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Entry should make a good impression

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Question: I've got to do something with my large entrance hall, which is virtually bare. It does have a good-sized wall that can easily accommodate some kind of decoration. How do you suggest I furnish this space?

Answer: The thing to remember about an entrance hall is that it's the first room in the home a visitor sees. Whatever impression is made here will greatly influence someone's perception of the entire house.

Keep in mind also that an entrance hall ought to be a pleasant place for you to say goodbye to your guests. Once those factors are taken into account, the problem of how to furnish such a space will seem easier to solve.

Selecting the appropriate furnishings is only part of a truly effective design solution. It is also necessary to create a certain mood or atmosphere, and that task requires a degree of artistry.

Here is a model that may provide some inspiration.

Whether one is coming or going, it is always nice to know whether your tie or lipstick is on straight. The large wall in your entrance hall might therefore be a good place to hang a sizable mirror.

Similarly, most people find it convenient, upon entering a home, to have a place to put keys, packages or other everyday items. That's why it's logical to situate a table or a chest or drawers underneath the mirror.

In choosing a wall covering, your aim should be to give the entrance a special identity that remains consistent with the look of the entire house.

Depending upon your own taste and how you have designed other rooms, you might select something like the conservative stripe shown in the photo. This type of pattern has the added advantage of making the space appear taller.

To my mind, a rug is really essential in an entranceway, and, since your hall is generously proportioned, please don't settle for a postage-size welcoming mat. Instead, invest in a proper floor-covering that expresses the design and color direction of your entire home.

Images of beautiful entrance halls usually feature a stately chandelier, but there aren't many houses these days with ceilings high enough to handle that sort of lighting fixture.

A feasible and attractive alternative would be to install either wall sconces or candlestick lamps atop a chest of drawers. These shaded lamps often produce a warmer and friendlier quality of light than does a chandelier.

When you think you're finished, be sure to add a few more things. The Henredon mirror and the elm chest shown in the photo would not be quite so effective were it not for the small tassel added to the key in the drawer.

Pictures, plants and other personal touches likewise do a lot to give any room a personality of its own.