The entryway is your home’s chance to make a first impression—and so it definitely deserves a little love. “When guests come to your home, this is their first visual, and the entry should set the tone for the design aesthetic of the home,” designer Rebecca Johnston explains. “We love a warm and welcoming space that shows our client’s personalities.”
Meet the Expert
Rebecca Johnston is an interior designer with more than 10 years of experience and the founder of R Johnston Interiors.
Why settle for an entryway that’s so-so when you can design a space that’s excellent? We spoke with designers about entryway decorating mistakes you could be making, and how they're holding you back from creating the entryway of your dreams.
Keeping Too Much Clutter
This is key for items both large and small, designer Patti Hoech says. “Shoes, mail, other ‘dashing in and out of the house’ debris should not make an appearance at your point-of-arrival,” she notes.
And the same goes for jackets—they should be arranged in an organized manner if not hidden from view entirely. “If you cannot conceal coats in a closet, make sure the coat rack is attractive and orderly,” Hoech states.
Not Adding Intrigue
Now isn’t the time to be shy when it comes to visual appeal and intrigue. “An entryway should be interesting and make you want to see more of the house,” designer Emma Beryl explains. “Since these spaces tend to be smaller, people sometimes tend to play it safe and not use high-impact pieces.”
Beryl strongly advises being a bit bold if that suits you. “In my opinion, a bland entryway is a big missed opportunity, and it’s important to layer colors, patterns, and textures here just like you would anywhere else," she says.
Adds designer Kim Armstrong, this is a necessity due to an entryway’s layout. “A foyer is a place that has multiple points of entrance and is needed for traffic flow, and this doesn’t allow many places to create layers of interest," she states. "Your design choices need to be bold and make a statement.”
Seeing the things and people you love when you first walk in the door is the greatest welcome home.
Not sure where to begin? Create an interesting and inviting focal point ahead, Hoech suggests, and avoid presenting a blank wall. Don’t forget to incorporate a meaningful touch or two, as well.
“The entryway is the first thing you and your guests see when they enter—so make it personal,” Meg Young, founder of Cailini Coastal, says. “Add a piece of art that's extra special, include a family heirloom, or add photos of your family in picture frames.”
These small additions won’t just clue guests into your values, but they will also bring you endless joy over time. Notes Young, “Seeing the things and people you love when you first walk in the door is the greatest welcome home."
Using Lackluster Lighting
Light fixtures on their own—such as large-scale chandeliers—are one way to make a major impact. “This piece should make a statement all on its own,” Armstrong explains.
Ensure that the piece you select is large enough. Armstrong adds that “Many times, I find that people are not thinking about the shape of the foyer, and therefore, they make a chandelier selection that is too small or not grand enough to fill up the vertical space of the foyer.”
Think about how bright or dull the lighting in your space is, too, and adjust accordingly. “If you have too bright of an overhead light in the foyer, put a dimmer switch on it to allow for softer light,” Amy Leferink says. “Another option is to put a table lamp on an entry console table for soft, ambient light.”
While clutter should be kept under control, your entryway must still be purposeful and make your day-to-day life easier.
“Yes, you want your entry to look pretty and set the tone for the home, but it also needs to serve a function for your family and guests,” Mimi Meacham explains.
But, you can still select chic pieces that speak to you in the process. “A stylish catchall for your keys, a chic umbrella holder for those rainy days you're dashing out the door, and a console with drawers to hide other miscellaneous items are all things to consider when decorating your entryway,” Young explains.
And don’t forget about shoe storage, urges designer Becky Shea, who notes that even a boot tray will do the trick.
“A lot of times, I walk into no-shoe homes, and shoes are scattered all over the entryway,” she reflects. “I find it really important to put a shoe rack or basket to keep everything organized and out of the way from becoming a tripping hazard.”
Don’t forget about seating for guests lacing up their sneakers. “One quick fix is to add a bench, stool, or even an antique chair to add some visual interest,” Pallavi Kale says.
Skimping on Rug Size
Lefarink says that she frequently sees individuals use area rugs that are too small in their entries, and so she advises purchasing a 3 by 5-foot rug at minimum. “If you go with a doormat-sized 2 by 3-foot rug, it doesn't allow anyone to step into the room, and it feels very awkward,” she explains.
Not Hanging a Mirror
Who doesn’t want to quickly glance at their reflection before rushing to the office or returning home after a long day?
“While not a requirement, a mirror in an entry space is the perfect balance of form and function,” designer Elaine Burns explains. “It will make this small, sometimes cramped area feel larger, plus is a convenient way to check your look before heading out.”
You’ll want your home to smell calm and welcoming—both for you and your visitors.
“I personally love walking into a home and immediately understanding the scent of the space,” Shea says. "Adding candles or diffusers is a welcoming touch that immediately transcends you into that feeling of home.”