Foyer Fundamentals: The Three Basic Elements


May 5, 2021


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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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White theme entry door wall design with dressing table

As the number of people getting COVID vaccinations increases and the world slowly begins to re-open, we’re centering this month’s blog post on an essential aspect of our homes: The Foyer. Now that guests will be comfortable visiting again, make sure your foyer is ready for the spotlight.

Like a cover to a best-selling novel, the entryway sets the tone for the rest of your home. It’s important to reflect the homeowner’s personality while not overwhelming the senses to create an atmosphere of comfort and serenity. Even with a small space you can still make a big impact by utilizing every square foot. Here are the three fundamental elements to creating a fantastic foyer put together by our team at John McClain Design:

1. Somewhere to stand.

The entryway should reflect the tone of the rest of the home by being reminiscent of the design and finishes already present throughout. On top of that, increasing visual interest provides a personal introduction to your home. A great way to make an entrance is by creating a gallery space to serve as an ode to your favorite artistic pieces — be it more abstract or landscape. Think wall galleries devoted to Andy Warhol or the water lilies collection by Monet. You can also increase allure through eye-catching lighting fixtures, like pendants and chandeliers.

Contemporary lobby staircase design with wall paintings and dressing

I adore wallpaper in an entry. Especially if you have a smaller entry, add impactful wallpaper to really awaken the senses as soon as you enter the room. Your guests (and you) will smile every time you walk through the door.

classic white dressing table + mirror in lobby

Lacking a ceiling fixture? Tabletop lamps work just as well! Just be sure the size is not too wide for your entry console or table. If you’ve got less room to work with but have a natural light source, round mirrors can work great to reflect light and widen a space. Or even consider installing glass paneling on the front door to brighten up your entry.

2. Somewhere to land. 

Every foyer needs textural elements that invite and awaken those who enter. Chairs and ottomans quite literally provide a safe place to land, while benches and stools are great places to quickly kick off your heels. For these spots, be sure you use a durable fabric or even vinyl (vinyls are gorgeous these days) to offer surface protection for these highly used pieces (especially if you have kids). With limited space, appeal to the need for tactile surfaces by adding an area rug or even grasscloth wallcovering. Tip: Check the thickness of your area rug to be sure that the door will open and close properly.

Sometimes the only landing place is the staircase landing, and that’s cool too! We amped up the feel of the entrance on one of our projects by installing a cheetah print carpet runner. I’m purring just looking at it!

3. Somewhere to store. 

Every entryway needs to be functional, which means allocating a drop zone. This can be accomplished by incorporating an entry table or console where keys, phones and purses can be dropped off. Don’t forget to place catchalls on surfaces so that small items stay in place. A simple fix for keys and wallets: choose your favorite decorative bowl and place it on the console. I like to use a glass or crystal bowl wide enough to hold all the keys for everyone in the house.

underneath staircase wall dressing and storage

In one of our recent projects at John McClain Design, we were able to use a hidden pressure latch to lead into a hidden storage space underneath the staircase. Perfect for shoes! You can also use an adjacent closet, an intricate coat rack or whimsically placed hooks to accomplish the same functionality. 

Cozy space? Wall vessels or floating shelves can be hung to create storage space without taking away from the walkable footprint. 

On that note, I say let’s get our minds back on opening up our homes and welcoming those we love back inside. Feels good doesn’t it?!  And now that you’ve got our tips, we invite you to begin re-imagining your home’s first impression. 

Till next time…
Happy Designs!

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John McClain is an accomplished interior designer, speaker, writer, and on-air contributor who has turned his lifetime passion for interior design into an opportunity to do the same for others.

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