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DECOR SCORE Shedding New Light on a Dark Entry Way PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 February 2011 04:47

Q: Our entry hall is dark like a tunnel and not at all welcoming. We are thinking of replacing the old wood front door with one that has glass, but ours is a neighborhood just beginning the process of gentrification, if you get my drift. Glass may not be the smartest idea. Any other thoughts?

A: There are other ways to let there be light at the end of your "tunnel." As security is a consideration you might consider adding a window over the door rather than in it. The cost of such a small renovation may not be much more than the price of a new security door anyway.

Make the new window a graceful arch, and you can dress it as elegantly as the one in the pictured hallway. It's part of a new collection of man-made wood-look shutters (NewStyle hybrids from Hunter Douglas). In this case, "hybrid" translates to mean a man-made material that can stand up to the dramatic temperature challenges that any window is subjected to: warm on the inside and cold on the exterior. Learn more at

If structural remodeling is beyond your current budget, there are sill attractive ways to brighten your entry hall. Upgrade the ceiling fixture with a multibranched hanging light.

Install sconces on the side walls. Hang a large mirror — no, make that two mirrors, one on each side, to really multiply the illusion of light and space.

Lay a light-colored runner on the floor. Install wallpaper with a bright print, even a Mylar (reflective) background. And by all means, use high-gloss paint on the hall ceiling, the better to ricochet available light all around the entryway.

Q: Is it a bad idea to use black paint on our master bath's walls? My husband is horrified at the thought. What do you think? A: I think you're flirting with design danger. Not because black walls are necessarily scary in themselves — white fixtures will pop dramatically against such a background — but because you're trespassing on a natural law of color: it bounces.

For example, paint your dining room red, and everyone looks healthy and robust. That's because the warm color ricochets off the walls and onto everyone in the room.

The same thing happens in a bath — only more so, because the lighting is always much brighter and stronger. Savvy to the caprices of color, professional interior designers never suggest green for their clients' bathroom walls. Who wants to look bilious first thing every morning?

Better to paint your bedroom walls black — you'll sleep better in the dark, according to Clodagh, the organic designer known for her Zen-like spas. For your bath, choose a color, any other color, that becomes you. I promise you'll feel better in the morning.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the coauthor of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design.