What’s the first thing guests see when they come into your home? Is it a blank wall, or a couple of measly hooks and a pile of shoes? Your entryway may not be a living space — or even a true room — but that doesn’t make it any less important to furnish and decorate. After all, your foyer is your home’s first impression to guests. It should be warm and inviting while also showing off your personal style, and most importantly, serving a function.
Entryways come in all shapes and sizes, which means you sometimes have to get creative with the vignette you create. Speaking as someone whose first apartment opened immediately into a long hallway that was barely three feet wide, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of all the space you have.
We know you don’t need a designer to tell you what the functional elements of an entryway are, but creating a well-balanced and attractive space with a combination of those elements isn’t always as intuitive. We’ve come up with six steps for creating a perfectly styled entryway, and are sharing tips for making sure each element meshes with the next — all while maintaining its core function.
1. A Surface
You may be convinced everything your entryway needs can either be mounted to the wall or put on the floor, and functionally, you may be correct. But we don’t think your entryway will successfully come together as a well-styled space if you’re lacking a surface for some of the items lower on this list.
Your surface need not take up a lot of space: console tables come in super skinny depths, and a taller chest of drawers might be less than two feet wide. A table or dresser might the biggest purchase you make for your entry, so you can let it dictate the design aesthetic of everything else you add in. When in doubt, plain white or something simple and wooden are almost always a safe bet.
Storage is key for an entryway, especially if it’s your main entrance as well as guests’. If you don’t have a coat closet, a few sturdy hooks on the wall will make everyone’s lives easier and will make the space more organized. Make sure you have enough that the wall space doesn’t get too cluttered (or schedule a regular return trip to your main closet for scarves and jackets).
Another smart storage solution is to tuck a large, woven basket under or next to your table for storing umbrellas, gloves, and a few pairs of shoes you can throw on in a pinch. Picking a basket that’s neutral (and natural) will look more sophisticated than anything plastic or wildly colorful.
3. A Rug
As is true for every other room, a rug can make a huge difference in the overall feel of a space and can help pull together all of the surrounding decor. We recommend leaving the doormats for outside and opting for something bigger and a bit more formal for your foyer. Picking a rug that’s darker and has a pattern will help hide the inevitable dirt folks track inside — and yes, you’ll need to clean this rug more often than most, but that’s no reason to not pick something that’s beautiful.
4. A Light
Having some sort of light in your entryway is obviously necessary, but having a table lamp in addition to whatever overhead light already exists in the area is smart both functionally and aesthetically. Having a single lamp on by the door makes coming home to an otherwise dark house more comforting and safe. Plus, the more light sources you have, the more you’re able to create the right balance of brightness where you want it and not where you don’t.
Lamps are a great way to add some height to your entryway (a key factor for designing any space), so if your surface is chest-high or shorter, don’t be afraid to add a fairly large lamp (or two), if it feels balanced with the rest of your space. For the design, try to find common elements between your lamp and other decor — whether it’s a color or overall style — to create a connection among the space from top to bottom.
5. A Mirror
Mirrors are an entryway staple. They brilliantly brighten and open up what’s often a smaller space, and give you the opportunity for a last check of your outfit or makeup before walking out the door. Mirrors can range from incredibly simple with a barely-there frame to intricate and ornate with beveled glass and a carved frame. Since they sit at eye level, mirrors can either set the tone of the space as a focal point or simply blend into the background while a piece of art or a lamp takes center stage. Pick one that speaks to you and doesn’t compete too much with other elements in the area.
Large, round mirrors are a popular choice for entryways because they fill more of the wall area above a long console, which creates much-needed balance. If your mirror is considerably smaller than the table it will sit or hang above, try intentionally offsetting it to one side of the table or flank either side of it with large lamps or vases that fill the space.
6. Decorative Touches
This is where it all comes together. The decor you add to your entryway can be purposeful (a tray for keys and mail, a stool for putting on shoes), but it’s just as valuable in our minds if it simply adds to the overall design. Greenery (real or faux), candles, books, and vases are all effective tabletop decor that make it feel lived in and pulled together. Again, tying in a repeated color from the rug or art that’s hanging nearby will add to that intentionally collected feel.