orange) and the planter wall another (like the deep teal I chose). When selecting colors for the entryway, it is important to make sure they complement the colorful slate flooring.
- As an improvement on the dirty, plastic palm tree that was in the planter when Kate moved in, an easy to care for snake plant is a period appropriate plant choice that is slow growing and compact to fit the space well. Covering the remaining exposed soil in the planter with river rocks makes for a finished look.
- Kate has a recessed light fixture above the planter — so it would be relatively easy to swap out the recessed light for a pendant light fixture like this great mid century pottery pendant lamp from Etsy seller lovintagefinds — which coordinates nicely with the chosen accent wall colors.
- To finish off the space — a mid century starburst clock like this model from Ebay seller katsajie (link now gone) would be the perfect finishing touch.
Pam’s idea to decorate this entry way:
Well, you didn’t quite ask for this, Kate, but after staring at your entry way a long time, over several days, I thought that this situation might be one where, if it were my house, I might decided to rework the architecture.
- I think that Retro Renovation Kate’s solution is quite nice, if you want to keep the planter as is. Of course, you could choose different pendant lights, different plants, different wall art.
- Moreover, after staring and thinking… I came to the conclusion that the entire entry way looks kind of… scrunched. Like, too much jam-packed by that front door: a front door, the sidelight (name for tall skinny windows next to doors), the planter, the closet, and then Boom the staircase to the lower level. Interestingly, before RRKate and I posted our ideas (a few hours after we posted the question) — numerous readers commented that they thought the planter did not look original. I tend to agree – it may have been added later.
- In addition, that planter… it’s not big enough to hold much. In fact — I think RR Kate’s plants look… scrunched.
- And NOTE: I don’t really like what appears to be a sharp edge on the planter. In particular, if you have a weebit (a child) in the house, you need to consult with a properly licensed professional to look at that edge to decide whether/how to protect someone from accidentally falling on that edge and hurting themselves. Story: When I was in junior high, we lived in a house with a fireplace hearth made of sharp-edged Bedford stone. Sure enough, one day my toddler sister tripped and teetered and fell face-first onto that edge. She came within a mere inch of slicing her right eye open. I still remember holding her in my lap — I could see bone through the gash! — while my mother rushed us all to the hospital. My sister still has the scar.
- So back to the design dilemma… I thought: What would it look like to remove the planter… to restore that portion of the floor with slate to match (okay, this will be tricky to tray and match, but random multi color slate is still available, and a skilled craftsman could match the grout, I bet… Then, center the front door… and add sidelights to both sides. I think that the Photoshop mockup that RR Kate made looks quite nice.
- Also note, I believe there are door installations with sidelights that are more integrated. For this mock up, we just replicated the sidelight you already had.
And reader Charles makes this entry way design:
Kind of a Kate/Pam combo here, but I would lose the shelf and mirror, remove the planter, and make both the entry-wall and (ex)planter-wall the same color. Toss in a Crestview entry door and sidelights, and you’re good!
Homeowner also contacted us after all these comments started coming in, and says that in response, her husband peeked under the planter and found that there is slate flooring underneath. Now it is up to them to decide the degree of time, money and change they’d like to use in their retro entry way.