The old adage ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is a reminder of the importance of the entrance to our home – the introduction to ourselves and to how we live. It is from here that we welcome the world, and leave the first (and last) impression with family, friends and sundry visitors.
Outside it may be dark, cold and hostile, but inside we offer warmth, light and comfort and, whether the hall be grand or humble, this is the message we would like to convey upon opening our front door. Probably because so many are dark, small and badly designed, hallways are often considered a waste of time. But with a little help from some interesting decorations and clever lighting, this unloved space can become our welcome sign to the world.
The range of floorings suitable for an entrance hall are numerous and offer wonderful opportunities for decorative treatments In a traditional home, hard floorings such as stone flags, marble, terracotta tiles or wood are all fitting choices. Should you be lucky enough to live in a Victorian house you may well find some marvelous encaustic tiles beneath a more modem covering and their colors may provide you with the key to your scheme.
Carpeting is also acceptable, but do ensure that a door mat (preferably set within a well so that its surface is flush with the rest of the floor covering) is installed at the entrance to prevent dirt being trampled all over the house.
Lighting plays an important role in setting the mood in an entrance hall. An exterior light (perhaps a lantern for a traditional home and a downlighter for a more modem approach) will signal your presence and guide the visitor to your door. In the hall itself a good level of light is needed and this should be directed towards whatever you have chosen to highlight – a beautifully stenciled floor, a piece of sculpture on a plinth or a massive vase of fresh flowers: the choice is yours.
Table lamps offer a very homely, soft light, while a floor-standing uplighter behind an impressive plant will produce shadows that dance across the room.
The furnishings you include in this room will very much depend upon the space available – what you want to avoid, at all costs, is anything that will hinder the circulation of traffic through this ‘terminal’. Important items to include are: somewhere to set down mail/newspapers/house keys and so on; a receptacle for umbrellas; a place to hang coats; and, space permitting, at least one chair.
If coats are to be stored in a cupboard, remember to ensure that this is ventilated (louvered doors are perfect) to help air damp clothing. A wall mirror is also very useful for last-minute adjustments and this will have the added benefit of introducing a feeling of space and light into what otherwise might be a rather dim area. Chair backs will be highly visible against the walls, so choose furniture for its decorative quality.