CREATE A SPACE THAT SHOWS OFF YOUR HOSPITALITY—AND YOUR GOOD TASTE
The formal entrance or foyer is a transitional space that plays a range of important roles. As a bridge between exterior and interior, it should provide an architectural link between your home and its surroundings as well as offering a convenient place to shake off cold, wet, or heat—or preparing to brave them. Of course, since the entry is the first and last impression family and friends will have, style is just as important as practicality.
“Think of the foyer as the prelude to the rest of your home,” says design and build contractor Ramsin Khachi, of Khachi Design Group in Oakville, Ontario. “You want to use the entrance to set the tone for what is to come, to create contin-uity. If you have an elegant, formal home, the design and decoration of the entry should follow suit.”
Use architectural features like paneling on walls and ceilings, crown moldings, and integrated lighting to create a structure that’s in keeping with the style of your home, then turn to furnishings and accessories to complete the look.
A careful approach to color selection is essential, as well. “I like soft neutrals for entrances,”
says Naples, Florida-based designer Julie Coleman, of District Design. “White with a touch of cream or gray creates a sophisticated backdrop that
you can continue through all the common areas of the house.” Khachi agrees with the appeal of a neutral palette. “You don’t want to shock people with a bold color the second they walk into your house,” he says. “And, opting for a pale wall color makes sense in a space that typically doesn’t have much natural light.”
As you select materials and furnishings, remember the basic function of the space and make choices that will stand up to the elements. Flooring is perhaps your most important decision. Tile—stone or ceramic—is a natural option, since it resists moisture and staining well. “I love to do a tile ‘rug’, with tile inset into hardwood,” says Khachi. If you won’t be replacing the flooring, consider protecting hardwood floors with a fabric rug. “Indoor-outdoor rugs of soft, synthetic fibers look great and stand up to heavy use,” says Coleman.
LIGHTING AND FURNISHINGS
The right lighting is a necessity, both for the sake of safety and for creating a visually appealing look, say the pros. Your goal is to create layers of light, with recessed ceiling fixtures providing soft overall illumination, a hanging fixture—a pendant or chandelier, depending on the size and style of the foyer—and wall sconces or a table lamp.
In terms of furniture, don’t go overboard trying to fill every bit of empty space. “That’s one of my pet peeves,” says Khachi. “If you put a chair in the entry, it should be there because it’s a handy place to sit to take your shoes off, not because you have a pocket of bare wall. Think about function, and let it guide your furniture plan.” When placed correctly, a chair or two or a bench can be a convenient spot to set a bag down or to sit while you pull on a pair of boots.
A console table is an ideal choice for most entrances, says Coleman. “They have a very simple, classic look.” But, she says, “in a larger, more open entry hall, think about featuring a beautiful round table for a more dramatic impact. Timeless hardwood is always appropriate, especially if you have a covered front porch or live in a temperate climate.
“Hardwood looks beautiful in an entry,” says Khachi. “You just have to take care to wipe up any water.”
The entry is a public area, so while you want to lend some of your personal style to its décor, try to keep the look simple. Wall art enlivens any space—and a mirror is a natural choice. “Pick a gorgeous mirror and hang it above the console,” says Coleman. “It will reflect light around the space, making it look bigger—and you’ll be able to check your lipstick as you head out the door.”
5 TIPS FOR CONSOLES AND TABLES:
Functional and fashionable, make your entry table create a bold statement.
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE / The table should be large enough to make an impact (and to hold any essentials you require) but not so big that it obstructs passageways.
2. CONSIDER THE SURFACE / Consider your materials for this high traffic area. A beautiful design from Cambria will resist damage or if it’s an antique piece, consider having a piece of glass cut to fit.
3. LIGHT IT RIGHT / Create attractive layers of light by adding a table lamp, even if you’ve included hanging and recessed fixtures in your plan.
4. HANG A MIRROR / If your console table is against a wall, place a mirror above it so you can check your appearance before you head out. Bonus: The reflection will instantly make a small hallway look more open.
5. INCLUDE STORAGE / A small bowl on the table for keys and change, a bin tucked underneath for shoes, a stack of covered storage baskets for scarves and glove: strategic storage can cut clutter.
Complete the design with some thoughtful extras, like an antique umbrella stand, a basket for shoes, a small dish to drop your keys. “It’s those little details that make you, and anyone else coming to your home, feel cared for—truly welcome,” says Khachi.