MAKING GRAND ENTRANCES: THE FOYER
More important than any other space in the home is the Foyer. This oftentimes-overlooked area sets the tone and feeling of the entire home. It is both the first and last impression the homeowner has of his habitation. And, it is here where one is made to feel either welcomed or disoriented, depending on the feeling the foyer evokes. It is the prelude for what is to come.
Whether small or large, foyers are grand. They express largesse of space from which all the other rooms in the home radiate. The importance of the foyer can be suggested in several ways. Architecturally, the designer can carve out a separate space from the nondescript assigned closet, entry area. Ceilings can be dropped or raised or both. Lighting can be installed, cove or decorative, giving a special aura. Walls can be moved, shaped, carved to create circular, square, or any shaped spaces. Niches can be added to enhance the foyer’s suggestive aspects: a hidden vase, a highlighted picture, a surprise curio. Floor patterns move and define the area, whatever the material may be.
In addition, the use of differing materials also helps define the foyer. Glass block, while suggestive of the space beyond, defines and lets the light through. It opens up the space as a whole. Sandblasted glass, metals, and other hard materials can also accomplish similar purposes architecturally.
Decoratively, the foyer can be distinguished in many other ways. For instance, an area rug shaped to the contours of the entry can subtly emphasize the expressed area. The placement of mirror or mirrors in the entry open up the space and also allow the visitor, whether coming or going, a graceful peek at one’s appearance. They also provide, if correctly placed, a sneak preview of what is beyond. In addition, mirrors tend to add light in its reflection of the existing light. Another important decorative element defining the foyer is paint. Here, one can become more creative, as the space tends to be more unusual and sculptural in nature. A bold color accented by more subtler tones of the same can enhance the foyer greatly and give hints of what is to come color-wise throughout the rest of the home. In addition, decorative paint techniques can be successfully employed here without having to be experimented or used elsewhere. Stucco, trompe l’oeil, cross-hatching are typical painting devices. Wallpaper and upholstered walls accomplish the same but tend to evoke different kinds of feelings. Walls covered in fabric create a warmer, dressier environment: papered walls, a more traditional one.
The foyer can also become well defined through the use of furniture. Here, the unusual antique can be magnificently highlighted. Or, a great vase with towering flowers can welcome the visitor that in another part of the house might look awkward. A small café table with side chairs, nesting tables, small lamps, are all different kinds of pieces successfully used here. It is in the foyer where the bench is best used, whether one is putting on one’s shoes, waiting, resting, or just pondering. Lastly, the eponymous “entry table” makes it’s splash by its defining and aesthetic grandeur.
Paintings, sculpture, and other artwork attain especial significance in the foyer. If placed on ledges, in niches, within frames of walls, the singular piece is highlighted. In addition, one element of the foyer that is usually overlooked is the entry door. But it is here that one can be really creative. On the interior of the door, the face material can be changed to wood, metal, or even glass. The door hardware can be altered to be consistent with the hardware within. Mirrors can be affixed to enlarge the space. Unusual windows within the door structure can be created. If it is a house, the entry door can be made wider or narrower, and can encapsulate other materials such as cast glass side panels, over panels, and transoms of all shapes and sizes. And, finally, one finds here the foyer’s most traditional element, the staircase. Whether metal, wood, wall, or glass, its import is significant, in making the biggest statement.
The Foyer orchestrates the tone and feeling of the home, while setting its functional and aesthetic aspects. It is the creator and maker of all Grand Entrances.