Reflections on an odd wall: Mirrors might be the answer

Q: Because the staircase in our home is steeper and wider than average, the triangular wall along its side acts as a dominant element in the narrow entrance hall. Unfortunately, the shape of the wall is too awkward to permit use of the usual mirror-above-console-table combination.

Do you have some suggestions for what to do about this wall? It's the only one in the downstairs part of the house that doesn't have some kind of opening.


A: Yours is not an uncommon problem. As a result, interior designers have developed a variety of options that you may wish to consider. I'll outline two or three that I have found to be among the least costly and the most effective.

You say that the wall is too oddly shaped to hold a standard-size mirror, but have you thought about simply mirroring the entire surface? I have seen that solution applied more than once, with the mirrored area extending from just above the baseboard to the stair stringer. In addition to making the wall much more


interesting to look at, an all-over mirror will create an illusion of spaciousness in your narrow entrance hall.

Another potentially effective treatment would be to incorporate the problem wall into the detailing and design of the staircase. The addition of decorative millwork in the same styling as the balustrade and stringer will greatly enhance the wall's appearance. But in order to achieve the desired effect of stately wood paneling, the millwork must be sufficiently robust in scale to reinforce the design of the staircase.

Like the mirrored-surface possibility, this comparatively simple installation can also make the hallway look less confined. The trick in this instance is to paint all the millwork and most of the surrounding area in the same light color. That was the solution chosen for the space shown in the photo.

You should know, too, that a console table placed near the mid-point of a stairway wall is not the only option for adding an essential piece of furniture to an entrance hall. The photo suggests how a small triangular, round or handkerchief-type table can be situated in a corner formed by the stairway wall and an adjacent opening. In that location, a table can still function quite conveniently.