First Impressions

The Old House Web

Editor's note: Book author Anna Kasabian has written about interior design and architecture for Country Living, Yankee, Coastal Living and other publications. These excerpts and photos from her book, "First Impressions, Fresh Looks for Entryways, Hallways and Foyers," are published with permission of Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, Massachusetts.

By Anna Kasabian

Entryways are the center of the home's traffic flow. In most houses, they are also the natural spot for piles of mail, newspapers, shoes, umbrellas, keys and other assorted items. It is easy to lose the essential first impression of a beautiful home when entryways become storage central.

The wonderful news about entryways, halls and foyers is that a lot can be done with a little. These areas are easy to change -- often with items on hand.

The first step is simple: Consider the entryway its own space or small room.

desk space

With just enough space for a writing table, an entry can be a place for specific tasks like shopping by mail or paying bills. Proper task lighting and nearby shelving make it easy to get to work in this charming spot.


Is there space to tuck a comfy chair and reading lamp under a stairwell or at the base of the foyer? Here is the perfect set-up for reading. Big pillows perched atop a built-in bench warm up what could be a stark, cool corner. The walls are used as an art gallery.

With that in mind, here are some do's and don'ts on creating a fresh new look for your entry or all:

Do consider the entryway as a small room all its own. Furnish it with charming pieces that may be languishing elsewhere. Treat it as a gallery for a changing array of favorite vases, pictures and pottery.

Do create unusual and surprising focal points: Paintings are nice, but what about hanging collections of antique porcelain plates? A grouping of three of more items works vest to add color and dimension.

plate collection

This collection of antique plates adds charm to this garden entry.

Do consider decorating walls with tiles -- look at contemporary glass tile offerings as well as reclaimed antique tile, depending on the mood you want.

Do consider scenic wallpapers or a trompe l'oeil painted panel to create atmosphere.

Do consider the classic, elegant look of contrasting floor tiles in different geometric patterns.

Do experiment. If you like floor tiles but prefer a less formal look, consider painting in big squares of color, or for polished drama, a single solid color in a high-gloss finish.

painted hall

An entry with lots of personality. A wonderful mix of antique pieces and the stenciled stairway say "Welcome!"

Don't get carried away with silk flowers -- unless you can change them often, they'll become dirty and quickly lose their charm. Even a single fresh flower is a prettier, more soulful choice.

Don't let furnishings intrude even a little on the area for foot traffic -- nothing is so attractive that you will want to detour around it many times a day.

country hall

A large entry can accommodate large furniture without looking cluttered. A simple basket of fresh flowers adds color and softness.

Order Anna Kasabian'sFirst Impressions, Fresh Looks for Entryways, Hallways and Foyers.

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