HGTV's Frank Fontana has mastered the art of making a fashionable first impression. Now, he shares his expert tips to help you create an impressive, affordable entryway that reflects your unique style and personality.
Everyone knows the expression "don't judge a book by its cover," which I agree with, but you can't deny first impressions are everything. To me, an entryway is the beginning of the story of your home, which really means it's the first glimpse people see of your most personal story, your home.
Yet, so many people are content to leave their entryways as empty space with some shoes lined up by the wall. (Worse: with the shoes strewn all over!) Others simply hang whatever extra items they have up on the walls and head back to the main home thinking they've done real decorating. This is the wrong way to go about it! You need to give a personal treatment to most everything in an entryway. Incorporate organization and a lack of obstructions into your plan, but find clever ways to show people who you are. In a way, you can think of your entryway as a mini-museum of the lives of you and your family.
Granted, sometimes a few problems may arise that might prevent people from designing their entryways with style and flair, and typically that includes the cost, existing architectural obstructions and lack of a formal entry "room." Really, let's face it: This is not a high-priority place to redecorate. So many people would rather save decorating money for other spaces. Well, that I disagree with! The entryway is the perfect spot for you to begin your decorating adventure.
The Design Challenge
Your entryway has a tricky function: You want to allow people to pass directly through, maybe take off their shoes and jacket, but you also want to tempt them to pause for a moment and consider the space. This can be tough to balance! An equal mixture of organization and style is required.
Scents are a great way to add appeal to your home. After all, if you don't take some control of a space's smell, there are lots of nasty odors that will! Nowhere are scents most effective than in the entryway—a good (but not overpowering scent) will make visitors feel welcome and cared for. Think about yourself too—you can arrive home every day welcomed by a fragrance that you love and will, in less time than you think, associate with home. Find candles, incense, potpourri, plug-ins and the infinite other objects for scenting rooms. You can even make a hobby out of finding new scents to rotate in. A scent collection is cheap, exciting and affordable!
A Common Killer of Good Design: Clutter
Hats hung wherever possible, coats draped all over and occasionally dragging things to the floor, and shoes everywhere! This is not just a cluttered entryway—it's my recurring nightmare! Clutter from guests, family and life in general is a big problem in entryways where an unimpeded flow of energy is top priority. You need to prepare to support double the number of people in your family if you want to avoid stacking coats elsewhere all the time. The number one thing to pay attention to is shoe storage. Shoes and boots cannot be hung and take up lots of floor space. You need some sort of organizing solution.
Get a list of Frank's dos and don'ts of entryway design
Dos and Don'ts of Entryway Design
- Don't clutter your entryways with bulky objects like dressers and hutches.
- Don't clutter your entryway with too many loose, small odds and ends.
- Don't place items that can be easily knocked over on shelves without protection.
- Don't use organizing feature like hat racks, umbrella bins, jacket trees or show cubbies that don't get used, don't add to style or could be substituted for smaller options.
- Don't stop thinking of how you can personalize your entryway to set the stage for the rest of the home.
- Focus on convenience for your guests and provide for it in the right details.
- Incorporate easy-to-spot, condensed or multifunctional organizing spaces for items like shoes, coats and hats.
- Use décor and comforting flourishes to tempt guests to linger in the entryway.
- Find lighting that complements your space and design style.
Learn about lighting options and which is best for your entryway
It's traditional for entryways to have a single, bright overhead light source that illuminates the whole space. If you live in an apartment complex, it's usually a generic, industrial fixture hung above the door as you enter—not the most attractive option. Here are some alternate options for an apartment or house that will enhance your personal décor to subtly bring more attention to your design.
Sconces are a great option if you have electrical sources already in place on the wall. If not, no need to start drilling through the wall! IKEA sells inexpensive wall-mounted sconces that you can easily plug into an outlet (and cord covers can hide unsightly electrical dangles).
Choosing a sconce that expresses your home's design style is important, so pay attention to shape, metal color and design. The important question with sconces is: "What direction is my light source going to be pointing?" If the sconce shoots up, it will cast more general light; if it shoots down or to the sides, you'll get more directed light.
Price range: $25 to $75
Chandeliers are the best way to bring instant drama to a hallway entry. I am a big fan of entry chandeliers, as they come in any design style and can occupy a central place in a design.
Scale and size is really important when choosing a chandelier, as it can easily overpower an entry if it is too big or too ornate. In my opinion, dimmers are a must if you're considering a chandelier.
Price range: $50 to $150
Cheap, easy and highly functional, track lighting is a good option for entryways, especially if you have a hallway with art or shelves full of personalized display items. You can pin the spotlight on an object and give your entry a gallery feel. The beauty of track lighting is the ability to control the light heads to point in any direction and to control the amount of distinct sources you can have on the ceiling.
Price range: $30 to $60, depending on length
Attached Art Lighting
A sleeker, less expensive way to illuminate your artwork in the entry is with clamp-on LED art lights (IKEA is one place that sells them). These fairly inexpensive light sources are specifically made for illuminating your artwork and can be clamped directly to a frame or attached to the wall. A series of these lights over your framed art can really bring a dramatic, evening lighting effect.
Price range: $20 to $40
Standing Floor and Task Lamps
Traditionally used in other parts of the home, these two options can be a nice accompaniment to an entry vignette. If you have a narrow console, a task light is classy and useful. If a single chair and umbrella caddy are paired in your entry, try a third element like a standing floor lamp to complete your grouping. Pay attention to lamp shade textures, colors and transparency to pull together your cohesive design or theme.
Price range: $15 to $50
More from Frank Fontana
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, March 9, 2014
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