Help your home make a stylish first impression
“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
That old adage holds merit but it’s also true that first impressions are important—whether they determine the purchase of a book, a decision to befriend someone or a guest’s view of your residence.
Your home’s entry—no matter if it’s a small stretch of wall next to the front door, an enclosed room or a dedicated space in an open floor plan—sets the tone for the rest of your house, Kelly Hinchman, founder and design principal at Studio H Design Group, says. “I like to pack a punch in the entry and infuse it with the home and client’s personality. It’s the greeting of the home and it has a lot to say!”
Audra Siao, co-founder and principal designer at Design Theory Studio, has similar thoughts. “I think it should definitely be a little sneak peek of what you’ll see as you pass through the rest of the house.”
Before You Begin
Consider the functional aspects of your entryway as well as your fashionable aspirations before you jump into picking shades and furnishings.
“Is this a guest-only entry or a family entry? Do you need storage? Are shoes removed upon entry? (If so, we will recommend sleek areas for placement.) Do you need a drop zone for mail, children’s backpacks, keys and other small items? These needs can all be met in both a contained entry and an open-concept entry,” Kelly explains.
Also give thought to the layout of your home when deciding what to do with this area. In a closed-off space you can do something bold, but if the entry is part of an open plan then you want it to be more neutral and cohesive with the rest of the home, Audra says. “With a more contained space what you can do really depends on the size. We had a project with a wide, long entry hall that we made into a destination space with a series of bold artwork and a large custom bench that was perfect to assist guests with removing their shoes.”
“There is no substitute for a powerful entry” Kelly says. “To me, an elevated mood can be achieved by a proper entryway. It welcomes you in with the personality of its combined elements. Creating a sense of arrival can be achieved in any type of entry area by making moments with furnishings that stop your eyes and ground you. I find homes exciting when you experience the home, little by little. A measured, calculated entry should be an experience.”
The key to success in any entry area: Combine a few great elements to draw the eye. Just a painted accent wall, a console table and wall art can create a unique entry space, Audra says. “Even if it’s a super small space where you can’t even squeeze in a side table, you can do a coat hanger or a mirror paired with a rug to designate the space.”
An easy way to spice up your entry? Take advantage of wall space. Pick a lively shade of paint or a graphic wall covering. Don’t be afraid to go for texture (think shiplap), bold artwork or a funky pattern (removable wallpaper is your friend).
“In a recent project we were working with limited wall space in the actual entry area due to large windows,” Audra says. “But you could see the back wall of the sitting room from the doorway and entry-landing area so we took advantage of that by creating a striking large-scale art installation with glass disks in various sizes and colors.”
If you want to keep your walls as a neutral background choose stylish seating and a shapely surface—think benches, settees, statement chairs and ottomans paired with consoles, credenzas and side tables that are sculptural and function more like additional pieces of art.
“A character chair and table or a beautiful console table with a mirror above it make great entry tableaus,” Kelly says.
Or double down on the drama with edgy walls and furnishings.
Rugs are a fabulous way to define a space (consider a bold hallway runner) while also providing an element of coziness in homes with wood floors. Or, for a more maintenance-free-but-costly approach, consider patterned flooring.
“When we have the opportunity, I love to do a statement floor in entryways,” Audra says. “Unlike most traditional floor coverings that will have to be replaced, [statement floors] have all the engaging design elements of a great rug while also holding up well to the heavy foot-traffic nature of the space.”
Mirrors have long been an entryway staple. They provide a stylish way to check your reflection (hello oversized mirrors), allow you to take a quick peek to see who’s at the door, and they can expand a small space by reflecting light from your windows and doorway.
Statement light fixtures, from a whimsical bubble chandelier to an industrial powerhouse pendant, draw the eye up and can pack a punch of personality.
Small decorative items, like a grouping of vases or a vignette of meaningful accessories, should give your guests a preview of your home’s style: Do you love bold colors? Do you have a large collection of ethnic objects from travels? How about a penchant for midcentury design? Try to reflect that here, Audra suggests.
If space is at a premium, your entry area should be part of your plan for smart storage solutions. Place attractive woven baskets under a console table or bench to hold shoes and other small items. Buy a storage bench with a built-in compartment to tuck away miscellaneous belongings.
Or, for optimum storage capabilities, invest in a built-in storage system with a bench and enclosed cabinetry.