Cover the walls of a generous foyer with extra bookcases for library spillover.

How to Decorate the Wall of an Entrance Foyer

by Benna Crawford

The entrance foyer to your home can be as pragmatic as a coat rack or as fantastic as a trompe l'oeil painted garden. Whether the front entrance is reserved for guests or serves as the main hub for family traffic, set an appropriate tone with wall treatment. The paint or wallpaper you choose, the skinny furniture you position against the wall, and what you hang on it determine the impact this first glimpse of your home will have on everyone who comes through the door.

1. Entry as Introduction

An entry foyer that opens into adjoining rooms may integrate more seamlessly with your decor when it reflects the design period of the living and dining rooms. Preserve the flow from front door to the living areas of your Colonial home by keeping it simple. A restored 18th-century hutch hugs the wall, providing room for a boot tray below -- behind cabinet doors -- and a display of family photographs in the windowed cupboard above. A small braided rug that echoes a larger rug in the living room helps to link the spaces. Dedicate the foyer to a solitary example or two of the decor period -- like a miniature gallery -- with a framed antique American flag over a notched maple card table and a brass or pewter candlestand.

2. Themed Entry

Give the front entry an unmistakable personality to greet guests, especially if the family uses another entrance for exuberant daily arrivals and departures. The foyer might showcase your favorite Asian decor with a slender Ming altar table along one wall, keeping elegant company with a collection of Tibetan tangkas and a painted porcelain tub of tall, delicate bamboo. A tansu chest against the wall will provide hidden storage for seldom-used items while its stair-step shelves are exhibit space for raku pots or carved Buddhas. A slender upright piano tucks into a modest foyer, next to a music cabinet and wall-hung violins and violas. Usher the kids in there after school for daily practice while you keep an eye, or an ear, on things from the kitchen or the living room.

3. Center Stage

Draw attention to a prized piece of art by isolating it on the wall of your entryway.One large painting, highlighted by a ceiling-mounted gallery spot, is an instant conversation starter for visitors. Paint walls stark white to capture a New York art exhibit ambiance. Or colorwash walls in a softer shade drawn from the painting and underline the color choice with a floor runner in a deeper intensity of the same hue. Arrange black-and-white family portraits or an art photography collection in matching frames to cover the entry hall. Those beautiful babies, mischievous toddlers and talented grammar school children will greet guests, in their most charming moments, from your clever photos on the wall. A rescued theater or museum billboard will star dramatically in a foyer; some cultural institutions and government-funded museums will let you have overruns or used show billboards that are still in good condition.

4. Cover and Color

The entry should make a statement, and an easy way to do that is with color. Paint a narrow hallway, illuminated by a glass transom or skylight, charcoal gray or deep rose. The simple, solid color sets off a single coat rack, hand-carved bench or shabby-chic pier glass, transforming utility into art. When you are less concerned with a coat station or a last-minute glance before dashing out the door, draw attention to a meticulously refinished staircase with bold striped wallpaper that starts at the front door and marches up the ascending wall. The entry foyer can serve as the canvas for a faux finish that may work best in small doses: faux marble, lapis lazuli or malachite are luxurious painted wall treatments that complement ornate and period decor.

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