Creating a front entranceway that is welcoming and inspiring

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First impressions are everything. At first glance, what does your home’s entrance say about? Is it inviting, intriguing, inspiring? If it isn’t all of those things, it’s falling short of what it could and should be. As a designer, my goal is to bring the homeowner’s personality to life in their home – even the entranceway.

Historically, many homes were designed with a vestibule separate from the other living areas, serving as a waiting area for visitors, a place to store coats and boots and a way to reduce heat loss from inside the home. Over the years, the “front foyer” has evolved, and many modern homes are designed with an entranceway that opens into its living areas. Since you can see this area from the living areas, and vice versa, it requires an added level of design consideration.

Here are some ways to maximize the modern home entranceway when it comes to style and function.

Foreshadow your home’s aesthetic

What is the overall style of the space? Perhaps it’s classic, contemporary, eclectic or something else entirely. Whatever your preferred aesthetic, the entryway is a great place to echo similar elements to hint at what’s inside and ensure a cohesive look and feel throughout the house.

My Tip: Two must-haves for an entryway are a mirror and a spot to sit down. You’ll appreciate a seat when you’re lacing up your shoes, and incorporating a piece of furniture, even a small one, can make this space feel like part of the living area. The mirror is self explanatory, for one last look before you head out for your day. However, a mirror will also amplify the natural light in this space, giving your home a bright and spacious feel on entry.

Make a statement

Your entranceway is the first impression people will get of your home (and perhaps you), so make it count. Choose a statement piece that wows, such as a bold floor tile, a vibrant stained glass window, or a favourite piece of art. Remember, if it “speaks to you” in some way, it will appeal to guests as well. Just ensure your selections convey the right message. A professional designer can help if you’re challenged in this regard.

Incorporate function

Your home’s entranceway is where you and your family land when you come home – briefcases, backpacks, shopping bags, groceries, coats, boots, the dog and all. Without the proper functional elements, this can quickly become a disheveled dropzone that leaves you feeling cramped, flustered and looking for the exit. Outfit your entrance to accommodate your lifestyle and all the baggage that comes with it. A well organized closet with doors is ideal; however, consider adding shelves, hooks or other creative solutions to keep that mess under wraps.

Let there be light

Look up. What do you see? If you have a high ceiling or a two storey entrance, enhance its sense of grandeur with a great, large scale light fixture. Ensure the fixture is suspended at the right height, the scale is key. The rule of thumb is the fixture should have two to three inches for each foot of ceiling height. A 16ft. foyer can handle a fixture that is 32 to 48 in. When installing your fixture, consider the height at which it should hang. For extremely high ceilings, the general rule is to leave six ft. between the ceiling and the top of the fixture. For a foyer with low ceilings, opt for a ceiling mounted fixture versus a pendant or chandelier. Whatever you choose, make it fabulous.

Your entranceway is one of the most important rooms in your home. Don’t let it become an afterthought. If you’re designing your home from scratch or giving it a much needed update, bring this space to the forefront and let it shine!

Jennifer Backstein is Creative Director and Principal Designer for Jennifer Backstein Interiors, Toronto. The firm offers a diverse range of full scale design services in the GTA and across Canada.