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A functional foyer has great lighting, eye candy, a catch-all and colorful rug. A functional foyer has great lighting, eye candy, a catch-all and colorful rug. Lighting and bold wall color work together in this dramatic foyer space Lighting and bold wall color work together in this dramatic foyer space.
Designing Dilemmas March 2007

Foyer Fundamentals

Dear Debbie: I have a foyer that opens into living room. The floor surfaces are different. The foyer is hardwood and living room is carpeted. How can I define the foyer more so there is a mystery about what guests will see as soon as they walk in? Lorraine

Dear Lorraine: I love a good mystery, but not when I enter someone's home! I think a foyer should please the eye and set the tone of your home- that's why it's important to add style, as well as function, to even the smallest foyer space. It's the first view your guest will see of your home, so make it a great one! Try adding these fundamentals for a fabulous foyer:

  1. An area rug: Homes are built from the ground up and so are great-looking rooms, so start with a great rug that gives softness underfoot and adds color, pattern and personality. Additionally, it should be big and plush enough to actually catch dirt and moisture on shoes before it spreads throughout the rest of your floors. Whether it's a 2 x 3 , an 8-foot runner or a five-foot round, a great area rug on the floor will define the space and set it apart from the other rooms with which your foyer connects.

  2. Eye Candy: You need to hang something at eye level on your walls to draw your guest into your home and provide something pleasing to look at. If you use your foyer daily as your main entrance, a decorative mirror makes sense for checking hair, wrapping a scarf and buttoning up your coat. Other options include a wreath of dried flowers, a set of prints or display plates- anything that you want to showcase to the outside world, but not family photographs.

  3. Catch-All: A bench or table is necessary to a functioning foyer. You need a piece of furniture that you can put something on, whether it's the mail, a purse, a house gift or a coat. If your foyer is very small, attach a shallow shelf to the wall using corbel supports underneath. Add a mirror on top and- Ta-Da!- you have created a catch-all with eye candy.

  4. Light and Color: Most foyer lights are on the ceiling and in older homes, they're too small to make a bold and dramatic statement. If your ceiling light needs replacing, go for something bigger. If you have a long hall or wall space, you can even add additional lighting with recessed fixtures and/or wall sconces that coordinate with the ceiling fixture. A bright, well-lit foyer is an essential foundation for adding bold wall and ceiling color. Find your color inspiration in the area rug and wall art. It doesn't have to match the wall color in any of the connecting rooms, but it should complement.

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