Act One. Scene One.

Let the Play Begin

Foyers and Entry Halls: Prologue to Good Design by Perla Lichi, ASID

Like the lobby of a grand hotel, this regal foyer has all the decorative bells and whistles. Between the columns, an upholstered tete-a-tete provides a resting place and leads the eye to a majestic dual stairway. Photos by Craig Denis

The design of a home could be compared to writing a great stage play! There is first the prologue and setting the scene or location. Once the setting has been established then a good play writer introduces the characters and carefully crafts the sequence of scenes so the story unfolds in a harmonious way.

In home design, the overall goal is to tell “the design story” in complete balance and harmony.  Think of each area as a different scene of the play, where we are always working to create rooms that flow visually from one to the other.

The foyer or entrance hall is the prologue. To “tell the design story correctly,” it is essential that the details and furnishings in the entryway reflect the overall design of the entire home.

In other words, if the residence is designed in a modern style, the scope and tone of the entryway should communicate this genre. When the goal is Art Nouveau, the entryway should showcase one of the client’s most magnificent pieces of Art Nouveau artwork and the design should introduce Art Nouveau motifs that will be repeated throughout the main living areas.

If the residence is designed in a modern style, the scope and tone of the entryway should communicate this genre. Barry Grossman Photos

In a residential setting, the entryway serves as a passageway and like all good design should not be cluttered. In general, an easy flow of traffic is essential.

Furnishings that we often use in an entry include a console or narrow table, a mirror and accessories. Mirrors add sparkle, create the illusion of more space, and can be framed in a style that suit any décor. Choose accessories wisely. Personalize the space with family photos, a portrait or a personal collection that says something about you.

Many people also like to introduce some type of seating in the foyer – a bench or a chair. No matter what pieces are selected, everything should be proportionate to the space and should never get in the way of traffic through the door.

The floor is the first place you look when entering a room. In the entryway we often suggest adding a special design touch such as a medallion or crest or a motif that fits with the selected theme.

A hand-carved, silver-leafed table is centered over a unique custom floor medallion. Hand-carved interior moldings and detailing frames the entrance to this secondary foyer. Photos by Craig Denis

Lighting is also an important consideration! In the lobby or entrance area, day lighting should be bright enough to allow a reasonable transition from bright outdoors to the darker interior. Illumination needs to be at a lower level at night to aid eyes in focusing, but strong enough to enable visitors to see and be seen. The entrance is an ideal place to try a dramatic lighting effect such as an accented art object. A magnificent chandelier, in scale and proportion, enhances any foyer. And dimmers on hall lighting enable you to set any mood.

If the area is spacious enough, then a round or oval entry table, in appropriate scale, adds a magnificent design statement. Beautifully detailed foyer tables with ornate hand carving or intricate marquetry (decorative wood inlay) are often seen in the lobbies of grand hotels and public buildings. Those whose residences can accommodate such grandeur should take full advantage of this opportunity. Foyers and entryways set the stage for the home and should showcase the most magnificent pieces of all! Follow these guidelines and your foyer and entryway will certainly earn a “standing ovation.”

Act One. Scene One.