The right furnishings can turn an entrance hall into a useful mini-room.

RITA ST.CLAIR

April 04, 1991|By RITA ST.CLAIR | RITA ST.CLAIR,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Some architects are just as susceptible to trends and fads as are some interior designers. Because the creation of a building is an artistic process, it really isn't surprising for a new home to exhibit the test fashions in its physical layout.

Occasionally, a recently constructed apartment may have a rather unusual, even awkward, configuration. One particularly noticeable development is the oversized entrance hall, often oddly shaped. Architects who include such a generously proportioned space in their blueprints are simply striving to make a distinctive statement, which is well on the way, however, to becoming commonplace.

Besides being less unusual, the enormous entrance hall presents some difficult problems for interior designers. For one thing, all that space is frequently provided at the expense of other more important rooms where it would be much more usable.

Faced with this sort of situation, many apartment dwellers decide it's impossible to improve the functional aspects of what is, after all, a circulation area. Entrance halls, almost by definition, are filled with doorways, and are intended primarily to be passageways to someplace else. With a sigh of resignation, an amateur designer will often conclude that the only thing to do is to try to make such a space more attractive.

But a large entrance hall can also be made to take on extra and quite useful functions. When careful thought is given to an apartment's specific needs, it becomes possible to integrate this space successfully into the home' overall living arrangement.

I have seen these seemingly wasteful areas turned into enjoyable and practical mini-rooms. They may not be places for lounging, I grant, but they can be used in lots of other ways.

Here's an example of what can be done with the proper furnishings and accessories.

This sizable entrance hall was not an easy space with which to work. In addition to directing traffic toward the dining/living room, it opens on to a bedroom hallway and to the kitchen. To give it a definition of its own, an area rug of nearly room dimension was laid down as a colorful focal point. The main sidewall was then outfitted with a pair of bookcases, separated from one another by a patch of bare wall, on which was hung a decorative botanical print.

The console table, mirror and two occasional chairs placed along the opposite wall may seem like obvious, unimaginative furnishings for an entrance hall. But in this instance -- voila! -- the console table opens up to seat six people. What a clever solution for a dinner party with more guests than can be accommodated in the dining area.

This seemingly extravagant apartment entrance has now been transformed into a highly functional and pleasantly inviting space. All it took was the addition of a couple of attractive storage pieces and a single item of multipurpose furniture.

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