How One Designer Gave an Unflattering Foyer the “Wow” Moment It Deserved

Traditional foyer with brown trim, gray sofa and two gray chairs.

Design: Claire Paquin; Photo: Regan Wood; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“My clients have three active kids and at the time of renovation, they were busting out of space—there was no family room, mudroom, and the kitchen was tiny,” interior designer Claire Paquin says. “They did a major renovation off the back of their house, but also wanted to give the foyer in the front of their 1910 Edwardian Colonial an impactful refresh, as it was the first thing people saw as they walked through the door.”

Meet the Expert

Claire Paquin, a Managing Partner at Clean Design in Scarsdale, New York, focuses on creating spaces that are fresh, vibrant, contemporary and livable.

Before:

Dark and unflattering foyer entryway space.

Courtesy of Claire Paquin

“The main issue with the foyer was its dated décor,” Paquin shares. “The wallpaper was burgundy with mini-gold stars, the runner on the stairs was spotted with green little diamonds and a tapestry border, and the cushions and pillows on the bench at the bottom of the stairs were a mix of odd fabrics. It was all just so old-fashioned, and not in a good way.”

After:

Traditional foyer with large window and bench underneath.

Design: Claire Paquin; Photo: Regan Wood

“We wanted to maintain the charm of the entranceway and not completely modernize everything,” Paquin notes. “So, we restored the staircase and railing and left the very ornate egg and dart/dentil crown molding details. We then went in and freshened up the wallpaper, lighting, and color palette—giving the space a lively chartreuse and purple color scheme.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Rich taupe-colored metallics mix together with deep purple and chartreuse green in a formal, yet vibrant way.
  • Wallpaper: The soft, metallic champagne color along with the silhouettes of tree blossoms envelop the space in an old-world charm.
  • Light: The modern, lantern-style ceiling pendant gives the foyer an edge while still being reminiscent of yesteryear.
  • Table: The waterfall console table (painted in Benjamin Moore’s Grape Juice) adds an unexpected pop of color. 
  • Stools: The stools provide a spot for guests to remove their shoes and can be moved into other rooms for extra seating.
  • Window seat: Covered in damask and satin pillows, the window seat provides a spot for guests to have a tête-à-tête while sipping wine. 
  • Floor: The oak floors were refinished in a dark walnut hue for a modern yet old-world feel (Minwax Dark Walnut).
  • Windows: The original windows, with their beautiful stained-glass transoms, reflect the home’s exceptional craftsmanship.
  • Staircase: The top of the newel post was painted white and a neutral runner with a tone-on-tone Greek key pattern was added to brighten up the steps.
  • Molding: The multi-layered original molding features both an egg and dart and dentil design. 
  • Doors: The front and pocket doors were freshened up with white paint (Benjamin Moore Super White). 
  • Accessories: A few books, a beautiful vase of faux tulips, and some decorative horns make the entry feel warm and inviting.

Shop the Look:

Entryway console table with red stools underneath.

Design: Claire Paquin; Photo: Regan Wood

Waterfall Console Table
Madre Waterfall Console Table $2400
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“A waterfall console table can double as a spot to sit or a place to display design accessories,” Paquin notes.

Serena Stool
Interlude Home Serena Stool $1797
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“A curved base can make a traditional stool really stand out,” Paquin notes.

Bernard Horns, Set of 3
Arteriors Bernard Horns, Set of 3 $Upon Request
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“These trio of horns are whimsical and fun and look great in a bookcase or on a table,” Paquin advises.

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