There is nothing like being invited into someone’s home and feeling something special when you walk through the front door. The Foyer sets the stage of a home. It is your first impression. I believe the foyer is an important space, it is not just a space that holds a staircase or a grandfather clock. A foyer can be large or small but it needs to capture your attention. It needs to be welcoming and inviting, it has purpose. I use my foyer for much more than a place to greet family and guests. My foyer has been used for many purposes, to house a cocktail bar, to hold an extra table or two for dinner parties and to dance in. A large open foyer is so versatile and easy to rearrange.
As I opened the front door at 206 Gates Avenue to see it for the first time. The foyer, the “Grand Hall “ as it is called, felt so welcoming as warm light flooded the staircase. That beautiful light as it cast soft warm shadows on the floor below enveloped me in the space and I knew at that moment it would be mine and Danny’s forever home.
My foyer is a large space that runs across the width of the house and connected two main front rooms. The front rooms and the “Grand Hall” were added in the 1834 addition. The large thick case openings to the living and dining room were the bookends that anchor this extra wide gallery like foyer. These impressive cased openings wrapped 16” thick solid brick walls that flowed seamlessly into the rooms beyond. To the far right side of the front door is a beautiful staircase that rises gracefully to a large window at the landing where beautiful natural light floods the space. Directly across from the front door is the original cased entry to the 1818 home with its simple federal pediment above. The ceilings are 12 feet in height and the walls are wrapped in an Art-Deco pattern panel molding.
For me the foyer was already a fabulous space so when we renovated the house and I didn’t want to change its feel. But because I changed some of the other purposes of its adjacent rooms the foyer would need to change slightly. I closed off the original entry to what was the dining room because that end of the house would become our bedroom suite. I opened up a new large cased opening from the foyer to what would become our dining room. One of the main things I did, was add new LED can lighting. This bright, crisp lighting transformed the foyer to have an art gallery feel. Every painting and special object was spot lighted so your eye no longer saw where the light was coming from but what was lit.
In decorating this space. I wanted to make sure it would stay open so I used very little furniture and the pieces I did use had a purpose. I placed a black lacquered chinoiserie bar at one end of the room. That works great for parties, when dinner guests arrive I feel there is nothing better than the site of an open bar to say welcome. Nina Campbell recently was a dinner guest of mine and she felt exactly the same. I was so glad to have at least one thing in my house that a grand designer as she would approve.
Against the longest wall, I placed an Italian entry table. It can be pulled out and used for extra dining when needed. Across from it are two simple Chinese celadon vases sitting on tall acrylic pedestals. I have had fun with these two vases, filling them with fresh flowers, tree branches and balloons. They always seem to set the tone for the party at hand. I absolutely love having them.
On the stair treads, handrail and interior of the front door I used black lacquer. It gives a clean contrast to the off white walls. On the stairs a natural woven runner was added to soften the effect. For the floors I wanted some pattern but didn’t want rugs because I felt in such a long space I’d need at least three and to me that would have been clutter-some. So instead I designed a simple pattern out of paint that was applied to the stained oak floors. This gives the look of an inlay . The pattern was inspired from the tile pattern that adorns Saint Marks Square in Venice.
Actually my foyer is one of my favorite rooms in the house because it’s like a chameleon and can change it’s appearance so easily. I’ve found it a very fun and versatile space. And in my opinion worth investing in.
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