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September 01, 2013

Making a grand entrance

Tips on creating a welcoming entry way

Jessica Patterson

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It’s the first and last space you see in a condo, your foyer. And, this month, it deserves some attention.

Foyers are often overlooked, says Colleen Reid of Reidesign Home Staging, in Calgary.

“Think about it, you have six to seven seconds to make that lasting first impression,” she says. “The key function of the foyer is to provide an inviting space that welcome guests into your house and to provide that first glimpse of the rest of your home.”

Condo foyers often need to have separate identities from living room or kitchen, or whatever area the front door opens to. The foyer is the first thing that greets guests and condo owners alike, and thus needs to be inviting, calm and warm, as an extension of the living space.

Start with the light. Add visual interest to the small space by adding a light fixture that has some sparkle, or casts fractured light onto the surrounding walls, Reid suggests. 

“After a days work, when you come home, nothing says ‘welcome home’ more than turning on a light with a low-wattage bulb or energy saving bulb,” she says. “Leave all the stress of the day behind with this soft lighting effect. Drop those keys, bags and enter your oasis.”

A mirror over an adjacent wall or small table is another way to make the entrance feel larger, and bounce light, Reid says. “A mirror provides the opportunity to check hair and clothing before leaving for the day, or adding that last bit of colour to your lips before answering the door,” she says.

Dressing up that foyer is a matter of layering, the interior designer says. And depending on the time of year, you can scale back the elements to warm or cool the space.

“Another way of dressing up your entrance way or foyer is adding a carpet to the sometimes cold, sterile look of tile,” she says. “This adds another element of warmth to a potentially drab space.”

Foyers can be functional spaces, too, with storage and closets or even built-in benches that doubles as a trunk with lift-tops for additional storage.

When you’re coming into a home, the entryway is the introduction to the home and to the person who lives there, says interior designer Carrie Lightfoot, of Carrie L Designs in Calgary.

“Every condo is a little different,” she says. “You might get a tiny foyer, or a gigantic, open foyer. Regardless of what you walk into, you want to see something of interest when you walk in, because that is the first impression.”

In a lot of cases, front doors open to walls, which can be a canvas for something that reflects the personality of the person or family living there.

“If there’s a wall, I’m going to put something interesting on the wall, like a piece of beautiful art or sculpture to say, ‘come on in.’” Lightfoot says. ”That represents the family or the individual who lives there, and says a lot about who they are.”

In other cases, and especially with new condos, foyer space is larger with nine-foot ceilings or vaulted ceilings. The foyer becomes a peripheral to everything else at that point, the interior designer says.

“When the front door opens up into the entire floor, back to the kitchen, your foyer becomes almost secondary, because the first thing people see is everything else,” she says. “We make that space as inviting as possible, anchor it with a lighting fixture, which can be a personalized thing, to say this is who I am.”

There’s nothing worse than walking into a foyer and it being dark.  Condo owners have size restrictions, and though they might not be able to hang a chandelier or larger lighting fixture to brighten up their foyer, Lightfoot suggests investing in a wide lighting fixture that is flush-mounted on the ceiling.

“The space looks more impressive with something like that, making a statement when I walk in,” she explains. “If I do add something with a bit of crystal, it adds that shimmer and shadowing effect on the walls.”

Personalizing the space, whether it’s large or small, speaks to the character of the people who live there, Lightfoot says. Perhaps it’s a crystal lighting fixture that makes a grand statement, or a photo of the family that makes one immediately feel at ease.

Trends in colour for this year include shades of grey and pops of colour.

“Wallpaper is getting really big, if not exploded already,” Lightfoot says. “If you have a confined foyer space, you may want to do something like wallpaper.”

“When you walk in, you’re basically in a small alcove and then you walk into the rest of a condo,” Lightfoot says. “That is the perfect area to do a bold paint colour, or put in some amazing wallpaper. That’s your focal point, because you have no space to do much else.”

Condos are a great place to experiment with your taste in interior design, because they’re small spaces. “When you’re trying something, you don’t have to carry it through the whole space,” Lightfoot says. “You can experiment and transition into another area.”

Finishing off the area, it’s always nice to consider adding a table or cabinet for added function and storage. Small on space, condos can use all of the storage they can get.

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