The foyer of a home is a first impression and a nonverbal welcome to houseguests.
After walking through a home’s front door, the entryway space should make a statement about what lies inside, says Mary Carol Garrity, author, designer and owner of Nell Hill’s, a home furnishings store in Kansas City.
“The way a foyer looks can set the tone for the rest of the home,” Garrity said. “Whether the foyer is a grand entry or a smaller space, it should entice you to come in.”
The key to a fabulous foyer starts at the front door.
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“People will wait at the front door before entering, and when the door opens there should be an element of excitement,” Garrity said. “Don’t be afraid to make a statement at the front door with a wreath, bold doorknocker or paint color, and treat it as a foreshadowing of the foyer.”
Even the best-dressed entryway will look tired with a dingy door. So if the welcome has been worn out on your home’s front door, it might be time for an upgrade.
Replacing an old door with a new, energy-efficient one usually involves the installation of an entire door unit. This includes the posts or jambs (the vertical parts of the doorframe); the head (the upper horizontal part of the doorframe); and the sill or threshold (the lower horizontal part of the frame), which is installed into the opening.
It’s also easy to let light shine into your foyer with decorative glass-door options that can be beveled or etched. Sidelights — glass panels on either side of a front door — or a transom window above the door create entryway appeal and encourage sunshine, not scrutiny, from the street.
Garrity views the foyer as a prime piece of decorative real estate, which starts on the entry-level floor.
“The flooring is part of the decorative element of a foyer,” she said. “Some people might have an intricate parquet wood flooring laid, while others might put down a beautiful rug.”
Guests should be falling head over heels for decorative entryway elements, not tripping over a trail of items tracked and stacked inside the foyer.
“Have a place to stow shoes and other things family members bring inside,” Garrity said. “You don’t want people tripping over things. It should be a clutter-free zone.”
Paint is the easiest way to bring color and life into a space. A foyer can become instantly cool with a shade of blue or warm with a deep, rich red on the wall.
“Some people keep the walls a neutral color to serve as a backdrop to artwork hung in the foyer,” Garrity said. “Depending on its configuration, you can also create a focal point in your foyer by hanging a beautiful wallpaper on just one wall.”
A foyer’s design can often be taken to the next level by extending decorative elements to a home’s staircase, which is often seen from the entryway in a multistory house.
“The artwork hung in a home can begin in the foyer and continue up the wall by a staircase,” Garrity said. “A stairway in view from the foyer is just a naturally dramatic design element, so use the flat newel post at the bottom of a staircase as a place to put a tray with a bouquet of flowers.”
A foyer’s furnishings should be spare and chosen with care.
“You don’t want a lot of furniture in the foyer, but there are some pieces you need,” Garrity said. “Depending on the foyer space, it’s great if you can have a console table and a couple of chairs, or a bench to sit on or for a visitor’s coat or purse. A wall mirror enlarges the space, but it’s also great to catch one last glimpse of yourself before you head out the door.”
The type of furniture used in your foyer should reflect your personal taste, which can be formal or fun. It can also be a combination of both.
“In decorating, not everything has to be all matchy-matchy,” Garrity said. “Have pieces you love in your home, and it will be a reflection of your personal sense of style.”
A bright tip to set the mood in the foyer is to pay attention to the light fixtures. Whether you’re hanging a vintage chandelier or a modernly sleek, colorful pendant from the ceiling, Garrity says it’s important to also have accent lighting.
“Burning candles not only cast a pretty glow, they also make the space smell good,” she says. “I also like having a lamp on a foyer table and always leaving the light on for guests.”