before and afterInteriors

Before & After: Grace’s New Entryway

by Grace Bonney

Apparently I have been working out all of my “Design*Sponge is closing” anxiety in the form of home decorating projects. We’ve lived in our house for nearly five years without doing a ton to it, and all of the sudden this year I’ve found myself wanting to (and actually finishing!) making over our living room, bathroom, bedroom, guest bedrooms, kitchen dining area, stair runner, back door, and now — the entryway. Although to be fair, this project was 100% Julia’s idea. And she was right — we did need some closed storage.

Our home is a farmhouse with the majority of the structure dating back the mid-1800s. A few sections were built sometime around the late 80s (the kitchen, kitchen dining room, and entryway), but mainly the home reflects its early roots — and older trends — meaning that we have hardly any closets or closed storage. When the home was originally a guest house (with teeny-tiny bedrooms up in the attic, too!) it had rows upon rows of Shaker peg rails as clothing storage instead. When the previous owner did some major renovations in the 1980s, she continued the Shaker peg rails pretty much everywhere, so while we have plenty of pretty places to hang things, we don’t have a lot of ways to hide all that stuff from everyday view.

Julia had been wanting to create some closed storage in our mudroom/entryway because that is the highest traffic area of the house. It’s filled with all sorts of coats, dog accessories, and a wide range of things we need to keep close at hand because of rural living (tick spray, wasp spray, shovels, umbrellas, brooms, heavy duty branch clippers, etc.). Things we use daily, but don’t want to necessarily see daily.

So we settled on a design blogger favorite: the IKEA hack. Because we are saving up to redo our laundry room, we wanted to create a plan that would utilize a trusted favorite — the Pax storage system.

Inspired by so many gorgeous DIY projects online that use a bit of carpentry to make Pax systems look like built-in woodworking, we decided to use three cabinets in a row to create a ton of closed storage.

We purchased three of the regular height cabinets and had a local woodworker, Joe Venditti (who you might remember from this post!), build them into a platform (with additional framing and molding) so they looked like regular built-in storage. Then Joe painted and attached new beadboard (to match the original style) on all four walls and the ceiling of the room. The entire room (including the front door and windows) were painted one solid color (Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan — a nice grey with blue and green tones) for a monochrome effect, and voila — we have a brand new space now with a TON of closed storage and plenty of room to organize all the things we use on a regular basis, but don’t necessarily want to look at.

The new cabinets take up a lot of space, but they lend a really clean, organized feel to the space, which is great to come home to (I loved that we did a two-tone handle look with these in gold/nickel). Instead of a sea of leashes and spray cans and piles of shoes, we now have a calm, sophisticated entryway that welcomes everyone in with plenty of room for coats and anything else we need to store. But my favorite part is that the left entryway wall is now home to all of our cherished illustrated and painted portraits of our pets. Some were gifts from friends and family, some were actually made by readers of Design*Sponge over the years, and all of them remind us of what’s most important to us: the fuzzy ones who make our house feel like a home. Read on to see some before and during shots below! xo, Grace


The entryway before was a perfectly usable space, but the exposed storage didn’t leave much room for the space to breathe and feel tidied up. I love how Shaker peg rows look, but when they’re filled to the brim with coats and scarves and hats, they can feel a bit cluttered. That’s what we were hoping to do away with — the feeling of walking into clutter as soon as you get home.

Winky watched on as Joe built a platform for our IKEA Pax cabinets. They stood on a platform and had wood and molding added to the top and sides to make them appear like they were built into the room.

Joe added new beadboard to the walls and ceiling (which I love — originally the ceiling was just drywall), which was then painted grey with Benjamin Moore’s “Metropolitan” color.



Our clean new row of built-in Pax storage! Each cabinet now acts as a little locker for me (I have the set in the center), Julia (she has the set on the left) and our pets (they have the set on the far right which holds their food and treats, leashes, jackets, and bandanas). It also holds our winter hats and scarves as well as a mix of miscellaneous storage we can now hide away more easily.

The opposite side of the wall holds our beloved antique bench (perfect for using to get ready in the morning or for dog walks) and our cherished collection of framed portraits of the pets.

Our favorite pet portraits are on the opposite wall from the cabinets. These two are by painter Ben Lenovitz. They were a gift from Julia for Christmas this past year.

An antique mirror we found in town lets us do a double check before we leave the house. There’s also a portrait of Hope by Alessandra Olanow (another gift from Julia), a drawing of Winky from a Design*Sponge reader, and a portrait of our dogs by Sara Jensen’s children, Rose and Henry (part of their fundraiser for Type 1 Diabetes).

Another view of the side wall.

Speaking of the pets, they are keeping an eye on things outside.

I love the way the cabinet handles pick up on the brass detailing by the front door.

Tucked away inside each cabinet, we have plenty of wire drawers to hold shoes, bags, and odds and ends. We also have room for hanging clothes, coats, and scarves.

The way the trees outside cast a shadow into the entryway always makes me feel calm and happy.

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  • It looks wonderful! I think you must have used your stair-runner remnant for your entryway rug– it looks perfect there. I have really loved watching these 5-years-in updates. It takes a while to get to know a space, and often the things we feel we NEED to do as soon as we get in are NBD once we live there. The projects that will really make a difference in how the house gets lived in and appreciated each day take a while to emerge. Your 5-years-in updates are helping me stay patient with my own projects, too. Thank you!

  • SO lovely! I’ve been putting off getting a portrait of our hound, and I think it’s time to do it!! Also, please talk to me about those floors!! Are they original to the house??? Does someone still make stone floors like that?

  • Did you leave in the door you covered up? I assume it’s the one partially behind your sofa in the living room you also painted pink? Is there a reason you don’t use that door? Just curious! I love how this looks–so much more functional!

    • Hi Britta!

      Yep, it’s still there- just behind the cabinets. If we ever removed them, it would be in tact behind it.

      We don’t use the doors because they open into the room and take up a lot of space. It’s an odd place for doors, honestly, but we didn’t feel ready to commit to removing them entirely yet ;)


  • I love your books and often visit the blog. Know that what I enjoyed more than the creative posts was the kindness and humanity you brought to the blogosphere. We all feather our nests through hardships and momentous moments. I have loved seeing how EVERYONE makes a home their own. I have loved what beauty, comfort, and home looks like in different contexts. When you share your platform, like you truly have, we all see that we crave shelter, family, and love. These past fifteen years have nourished our creative selves and has widened our creative community. Enjoy your next adventure!

  • I love what Marion B said, and couldn’t say it better myself.
    This entryway is so good. My favorite part is the cabinet hardware (handles). How on earth do you comb through all the options and find such a good looking pull?!

    • Hi Aidel!

      Thanks! I actually knew what I wanted from the start, so I literally went to Etsy and Amazon and searched for “half moon handles”. I was inspired by the ones that companies like SemiHandmade makes, but those price points weren’t in our budget for this project, so I found a similar style online and ordered those.


  • Your blog was first i ever saw and have loved it all along. Also your podcast was great. Have your books also. Sending you the best for your next phase of life. Thanks for everything.

  • Grace,

    Way to create a great combination of organization, practicality, and polish. It really works to have doors on top of the minutia of daily living.

    I have followed you since the beginning-when there were no capitols in your sentences. Yours is the only site I have habitually clicked on in the last 15 years.

    I have continuously appreciated the direction your content has taken. I nursed two children while enjoying your site, and trying to make several houses into our homes. I encouraged your evolution into minority issues, being one myself, from afar.

    May blessings meet you in unexpected ways when you are most in need. May your path unwind with gentleness and delight. May you discover your most intimate, pressing desires that have struggled to be heard. And, may you have the courage to heed them. May the extra mind space you gain as you end this volume of your life, lead you to greet yourself with kindness. And, may you use the silence that will surround you, as an embrace of your worth.

    You did it! You began and ended on your own terms, with your soul in tact.

    I wish you well on your way, dear, dear friend, who I’ve never met.

    Thank you for your solid, genuine effort and fabulous work. You set the tone for many to move into a place where dignity can be sought after, maintained and valued. Bravo.

    • Molly, true devotion must be reciprocated, even at some level.

      I too have started and ended many businesses. Customers I adored, I have had to let go. The beauty of the next landing spot has only been visible for me, one stepping stone at a time.

      Grace and her teams have exhibited such inspiring mindfulness along the way. I respect their continuous effort to be fair, transparent and inclusive.

      May we all meet somewhere just as good, if not better.

  • Everything looks so organized and neat now, I love what you did here. The neutral cabinet is a real jackpot and that antique bench and mirror add a lovely vintage vibe since the moment someone walks into your home. The pet portraits are so cute. Really inviting and warm entryway, thanks for sharing!

  • I love this solution for lessening the visual clutter of an entryway while maintaining practicality. When you sit on that lovely bench it must be so nice to look at this, especially those cool handles. I painted Winky once in watercolor because I was just so inspired by that adorable spotted coat and would love to send it to you, if you’d like to have it to add to the portrait wall!