Fabulous Foyers

urban oasis entry way

Penthouse in New York showcases a view toward the Steinway satinwood piano in the living room. The piece on the right is a fine example of Faux Bois; the wallpaper is silk string. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

What makes a foyer fabulous?  A foyer is the first glimpse of your home for your guests, and as such, it should provide a gracious welcome.  A beautifully designed entry way is a breath of rest and calm after travel and time spent on the road, for you and your family as well as your guests.  More a throughway than a living space, it should be clean and uncluttered.  Even a small entry should feel spacious.

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Nantucket House opens to a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean.  Next stop:  Portugal! On the left is a 18th Century French Provincial painted bureau and an 18th Century barometer; floors are reclaimed chestnut. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In American Colonial style homes, the straightaway hall often separates the house into two distinct halves.  The entry hall opens to doors at each end, affording a view through the house, with the staircase to the side.  A table, lamps and framed pictures creates a room-like vignette, where family and visitors pause for a moment before proceeding into the home.

entry hall vertical

The Beach Nest features two custom designed pieces in rattan, a red coral mirror in the style of an 18th century Chippendale mirror, a handpainted harlequin wood floor and an umbrella stand featuring a collection of canes. Photographer:  Terry Pommett

In modern American and English houses, and in many vacation homes, the entry hall and the living room are combined, and there is no separate room designated as a foyer.  There should still be an area clearly defined as an entrance, with at least a small table and a vase of fresh flowers to set a welcoming tone.  A mirror is often included, where guests and family members can make a quick check of their appearance.

entry way

Nantucket Traditional  greets guests with an eighteenth century painted bench.  Photographer: Terry Pommett

Adding unique and personal artwork, such as this Christian Thee custom mural above, serves as an ice-breaker and conversation starter.  We had this mural designed to celebrate the best-loved places in this St. Louis-based couple’s lives, so although the largest portion of the map is dedicated to Nantucket, it includes the Texas flag, the Arch of St. Louis, and other items close to the their hearts.

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Greenwich Elegance features two antique Chinese windows framed as pieces of art and a custom-made bench with an antique Aubusson pillow on top.  Photographer:  Erik Rank

Foyers can be the most formal part of the house, with a reserved tone.  It is, after all, the public area of the home, where not only friends and family but strangers step inside.  A formal feeling can be achieved with symmetry and  balance, where paired wall art, lamps or potted plants delineate the boundaries.

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Captain’s Quarters celebrates its seaside setting with a custom star rug, and a Dujardin-custom staircase with recessed paneling created by Senior Designer Price Connor. Photographer:  Durstan Saylor

If there is space, it’s nice to add chairs or a bench to the entry.  It adds to the warmth of your welcome.

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Connecticut Green is sustainable design at its best, with an interior window for lighting. The newel post, bringing a bit of Nantucket to Connecticut, resembles a lighthouse with lights that change color. Photographer Durstan Saylor; 

Soothing neutral shades and consistency in design are important when the entry has a view into other rooms of the home.  My collection of walking sticks add punch to the foyer in my home in Connecticut, above.  Each is unique, and the stand gives guests a fun look at one of my unusual collections.

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Briar Patch dazzles with an unusual mirror created from a zinc architectural element from France above an 18th century French candle cupboard.  Photographer:  Terry Pommett

An antique spinning wheel and a set of nesting baskets are conversation starters in this entry way.  An ivy plant is lovely here, instead of flowers,  and serves to bring life to the space.

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Captain George Parker House

In an historic home, such as the sea captain’s house I renovated years ago on Nantucket, period furniture in the entry way is part of the careful attention to authentic details carried throughout the rest of the house.

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Harbor House promises delightful surprises ahead when guests arrive at a half-moon garden gate. Photographer Terry Pommett

Finally, remember that the entrance to your home begins outside.  A charming gate, beautiful plantings or comfortable seating on a covered porch offer a tantalizing hint of what’s behind the front door.

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