an ivy league mom - the entryway

the entry before

karen's number one complaint about her house was that she felt it was schizophrenic.  she loved the east coast/cape cod look but was overwhelmed when it came time to make decisions for her own home.  the first time i walked into karen's house and saw this sweeping staircase, i knew exactly what to do.  it is really beautiful and as many of you have noted, the house had a great start.  hardwood floors, beautiful light and gorgeous views.  like a lot of people do (me included) when decorating their home, she got side-tracked because she likes a  lot of different looks.  i helped her define the look she wanted and set out to create it as best i could on a small budget.  i basically just organized and reused what she had and introduced a few small touches here and there.  this entryway table is a good example.  it is a pretty table but had been faux-painted with olive branches and seemed out of place to me.  the accessories were nice but i thought the space could easily be improved upon.  so i painted the table black and brought in a few accessories.

this is the entryway today. 
the table is now black and with the addition of a pottery barn lantern, a large silver tray, a seashell and a vase filled with beach grasses i think it looks so classic and simple.

this may well be my favorite part of the house. 
the photo wall which tells the story of her son's lives and culminates with their framed acceptance letters to yale and princeton.
how cool is that?

wishing you all a gentle, peaceful thanksgiving.



  1. That's really beautifully and artfully done!

  2. Just when I think your blog can't get any better, you crank it up another notch! Wow. Your ivy league friend is so lucky to have you for a friend. You've got the touch, lady. What. a. gift.
    Love the little football sweater too--how cute it is!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to I said, The Gardener's Cottage is far better than any magazine.
    After reading your blog, everything just seems better.
    Happy Thanksgiving! (going to take another trip to Goodwill tomorrow--round two. Wish me luck!)
    -Suzanne in Illinois

  3. I think I need your vision in my space. So true about getting side-tracked. Your friend is lucky to have you nearby!

  4. Great job, and so much more personal.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  5. Love the simple touches of the round black table and the cascading photo wall.

  6. Well done oh sweet one.

    happy day of thanks:)

    xo Jane

  7. Hi Janet - What a beautiful entry way. I love the changes you made.
    Happy Thanksgiving,

  8. Janet - first time commenter here but I have been reading for quite a while and love your simple and casually elegant style. Today you have given me a great idea for a ledge at the top of our stairs - I should put some framed photos there. Thank you!

  9. Giving thanks to you my friend for your wonderful and endearing blog and all the support with mine. Have a good holiday! Kevin

  10. You are a visionary Janet.
    All the best for a very Happy Thanksgiving.

    Hugs from rainy BC!

  11. Hello Janet

    This is such an inspired transformation of such a beautiful entryway and staircase.


  12. I 2nd what many others say: I love your blog!

    Not many people would part from their style as easy as Karen did, she is lucky to have you close. I could not imagine a better entry than the one you achieved with small effort.

    I am curious about the process of repainting ...
    Where did you paint the table? I live in a small apartment and am afraid of the fumes. Is it necessary to go outside?
    Did you abrade the table by yourself? The abrading is the part of process I dread. I would love to see photos of the process - from old to new.
    And how long does it take to repaint a table?
    I know, those questions sound really silly. ;-)

    There is something in this posting that caught my attention: First I did not understand why the posting was titled "Ivy league mum" - until I saw the photowall including the acceptance-letters. Seeing this I feel some immediate kind of relief - relief that my parents chose another way to express how proud they are of me. I would fear that I could let them down, in case my life would not turn out the way my first steps (at seen on the wall next to the stairway) promised. Could be this is something totally normal in the US ... being a citizen from another cultural background, it caught my eye and thoughts.

  13. Hey babe,

    I love how you've rejiggered Kaz's house. Congrats.

    I watch Ralph L on an old Oprah today and thought of you.

    You should come visit x

  14. paula - i did sand (abrade) the table and then began to brush paint it but it wasn't looking that great so i sanded it lightly again and applied several thin coats of paint with a sprayer and then i applied paste wax. i did do this outside.

    regarding the framed acceptance letters, here in the usa to have a child accepted to an ivy league school is quite an honor but to have two children accepted to two different ivy league schools is quite special. trust me, i'd frame those acceptance letters too!

  15. You did a fabulous, understated job on this entryway. I love clusters of family photos. The stairs are the perfect place to display them, and so much better than those huge cheesy studio portraits over the mantle! I like how your placement has emphasized that gorgeous curve of the staircase. Bravo!

  16. I love how the table ties in with the artfully displayed frames and draws the eye in, making what could be a large and intimidating space into something homely but still elegant.
    You are a creative genius.
    Happy Thanksgiving. x

  17. Thank you for the step-by-step info.
    You are wrong: you ARE a decorator! I mean you even own a sprayer. I am deeply impressed and delighted. :-)

  18. Love the staircase and the photos.
    What's really fab is that you decorate the way you dress, it's all very classic and RL like, my house, like my wardrobe is schizophrenic.

  19. I so, so love the black. Every room needs a dose of it, in my opinion. I bet she could not be more pleased with her gallery wall too. How nice for her see all of those pictures as she comes up and down the stairs.

  20. You did well Janet!! Love the hallway!

    Madelief x

  21. The number one solution to any sort of problem is finding or defining a solution and you make it all look easy. Painting that table black, genius!
    How lovely all those photos look gathered.
    Now how about a strip runner on those stairs....
    or an ocelot.

  22. I love this space. I wish my picture wall was so organized!

    Enjoy the granola! Have a great week !

  23. Love love live the picture wall! So amazing!!


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