This article appears in Spring Home & Garden 2018 magazine.

The foyer is a place of welcome and transition. Enhance your entryway with some tips from expert designers:

It’s about you

“Given your entryway may be the only room a person ever sees, consider what you want people to know about you. It’s a great place to hang a sign saying something about your family, your love of a pet, your beliefs, a motivational saying. The entryway is usually a place where so much happens, so it’s important that everything in there serve a purpose, especially if you are tight on space,” said interior decorator Ellen Lindgren, owner of Ellen Lindgren Interiors based in Medfield, Massachusetts, outside of Boston.

Clutter-free and organized

“Nothing makes a small space look cluttered faster than shoes, keys, backpacks and other accoutrements that end up on the floor or bench instead of in their proper home,” said Lesley Myrick, owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design in Waco, Texas. “If there’s a closet, invest in a great closet system to maximize storage. If you’re without a closet, a tall, slender shelving unit with bins or baskets can bring order to the chaos.”

“Since the entryway is likely the collection spot for a lot of the random things that come through your door, give it a home,” whether that means generic square cubbies with basket inserts or a small built-in, said Kayla Hein, creative director at “Painting an entry built-in the same color as the existing trim in your home will help it to look like it was always there. Simply adding painted beadboard and hooks is a quick and inexpensive way to get the built-in look without the cost.”

“If a shoe cabinet would never work for your family, consider placing a large wicker basket in your entryway. Kids can just kick their shoes off and throw them in the basket,” said Sarah Karakaian, interior designer and owner of Nestrs in Astoria, New York. “Sometimes getting too organized complicates things. A basket corrals all the shoes. Make it a chore for someone to return all the shoes to their rightful owners before bedtime.”

Tight space

“The biggest mistake people make with small entries, believe it or not, is going too small with their design elements,” said interior designer Rebecca West, owner of Seriously Happy Homes in Seattle, Washington. “Choose as large a rug as will fit in the space, and hang a large mirror or piece of art. Having fewer, larger things can make a space feel intentional and interesting, while a bunch of small things often ends up looking cluttered and unfinished. The area to go smaller on is depth — keep your console tables, benches and other things that protrude into the room as shallow as possible.”

If space is lacking, think vertically

“Interesting wall hooks for coats or bags could serve as art pieces as well as for having a place to hang things,” said Marina V. Umali of Marina V Design Studio, Paramus, New Jersey.

“For small entries, shallow wall-mount shelves can be a great way to provide a place for mail and a few decorative accents without sacrificing valuable floor space,” said Tory Keith, president of Board and Park in Natick, Massachusetts.

“For small-sized entryways, consider implementing multifunctional furniture pieces into your design. Not only do trunks provide convenient and much-needed storage, but they can also double as a fashionable bench or table,” said Tracy Stern, founder of T&T Design, New York City and Palm Beach, Florida.

Let there be light

“Invest in a pretty chandelier to greet guests,” said designer Shell Neeley of J. Banks Design, Hilton Head, South Carolina. “Layers of lighting are great. If you have room for a side table, add lamps. These create a nice ambiance. At the end of a party, as guests are leaving, it’s nice to have lamps on instead of harsher overhead light,” Neeley said.

“Incorporating pendant lighting adds a touch of warm and inviting character to any space. Hanging lights also take up less space than a table or floor lamp, which will make your foyer seem larger and clutter-free,” said Molly Kay, community manager at Arhaus Furniture.

Design wise

“I think we are seeing a rise in the appreciation of hand craftsmanship, so we are starting to see some beautiful rugs making an entry come alive, or some fantastic handmade frames, etc. People are looking for unique and unusual pieces so that they can use this moment as a statement of their taste but also of their ability to curate an interesting collection,” said Los Angeles-based interior designer Mark Cutler.

“Interesting flooring that can be installed to visually enlarge a small entranceway, such as installing tile or wood planks on an angle or juxtaposition to the flooring of the room adjacent to the entryway, can set off the entry as an interesting but separate room,” said Leslie Markman-Stern, president of Leslie M. Stern Design, Chicago, Illinois.

“Circular mirrors have been increasingly popular in 2018, are great for small spaces and blend nicely across most design styles. Complete the space with a dramatic pendant light fixture. We find that geometric shapes work best in foyer areas as these shapes distribute light across the whole room while providing the biggest ‘wow’ factor,” said interior designer Dayna Hairston, owner of Dayziner in Cary, North Carolina.