Making an Entry (Hall)

Dear Daniel,

I have a large entry hall. What do I do with all the space? How do I make it feel inviting?

Sincerely, Needing to be Friendly

Dear Friendly,

First of all, I think it was the famous 20th century decorator Albert Hadley who felt that there should always be a certain austerity to an entry hall. This isn't to say that your entry hall shouldn't be hospitable, but not so much that people want to curl up and read a book there.

I like having a mirror, a credenza, a plate dish for keys, and a table lamp that will engage the mirror with the credenza. I like to leave a small light on in the entry hall so that if I come home at night, I'm entering into a space with a soft glow. A beautiful and durable rug that you can feel comfortable wiping your feet on is also important. And if the entry is really very large, perhaps a small bench.

A mirror is one of the most logical pieces for an entry hall people will actually use it when they come and go. I don't like mirrors just for decoration, but where they are practical. It should be a beautifully framed mirror which speaks about the overall style of your house. I do like having art work in the entry hall too, but it's not as practical over the credenza as a mirror.

In my house as a kid, we had a bench with a caned seat and a painting of our house from the 1950s over the top. It was a very pretty bench. However, I don't think the entry is a place to sit down, but to pass though. (Unless your front door is the only way to get out of your house and it's the only place to put your shoes on), but in the United States rarely do we require guests to take on and off their shoes upon entering. Some arts and crafts houses have benches beautifully integrated into stair railings so that become pieces of architecture themselves.

I think a table or credenza is more practical than a bench and tells the story of what the entry hall is - it is a place to move through. It is the main artery of your house that will lead you to many other seating options. Even if it's fun, I think an entry hall should have some degree of formality.

Sincerely, Daniel

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